Day 20 – Parma

These French cars are an odd mix of high-tech and crap. Gotta give props for the all-too-cool keyless entry and engine start. The “key” is just a square piece of plastic that you keep on you. I put mine in my wallet right along with the credit cards. You walk up to the car and the car senses its key and unlocks the door for you. You sit down and press a button that says START and that’s it. You’re all set to go. Kudos also for the wipers that can tell when it’s raining and turn off and on when it’s needed as do the headlights when it gets dark out and the little sensor that goes beep-beep-beep when you’re backing up and getting too close to something behind.

But then there’s the other stuff. The reason, I suspect, we don’t find many French cars in the states. There’s the little engine that couldn’t for starters and then the flimsy and hard to use controls. But mostly it’s the cheap feel of it all; despite being brand new there is a cacophony of rattles, squeaks and miscellaneous noises that don’t inspire any confidence that this machine won’t be sitting in a landfill a couple of years from now. Sure am damn glad I didn’t drop the asking 30 grand on it (in Euros!).

Anyway! Woke up bright and early and started off towards Parma to check out their Museum. It was easy enough to find and today lady luck smiled on me and gave me a nearby parking spot. I was in and out within an hour and felt that was all very tidy.

From there I made my way down to the coast, the Italian Riviera heading towards the French border. It was nice for a change to come out of the hinterland to “civilization” where there were hotels and pizzerias every couple hundred yards but then the other side of the coin was the endless traffic and other nuisances that make driving through cities less fun.

I settled for the night at a hotel after being assured that, yes, they do have internet. Paid 50 euros and was glad to rest my bones on a bed and shower. Naturally, there was no internet. Big surprise.

On a positive note, since I had been unable to find a Laundromat all day long – found three laundry services all of which were of the dry cleaning sort – I took the bull by the horn and washed half a load’s worth of laundry right in the sink. The drying part is where it gets interesting. For that I felt a rush of American pride as I reached for the hair dryer stuck to the wall. Yes, it was clumsy and I shudder to think how many watts I sucked out of the power grid to leave that thing on for hours while I spot dried a sleeve here, a collar there and so on til all was nice and dry by about one in the morning.

Day 21