Not what we wanted, but there is always a Plan B!

Trip Start May 04, 2013
Trip End Jul 07, 2013

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Flag of Italy  , Lombardy,
Monday, June 10, 2013

7 June to 11 June 2013 - After 3 nights in Varese, the bikes both having been serviced, it was time to hit the road again. Next destination – Andermatt, hopefully to ride some mountain passes. We had already been told by some other riders that Passo dell Stelvio or as it is known locally - Stilfserjoch Pass, was closed due to a landslide - we hoped it would be open again by the time we got there.

The day was cold but fine. The views as we rode continued to be spectacular. One of the main aims of the day was to ride two passes – Simplon (2005m) a simple one and Furkapass (2431m).

We arrived at the top of Simplon just in time for morning tea! As this was Chris's first mountain pass, we spent quite a bit of time at the top taking photos and enjoying the moment. Then it was down the other side and onward to Furkapass.

As we got closer, the inevitable signs started to appear by the side of the rode – Furkapass Chiuso –CLOSED! We continued on anyway as turning back meant a really long detour to get to Andermatt. We thought (but were not sure) that there was a tunnel alternative to get over Furkapass. We were right. A small train was waiting when we got to Gletsch. The fare was 18 Euro for each bike but that was a lot cheaper than the petrol and time we would have spent backtracking. We had to stand beside the bike to secure it during the 20 minute trip through the mountain – not sure how long that makes the tunnel???? (google it). At least our carriage was enclosed – the carriages for the cars were not.

Exiting the other end of the tunnel we were a little disappointed that we had not been able to ride the pass but we put the train trip down to its own unique journey and one we would have missed had we gone over the top.

Andermatt was only a short ride after the train trip and we were soon nice and warm in our hotel. The plan was to stay 2 nights to allow us to ride some of the scenic roads around this town. Dinner was found in a restaurant full of American tourists on a whistle stop tour of Europe – 21 days from Rome to Paris. On the way home our luck with local musicians was holding – we encountered two musicians playing their Alpen Horns in a side street for the entertainment of the tourists in town. They were rewarded with applause and a couple of glasses of wine from the owner of one of the restaurants 

After talking to the host of our hotel at breakfast the next morning, he informed us that Sustenpass was also closed so once again we had to rethink our plans for the day!

Our decision was governed by the roads that were open and places we had previously visited. We headed out of town and rode around Vierwald-stattersee (lake that Luzern is on) until we reached Brunnen where we noticed many bikers stopped. We used this as an indication of a good spot to stop for morning tea. After coffee, a walk around town and sending a couple of postcards, it was back on the bike. We decide to head for Luzern for lunch. Chris had been there before but not since 1984 so memories had dimmed with time.

We try to avoid large cities on these trips, but Luzern was a pleasant surprise – yes a big city but easy to navigate, park and walk around. Lunch was had sitting by the lake before a quick walk around town and then back on the bike to head home. The ride back to Andermatt was quick as we mainly stayed on the motorway only retracing our route to ride up Oberalpass back into town.

We decided on a "Greggy Dinner" so it was off to the supermarket to purchase beer, wine, ham, cheese, bread, cherries, tomatoes, chocolate and chips. The beer and chips were devoured on the rooftop terrace of our hotel and we then retired to Chris’s room for the main course – ham, cheese and tomato paninis washed down with a delicious bottle of Rose.

Next morning was not what we had hoped for – it was pouring rain! We delayed our departure until 10:15 but the weather had not improved at all. On went the wet weather gear and we set out in cold and very wet conditions – as all riders know, this is not fun!

Once again our plans to ride scenic mountain roads had to be reassessed. We were heading back into Italy – destination Livigno. Luckily there were a couple of options so we chose the quickest one. This still took us through St Moritz, a favourite 'pretty spot’ from our 2011 trip. Today was not to have quite the same effect on us. By the time we had ridden up and down Julierpass (2284m), we were bloody cold. The riding was very slow as the road was extremely slippery and we feared there could have been icy patches as the temperature was close to freezing. Safely in St Moritz, all we wanted to do was have a toilet break and get back on the bikes to get to our destination as soon as we could. The rain did not let up for the whole day, but at least it proved that the newly purchased (35gm) wet weather suits were effective protection from the rain.

To get to Livigno we still had to overcome two passes – Bernina Pass (2330m) and Forcola Pass (also 2330m). Again, the going was very slow but the scenery was spectacular – just don’t ask Greg about this as he was concentrating so hard on the riding that he says he saw nothing. Unfortunately, we can’t even show you how bleak but spectacular the scenery was, as the camera was hidden away beneath Kerrie’s multi layers of clothes and not accessible without undoing jackets and taking off gloves and THAT WAS NOT AND OPTION!

Our arrival in Livigno was a relief. We parked in front of the pre-booked accommodation only to find a sign on the door that the hotel was closed until 15th June – today was the 9th! Plan B – find a warn internet hotspot, have a large cappuccino and find somewhere else to stay! The new hotel was open, about 1km up the road and was booked in a jiffy. The receptionist was quite surprised when we turned up about 15 minutes after we had booked the room. What a find this hotel was! Lovely rooms with a balcony overlooking a small ski slope, indoor pool, spa, sauna and wellness centre – and at the right price! The rain had set in so it was to be two nights of much needed (just ask Greg) rest and relaxation. Livigno is a Duty Free shopping area. It must be a winter wonderland with a huge variety of ski slopes of all sizes. In summer it would be busy with walkers and cyclists. At the moment it is almost deserted as the weather is not the best. We managed however to easily fill in our rest day – washing, shopping, eating, swimming, and generally relaxing.

Tomorrow is off to Oetz to continue our quest to ride mountain passes. We have checked the internet and some sites tell us Stelvio is now open – fingers (and everything else) crossed. Tomorrow might be THE DAY!
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Sandra Karamitelios on

Wow, some amazing photos here (except the DT photo!!) Is this rain ever going to let up? I could feel the cold reading this. We riding to Superbikes at Willowbank tomorrow joining the memorial ride for Miles from Nerang Ducati. Sunny weather but 9 degrees, after reading this I won't complain.
The passes look amazing, I've said prayers for Stelvio for you - really hope you get a great ride there.

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