Toll Booth Terror

I thought it couldn’t get any worse than yesterday.

Our first toll of the day was €4.10. Take a ticket; drive until a toll booth appears; pay for the kilometers traveled.

Of the dozen or so booths, some had a red X over them and some were for the prepaid Telepass. Others only take a carte – never a good option as you can’t be sure what your credit card will be charged and receipts are unpredictable. That leaves cash only, denoted by a picture of coins and notes – 12 lanes of traffic – quick make a choice!

“Look for an arm,” I pleaded with himself, meaning I wouldn’t have to deal with the automated toll horror. I pushed a €5 note towards a human and received my change.

I felt pleased with myself, but we’d only been on the road 15 minutes.

Several miles later we drove to a barrier to pick up the next ticket. Except the barrier was up and there was no ticket. I pressed a red button. Still no ticket. I pressed the assistance button but was secretly pleased no one answered. No parlo italiano was all I could say. What good would that do?

Traffic was piling up behind us so himself pulled off the road the other side of the barrier and stopped.

“We have to have a ticket,” I said unhelpfully.

Himself stared stoically ahead.

“If we don’t have a ticket we’ll be charged the maximum amount.” My hand twitched towards the door handle. The next booth over was dispensing tickets and I contemplated sprinting across two lanes of traffic and assaulting that machine.

Trucks flew out from a blind bend and barreled through the booth we’d just come through. I thought better of offering up my life for a toll ticket. “One of us has to go and get a ticket,” I said, meaning not me. Both lanes had a solid stream of traffic.

Himself was looking over his shoulder by now. His hand moved towards the gear stick. He put the car into reverse and began backing up.


“Stop yelling at me!”

“I’M NOT YELLING AT YOU!” I yelled at him.

I dared look behind only once to see that the lane was clear before himself began a tenuous reverse chicane maneuver around some superfluous barriers on the wrong side of the lane.

He rounded the first barrier and snugged up between the two for a moment’s shelter from the fear of the trucks appearing and ramming us. He began to reverse around the second barrier and I remember thinking, pathetically, I hope he doesn’t take my wing mirror off by driving too close to the barrier. I mean, really, a) I know he’s a better driver than that, and b) with our lives at risk, who cares?

Miraculously, he reversed far enough to go through the booth spitting out tickets and I grabbed one and slunk down in my seat.

I’m not an alcoholic. I’m really not. I don’t drink in the mornings. I rarely have a glass of wine at lunchtime. I don’t even have a drink every evening. But I’m having one tonight!

'Aloha' from Lake Geneva
‘Aloha’ from Lake Geneva. We made it through the Alps!

55 thoughts on “Toll Booth Terror

  1. Lovely photo! I drove 990 miles each way in two days last week and the week before when I drove through Tacoma and Seattle on my way to and then from Lummi Island in the Puget Sound. I understand tired!


    1. We went with the toll road option as we’re on a tight schedule. Nine days between weddings. It takes twice as long to drive through all the towns and villages. We’ve done that. It’s also more expensive as it means more hotels on the way. We also considered the flying and hiring a car in Italy option. Pros and cons every which way. NEXT time – we discussed this in the car today – no more than 100 miles a day! We did 360 miles today and will do the same tomorrow, over 1200 miles in 4 days. All his driving is making me tired!


        1. 1260 miles (not including the English channel) door-to-door from Suffolk in England to Porto Sant’Elpidio in Italy (and of course now heading back). So . . . nearly twice that distance from the north of Scotland to the toe of Italy!


  2. I know traveling is an adventure but some adventures are more adventurous than others. Good thing there are lots of wine regions in Europe, it looks like you’re going to need it.
    Ruth from At Home on the Road


    1. New plan! Visit all the wine regions. I could start with France. Oh wait. I already have! We stayed in the Languedoc-Roussillon region last year – one of the biggest wine producing regions in the world. We didn’t drink it all! I wonder where we should try next. Any suggestions?


  3. Backing up into moving traffic?! I’m so impressed with you and your hubby. Gilles & I would be divorced by now … assuming one of us was still alive 🙂

    Lovely picture. Can I assume that was after some liquid mood modifier? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Worth it for you maybe. lol You weren’t there! Yeah, it was really. That whole toll thing happened in less than five minutes. There were other small traumas during the day but all’s well that ends well!


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