Being a Sunday, it was super busy with people, on all forms of transport, heading up through the series of tight hairpins to enjoy a coffee in the sun and soak up the atmosphere. Adding to the vibe today were the cyclists taking part in the Haute-Route Stelvio 2018 event. The summit, at 2757m and the 2nd highest paved road in the Alps, was the finish line for these crazy athletes.
We had approached from the gentler side and were riding up alongside the cyclists which, as discussed before, can be a bit hairy at times. Especially when cars are trying to race up the twisties and choose to not be cautious with their overtaking. We hung around at the the summit for a while, watching the comings and goings and taking the obligatory scenic shots. It’s almost like small town, with souvenir stores, coffee shops and restaurants.
Our number plate has been attracting interest everywhere we go and people have been asking to take pictures of it! I guess they just don’t see US registered bikes over here very often!
Then it was time to hop on and enjoy the ride back down! In all there are 48 hairpins that make up the Stelvio. Having been warned that it would be disappointing because of how slow you have to go to negotiate the turns safely, we actually found it pretty exhilarating and not that bad at all 🙂
So that was the super cool part. The super hot part was not so much fun.
We started the day at 57 degrees and expected the temps to drop as the elevation rose…which it did and we were thankful that we had bundled up with the KLIM thermals. However, after negotiating the Stelvio and carrying on our way towards the Dolomite region of Northern Italy and the town of Alleghe, the temps began to rise…and rise. By the time we stopped for lunch, it had reached 86 degrees and was not fun at all. Needless to say, we un-bundled quickly as soon as we stopped and set about rehydrating ourselves!
But this area of Europe continues to confuse me! As I told you about in my last post, the Swiss had me all discombobulated by speaking German in one area and then Italian in another. Today, we stopped for lunch and a drink, in ITALY…and they were speaking German. What the hec Europe? Can you not just speak the language for the country that you are in? It is very perturbing to me! I later researched and found out that Residents in the Dolomites have their own distinct culture. German and Italian are common languages spoken in the Dolomites, but the region has its own language, called Ladino after the Ladin people, who have lived there since the Bronze Age.
Carrying on towards our destination and with the sun beating down, I was, for once, actually thankful for the damn tunnels! At least we could cool down a bit while in them!
The ride though, was beautiful. It was a long six hour day and we were waning from the heat but we both agreed that the roads had been awesome and that the scenery we are enjoying continues to amaze us. Even more amazing is that I am now 5 for 5 on our room with a view mission! Our accommodation for the next three days may be somewhat dated (circa. 1960), but once again we have a stunning view…oh, and there is a bar, literally just across the street – sweet!
Our first day exploring the Alleghe area went a bit wrong but again, it was a good wrong!
If we’ve had “discussions” at all this adventure, they have mostly revolved around the GPS and how it isn’t working/directing us correctly. I know it’s old school but I am a long term fan of using Google maps and can make a great route using the “drag” option, taking me exactly where I want to go and using the roads I want to use. Unfortunately, I cannot communicate Google maps to the Garmin GPS. For months Iain wanted me to look at using “Basecamp”, which will interact. However, I have been very stubborn and after looking at it once and being terribly confused by it, I never tried again. Needless to say, every time something goes wonky on the route, it’s obviously my fault! Still, for the most part we’ve managed to get where we wanted…until today!
I had planned a route that would take us up to Lake Braies and back. It should have been a neat 4 hour round trip, taking us through some good passes along the way. Somehow, we went completely in the wrong direction and didn’t realise until we were well off course! Sitting in a small café, we got talking with a couple of guys from Belgium who were also on an extended adventure trip with their GS’s. Iain was bemoaning the workings of the GPS when the nice older Belgique, very kindly, showed him this really awesome thing that you can do on it….which would have solved every issue we have had so far! All I can say is; read the bloody instructions!!
Anyhoo…here we were, way off course, so I had to take a look at the map and redesign our day.
It turned out to be a great ride. Up and down, sweeping curves, a few tight hairpins, alpine passes and more spectacular views. All in all, it a wonderful few hours riding.
Tomorrow we will go to the lake!
Disaster struck that night…in the form of an exploding hairdryer! Well, OK, I may be being a tad dramatic here but seriously, this was very distressing to me! I have hauled my shiny new travel hairdryer all over Europe with us but never needed it until now. To set the scene; I was kneeling on a chair to enable me to see in the one mirror in the apartment which is, unfortunately, set for giants, and I can only see from the eyebrows up when standing in front of it! Anyhow, I plug in to the handy dandy charger/converter that has been doing us so well, start the dryer and, “POP”! Hmmm…not so good 🙁
Iain did a good job of keeping me calm while trying to sort the issue out but to no avail. I had to go out to dinner with wet hair, held in place with my shades as a makeshift hair band. Red wine was much needed!! We later discovered it was just a blown fuse in the converter so I can retrieve said dryer from the trash where it was thrown in disgust!
We never did get to the lake. We saw on Facebook, that some friends were on vacation in Venice, which was only two hours away from where we were. After a couple of messages back and forth, I found a restaurant to meet at an approximate halfway point and plans were made for lunch.
I had chosen a lovely looking restaurant, right on a lake with some lovely views. However, the day dawned very overcast and there was definitely rain on the cards for us. Only about ten minutes after we set off, we had to pull over and don the “yellow perils”. It rained on and off for the rest of the 90 minute ride. As we arrived at the restaurant to meet Jackie & Stephen, we looked behind us and the sky was black! It seemed the storm had been chasing us all the way! The wind picked up and a lady was at the edge of the lake hollering in (very) loud and excitable Italian at her kids. We got the gist; she wanted them OFF the lake, lickety split!
BIG language barrier, but with the help of “Google Translate” we managed to order a good lunch and enjoyed a good catch up with each other. Needless to say, we never got to enjoy the promised stunning views!
I know social media, and FB in particular, can be super annoying but without it we wouldn’t be able to plan spontaneous meetings such as this. Who would have known we were so close!
Riding back to the apartment was quite the drag..very wet and somewhat chilly. I remained dry all the way through but somehow Iain ended up with wet sleeves and one wet foot. Could the trusty “yellow perils’ be failing him?!?
We stopped at a “Kanguroo Supermercati” for some supplies and decided to stay in and cook some pasta for our last night in this place…with a couple of bottles of red thrown in for good measure!
Tomorrow we head off up north to Germany 🙂
Follow our posts as we prepare for our 13 week tour of Europe that starts in May 2018!