Unsurprisingly, our vacation got off to a late start. Because most tasks here have been taking much longer than we anticipate, the process of picking up the rental car, loading it, and dropping the pups off at the kennel took most of the day. So really the first day of our vacation was spent getting ready for the rest of the vacation and driving to our first hotel, but it was a fun adventure nonetheless.
Our rental car was a little Mazda CX-3 with a manual transmission. I don’t know how to drive stick, and P has the skill and knowledge but it had been a long time since he’d driven one. The car rental company gave us the keys at the checkout counter and sent us to a parking garage where the car was parked on the 10th floor. The ramps leading out of the garage had such tight turns, it was a small miracle that our vacation didn’t end in the garage!
As we continued driving through Zurich and out of town, P became more comfortable with the car, and we were able to enjoy the ride. Switzerland provided some truly spectacular views as we made our way toward the Swiss-Italian border. The way the mountains, lakes, clouds, and sun play off one another is so breathtaking, it was hard to not ask P to stop the car every 5 minutes for another photo!
Once in Italy, the terrain changed and we drove by many beautiful fields and vineyards as we passed through Piedmont. We would have loved to have stopped by Lake Como or explored northern Italy, but between our late start and a lot of unexpected traffic, we needed to make our way quickly through Italy if we were going to make it to our hotel in Monte Carlo before midnight! It was neat to experience how close Italy is though, and we definitely want to take another trip to explore that area once our car arrives.
We arrived in Monaco shortly before midnight. The streets of Monte Carlo are very narrow, hilly, winding, and lined with ultra expensive cars (think Bentleys and Rolls Royces), so it was a huge relief to valet the car after such a long, challenging day of driving. We poured ourselves some Barolo that we had purchased during a pit stop in Italy and settled in for a quiet evening.