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 I are the king and queen of organisation. Let’s just see how much the stress of it all takes its 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 lakeside 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. 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 in 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 marveled 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 downhill. 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 taken 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 go first.

Susan, who was clearly petrified and still had the instructor 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 traveling 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 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.

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