23 Aug – 5 Sept: A grand tour of Switzerland and together with family in Lugano after more than 20 years.

It had been quite a grand tour of Switzerland already, with the wonderful excursions into Bern and the Bodensee from Germany and back (to make more repairs), but now ready to set off again and drive through the country for the last time. Our passports were ready to pick up in Bern, and from there we could make our way across the Alps into the south, stopping off in Lugano to catch up with family. And as we headed off we had no idea that we would again be delayed by more than a week…..

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The first hour was a great drive; the scenery is just awesome, and then we were onto the motorway south, towardsBasel. Fortunately the traffic wasn’t too bad, and we had a pretty decent drive for the rest of the morning too. We only stopped once for petrol and a coffee, and while I was getting the goods, Stew was again engrossed in conversation with a passerby. We’d already driven this road once, and we soon crossing the border from Germany back into Switzerland at Basel (And I even managed to snap a couple of photos).

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We made it to camp by 11.45am, and set up in the same place we were a week ago! The afternoon was so warm and sunny, it was fun to set up camp, and we soon enjoyed a cuppa too.

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We wanted to get to the visa place, so I checked online and passport collection was only after 4pm. So we spent a couple of hours online, Stew looking for some new spares he wanted to Fritz…it took ages. We set off walking into the city around 3.30pm, and ended up walkabout for over 2 hours.

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Back at the visa place, we were quite unsure what to find, But we were returned our passports with multiple entry visas for India, valid till Feb 2017, Awesome. We sat outside and took a selfie….

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It was already 6.30pm by the we sat down at the camp restaurant for a celebratory beer – and amazingly I spotted Saft from Mohl in a bottle, which I hadn’t seen on our first visit, so that was a real treat too, especially with a ceramic tumbler too. So we chinked glasses, 2 visa’s done, 1 to go…..and enjoyed a relaxing hour, sat out in the warm late afternoon.

We didn’t head off to make dinner till nearly 8pm, and found we were the only people eating at the camp kitchen, everyone else was washing up. Stew made us yummy omelette (garlic, mushroom and cheese), and we had some tossed salad and tasty bread too. I did the dishes, and then we headed back to the tent. It was dropping dark quite quickly now, so we zipped up, and managed another hour before bed. The night was cooler than we expected, though we were snug in the tent. We dosed till well after dawn, finally unzipping the tent around 8am, as we both needed to get to the bathroom. The day was so bright and clear, with the sun just creeping over the treeline, so only a bit of the campground was bathed in sunlight. It had definitely been cold; the expanse of grass was white – not quite frost but very cold dew. It would take a while to dry off. We made a cuppa, and Stew was online browsing the days news. I wanted to go for a run, but Stew wasn’t keen (It was too early). So I put on my running gear, and new Honda-Muller running vest and headed off along the river, in the opposite direction. It was pretty touch as I hadn’t done a session for a while, but I did a 40 min jog (5 km) and 10 mins of excercises on a bench by the side of the river. But what a great ‘gym’, the fast flowing river and dense forest path was so beautiful. I made it back to camp around 9.15am, and Stew was ready for brekkie. So we took our supplies up to the camp kitchen, and had a leisurely hour over breakfast and coffees. Stew then wanted to just check all the tappets settings, after all the adjustments over the past few days. So he spent an hour on the bike, while I managed to start some work for the blog again. The bike was all good, though a couple of the tappets did need to be loosened a bit, but should be good to get us over the Alps.

It was a wonderfully warm, or rather hot afternoon, so we thought we’d go for a swim in the river, before the afternoon crowds descended. So we got into our bathers, and headed to the waterfront. Stew got as far as getting his feet wet, pronouncing it was too cold. He’s definitely a wuss when it come to water since he’d become Australianized. I went swimming and it was quite an experience. I didn’t want to go floating down too far on my own, but was really awesome I really enjoyed it. And so refreshing from the afternoon heat. We sat a while on the pebbly beach, but decided we’d be more comfy on the grass by the tent. So we headed backs and did a bit of sunbathing and reading.

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We walked into town in the later arvo, to get dinner supplies – and ended up getting a pack of stir fry for tonight. Its definitely rush hour on the wanderweg at the end of the day, with everyone finishing work. I’ve never seen so many people in cossies walking several kilometers; you definitely feel over dressed even in shorts and T-shirt. We arrived back at camp 2.5 hrs later – it was really busy in the cafe and lots more people camping too. So another pleasant evening in the camp kitchen and then getting tucked up in the tent again. The next morning neighbours were quite noisy packing up their tent around 7am, but it was nice to hear the flowing river and early bird song too. Stew was happy to doze a while, but I wanted to go for another jog, as the path was so lovely through the forest by the river. I did the same circuit as yesterday.

Back at camp by 8.30am, we made brekkie and a cuppa. Stew was browsing the news, while I checked the email. There was a reply from the Green Card insurance, so I managed to send off all the info and make the payment, for 1 month – hopefully the document will arrive at Patrizia (in Lugano) when we are there. That done we started making the preparations to pack up camp. It took a while, but we eventually managed to get everything loaded by around 11am. We knew we weren’t needing to drive too many kilometers today, so there was really no rush. It was less than 250 km to Lugano, and we wantéd to spend one night in the high Alps.

By the time we were dressed and ready to go, we were both starting to overheat in all our gear, so it was good to finally get on the road, and have some self-generated breeze. It was an absolutely spectacular days drive – the mountain scenery, with rugged snow clad peaks, and the lakes are so mesmerising. I remembered it was good, but just not how good. And of course the scenery was interspersed with tunnels; we started with a few hundred meters, then over 1 km. 3.5 km felt quite long, till we got into the 5.3 km one.

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We were following signs for the Gotthard, and ended up slightly off course, heading up the A2 towards Luzern, so I got Stew to pull over. We were going to go into the restaurant to have a drink, but all the tables were full, so we just had some water, fruit and chips where we’d parked the bike, and looked over the map. There were some great blackberry bushes right on the foreshore where we had pulled in, so Stew grabbed a bag and went picking, so we’d have fresh Alpine blackberries with our yoghurt in the morning. Stew still wasn’t entirely happy with the way Fritz was running, and I must admit the echoing noises in the tunnels doesn’t help at all. But we didn’t want to get into some small road high pass that may be a bit tricky. So checking the map, we decided to keep on the road towards Luzern, then veer off on the A2 towards Andermatt. Stew spotted Fluelen, just north of Andermatt and we knew we’d camped there before (and distinctly remember Stew pushing me into the freezing lake there!). So we soon agreed that was the place we’d head for the night.

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I didn’t remember it all that cleary, but it all came flooding back. We passed through the longest tunnel of the day (9.3 km), and not far out took the turning to Fluelen. It was all so familiar (We’d first stopped here on 1980, on our first motorbike adventure, 6 weeks on the Yam 650 twin, to Greece and back). The small town buildings, churches and train station, and then just out of town we found the same campsite.

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We’d soon checked in and made camp. The waterfront was gorgeous, and though Stew as happy reading his book in the shade I Just had to go for a swim. The scenery was breathtaking, and the water not as cold as I expected (or remembered).

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We’d spotted a Lidl supermarket as we’d turned off the highway into town, so we thought we’d have a walk (though not sure how far it was). We took the backpack and our books, and both needed our hats and sunnies. It was a great walk along the rail line and lake side, and again we remembered so many sights from visiting here before. We even passed the Strandbad (swimming place) – where we had spent and afternoon, and Stew had pushed me into the lake. I can still remember it totally taking my breath away – and Stew wasn’t even game enough to go in!

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It was a 2 hr trek by the time we got back, but the excursion had been worth it. We had supplies for a chicken madras curry, as well as bread, yoghurt and milk for the morning. By the time we got back to camp we were both feeling pretty hot and sweaty, and Stew said he was up for a swim !! so we soon got changed and headed to the water. He didn’t last long; one dunk under the water, protesting it was too cold – and getting out, but I stayed in a while longer. Its just so amazing. Clear waters and pebbly underfoot, and looking up surrounded by a huge circling mountain scape.

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We could see the sun sinking towards a high peak on the western horizon, so we sat ourselves on the grass by the tent for the last bit of sunshine drying off and just soaking up the view.

With the sun beyond the mountain peak, we did get quite some twilight, enough to cook by and enjoy our meal. The chicken and mushroom madras was absolutely delicious, and the views were just incredible. I even managed to get washed up and organised for the morning tea, before we retreated to the tent for an hour of computing, before zipping up for the night.

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As we unzipped the tent was could already see the sun blazing on the western mountain peaks, though we were well and truly in the shade for some time to come. Stew put the pan of water on to make some tea, while I wandered down to the lake shore to take a few photos. It was quite magnificent; calm waters and still air. And such start contrasts between the sunny and shade sides – the early brilliance of the sun was giving beautiful reflections of the peaks on the lake.

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There were a few people up and about, and a surprising number came through to the watersports centre on camp, taking stand up paddle boards and kayaks out. We took a leisurely hour over breakfast, enjoying the Alpine blackberries and yoghurt, and making another brew. Stew was online checking the days news, while I was working more on the blog notes.

We had only around 120 km to go today, over the Gotthard Pass, so there was no real rush to pack up. We did pretty well, as the sun came over the mountain, first drying off the tent, but leaving us enough shade to pack comfortably cool. We made it onto the road by 11am, and what a fabulous days drive we had. Such incredible scenery, and only marred by Stew still having niggling doubts that there was something not quite right with the bike – but he just couldn’t pin point what.

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We headed up the old pass, not wanting to do the 17 km tunnel….the queues were amazing. We had to stop passed some traffic works, just to let the engine cool down a bit. And we ended up chatting with a couple of young guys in a parked car next to us. Asking how far it was to the top, and where could get some petrol.

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The scenery was quite breathtaking – I just forgot how amazing it was. The fuel stop turned out to be an auto-card pay pump under an umbrella! We got over the top (and always amazed to see the cyclists up there), and pulled in at one of the viewing laybyes – to take a couple of pics and even managed to get a coffee too (and sticker of the Gotthard Pass).

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Going down was easier on the bike, and we diverted off the motorway to take the smaller road onto Belinzona. Another quite spectacular drive, though the air quality was definitely worse on this side of the mountain range. We had one more pull over into the shade for a 10 min cool off again, before taking the last 40 km to Patrizia’s place in Agno (Lugano). We’d been on the road nearly 4 hrs and done less than 100 miles today.

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We found the place no probs with the GPS for a change, and soon rang the bell. With lovely warm greetings from Patrizia, not having seen each other for at least 22 years. We were welcomed into her lovely home, got Fritz parked in the front garden, and unloaded. Patrizia had even given up her bedroom for us (bigger bed) – and our DHL delivery arrived half an hour later, with the BMW exhaust parts from Israel-moto Germany.

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We had a lovely evening, and cold ‘prochutto and melone’ dinner out on the patio, ovelooking the vineyards and garden – lots to natter about, and saying we were planning to stay around over the weekend, if that was OK. We were more than welcome, and little did we know then that we’d soon be eating those words

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Patrizia had been in touch with her younger brother, Michele, and the families of her other brothers (Rico and Eddie), who had both died in the past decade, so we’d get chance to meet up too. In fact Michele soon came across to say hi,and help sort a few things on the computer for me. And there were quite a few things going on in the area too. Stew was happy to fit the new exhaust box on Sunday, and hopefully we’d be ready Monday or Tuesday to go….he had a few things to check on first. So we had a great time, enjoying spending time together, catching up on a lot of years.

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Saturday morning we headed to Pt. Tresa in Italy, only a few kilometers away, and wandered the local market place. And we all went into Lugano for the evening – there was a Blues & Bop festival going on. The atmosphere was great and we had a lovely evening & walk along river.

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On Sunday Ursula (Rico’s wife) came for breakfast. She and Rico had travelled to the UK on their Goldwing motorbike years ago, so it was so nice to catch up again. And after Stew started work on the bike. One job was doing a gearbox oil change, just to check if there was any metal debris on the drain plug. Thankfully there was none, so the gearbox rebuild seems to be all good. The new exhaust box, was another story – after a test drive, we both agreed it was just too noisy! And he’d put the old one back on (another day) – but now with new exhaust collars, it should hopefully seal better too.

The girls from the family and their elderly nona(Nadia) came across to say hello (all Italian speaking), and the youngest Amelia (11 yrs), hung round asking loads of questions about the bike, she ended up coming for a ride and walk out with us to Cazlano on the lake side (very close to Italy). We had  a lovely couple of hours out and another yummy ice cream.

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In the evening we went out to dinner with Patrizia, Michele and his wife, Doris in Puente Tresa…..We had the most awesome Ethnic buffet, it was the best ever food and a great evening with everyone, just lovely company and conversation. We were so stuffed but left a little space for delicious Tiramasu dessert – that Patrizia and Stew had fun eating.

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On the Monday a new piston circlip arrived in the morning post and Stew wanted to replace that before we set off, and with not much I could do to help, so after lunch me and Pariziat went for walk in mountains and didn’t get back till 5pm.

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Stew still working on bike and not looking happy – by putting in the new piston circlip, he had to take off the rockers again, and found a BIG problem. Of the new needle roller bearings fitted on rocker arms less than 600 km ago, all 4 bottom ones failed !! We couldn’t continue with them in this condition and will need to try source alternatives locally, but that was enough hassle for one day. Thankfully Patrizia was happy to have us around for another few days, and it was great that she was so multi-lingual, and such a great help making phone calls and helping us get everything sorted.

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It rained quite heavily through the night, but had stopped by daybreak, leaving a nice fresh morning. We had breakfast together on the patio, and enjoyed yoghurt, fruit, bread and toppings. Stew had meat and cheese, while I had some Dutch Chocolade Hagel Patrizia had in the cupboard. Me and Stew cleared the table and put the dishes in the washer, while Pat tried to get more info on the phone again. Stew had now decided that he really preferred to get a completerocker kit, with the bearings already fitted …The Ticino bike shop could not get the compete kit (only the separate parts to put together) until after 2 September, and Stew found that the other suppliers also did not have the complete kits in stock. So I emailed Israel-moto, and got a reply back within 5 mins, to say yes, they did have these in stock. So I placed the order, and asked for DHL tracking number to be sent by email, and hopefully they would arrive in the next 1 – 2 days!! SO the bank balance was another $1500 AUD lighter!! But it really seemed the best thing to do, and now we just had to wait for the delivery.

That sorted we went off to do some shopping together in the big Migros; a few supplies for the next couple of days. We bought stuff to make a chicken curry and another lot to make spag carbonara, salads, yoghurts, bread, juice, and we got 3 bars of Swiss chocolate to send Jason for his birthday. I tried really hard, and when we got back home too – to let us pay, but Patrizia would hear none of it; saying save it for when she comes to Australia. She really is a warm generous host, and so kind of her to have us stay so long.

So we spent the next few days enjoying each others company, and sharing meals out on the patio terrace, which became the regular place to sit, eat and chat, and so nice. Patrizia was saying she hadn’t used the patio at all this year before we arrived. Patrizia cooked us up some great local Ticino (Swiss) dishes, we had roastie and racklet, as well as pastas too and of course Stew had to cook us up some curry too – and we also made falafels one night. Patrizia also supplied us with quite a range of local wines and spirits to savour and sample, some evenings an apperro of ‘Prosecco’ – (Italian Champagne), or some really nice old red wines (a 1996 Morcote – Martin and SarahB would have so enjoyed then!) and then other special local ‘digetiv’ – a 16% liquer made from Pistacio; quite green and quite delicious.

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In the later evenings Stew would go off to bed to read, while me and Patrizia sat longer, sometimes going through photos on big screen TV of her travels and family, and others just talking till quite late about the extended family and her plans for aiming to get out to Australia and New Zealand (now looking like it would be March 2017 on).

And we ended up on some lovely tourist trails together, seeing as we now had more time to explore the surroundings. Most days were warm and bright, though getting muggy in the afternoons. Visibility was quite variable, really depending on whether we got any wind. One afternoon Patrizia took us through town to another part of the lake, and a gorgeous walk to Gandria. Such a picturesque old village, clinging to the rockside. The views were spectacular too, as we could see to some of the other mountain peaks surrounding the lake. There was even a small boat jetty, with stops to both Lugano and into Italy, as well as across the water to an old ‘smugglers museum’.

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We also managed to get out for a jog a few times before breakfast – taking the small back street through Agno-Serocca, it was quite lovely, but the steep hills were quite tough going.But it was good to get a look round the Agno village

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One day we just went through Patrizia’s old family photos (She has so many boxes of them, after she Michele and Ursula had to clear out all the Henle family home after her parents had died), and she was happy for us to take whatever family ones there were of my mum. We had such a lovely time, finding some really nice ones, from as early as 1927, then through the war years in Holland with the soldiers, and all the Swiss scenery from the 1950’s, right up to our family visits as kids, and even baby Sophia with Charlie and Angela in 1985!! SO I ended  up sending  some back home in the post. Patrizia also found old diplom certificates from Erwin’s father, Laurence, who had worked in the hotels in Basel and Lugano; dating from 1901 to 1938 (So nice, I made some photos).

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I kept checking the DHL tracking, (for the new rockers package) and it was so frustrating, there had been no update since 10.45am the day before, now 24 hours since the package got to Switzerland !! It turned out to be a right saga, as Patrizia was on the phone to them in Ticino (Italian speaking) and Basel (German speaking), trying to find out where it was. In the end it got stuck 2 days in the Swiss customs – a ‘random’ selection for screening, just our luck! So we were here for another weekend, as DHL don’t do any deliveries over the weekends here! SHIT!! So frustrating, but nothing we can do. But Patrizia did enquire further, and we can go to the DHL depot in Bironico (Near Bellinzona 20 km away) on Monday morning 8.30am. She had a physio appointment so couldn’t take us, but luckily Michele had time on Monday morning and would come at 8am to pick us up, and take us to the DHL depot : awesome, so helpful 🙂

SO we had another lovely day being tourists with Patrizia. She took us on a really lovely days drive out into the mountains, going to the Valle Versasca off Lake Locarno. First we had to drive over the Monte Ceneri, into the next valley and then we were climbing high on the small windy roads. First stop was at a very impressive dam. At 220 m its one of the highest dams (and hydro-electric) in Europe, built between 1961 and 1966. It was also used for a stunt on the 1995 Bond movie, ‘Golden Eye’.

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As we stood peering over the precipiece, we watched the stunts of the tiny swallow birds, riding the thermals, diving, and looking like they were having fun. From there we followed the amazingly clear mountain water of the gorge and stopped at the most picturesque double humped bridge at La Vertezzo. Here we went for a wander along the narrow pathways and into the forest, taking a few photos along the way.

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We went along passing several typical old Ticino mountain villages, driving as far as the road would take us to, Sonogno. Here we parked up for a few hours to go walking, and also take a lunch at a typical Grotto (A rustico eating place, serving traditionally only cheeses, meats, salami, minestrone soup, bread, and drinks). The village was quite amazing, all granite cottages, with granite stone roofs – much of if was being restored and renovated, and it really was such a wonderful place to walk about. We found the river again, and even saw a snake (maybe 12 inches), but Stew didn’t chase it, just in case it was poisonous. And we found a 4 leaf clover 🙂 The weather and high mountain scenery was so lovely.

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It was hot in the sun, but not so hot, and we were up at around 1000 m, seeing peaks beyond 2000 m but no snow. There was a fresh breeze, and often keeping in the shade made the walking very comfortable. We walked quite a while, and it was great to drink the cool mountain water from the village fountains.

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There were the usual smattering of residences, and of course a church with belfry (free standing in this case), but the most interesting was the local bake house oven, on a street corner behind the church; woodfired from below, with rusted steel doors to the oven, and the huge roof rafters so blackend with all the baking done there over the years. So onto lunch at the ‘Efra Grotto’ and a pretty simple affair; Stew’s meat and cheese sandwich was pretty huge though. The minestrone soup was very tasty, and we also sampled the local soft cheese with fresh bread – typical mountain fayre at a ‘Grotto’

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It was another leisurely drive back, and a full day by the time we reached Agno, after 6pm. Checking the computer I found there was an email back from the Iran visa travel company – Amazingly we now had our visa authroisation reference number, and could now make an application once we got to the Iran embassy in Ankara. The only problem was that we could only go to make the application in the period of 3 to 25 days, from when the reference number was given. SO that meant we had to be in Ankara by the 26 September at the latest (as the last day to make the application would be Wednesday 28) !! Well we can only set off on Tuesday 6th September here, if we get the new rockers from DHL on Monday, so fingers crossed – but its going to be a quick dash across to Greece and into Turkey (and not a few weeks of holidaying we were hoping for!!).

Saturday we headed into Lugano again around the markets and from there we wandered the lake front and into the city park onto the Lido (I had been there once as a kid). It was really hot out in the hazy heat, even though there was a slight breeze on the water front, so Patrizia treated us to another ice cream, which we munched as we walked along. There were ancient pedaloes, right out of the 50’s – but really in quite good condition. There was also a local ‘dog’ day in the park – and evening some trying to take a swim for the first time. We walked as far as the Lido then back into town.

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For the evening we were heading to the Caslano Festa delle Corti 2016, (where we walked a couple of days ago with Amelia by the lake), together with Patrizia and Michele (Doris was working with the old nona, till 9pm, but they came along too). Its the locals wine tasting evening ‘festival in the courtyards’. You pay to get a wine glass and a small sack that hangs round your neck, to hold the glass as you walk about sampling, tasting and eating for the evening. There’s local produce, food to eat and live entertainment too.

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It was a wonderful evening, a warm balmy summer night. The village atmosphere was so friendly, and everyone out from the very young to the very old, to enjoy the night. There were tressle tables and benches lining the small streets, and good simple foods to eat. We even managed to meet up with Mary (Eddies ex-wife, and mother to Romina and Mikela), and her 2 girl friends, and sat together to eat the local ‘sausage and mash’, here whole meal polenta and lugogoni sausage in tomato sauce; quite delicious. And we had friendly conversation with our neighbours on the table too. Each courtyard was something different, variations on the polenta and the live music – and all the little kids were having so much fun too.

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By the end of the evening we sat at the lake side for some fresh air, and reminisced. Patrizia and Michele told us of the event ‘Jeux sans frontier’, that was here on the lake side when the Dikmans visited in around 1969 we reckoned. When they then came over to us in England, the program was playing on the TV, and they saw themselves. I asked Michele if he remembered his birthday we had come to in Lugano, when he was about 4 – he didn’t. And Patrizia said ‘did you remember the stupid hats’. Michele said ‘we always wore the stupid hats for birthdays!’ SO I said, ‘I hope you will remember this night, it had been such a wonderful evening to share’. And he said ‘yes, no stupid hats’, and I said ‘Yes, but look we have these stupid sacks with wine glasses round our necks!!’ We all laughed.

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And so the night was over, Michele drove us back home, and we wished each other goodnight. Then on Sunday we were going to Morcote for the 6th Old timer Day event, with Patrizia and Michele again. It was only a 20 min drive and was the main day of the weekend, where they close the town street by the lake, and have a display of vintage and veteran vehicles of all shapes and sizes; from cars, bikes, military, steam trains, and boats on the lake, as well as sea planes and schwimm wagons. In the end the schwimm wagon didn’t appear, but we had a lovely day together. It was really hot and muggy though, so not the best views over the mountains and we all got quite hot and sweaty. We had quite a walk, with the street closure, so ended up doing about 5 km. The old town clinging to the lake side and cliff, was much like we had seen over the past week. The old moto-clubs were running the event, and there were some really interesting vehicles to see…..and even more tractors than at the ‘Yummy Yorkshire Tractor fest’, including some ‘Porches’.

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There were local fayres to eat for lunch – so we had Ticino pasta today, out on the tressle tables, and stopped off in town for a coffee on the way back too.

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Morcote village is the end of a peninsula, one side Agno and Bioggio where Patrizia lives (and Michele a bit further round at Lamone), and the other down to Lugano, and the mountain between, St. Salvatore (with the radio mast). We passed by  the Monte Grato botanical gardens and pools, where Tante Anny loved to come in the Spring. Unfortunately the air  just wasn’t clear enough to give us a good view. On the drive home Patrizia was also able to show us the small church on a high vantage point, where Annie, Rico and Eddie’s ashes are. She is still not sure what to do with Eriwn’s ashes when he has finished his last job as a cadaever for the Zurich medical students!

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Monday morning Patrizia was up and off to her physio appointment and we waited for Michele to come pick us up, to go to the local DHL dispatch place. What a palaver, when we got there the receptionist first couldn’t find the package number again, and after a while located that it had actually gone on the van to Bioggio (near Patrizia!) – so no communication transfer to hold the package at the depot!! And we really didn’t want to put Michele out any more. But the lady said she would contact the drive to stay at the Mikron depot, and we could get the package from him. SO we drove back, and all commented how much better the air was today, so much clearer to see the mountains!! First we went to the Mikron, but no sign of the van. Maybe it had been delivered…so just up the road back to the house. Checking the post box there was no attempted delivery card at least. So Stew stayed at the house, while I went back with Michele to the Mikron depot. Its a big place so we drove round the carpark, then Michele spotted the DHL van going in the opposite direction, so we quickly turned round and chased after him. Then AT LAST we found the package when the driver opened the back of the van. What a relief, even though Michele had to pay 82 CHF tax, for us as I didn’t have any money on me! Now the only worry was if it was the right thing, and if the would fit OK, and run well. We were soon back at the house, paid Michele back the 82 CHF, and offered him coffee (as Stew had just made some) – but no he had to get to work. We just opened the package to made sure it was the right things, and yes all looked good. So hugs and ‘Mille, mille gratzie’ for Michele, as he set off – and I said I’d email him later in the day to let him know how it was going. It wasn’t too late, all done by 9.30am.

First we sat and enjoyed a coffee on the terrace, and I opened the skype software, to see if we could catch Lacey and Sairha again. We did manage a lovely skype for an hour, and so lovely to catch up with everything, before we get ready to set off again. We also nattered about all the potential travels and visitors to Oz between November and March next year, just trying to get an idea on dates. Hopefully Jason, grandad and grandma and us too. Then Lacey is planning an America trip with Ali for 3 weeks in January. There sounds to be awful roadworks back there too, right outside our house, starting at even before 7am, and shaking the house – so Lacey is struggling to get a decent sleep in from her shift work! Sairha has pretty much finished her assignments for the week, and not much planned till she has some more free time. And looking forwards to he semester break in a couple of weeks time. Sounds like her bedroom is even fuller of books, so she’s going to buy some boxes she can keep under her bed. Well, they were just having a quiet evening in, making some dinner together – and we needed to get on with things. So we blew kisses, and bye till the next time.

Then Stew set about the major repair work on Fritz again. So Stew fitted the new rocker assemblies, and also re-set the old ones as a spare set, with the best bearings he had to carry with us. Patrizia was generously giving us any thing useful she thought we might take, but we couldn’t pack too too much really – But it was so lovely: we got small salt, pepper, soy sauce, jams, dark choc spread, and filled the oil cointainer up and the museli pack too.

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Next it was time for a test ride. It was a really hot bright afternoon, but even so better to ride in our gear. I wanted to call at the supermarket., so we could try get some Australian wine to leave for Michele and Patrizia too. So we set off up the motorway, right passed the DHL office where we had been with Michele this morning ! We took the slower road back, so we could pull in a couple of places. The motor seemed to be running fine, with the same top-end ticking I’m used to. I don’t think the exhaust is blowing anymore, but Stew was also tinkering with the caburation – popping a bit, but not much compared to how it had been. Sot it was all looking good to pack up and set off again in the morning.

When we got back I was online checking the drive route and options again, and looked like we needed to get at least to Rimini on the Italian coast (420 km) by tomorrow afternoon, so an earlish start. I checked the ferries, and Ancona to Patras departed at 2pm on Wednesday, so we would need to cover the last 150 km the next day quite early too. I also sent a quick email to Michele, to let him know the bike was running and we were packing up for off in the morning, and many thanks again. It was already after 5pm, and so another hour packing before getting for the evening.

Then it was lovely to see Amelia and family, her grandma (Nadia) and Doris too….they all wishing us well on our travels. We managed to get a few photos with Amelia on the packed bike, and gave her a ‘Stewart’s’ tin with a fiesta del mort bracelet (Stew got in Bridlington), which she seemed to like. 

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We then set about our last evening meal on the patio. Hot stone BBQ, Swiss-Italian style. It was really lovely, and a great way to have a really lovely social evening for just a few people. Pat had prepared the veggies and meat selection, and some sauces, dips, salads too. It takes a while as you cook and eat as you go, and tonight with a nice bottle of French wine.

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We were up early and didn’t have too much for breakfast, Stew with the usual bread and cheese, while I had yoghurt and fruit, and so really getting ready for the off. Patrizia cleared off the table, while we did the last bit of packing and getting ready, and we managed to put the cards, wine and flowers downstairs near the bike. Stew had packed so well, he even packed the pair of socks I was intending to put on….everything else was already packed away. So I had to ask Patrizia if she could spare me a pair of hers – no problem, nothing was too much trouble. Then we were dressing in our riding gear, and ready for off. Patrizia came downstairs too, and was surprised with the flowers and wine – saying really we shouldn’t have. But we couldn’t leave without a small thank you gift, and with the Australian wine, we hoped we’d see her over there next year, and we asked she’d give the card and wine to Michele and Doris too. It had been an unplanned prolonged stay, but we’d had such a wonderful time, sharing Patrizia’s lovely home for a while, and enjoying so much catching up with family, and making new memories. Last hugs and climbing on the bike Patrizia made a few last photos and then we were off down the road.

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The morning was bright, clear and fresh, but already promising to get quite hot. Fritz was humming along nicely (fingers crossed). Getting onto the motorway wasn’t too bad, and the drive scenery really lovely as we crossed the last few kilometers out of Switzerland…….

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One thought on “23 Aug – 5 Sept: A grand tour of Switzerland and together with family in Lugano after more than 20 years.

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