It’s true, we’ve been in four different countries today.
We started off in France, near Mulhouse, then crossed the River Rhine into Germany, fought our way across Switzerland and finally kicked the side stand down in Italy!
I’ve got to admit that I put Autobahn, by Kraftwerk, on the Boom Box as we hit the motorway in Germany and headed South, geeky eh?!?!?
I really don’t know what to make of Switzerland.
I adore the scenery of the Alps, love the varied yet efficient railway networks and some of the cheese is ok, BUT…there’s an awful lot that I don’t like about the country.
Take for example the cities, on the face of it everything is glossy, upmarket and nice; scratch the surface and take a few back streets you’ll find there’s a seedier side. Graffiti covered walls, seedy run-down buildings and a thriving undercover drug culture are painfully prevalent; the gulf between the haves and have-nots is wide.
Then there’s the roads. The Swiss have a long history of genuinely innovative civil engineering. They have successfully built a network of highways that has conquered the various testing terrain that their landscape has put before them. Sheer genius. It’s just a shame that they have yet to discover how to safely drive on these wonderful creations!
In previous posts I’ve commented on Swiss driving and I can confirm that if anything they’ve got worse, a lot worse! Tailgating at high-speed, lane changing without notice, exiting at the last-minute and cutting across traffic when doing so, using mobile phones when driving, lane hogging…I could go on, but I’d only sound like I was moaning! Anyway, I went into fighter pilot mode; head on swivel, watch out for the sneaky attack out of the sun and never fly straight and level for more than three seconds, it worked I’m still alive! I hope this doesn’t sound too jingoistic, I’m just writing about what I see and experience!
Driving aside, all the Swiss I’ve spoken to are really lovely, it’s what happens when they get behind a wheel….
Back to the trip report then.
We cut across Switzerland from Basel to Zürich, through countless tunnels (I hate tunnels, remember) and followed along Lake Walensee to Maienfeld where we called in on the Harley Dealership. Then it was into the canton of Graubünden to Davos, where we turned left and climbed into the snow and over the Flüela Pass.
Dropping down after topping the pass we came to some road works and stood for a few minutes at traffic lights. Some others bikers came up the hill waving frantically, something was clearly not good. The lights went green and we gingerly moved off, rounded a corner to find hat the road surface had been removed! Not just planed back, no this was like all gone, all that remained was loose gravel and clay and on top of which it continued for about 200 metres around a hairpin bend at a gradient of around 10%!!!! Now big twin Harley’s aren’t made for off roading, I’ve done a bit on Harls on the flat in Spain, but this was, frankly, scary! So, gentle on the brakes, both feet down, stay in first and walk the bike down onto the tarmac…we survived!
At Zernez we took the Offenpass road and I must admit to having a ball throwing Baby around the various bends, which were testing but not too bad for a big bike like her!
The sneaky way to get to Livigno in Northern Italy, where we are for the night, is to use the single lane, two-mile long, Munt la Schera tunnel. This was built by a Swiss Company for a hydro-electric scheme in the 1960’s and once the construction for that was finished they agreed to maintain the tunnel for public use, subject to a toll – of course, they are Swiss after all!
I have to say it was quite an enjoyable experience, trundling through the tunnel all by ourselves and quite a different way of arriving in Italy!
That’s it for today, 243 miles in total and our first hairpins knocked off too!
“Wir fah’rn auf der Autobahn… ”
Catch you later.
PS Happy solstice!