Europe 2014 – Torino – Sometimes What You Can’t See is Good for You

Timeline: September 30th

Annecy to Turin

Annecy to Turin

We set off that Tuesday morning under cloudy and rainy skies, a condition that would follow us the entire day. We’d made a reservation at a B&B Hotel so weren’t too concerned about the weather or the amount of time it would take us to complete the days drive.

The distance to Turin was not great, less than 200 miles but it would take us over some of the steepest mountain passes in the French Alps, the Col du Petit Saint-Bernard and the Col d’ Iseran. Of course, we had no idea in advance that these two peaks would be part of the adventure, or that for the bulk of that section of the drive we would be immersed in cloud and fog.

St. Bernard Signs

St. Bernard Signs

This had its good and bad points. The bad is that on a clear day our views would have been spectacular and thus we missed out on what would have been a truly memorable drive. The good was that the foggy conditions, so dense we could barely see ten feet in front of the car meant that on the narrow roads we climbed and descended, most without guardrails, we couldn’t see, or appreciate, how close to death we were.

Col du Iseran and a Cyclist Who Made it to the Top

Col du Iseran and a Cyclist Who Made it to the Top

As we were ascending what would be one of the last small climbs out of the mountains, we stopped at a small farmhouse selling cheese. We sampled two of the three for sale and bought a quarter pound or so, enjoying some in the car and the rest later in our room for dinner.

Cheese Stop

Cheese Stop

We finally made it into Turin and arrived at the B&B Hotel Turin. This is a small chain offering a cookie cutter room with standard features for 64 Euros including parking. Check in was easy with the clerk speaking very good English; indeed we would find this to be the case throughout Italy. Our room was spacious, a good thing as we needed to store our bikes there and thus we were initially pleased with the accommodation.

It seemed a little warm in the room and when we tried to adjust the thermostat, we kept getting an error message. The clerk at the front desk advised they would work on it and get back to us. In the meantime we went back downstairs and around the corner to a local market chain, Euro Spin, to pick up ingredients for a simple picnic dinner in the room, which would include the first of what would be many, many bottles of Limoncello.

The night wore on and we continued to contact the front desk about the temperature in the room. Opening the window wasn’t an option as the mosquitos in Turin are as big and fast as bats. Our last communication with the clerk who checked us in was that he would communicate the problem to his boss who would be in at 9:00pm.

Around 9:30 I took the elevator down to the lobby to check on the situation. A new clerk was at the desk, maybe the manager, who knows. I asked him about the temperature situation and that’s when I got the real story. Each spring and fall they switch over the HVAC to heat or cool and this was the day. Unfortunately, they’d only gotten up to floor five and we were on floor seven. We were out of luck.

Thanks to the spine enhancing properties of Limoncello, I briefly stepped out of character and actually complained, mentioning that I was paying full price for a room that didn’t offer full amenities, and would like a credit of some sort; say a voucher for two free breakfasts the next morning. He agreed that this was a good idea, gave me the voucher and I returned to our very hot room for what would turn out to be a night of warm, but good sleep.

Breakfast the next day was at least worth the vouchers and put us in a good mood for the drive down to Cinque Terre. We opted to use the toll roads this time around as the cost didn’t appear to be prohibitively expensive. We figured the charges for the day before would have been attributable to the amount of work needed to build the toll roads and maintain them in mountainous conditions. With many tunnels to build, that can’t be inexpensive. We would confirm that suspicion at the end of our trip when we drove from Milano to Montigny in one day. More on that to come.

Fog at Col du Petite St. Bernard

Fog at Col du Petite St. Bernard


Col du Petit Saint-Bernard:

Col d’ Iseran:’Iseran

B&B Hotel Turin:

Euro Spin:


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