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Saturday, 13th July 2013 – Rally, Day 2

This was probably the most taxing day of all.

We arose with the lark, as usual, and having breakfasted and retrieved Sara from the bowels of the Earth proceeded to the morning briefing outside Dijon. This was a large Carrefour (a French supermarket chain) complex in neighbouring Quetigny. It was just a question of reporting in and picking up the day’s treasure hunt tasks. We caught up with other teams, too, such as Team 05 Yeee Haaa:

Team 05, Yeee Haaa

It was at this point that Stuart realised he’d left his camera in the B&B. We retraced our tyre tracks and fought our way through the traffic and one-way system to the hotel. The receptionist was helpful as ever and accompanied Stuart to the hotel room to help with the search. Nothing was found, so Stuart returned to the car and had another rummage round in his handbag. It was at this point that Stuart realised he hadn’t left his camera in the B&B after all …

With the clock ever ticking we now had to drive the 200-odd miles to the afternoon check-in at the summit of the Great St Bernard Pass, downhill (or rather, downmountain) from which was our ultimate destination of Turin. So off we went, this time passing through the French countryside on normal roads rather than motorways. We took the D72 and passed through the village of Houtaud, and were gratified to find a Lidl which allowed us to buy our lunch and some sun-cream for Stuart. Next stop was Pontarlier at 13:00 local time to eat our goodies next to the Triumphal Arch in the centre of town.

Pontarlier, Triumphal Arch
Pontarlier, Triumphal Arch 2

Lunch having ended we resumed the trek to the French/Swiss border. We were surprised to find that we were not asked to pull over, produce our passports nor have Sara searched. All the two bored border “guards” were interested in doing was selling us a vignette (motorway tax sticker for Sara’s windscreen) and we had to approach them for it and interrupt their conversation.

Once through the border and having picked up the A9 then A1 motorways we were fast cruising again. We paused at a services and received some ambiguous directions:


Ignoring these we pressed on, and Stuart who was driving at the time thought we’d got low tyre pressure at least or a puncture at worst which necessitated a check.

Wheel check

Everything looked OK and this was confirmed at a pit-stop at the next services.

There then followed a grand sweeping drive through the Swiss countryside to Lausanne then along the mountains parallel to Lake Geneva below. Passing Montreux and Villeneuve at lake level we headed for Martigny and the ascent to Great St Bernard.

Starting the climb

The road deteriorated and narrowed the higher we got.

Onwards and upwards 3

Here, with steep ascents and hair-pin bends I was at last able to try a bit of proper rallying – much to Andrew’s disgust.

We finally arrived at the summit of the pass around 17:00 and checked in with the MCoB team:

St Bernard Hospice 1

We did some touristy things and visited the conveniently-placed Bazaar where Stuart was pleased to find Swiss chocolate on sale at reduced prices. You can see the pile of 100g bars on the extreme left of the picture, sitting on the display case of Swiss Army knives. The friendly shopkeeper spoke excellent English and had visited our shores before:


Hopping back into Sara we set off down the other side of the pass and into Italy.

Descent 2

If you asked me where Switzerland ended and Italy began I couldn’t tell you – there was no sign, no customs house, nothing. Welcome to the United States of Europe! We had another 100 miles before us so once we descended into Aosta we picked up the A5 motorway and pressed on to Turin. Our new-build B&B was fairly easy to find on Corso Orbassano, again with an underground car park. This proved to be a blessing because the intermittent rain that welcomed us to Turin turned into a fierce thunderstorm. We later found that there were the proverbial “hailstones the size of golf balls” which had in fact damaged the MCoB hire car roofs.

It was at this point that Andrew succumbed to a suspect sausage he’d had for lunch and retired to his room with food poisoning. Speaking to the helpful receptionist (I really do recommend B&B) he arranged a taxi for me and, since I didn’t have any Italian beyond “si” and “mille grazie” and the driver didn’t have any English, he explained to the driver that I wanted taking to an ATM and then the rally check-in at Largo IV Marzo. This was accomplished very easily, and driving through water up to the hub-caps in places showed what a deluge had occurred. Having confirmed our arrival to the organisers I then found another taxi and held up a piece of paper with the word “Farmacia” on it (I saw such a sign on the way in). This was enough for the driver to deposit me at an all-night pharmacy (it was getting on for 23:00 by this time) where I held up another piece of paper with the word “Loperamide” on it (the active ingredient of Imodium which I’d discovered using the hotel’s free wi-fi connection). This worked, too, and I soon had a box of the necessaries. Finally arriving back at the B&B I handed them over to a definitely ill-looking Andrew then went a few doors down from the hotel to Lentini’s restaurant for something to eat – a chicken/raw spinach/cheese affair.

That marked the end of a very long day. As always, please see the Photo Gallery for the day. And so to bed.

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Saturday, 13th July 2013 – Rally, Day 2 from Monte Carlo - or bust!