|Top of the Grossglockner, huddling for warmth|
The end of the second day (first full day) on the bikes had Laura wondering “what the hell was I thinking” and contemplating how she could tour Europe by train. We set out of Bovec with the threat of rain, thunder and lightening. After a stunning climb and descent of the Grossglockner Pass and some beautiful riding through Italy, we had to stop to regroup and escape the rain around 3 pm. Down a rider (we misplaced Bill earlier in the day – luckily he had GPS and made his own merry way to Innsbruck where we met up with him!), we had a snack. After an espresso, we lit out the moment we saw a break in the weather. The break didn’t last long and we spent the final two hours in the pouring rain on the Autostrass. Arriving at the Innsbruck Youth Hostel, soaking wet, we weren’t in the ideal head space to deal with our lodging situation for the night. Suffice it to say, we would not recommend it for adults who value cleanliness.
|Lake Vernagt am See, Italy|
The next morning we awoke to sunshine and birds singing with a renewed sense of adventure and humour. At the outset of the day, we decided to take a slower, enjoyable pace and stop where we fancied. An espresso stop in Kuhtai, lunch at Naturparkhaus in Fliess, gelato in Curon Venosta and finishing the day through rolling Italian orchards. We pulled up to the beautiful Hotel Vernagt Am See in brilliant spirits that carried on into the evening with our schnapps birthday toast to David. Upon meeting back up with Rob and Sou, we realised that our laissez faire method of the day meant we had missed THE pass one does when in these mountains – Passo dello Stelvio! The next day itinerary was re-planned and within an hour we were climbing THE pass.
|Passo dello Stelvio|
A little observation on the different roads: The Swiss are startlingly efficient with their mountain passes. Think sharp hairpins and switchbacks. Austria is quite similar. Italian mountain passes take more of a twisting, rolling, hairpin and switchback approach – though they offer fewer guard rails and narrower roads, as a general rule.
|Swiss/Italian Border near Livigno Pass|
Back to the Stelvio – as you climb up the mountain you will take note of the traffic. Cars, motorcycles and bicycles coming down, making our way around the (slower) bicyclists, motorcyclists and cars on their way up. Getting a really good core workout while gripping to hold on and lean while Tony manoeuvred the bike around the hairpins (I had the GoPro on hand to film the adventure). Up, up, up..you wonder when you will hit the summit. When you finally reach the top, the view, brilliant snow and altitude make it breathtaking. Riding down is twisty, rolling and like a roller coaster as we made our way to Bormio. Considered one of the ‘Top 10’ rides in the world, none of us eager to try it again anytime soon.
After a day of exhilarating riding, we arrived at the St. Moritz Youth Hostel, ready for a good meal and somewhere to call home for a couple of nights.
Laura & Tony