Today and the next few days will be what bikers dream about. We will be riding first through the Dolomites then the Alps of northern Italy, Switzerland and southeastern France. Crisscrossing passes on tarmac ranging from perfect, with many bikes and famous names, to tarmac that is broken, worn from severe winters with pass names not so well known, and very few bikes. Those not so well known passes end up being the most memorable to us.
Waking up to another wonderful day, the sky a flawless blue, we pack the bike and enjoy a breakfast of croissants, fruit, homemade jelly and butter, one of our new favorites, Nutella, and fresh orange juice and coffee.
As we ride north the roads continue to improve, meaning straight to curves, gaining in altitude and scenery as the mountains go from blips on the horizon to taking the whole forward view. The skies cloud up with the tips of the ragged, craggy Dolomites thrusting skyward.
Working our way north through the incredible Parco Nazionale delle Dolomite Bellunesi we wound our way to the scenic town of Arabba before climbing to the Funivia del Sass Pordoi and Passo di Sellajoch.
The views from the top were breathtaking and we just stood in awe.
We found a busy campground at Camping St. Josef am Kalterer See on a pretty little lake.I grabbed a bottle of $2 wine to drink, opened it, and before I could get the tent setup our German neighbors had already invited us over for several beers. Of course we went over as this is what traveling is all about, meeting new people.
They wanted to hear about our adventures, so we drank and talked and almost missed dinner. The campground had a small restaurant with really good food at inexpensive rates. We split a salad and spaghetti, took a walk and headed back to the campsite where I had to finish my bottle of wine.
Another beautiful blue sky greeted us in the morning on our walk to the lake. Several people showed up and stripped to their birthday suits, (Europe, ya know), and jumped into the lake for their morning swim. We headed back to break camp and our German neighbors invited us over for croissants and coffee, (if you read this, contact me. I lost your names).
Such nice people.
As we rode out of town Melanie all off a sudden said “Look up”. Just ahead of us, straight up, was a castle on a massive rock ledge. It was so impressive that we pulled over and took a picture.
As Lake Garda comes into view we ride right into a massive traffic jam. Choosing to ride down the east side of the lake to the ferry, we hit solid, very slow moving traffic as far as we could see. Several sport bikes zipped by us, lane filtering, into oncoming traffic so we jumped lanes and followed. Having spent some time in California I am used to people being pissed at motorcycles and cutting them off. As we came down the hill the cars moved over, on both sides to let us all go and all was OK. Not one angry person was overtaken as we could see. Brilliant! It actually works here.
We stopped at a local deli and bought some crackers, salami and cheese (for me, not Melanie), and found a great place midway down the lake to have lunch by the water.
Continuing south to the tourist town of Torri del Benaco was enough for us so we hopped on the ferry for a nice ride across the lake. The views from the lake were great of all the estates on the west coast.
Riding off the ferry we headed west looking for a waterfront camping spot for the night. The town of Pisogne filled the bill within walking distance of downtown. The view from the campsite was incredible giving us a great show when the sun set and into the evening as the light of town reflected off the lake and a full moon rose over the mountains above town.
We walked into town to discover the only thing available to eat at the several restaurants open until 8pm was, PIZZA, again. Past the outside tables in the square was a giant old church in the square with music playing behind it. Following the cobblestone walk toward the 60’s style, American music brought us to an outside party which looked crashable, but we resisted and wandered back to the square for a delightful evening watching children play in the square while we munched our pizza and drank our carafe of red wine.
Tomorrow, the iconic motorcycle passes, Passo di Gavia and Passo di Stelvio.
Greg “WANDRR” and Melanie