Wednesday 9 May 2018

ARRIVAL: From Milano to Verona

After rushing through the Abu Dhabi Airport, we learned we needed to do things a little differently...

We decided to slow down and take our time when we landed in Milan. We sat and waited and observed... and tried to connect to their wifi which was painful.

Learn more about our experience at the Milan Malpensa Airport.

All their signs were clearly marked and easy to follow and it led us to the car rental area with no issues.

The car rental area was busyyyy and we needed to take a numbered ticket to wait our turn to be seen to. All car rental places had the same system. We noticed some frequent car rental users had a special card that helped them skip the lines and we cursed them internally.

Shout out to Yolanda from Pasadena, California for keeping me company, giving me some sound advice for our travels and also giving great compliments to Hadrian while we were both waiting for our husbands and the rental cars!

Once we went to our rental and squeezed our luggage into the tiny European car, we familiarised ourselves with the car (still not finding a petrol lever), took a deep breath and headed onto the road. The person at the rental car suggested we get a Telepass. But without explaining what it actually was, we left without one. Perhaps something they should work on.

We soon found out what it was and it would have been helpful but it's not completely necessary.

Toll Roads

Approaching a set of toll booths
The roads leading out of the Milan Airport going east towards Verona were scattered with toll roads. Telepass would have made this process easier, passing through them a lot quicker while deducting the toll costs from whatever card or account was associated with the Telepass.

But you can also pay with cash or card. Nowhere leading up to each toll does it tell you how much it will cost or how the system works. Only from going through them did we start to pick up on how we think it worked. It made us appreciate the newer electronic tag systems we've been used to in Australia and New Zealand.

Some toll booths seem to have a standard cost per vehicle size per length of road you traveled on the highway. So we went through the booth and paid either with cash or card.

Some toll booths were ticketed and depended on which entry you used to get on the highway and which exit you took to get off. We would have our card/cash ready to pay like the others we had been through.. but no. Apparently there are instructions to take just a ticket instead.

But when we're being rushed along with Italians behind us, we didn't exactly get the chance to look around for instructions. With card in our hand ready to pay, we were given some toots and "friendly" advice to take the ticket! TAKE THE TICKET BOZO! Ok man, we get it... chillax.

So we had the ticket, not knowing what it was for; nothing on the ticket tells you anything in English and even when I tried to Google translate the words, it still explained nothing.

We drive for a while with this ticket, still no idea. Then the next toll booth finally comes up. We get our card/cash ready again (not sure how much it will cost; what kind of booth; what to expect) and before we can even read instructions around the booth as to what to do, another "friendly" Italian tells us to insert the ticket we had received previously before paying. Ok, so now we get it.

We went through a couple more toll booths like this. Each time getting more and more confident and understanding it a little better except for how much it costs.

Assuming the ticket allows the system to know how long you've been driving on that particular stretch of highway and charging accordingly and assuming some booths also charge according to the time on the highway but without a ticket, how do we know what each will cost? It didn't seem consistent but maybe it is and we are just... well, foreigners.

Most booths were unattended with only one having a person in it collecting the ticket and taking our money (which would have been helpful the first time we went through a ticket-receiving-or-paying toll booth... just saying).

After looking into getting a Telepass, even that is complicated so we decided, screw it... challenge us at every toll road! We can handle the friendly advice!

All up between the Milan Airport and Verona, we paid approximately €14 to get to Verona (about NZ$24). Holy... that's more than we realised! But had we caught a train to Verona, it would have cost approximately €50 each (about NZ$90 each). It would have cost us more to get there via public transport even with petrol costs on top of the tolls so the car still made sense this time.

Petrol here at the moment is between €1.40 to 1.50 (NZ$2.40 to $2.55).

Skipping Milan

We had planned to stop into Milan because... Milan. But we were beyond exhausted. Our flight to Milan was supposed to be our flight to catch up on the final sleep we needed. But it was freezing and no sleep was had (except Hadrian). We could have pushed ourselves to try and navigate around a major city, try and find parking while also avoiding the no travel zones (where absolutely no one can drive in) all for... window shopping... a faved hobby for all males *sarcasm*. I could see it was the last thing we needed. We actually needed to get to our accommodation and relax.

Am I sad we skipped Milan? Hmm, a little bit. Do I regret it? No. Will I regret it if we don't make our way back there? Also no. Priorities change and we have to accept it and move onto other things. We can't see all of Italy, even in the 3 months we plan to be here. We have to change things according to our needs. We can always come back in the distant future........

Road to Verona

I wish we had just followed the signs to Verona on the highway. Google Maps kept sending us onto every tolled highway and when we went off the tolled highways, it was a beautiful back road, showing the Italian scenery without the massive highways and toll booths. But we started to doubt ourselves, so we followed Google Maps again and ended up back on the tolled highway with more industrial views than country side. Sorry, there are no photos of these roads, I was the navigator and couldn't do both at the same time (well, I probably could have...).

One of the first things we noticed when seeing the landscapes of Italy was how similar they were to NZ. It was beautifully green and had mountains in the background. The only difference was obviously the style of their roads/highways and the old buildings scattered along the roads.

Drivers here are also similar to Abu Dhabi drivers. Indicators are optional. Their highest speed is 130km/h! Again, the drivers happily hit that speed while we did not. It also seems Abu Dhabi and Italy keep all trucks in the far lane only.

Interesting to note... they have their petrol prices displayed on the side of the highway. Not toll road costs though!

Side track to McDonald's

During this trip towards Verona, we decided to go off the highway and grab something quick to eat. When in Italy... eat McDonald's!!

Our first real interaction with Italians who don't work at the airport but how many ways is there to say Big Mac? I couldn't get my trusty Quarter Pounder with mayo because we didn't want to complicate things and... we didn't see it on the menu! There's also no cheeseburger and we can't add formaggio (cheese) to a hamburger. Yet, they have double cheeseburgers *The next McDonald's we went to DID have a cheeseburger though*.

Nathan's rating of the Big Mac: Better than NZ. Sauce isn't as tangy.

Staff were friendly and patient with our broken Italian and we were able to get our order across without any mix ups! Huzzah!

Extra side track to Lidl (similar to Aldi but not Aldi because there's also Aldi in Italy)

Next door we went to our first Italian supermarket. An equivalent to Aldi but not Aldi. Similar colours, similar layout, different name but from the same origin country of Germany. But there is also Aldi already in Italy so... wha? *confusion*

Again, broken Italian but great customer service. Worker talked to us with the English he knows to make it easier for us.


After our quick side track, we were now only an hour away from Verona...

1 comment:

  1. Ha! Very entertaining on the way to informative. Enjoyed the read Tessy. Note to Self: Take the ticket and buggar the friendly Ities ��