Journal of a 9-day coach holiday through 9 countries.
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This page last updated: 19th July 2019.
After last night's rain, it is a bright morning. Today we do not have to be off in the coach until noon.
While Christine gets ready for breakfast, I take an early morning stroll around the vicinity. I buy some postcards from a small newsagents/tobacconist and return to the hotel.
Breakfast is a plain continental affair. There is orange juice and cereal, but no fresh fruit. The bread is nice and fresh and there is a small choice of cooked meats and cheese. There is hot water on tap for making tea or instant coffee from the provided tea-bags or powder. At least the tea is fresh.
After breakfast, Christine sits in the lounge reading while I explore outside. Just a few yards down the street from the hotel is the bottom station of the Funicolare Monte San Salvatore. This funicular railway runs to the top of Mount San Salvatore, some 3000ft high. As I have to be back in the hotel by 11.30 to settle up for the optional excursions, I don't have time to take a trip. Others from our party, who breakfasted earlier, did go to the top and report that it afforded amazing views.
I make my way down to the lakeside. Paradiso is a suburb of the large town of Lugano. Along with Locarno and Bellinzona, it is one of the three principal towns of the Swiss Canton of Ticino. Here the language spoken is Italian, rather than German or French as in other cantons
Down at the lakeside, it is a bright and pleasant morning, in contrast to the previous evening. For a while, I just sit by the promenade, watching the boats in the water, the pigeons flying by, and the people parading their smartly turned out dogs. Between the promenade and the main road is an area of grass and trees. At intervals are a series of modern art sculptures. More sculptures can be seen at other places in the town. From the end of the promenade, there is a short-cut back to the hotel.
At noon, it is back aboard the coach for a trip into the heart of the Ticino countryside.
We take the motorway to Bellinzona, then turn off towards Locarno to Gordola and up the Valle Verzasca. The road climbs quite steeply round several hairpin bends, calling for careful negotiation, especially when cars are coming in the opposite direction as the road is very narrow in parts.
We stop at the Verzasca Dam. A bungy jump operates from the side of the dam, although no-one is jumping today. It featured in the opening sequence of the James Bond film Goldeneye.
I take a walk along the dam, and although I avoid looking directly down over the side, am pleased that my labyrinthitis doesn't bother me. Below the dam is very dense woodland, with Lake Maggiore in the distance. Above the dam is a lovely blue lake with mountains towering above.
The road continues to climb. We pass little hamlets of stone houses with wooden roofs. In the area around Corippo and Lavertezzo, the river runs through flat rocks on which people are sunbathing. Eventually we reach the village of Sonogno, about 3000ft above sea level. Towering above the village at almost 9000ft is Mount Zucchero.
There is a coach and carpark at the entrance to the village, from where it is a short walk to the Ristorante Alpino. It is busy with visitors, but we sit outside on a bench at a table overlooking the valley. A cappuccino, a lemon tea and two slices of apple cake set us back around eight pounds.
After eating, Christine makes her way slowly back towards the coach park. Meanwhile I take a look around the village. In a little corner, I discover a shop selling local crafts and souvenirs. They have a selection of walking-sticks at not too outrageous prices. I choose a nice sturdy one with some distinctive carving. Christine is delighted with it, and proudly shows it off.
We are starting to enjoy our holiday. The coach returns by the same route, leaving us some time to relax before another satisfying evening meal.
In the evening, many of our party go for a cruise on Lake Lugano, which is one of the optional excursions. As it involves walking to the pier and back again we have declined this trip. Instead, Christine and I take a short gentle stroll down to the Funicular Railway Station and back, before retiring for an early night.
|Journal Day 4||Photographs Day 3|