Monday, July 18, 2011

The Beauty of Rest Areas

The view in the rest area

Traveling across Europe by land made me see things you don't see in the sky. By plane, we usually focused on the newest entertainment available on board or looking at the next meal menu. But by land, I got to see something else. Sure it was tiring but it's like seeing a postcard on your window. I traveled in a group of sixteen and embarked on a four to eight hours worth of driving a day. If it gets boring, there's a movie on the bus or getting down on your novels. But when the view is great, you won't take your eyes off it.

One of the exciting moments are actually the rest time. We have to pull up twice a day to use the restroom and the rest areas couldn't be more beautiful. I remember somewhere in Swiss when we were stopping, the rest area was surrounded by a beautiful range of the Swiss Alps. I couldn't wrap my mind around how beautiful it was.

They take rest areas very seriously around Europe because it's their distribution line. They are built to cater everything. Plus, they maintain a clean restroom (that's important!). We stopped several times at this chain rest area giant called Autogrill. The guide said it's pretty famous in Italy. I expect little stalls like they have back home but no. It was huge! They cook seriously. It is designed to be a self service restaurant. They have different stalls of pasta or grilled meat (pan fried chicken or seafood goods), provides a good selection of baked goods and dessert. It didn't feel like we were above a highway, in the middle of a four-five hour drive. But, it can result it taking too much food. We ended up doing exactly that :/

Tortellini Bolognese


We tried to different Autogrill in two countries. I ordered the pan fried chicken with potatoes and a tiramisu for my dessert. The portion? Very European. Is it true that the Western eat bigger portions? It was overwhelmingly big but it tasted quite okay. I love the potatoes. I guess potatoes are a signature dish in the west. The tiramisu was also very good. Not too coffee-y, something I don't enjoy very much. My brother tried the tortellini, which is too hard for my tongue. Well, we have to remember it is Autogrill, not a fancy restaurant. Or is it the way people cook it originally? My mouth is used to soft things I guess.

The other time I ordered pizza, with cheese and peperoni. It was soooo good. Well, it was just cheese and peperoni, how could it be so tasty?

The rest areas are designed to be quick, with the self-service concept and all of that. But at the same time, designed with such an effort. They don't just make a building and restaurants in it, it was actually a good looking building, some has parks with lots of bench. They grasped the need to have a good place to put up your feet. Especially because they have a non driving policy for bigger vehicle like trucks containers on Sundays. They literally have to stop their journey and stop on Sundays. Most of these vehicles may also have a tight schedule so they will want something fast. Like my bus, we have a schedule. The bus musn't go over 12 hours a day of driving so it's pretty good for these people.



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