An added complication of my last-minute getaway to the Alps was that, unlike the rest of my friends, who were heading back to Paris, I was supposed to be in Italy to meet Understanding Frenchman for our first trip together to my other adopted country. Getting from Chamonix to Chambery, the nearest stop on the train line from Paris to Milan, involved a five hour train journey, two connections and an overnight stay along the way, so I was delighted when a bit of Googling threw up a timetable for a bus service through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Courmayeur and onwards to Aosta and Milan.
My delight changed to outright giggles when I discovered that the vehicle that would transport me across the international border was a minibus with about 16 seats and a trailer behind for the luggage. That’s right – I had abandoned my dirty mountain gear in my friend’s car, dressed up in city shoes and a smart jacket and my suitcase was about to travel under the highest mountain in Europe in a trailer.
|The bus driver tried to convince us our luggage had fallen off the back somewhere under this bad boy.|
It was great fun. A couple of passengers in front of me had struck up a friendship at the station and were carrying out a bilingual conversation with the bus driver, who regaled us with stories of how he illegally parked a bus in Milan, threatened to abandon it when the carabinieri issued him with a fine that he had no money to pay, then had to cough up when he accidentally revealed that although he had didn’t have any hard cash, he did have a carte bleue in his pocket. He joked with the policeman who checked our passports on the French side that he would kidnap him and drive him to Italy if he didn’t hurry up.
And then, a few hours later and after a winding trip past the peaks and castles of the Valle d’Aosta and across the Roman-straight roads of the Northern Italian plains, there I was in Milan ready for the next stage of my adventure.