Posts tagged riva del garda
Day 6 - Riva del Garda to Chur, Switzerland

A loooooong day today, and in the end turned out to be around a ten hour journey with a good nine hours of riding time in there. That brings the total to nudging on 2000 miles in the last five days and it is fair to say that despite the Burgman's comfy seat and my smug comments in previous posts about bikers, the only feeling in my bum cheeks now is unmitigated pain!


From Riva, a last view of the lake, then the first destination was the border town of Tirano which is mostly in Italy but then the Main Street pokes up into the hills and a few hundred meters along it is the border into Switzerland. As last time, the entire EU/Non-EU border crossing is a real time-consuming nightmare, involving slowing down a bit so a bored border guard just waves you on, and that's it. Not exactly the bureaucratic hell that the anti-Brexit campaigners keep promising will be unleashed upon us. 


After Tiorano the road climbs and climbs until you reach the pass in this photo of the Burgman. Lovely fresh cold air and a quiet road, perfect. From the pass in these photos (and the one below with the glacier in the background of the Burgman) it was then down to St Moritz  which is pretty enough but rather 'meh' and is presumably much better in the snow, and then on into more mountains. By mid-afternoon, to be honest I really was not in the mood for more hours of bum-pain, especially when it culminated in the town of Chur, which I can only describe as being the closest thing to an Alpine Salford I can think of. I'm sure it has a pretty centre, but that is a small kernel surrounded by industrial grimness. And the hotel turning out to be some kind of serial-killer motel thing on a main road which didn't help my sunny disposition either. 


The less time spent in Chur the better, and tomorrow is carrying on across Switzerland east to west to the Verbier area which hopefully will be a little less 'industrial northern town' and more 'Adventures of Heidi' again. By the way, and only people over 40 will understand this - did you know that Swiss people's mouths do actually move in time with their words? Amazing. Heidi and Peter the goatherd lied to us...

Day 5 - Riva del Garda and Verona

An easy day today with the plan being a bit of a rest with just a lap of the lake and immediate vicinity so something around 110 miles.

I headed off about 10am down the western side of the lake which is a series of tunnels and open roads hugging the lake's edge. The road is lovely and slow and about 30mph all the way with time to take in the views and the fresh air, unless you are one of the hundreds of bikers on some sporty crotch-rocket then it is a frustrating series of desperate overtakes as you try to set a new lap record for a lap of the GardaRing. Settle back and enjoy the views and air lads and ladesses. It being a gorgeous day and a Sunday the place was full of Italians having a day out as well and the difference between them and the bikers is amusing. The Germans are all, again, head to toe in leathers, all black, all mean n'moody looking, racing along, while the Italians heading out for the day are on little battered scooters, in shorts, usually with a girl in a short dress on the back, and look perfectly content in the world. 


My morning coffee stop was a small town towards the bottom of the lake and I love the idea of just pulling up outside, having a quick espresso next to the scooter, and then hopping on and trundling off again. This was in the town of San Felice, a quiet and thoroughly charming place.

The bottom of the lake is out beyond the mountains and in the first flat lands south of the Alps and if I'm honest is rather less charming than the northern mountainous end. It is a series of fairly tacky towns and beaches with lilo shops and the like which wouldn't look out of place in Rhyl. 

Verona wasn't on the schedule for the day but as I was meandering through the slightly less charming end of the lake I realised I was only about half an hour away so a spur of the moment decision was made to have a lunchtime coffee in Verona itself. 

Being a scooter rider again has a huge advantage there as you can just ride straight up to the main square by the opera house and there is a long long row of free parking spaces just for scooters and motorbikes. The intention wasn't to stay long as the idea of this trip is the journey rather than the destinations, so I only stayed for about an hour, long enough to have a coffee and a place of seafood spaghetti in the square, before hopping back onto the bike and heading back towards the lake again.  


The ride back up the eastern side is absolutely gorgeous - loads of lovely quaint towns and the road just meandering along the water's edge all the way back up to Torbole and then Riva itself. In the end it was about a six hour trip out but spent largely trundling along happily at slow speeds, just taking in the air, the sun and the views. Lovely. 

The evening was a pizza in one of the back street squares in Riva, and short meander around the town as the sun set, then off to pack ready for the next day's journey up to Chur and into Switzerland. 

Day 4 - Belluno to Riva del Garda, Italy

When I went to get the scooter in the hotel car park, there was a nice Jag XE parked next to it. I do love a Jaaaaaaag and did the last road trip to Norway in a Jaaaaaaaag XF, but you know what, for the mountains I'd take the scooter any day.

Today was a fairly short day of only around 190 miles but again the route was such that it would still take around six hours of riding to do. I did have a route pre-planned before setting off from home (the magic of TomTom MyDrive - select a route and upload it to the SatNav beforehand) but decided to just let the TomTom decide which way to go. The Ride 410 SatNav has an option for 'choose winding roads' so I set it to that and just followed wherever it pointed me. And it was superb in its choices. 


From Belluno it headed up into the mountains and into a series of high passes. As you climb the landscape quickly changes from typically Italian back towards a more Alpine style again. The route is clearly popular with bikers as there were groups of them, largely consisting of more leather clad Germans, (given the fact it was about 28 degrees, often in an odd combination of leather trousers and braces over t-shirts), up in the mountain passes. 


The roads are really quiet and pretty much all like the small mountain lanes in these pics, with occasional villages and a handful of small towns on the route, just enough of them to assuage any anxiety about a mid-way refuelling stop. In the largest of the towns I passed through the route I wanted was blocked for some event or other meaning taking the fall-back navigation option of 'drive about randomly until the SatNav finally finds an alternative route', Finally, after I passed the same cafe of people for the third time I decided to just press the 'avoid road block' button and that fixed it - should have thought of that sooner, silly boy. 


From there it was up into the mountains again and a lunch stop at a cafe at the top of a pass. One of these bikes is an impostor among the big boys. Some proper bikers may look down on scooters but it was amusing seeing how the bikers were hauling themselves off their bikes like they had been abused by a ship-load of randy sailors arriving in port after a long voyage after sitting in the same forced position for ages at least whereas with the Burgman I did arrive there in a modicum of comfort still. 

From there was a long slow drive back to lower levels again via series of gorgeous twisting hairpin-strewn roads, back to civilisation and larger towns, eventually picking up an A road for the final drive towards Riva at the very head of Lake Garda. And back among loads of my scooter brethren again. I have to say I am impressed with the Burgman - it's gone everywhere the big bikes can go, from autobahn to high alpine roads, without ever feeling out of puff or as though it is struggling. 


Riva del Garda is exactly how I remember it from a visit as a child, a largish town sitting at the top of Lake Garda with the mountains just dropping straight down into the lake. The hotel was on a pedestrianised bit of the town but it seems that in Italy 'pedestrianised' doesn't always apply to scooters so I could drive up to the hotel and park in their small garage, perfect. 

Tomorrow is an easy day, with a lap of the lake and surrounding mountains so around only 150 miles or so and probably about six hours, back to Riva again before starting the journey north again to Switzerland.