June 10: Lugano to St. Moritz, Switzerland
We got up by 5:30 AM as usual and were ready to hit the road at 7:30 AM. Lake Lugano was mirror smooth and the background of green hills made a beautiful setting. I have really enjoyed the early mornings when we essentially have the country to ourselves.
We set out and drove to Lugano. I sat by the lakeside while Brenda and Dr. Guzder did some shopping. Lugano is a very impressive city - red roses and rose colored architecture and blue water and green hills.
Driving out of Lugano to the east along the lake, we got nice retrospects of Lugano. We passed the frontier into Italy and passed through some very interesting villages along the lake.
Today and yesterday we had our first experiences with Italian drivers. They drive like madmen around the narrow, rough roads with their foot on the accelerator and their hand on the horn. They even honk at you when they meet you on a straight road if you look like you might be considering moving into their lane.
We left Lake Lugano and soon reached Lake Como at Menaggio. It was a fairly nice town and the lake was beautiful. When we pulled into town there was a man standing on the pier, urinating into the lake - in broad daylight in the middle of town.
I was more impressed with Lake Como than with any of the others partly because of nicer weather and partly because you could see the snow-capped Italian Alps to the north.
We drove northward into the mountains to Chiavenna. I am still surprised at the number of bicyclists on the mountain roads - both men and women. We have noted that the women do not wear pants in Italy - I suppose they consider it immodest. But they ride regular frame bicycles in skirts which seems to me much more immodest.
From Chiavenna we headed east and soon crossed back into Switzerland. On both sides of the border we passed through villages where the main road deteriorated into a narrow, winding cobblestone street, not wide enough to pass in many places. In one village, Stampa, Switzerland, a traffic light stops you at the edge of the village. The road is so narrow that they let traffic through the village one way at a time. While we waited our turn, two small boys drove a herd of Brown Swiss cows down the main street.
Continuing eastward, we crossed the Maloja Pass. It was a bit cloudy on the peaks and the scenery was only nice - not spectacular. The road was more impressive - the tightest set of switchbacks that we have encountered. We seemed to be scratching our way up a cliff on a set of tight hairpin bends.
We passed the set of three lakes on theway to St. Moritz There was fresh snow on the hills and some patches down near the road. St. Moritz itself is nothing to crow about but it was in a nice setting of snow-covered hills. It was a bit cloudy and it was hard to tell where the snow ended and the sky began. We drove on to the campground at Pont Muragle, near Pontresina. We set up camp - it was very cold - about 43°F.
It was only about 4PM so we decided to drive to Pontresina. We drove on through Pontresina and started up the Bernina Pass. We soon reached patches of snow among the green trees. The hills were covered with snow and it was spectacular, even though the sky was overcast. We kept driving and soon were driving through a thick blanket of snow. It grew deeper and deeper as we neared the summit. We passed a frozen lake (Lake Bianco) covered with snow and were passing through a corridor of snow up to about 8 feet high on each side of the road. Part of it was fresh - white and fluffy- and gave a fairyland atmosphere to the countryside. This was more snow than any of us had ever seen - the drive was certainly the highlight of today's adventures. We didn't linger at the summit because it was snowing and the clouds were closing in - up in that strange place at over 7000 ft there was no telling what might happen.
It was very cold at the campsite. We ate supper with the flap down and went to bed soon afterward.
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