The fizz and the feast from last night have left me a little bit slow this morning so I’ve taken my time getting up. I’ve had the most delicious breakfast with lots of proper Italian coffee and then I set off again.
It was a hot morning already as I was securing my bag to the bike. A couple from Luxembourg were just getting on their bike and we had a quick chat. They were going to explore the coast and were asking me about my day as they’ve heard it’s not the best road for a big bike. Well, they’ve heard right. I’ve told them not to bother and to take the train which was their plan already but wanted a confirmation about it.
The route was taking me to Genoa then past Milano to Lake Como. Boring motorway miles again but it’s dawned on me that it was Wednesday already and I had booked the channel crossing train for the following Saturday so I had to start thinking about heading to Calais. That made me quite sad. I was having such a great time despite the emotional rollercoaster of events that I’ve been through. Riding is the best therapy ever, I am sure I’ve lasted this long without the happy pills because I’ve started riding.
The journey was fairly uneventful, you could tell you were nearing the cities of Genoa and Milano because the traffic was getting heavier and I was concentrating harder so I had to stop more often. I’ve made sure I stopped often to take a drink of water, too as the heat was relentless. But as long as I kept moving it was ok.
My first proper stop, however, was at Lake Como. The first time visiting it and I wasn’t expecting the town of Como to be as busy with traffic as it was. I found my way to the lake and was feeling exhausted, hot and bothered. Leaving my bike parked up I headed for the outdoor bar for a large bottle of water and an ice cream. Then I searched for a shade. There were people everywhere chilling by the water, feeding the swans, chattering away and just generally annoying me.
The ice cream was melting at a supersonic speed and I sat down on a bench next to a girl, I think – could have been a boy with tattoos and piercings and super short hair. I did check for boobs but that wasn’t much of a giveaway. Anyway, not the point. This person started smoking next to me which was the last straw so I left very quickly. Can you tell I was getting irritated by everything 😂
I figured if I headed north by the lake I’ll find a quieter village but after about 15 minutes riding in traffic I changed my mind and stopped to set my sat nav for Switzerland.
At the last minute, or the very last petrol station before the Swiss border I remembered I needed a vignette so I pulled up and bought one.
Something strange happened soon after I crossed the border to Switzerland. I noticed I suddenly became calmer and the pace seemed to have slowed down. I took a deep breath inside my helmet and said out loud “WOW” seeing the mountains. The Swiss Alps are incredible and this was only the beginning of them.
The driving style has changed in the cars around me, everything seemed calmer, slower but not actually a slower speed of driving; the air smelled lovely and not full of car exhausts and city factories and even Bella seemed to have relaxed and started enjoying the winding motorway, the long tunnels (she likes to rev up the engine and make the exhaust sing when in tunnels) and the amazing scenery.
Riding through the Gotthard Tunnel, however, was not exactly fun. This tunnel is 16.9 km long (10.5 miles) with a queue of traffic running continuously. The day was hot already so imagine a tunnel this long with exhaust fumes and hot cars, the air was getting thick and it was getting hard to breathe and the temperature was climbing.
You can imagine my relief when I felt the air getting thinner and a cooler breeze coming my way. I knew I was nearing the end of the tunnel.
I was not prepared for what came next. Once out of the tunnel I took the first exit off the motorway to head towards my accommodation. Almost immediately the road started climbing in altitude and with that came the sharp hairpins and the kind of scenery that left me in awe and riding with my mouth open. Thank god for the helmet!
The cars moving out of the way to let me overtake them but I wasn’t interested in going faster than them. I was quite happy sitting behind the traffic and admiring the magnificent views. Eventually the traffic died down, following the main route as I peeled off to find my accommodation.
This was a good hour’s ride away and the whole time I was singing in my helmet interrupted only by frequent “WOW” and “bloody hell this is beautiful” and “fuck me, I could do this all day long” comments to myself.
Oh, and I’ve stopped for a photo or two.
I have found my hotel easily, which was located in a ski resort, and checked in. I was expecting a room in the main building but was given keys to an apartment in the house next door. A two bedroom apartment with a living room, kitchen and a dining room. I felt like the queen and decided to cook that night rather than sit in another restaurant on my own.
I have emptied the tank bag and went looking for a shop. It was a challenge of what to buy to use as few pots as necessary that will also fit in a tank bag and to include wine.
Would you believe that the local shop sold half bottles of wine. Winner! And the simplest meal is pasta and sauce so that’s what I went with. At the till my card wasn’t working. Bugger. The lady on the till kept saying ‘no credit cards’ and I kept repeating ‘it’s not a credit card, it’s a bank card’ but she spoke French and I don’t. Luckily I had cash on me although it was Euros and she gave me Swiss Francs. That’ll be useful when I leave the country tomorrow. Anyway, I didn’t argue and went back to the apartment.
I heated up my food and drank most of the wine and just enjoyed the peace and quiet and my own company that night. My thoughts running around in circles but at least I was thinking about stuff and it’s all part of the process when you are knocked by the news that changes your lifestyle.