Another trip, Milan this time

About six months ago I was online talking to my Italian friend Gian Paolo. We share a lot of passion about the field we work in, we are both Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals on the area of natural user interfaces and we have started an online community together (http://www.nuiworld.net if you’re interested). However, there are still a lot of things we want to do together, such as organizing a European conference on these topics. At one point in our discussion he said things would be easier if we would be physically together in one room instead of using Skype. So, maybe I could visit him in Milan one day?

Needless to say, I agreed. Then he asked me what flight I would be taking. Flight? Heck no, I’ll drive!

Of course our schedules didn’t allow for immediate action so it would be another six months before I got in the car.

I left the house at 5:30 in the morning. In front of me: 1150 km of road. I was looking forward to it. The trip predictor estimated that the trip would take about 12 hours, but I know from experience that I could easily add 2, maybe 3 hours. But every single minute would be great so I don’t mind. As I have said previously this car is the ultimate road trip car; you simply do not get tired from driving. At least, not like in other cars.

I left the house and headed out to Zevenaar. This would be the first chargepoint, near Arnhem. I only needed to charge for 15 minutes but since I wanted some coffee I planned a longer stop. Unfortunately, however, the restaurant there (superchargers are almost always near restaurants so you can eat, drink and use the restroom while you charge) wasn’t going to open until 8.00. So I just went back to the car, saw that it was charged enough and continued.

In Germany I hit a small problem. As you may know, they don’t have any speed limits in Germany on most of the highways. So it’s very tempting to press the pedal and go over 200 kilometers per hour. Fun as that may be, this does do disasters to the fuel consumption. That happens in a ‘normal’ car as well, but there it’s no big deal. You can stop everywhere to take up fuel. In a Tesla, that is another matter. So soon after I started having fun the trip predictor told me it was rerouting the trip to include an extra stop. That would cost me in total another 2 hours, partly because of the extra charge time but mostly because it had to take a less optimal route. I dropped the speed to a more acceptable 150 km/h and it quickly returned to the original plan.

I did make an extra stop however, but that had something to do with my coffee craving. I stopped at a McCafe (yes, that is that company) for a surprisingly good cappuccino and a chocolate donut. Hey, not only the car needs something to keep it going!

After some time I crossed the Swiss border and was immediately blown away by the scenery. After experiencing Norway I thought I had seen it all but apparently I have not. Switzerland is just as nice as Norway, but it does feel a bit more civilized and polished. Norway was a bit more rough on the edges. And to be honest, I did like Norway just a tiny bit more (not much though!).

I stopped just across the border near Basel for another charge. This charger was located at a beautiful Movenpick hotel but since the weather was quite nice I decided to take a walk around instead of having something to drink.

After 30 minutes the car was charged enough to continue so I went to Luzern. There, just after the city, there is another supercharger, one that I didn’t need to visit but decided to go there anyway. I had seen on the map that the charger was a bit away from the highway but was situated against a lake in the mountains. I was very happy that I made that decision: the view was spectacular. The picture at the top of this post is one I took there.

There were only 4 stalls there but the view made it all worth it.

From then on I moved towards the Gotthard tunnel. This used to be the longest tunnel in Europe (17 kilometers long) and is situated right in the middle of the Swiss Alps. I was hoping for some more great scenery on the way there and I was not disappointed.

On a small rest area near the tunnel I made this picture. The scenery doesn’t really come across in these pictures, you had to be there to appreciate the beauty of it all.

After this I went straight to the tunnel. With the extended stops I had lost some time and I wanted to be at my friend’s house before 9 pm. There was a pretty long traffic jam in front of the Gotthard tunnel so I had to get going. After the tunnel, on the road to Italy, there were also a lot of people on the road. I was told the next day that a lot of people work in Switzerland but actually move just across the border in Italy. These people stay in hotels during the week and go home on Friday night. And that is the traffic jam I got into.

In the end, after 15 hours of driving, in total making over 1100 kilometers, I arrived at Gian Paolo’s house. They did not have had dinner yet, they had been waiting for me.

Saturday I will be showing the car to my friend and his 8 year old son. I wonder what they think of it, having lived near the Monza track and Ferrari factories for most of their live. I hope I can convince them that electricity is better…

I can write another blog post about the hospitality of these people, but that is not the topic of this blog, so I won’t do that.

Sunday I will go back. I can’t wait to get on the road again…

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