Northern Italy Trip September 2015, Part 1: Departure, Car Rental Procedures and Courmayeur

Northern Italy Travel September 2015
Northern Italy Travel September 2015

Date: September 19, 2015

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From this issue, I will be writing a travelogue of my visit to Italy during the 2015 Silver Week.

Fly from Abu Dhabi to Milan with Etihad Airways

This time I chose Etihad Airways, which is the same airline I flew to Dubai in July. The flight departs from Narita at 9:00 p.m., so I can leave work early and head directly to the airport, which is great for making the most of my vacation. After arriving at the departure lobby, I picked up my luggage and WiFi rental as usual, and checked in. I expected it to be crowded because it was Silver Week, but I think it was not as crowded as I expected.

After that, I took a shower at the airport facility, completed my usual ramen ritual, passed through the security check gate, and boarded the plane. I had a light meal on the plane, and went to sleep soon after.

It was past 3:00 a.m. local time when I arrived in Abu Dhabi. This was my second time to use this airport, but it was my first time to transfer here. There is only one international transfer lobby, and it is small, so I could arrive at this transfer lobby right after arrival. I waited for about 4 hours while having a light meal and playing games (this time I played Dracula on 3DS). I arrived at Milan in less than 6 hours. I arrived at Milan in less than 6 hours, past 1pm Milan time. It was a very smooth flight.

Rent a car at Malpensa Airport

Upon arrival at Malpensa airport, we picked up our luggage and headed out. We went to rent a car, as we always do. The directions were easy to follow, so we didn’t get lost.


Well, I thought that I had to line up at the counter as usual, but it seems that the style here is to receive a number card and to check in after the designated number is called. I don’t remember this style in the rental car.

So, I issued a number ticket too. I was C202, and apparently there were three people waiting. It seemed to be more crowded with customers renting a car than I expected, but maybe this was the level of airports in major cities in Europe.

After waiting for less than 10 minutes, my number tag was finally called. The rental car procedure started. Of course I made a reservation, so the procedure went smoothly without any trouble. I received a paper envelope like this (with a copy of the contract inside) and went to the parking lot.

The parking lot is located right behind the car rental booths, so it’s easy to find, but the parking area is divided into left and right depending on the car rental company, so I needed to confirm which side I should go. However, you will be told which side of the parking area you need to go when you come to the reception, and even if you miss it, there is a sign near the entrance of the parking lot that tells you which car rental company is on the left or right side. My company was in the left side area. As I was told, I went to the area on the left side and went through there for a while, then I arrived at a small booth in the parking lot with AVIS written on it. There was a staff member there, so I handed in the envelope as instructed, got the key, and went to the parking space where my car was parked.

This is my partner, Opel ADAM, a small car. The class of rental car is “Economy”.


After setting up the iPhone stand and cigar socket charger, we set off to our destination for the day, Courmayeur, which is about 2 hours away.

Transfer to Courmayeur

In the past, it was difficult to get out of the airport to the direction of the destination, but now we have a Google Map navigation system, so we don’t get lost at all. I gradually got used to driving while checking the performance of the car, etc., and headed for Courmayeur in the far west smoothly.

Well, it is the car, and I thought that it was Opel again and I was underestimated immediately after I rented it, but I was relieved by the ride comfort and power that was better than I expected. The Opel that I rented in the past did not have good impression in general, but this was an exception.

It’s only up to 5th gear, but even 5th gear is fast enough.

Thanks to the first-rate car, I had a smooth drive without feeling particularly tired from the long flight.

Walking around the city

Then we arrived in Courmayeur, in the Aosta region near the French border, about two hours from Malpensa airport. A small town at the foot of Monte Bianco (that’s Mont Blanc in French), I could find the hotel easily. The hotel staff seemed to speak Italian as well as French, and English was not fluent but enough. We checked in safely using simple English. It was about 17:00 at this point.

The next picture was taken the next day. The view of the Alps from this hotel was very beautiful.


Perhaps because of such a thing, the city was not so quiet and thought it was a feeling. I think I passed more tourists than I thought. Still, it is a small town along the border, so there are no people like the big city.

So, since we still had some time before our dinner with the friend, we decided to explore the city a bit. First, we located the restaurant where we made a reservation today.

After that, I took a walk along the main street of the city. Even though it’s called the main street, it’s only about a 10-minute walk. It was impressive that there were so many shops of ski wear and winger sportswear, probably because trekking and winter sports are popular.

And the spectacular mountain views that can be seen from everywhere in the city were also lovely.

Dinner with friends at a reserved restaurant.

I walked around the city, rested at the hotel for a while, and went to the restaurant I reserved at 19:30 at night. I met up with my friend here. We booked a restaurant called “La Terrazza”, which is rumored to have a great reputation among the locals.

As it was the first day of our trip, we started to feel tired and fought against sleepiness, but we were still very hungry. We decided to have a full course of appetizer, pasta, main course, and dessert.

For the wine, at first I thought I’d have a spumante, but apparently the local white wine is usually fizzy, so I decided to have wine from the start. (But I forgot to take a picture of it…) Then we ordered a red wine, but I don’t have a picture of it either. I don’t know why I forgot to take a picture…


First, here’s an appetizer. The following is also Italian! This is a dish that says “Italy! I was surprised at this volume from the beginning.

For the pasta, I ordered the Gorgonzola risotto because I wanted something cheesy.

This is the main dish, but I actually forgot to note what it was. It was a dish served with “polenta” which is often seen in so-called northern Italy. I think it was a fish dish because it had a tuna-like texture, not meat. To be honest, I didn’t like it very much.

Dessert was ice cream with hot chocolate sauce. I think the name was Gelato de Monte Bianco-like. This was just plain delicious.

In addition, my friend ordered cheese fondue. We had a little bit. It’s a classic, but still delicious!

Now, I really understand why this restaurant is so popular. I think it’s because they use a lot of local ingredients and serve it in generous portions. The atmosphere of the restaurant was also very nice, and the staff was very cheerful and friendly. When we arrived around 7:30pm, there were still a lot of empty seats, but gradually people started to gather and before we knew it, the place was full. I was very impressed by the smiles on the faces of the people sitting at every table, enjoying their meals.

However, I personally thought that I could have enjoyed it more if I had gone there with a little more energy and hunger. It’s a lot of food (laughs). (laughs) Also, since I had just arrived, my sense of smell of food during the trip hadn’t come back yet, so I think that had some effect. There is nothing I can do about that.

We talked about many things while savoring the hearty food at Aosta, and then returned to the hotel after the meal.


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