We had been in Munich for nearly a week and were taking full advantage of all the beer and pretzels the city had to offer. Work was accomplished (thanks in part to our amazing host Dennis and his equally amazing internet connection,) sightseeing was done, and we were able to meet with our friends from InterNations three times during our stay. We still had to make it to South Africa at some point though, so it was finally time to part ways and head south.
Our cars were ready thanks to our mechanic friend Marcelo and the friendly staff over at Radlmaier Autohaus, Munchen. Marcelo had been able to diagnose and fix the major issues with both of the cars during that week while making full use of technology. Thanks to a handy program on a few of our phones (WhatsApp) we were able to forward timely images of the faulty engine components from Marcelo in Germany to our mechanic friends in the US throughout the repairs. This meant Marcelo was able to finish all the repairs in time for us to make our ferry (which we had rescheduled to a later time and different location to adjust for extra repairs), despite the rest of the mechanics being on holiday during that time period. The work and parts required was quite extensive, and so was the bill. Regardless, we were happy to have Lefty and Righty back in our possession and be on the road again.
The plan for the day was to drive six hours south to Florence, where we would stay for the night and spend most of the next day sightseeing. The first few hours involved a soggy trek through the Austrian Alps, followed by the mountains of northern Italy. We made a stop for lunch at a small German/Italian town only to find that everywhere was closed until later on in the day, so we continued on the road, eventually stopping for an early dinner once we reached Bologna.
Our first meal in Italy was a pleasant one–after a bit of walking around we each had a pizza at a restaurant right outside of the city center. After that we grabbed some gelato and headed back on the road, stopping once we were about a half hour outside of Florence to camp for the night. The highway rest stop was a bit too crowded to pull put the tents, so we opted to take local roads until we found a park parking lot, where we set up camp for the night.
The next day started out with an amazing drive through country roads, culminating in a spectacular view of Florence from atop a hill overlooking the city. We made our way down into the city center, and proceeded to try and find a suitable parking lot from which to leave and explore the city center. Easier said than done of course, as the entire city was plastered with ‘no parking’ signs, and we weren’t looking to get the shoes towed a day before we needed to catch our ferry.
We circled the city once, and then made our way back to the main roundabout to try a different area. Joe was driving Righty right in front of us, and right as we were crossing a busy intersection the car died. I thought it was just a stall, and waited for him to restart it, but it was not to be. Four lanes of traffic stopped due to our misfortune, BKK and Emily got out and pushed the car to the nearest side road while I piloted Lefty behind them. We parked both cars on the side of the road next to a restaurant, and set about trying to diagnose the issue(s).