Lake Lugano

Following the success of our West Highland Way trip the previous year, we decided to meet up again for ’round 2′. This time we were going to go abroad and this time Aileen and I were not going to be the organisers! We looked forward to sitting back whilst another couple stepped up to the mark and delivered a well organised trip that would need lots of planning, coordinating dates, coordinating sleeping arrangements and spending hours researching local sights and entertainment. This would be fun to watch. After all Aileen and me are the king and queen of organisation. Lets just see how much the stress of it all takes it toll!

So it came as a bit of a surprise when, a couple of days later, we received a phone call from Gordon.

He had been tasked with this arduous task and he informed us that it was all sorted!

It turned out that Gordon, who had just retired from the police, had put his name into a scheme that offers retired police officers the chance of staying free at various properties. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be lucky enough to be picked but low and behold Gordon was the lucky man. So all we had to do as a team was book our flights.
Lavena Ponte Tresa, looking out over Lake Lugano with the Swiss mountains in the distance, was a perfect location. The accommodation itself was also perfect. We would be staying in an old rustic villa spread out over 3 floors and with plenty of charm, as well as a large garden and a tennis court. We all felt fortunate to be given this villa for a week.

Lake Lugano is stunning and we had a perfect lake side view.

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Lavena Ponte Tresa is a border point between Italy and Switzerland which involves a short walk across what feels like a token border into the Swiss town of Ponte Tresa. Clearly both towns are keen to keep their national identity with Italian and Swiss flags prominent in their respective towns but the ease of walking from one to the other makes it difficult to immediately feel that you have entered another country.

With this is mind, Aileen and I decided to hire bikes and cycle beyond the border and deeper into Switzerland. In the end, to be honest, our cycle to Lugano wasn’t exactly a cycle into the Swiss Alps but it did at least give us that sense of cycling in a different country. We cycled through some small villages, stopped at a local cafe with no spoken English to be heard and marvelled at the beautiful scenery.

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Our second trip into Switzerland did feel like a trip to the Swiss Alps as all 6 of us walked over the border and boarded a train to Rivara for the Monte Tamaro cable car taking us up 1,530 m then on foot to the summit at 1,962 m. The views were stunning and well worth the trip.

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It’s a great place for all the family and being the big kids that we are, we could resist the Alpine coaster bobs. Described as ‘An awesome, breathtaking downhill ride’. We were given our instructions before we set off down hill. Basically – that’s your brake and about 30 metres from the finish, apply your brake or you’ll overshoot. Hindsight is a great thing and it would probably have made more sense to put those that wanted to go faster at the front but as we had just randomly took our turn and as fate would have it, this created a bit of a domestic. Steve was keen to show off his army training and’An awesome, breathtaking downhill ride’ was perfect but he had done the gentlemanly thing and stepped aside to let his wife Susan to go first.

Susan, who was clearly petrified and still had the instructors warning in her head regards braking, decided to apply the brakes about 150 metres from the end. Resulting in safe but slow, extremely slow, decent.

Swiss mountains are renowned for the human yodel travelling great distances but on this occasion it was Steve’s dejected tones – ‘Susan!’ ‘Susan!’ ‘Go faster!’ ‘You’re spoiling my ride’ That could be heard for miles around.

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Lake Lugano doesn’t have the same popularity as other Italian lakes but the close proximity to Switzerland and the ease of walking over the border just added to our memorable trip. We would highly recommend this lovely part of the world.

Crinan Canal

Described as Britain’s most beautiful shortcut, the Crinan Canal is one of those must do cycle routes. The route follows an iconic canal and as a cyclist you will share it with walkers, canal boats, canoes, Kayaks and fishermen. All enjoying the beautiful scenery and  historic surrounding.

We decided to drive to Ardrishaig and cycle along the canal to Crinan. This is a round trip but the canal is only 9 miles long, so 18 miles with a half way stop at Crinan, makes for a pleasant and relaxing journey.

 

One of the residents has an eye catching abode and was more than happy to spend some of his time talking to us about his love of the Canal and why he has move there from Canada to set up home.