Day 4 complete

30 07 2010

The overnight stay at the top of Stelvio Pass was a little bit cold. The heating in the hotel was switched off and we only had thin blankets. Our room looked like something from Colditz, so the photograph below is that of the escape committee.
One of the other teams tried to set off Chinese Lanterns, but they weren’t very successful as we were 3,000 metres up and the oxygen levels in the atmosphere were quite low.

The day started with us all dressed as nuns having a water fight in one of the car parks. All the residents of the surrounding hotels were hanging out their windows to watch. Even a matching pair of British registered Jaguar XKR convertibles turned up to watch the fun.
The organiser of the rally, Justin Clements, stood on the roof of one of the cars to make an announcement and ended up getting soaked to the skin when all of the teams ran forward and blasted him with their water guns.

The drive down Stelvio was brilliant, with all four of us having a turn to throw the car around the hairpins. Each time we changed drivers though, we had to let the car stand for about ten minutes as there was smoke billowing from the brakes. If we wanted to reach the bottom in one piece we had to let the brakes cool regularly.
We ended up on a convoy of about ten cars on the way down, which was great fun with all the horns blaring to give it that extra bit of atmosphere. We all had to stop suddenly for some roadworks on one of the 48 hairpins and one of the teams cars ended up skidding into the back of another team. No one was hurt and there was minimum damage done.

Our daily challenge was to go in to St Marks Square in Venice , dressed as nuns and get photographs of us with groups of other people. The more people in the group the more points awarded.
The drive to Venice wad miserable. We had biblical rain storms the whole way there. Maybe it was because someone upstairs wasn’t happy the teams were dressed as nuns in the country which is home of the Catholic church! We had not seen rain like this while driving for many years, and it delayed us by over an hour.

The rain didn’t ease off when we arrived in Mestre, which is where we parked up and caught the train into Venice. Leaving Venice train station we were soaked within seconds. We had decided by that stage not to take part in the days task. Partly because our costumes were still wet from the watt fight 7 hours earlier, and partly because we felt like drowned rats so didn’t fancy being drowned rats dressed as nuns.

The rain did not ease up the whole way around Venice and even though we were all wearing water-proof jackets, we got soaked right through. Our shoes, socks and underwear were sodden. It was worth it though, because St Marks Square, and the whole of Venice in fact, were stunningly beautiful.

After trudging through the rain to get there we decided to get one of the many ferries back to the train station. I don’t think we could have faced any more rain! As soon as we got on the train…the rain stopped. Typical!

It was then a short drive of about 25 miles to our hotel for the evening in the holiday resort of Sottomarina, near Chioggia.

After a beautiful meal all the teams enjoyed a few drinks together and had a great night.
One of the teams however seemed to enjoy themselves a bit too much and decided to vandalise some of the other cars. Fire extinguishers were let off over two cars, and at least three cars had their doors kicked which meant big dents in the bodywork. They then proceeded to get into their own car and spin it around their hotel car park and crashed it into another teams car. They might be bangers but there is no need to treat them like that. Afterall, they still have to drive the final section to Rome, which is about 500Km.

Hopefully get will be disqualified and asked to leave the rally. The last I heard was that the police had been called, so we shall see what happens.

Our car has an appointment with the scrapyard on Saturday morning, but we are hoping to get to Rome early enough on Friday to be able to do the dreadful deed then instead. That will at least give us a free day on Saturday for some sight seeing before myself and Triff have to get to the airport for our flights home. Russ and Edd are staying for an extra day as their wives are flying out to meet them in Rome.

It has been a very long week, but I don’t want it to end. It relate has been one of those experiences that will be remembered forever.

Bring on the last day of driving and the group meal in Piazza Navona in Rome.

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