After dropping off Wife and Daughter at Pisa airport for their flight home, I was making steady progress on my drive home. My target for the first night was somewhere north of Genoa, with a view of having an early start the next day and diverting to Chamonix for a few hours the next morning.
But around 5:30, just north of Genoa, the car seems to be losing power going up hill. This got progressively worse and then thick white smoke starts to pour out of the exhaust. I was lucky to be able to limp into a service station. A few exploratory phone calls later, and I have managed to arrange for someone from the Italian equivalent of the AA to come and collect the car and take it to a garage back in Genoa. By 8:00, I have even found a hotel just up the road from the garage and am booked in for a night - but I won't find out until tomorrow what the problem is - I hope it is just a blown exhaust.
Back to the garage late morning for some bad news. It is not the exhaust but the "turbo compressor" that has broken. They can get the part but not until tomorrow, and then it might take them well into Friday to fit it. Not good
So I have changed my ferry to early Saturday morning and have booked two more nights at the hotel.
My actual location is the tiny town of Voltri just up the coast from Genoa. My hotel actually backs onto rather a nice beach. But I have decided to try and get something positive out of the forced stop by doing some planning for the winter renovation of Petits Chats. So I stayed in most of the day and ate dinner at the hotel's restaurant - actually quite nice.
I also have Wife's laptop which has a few movies on it and there is broadband in the hotel so I can download some radio shows to listen to. So quite a productive day in some sense.
Back to the garage early afternoon for some better news. The part has arrived earlier than expected and has been fitted. But the exhaust system is full of oil and needs to be cleaned out. This takes a few hours but I am on my way again by around 5:00, 18 hours earlier than expected.
Total cost of the breakdown - about £2000!!
I make it to Chamonix around 9:00 but there are no rooms available in any of the cheap hotels as it is the Mont Blanc marathons this week. So I slept in the car
I have time this morning to do some exercise - the last before my triathlon on Sunday. My preparation has been terrible for this event. Two long days driving and two nights when I will probably be sleeping in the car. This will not leave me in the peak of condition for the race!
So today I take a walk for a couple of hours up the Chamonix valley through the forest. I also have time to buy a few cheap pairs of trousers from one of the outdoor stores
I left Chamonix around 11:00am and drove all day to Calais arriving around 11:00pm to find a huge traffic jam at the ferry port. Any hope of perhaps getting an earlier ferry had gone, so I slept five hours in Calais town centre in the car and got the 5:45 ferry.
Home two days late in the end