After leaving the delights of Grindelwald, I wasn’t sure what to do, waiting around for my carnet. I decided to head upto Berchtesgaden, in southern Germany, the home of Hitler’s “Eagles Nest”, his lair high in the Alps. There was a bus to the top, but this costs money so I asked about walking “ooh, it is 1.5km!” said the information lady, who it turns out has a fairly poor grasp of the english language and on gauging distances. One and half hours or so later I made it, in deep fog, damp and sweaty in motorbike gear, 1834m altitude.
Then off to St. Moritz, I had a chilly night at -8ºC in a -7ºC “extreme limit” sleeping bag and so headed south to the warmer Dolomites in Italy, it was a bit warmer and I did the worst hike ever! The path followed a long, long land slide, so I essentially just climbed a scree slope all day. I saw some wild deer mind you.
I rode about about 43 mountain passes and turned approximately 4000 hairpins, one pass had 33 on the way down alone! And had kids throwing rocks at my tent, so I gave them an english lesson.
Then off to Lake Garda, where it was warm! Apparantly all the camp sites were closed, but a lovely english coach tour group told me otherwise and I found one open eventually. Here I decided to make a list of “Perfect Moments” after taking a dip in the lake (bit nippy) and cooking my dinner on a beach watching a lone fisherman.
Then joy, of joys, my carnet was on it’s way! So off to it’s collection point from my father’s company supplier, Formeco, in Noventa Padovana, near Venice. Unfortunately there is a teeny descrepancy in the engine number, so I am completely stuffed for the time being. Thank you to Stefano to letting me do this, and showing interest in the trip and even offering a meal at his home! However, Peter had beaten him to it and even let me stay the night…this later turned to three nights! Peter not only fed me some fantastic food (treating me to octopus, squid and shark after me mentioning how disgusting it looked on the market! It was actually very good!) and great coffee (which to him was quite normal!) but also gave me lots of information on how to get here and there! I can’t thank him and Francessca enough, it was a lovely time and hopefully the smell of my feet has left the house now, too?! Whilst I was there I popped into Venice and met up with two of my lovely neighbours from home, Ken and Carol King, they fed me as well, I must look skinny, pizza and over expensive salad and even a very nice ice cream cornet, we took a great walk around Venice (and Vietnam it seemed).
I left Peter’s heading South, to Firenze and San Gimingiano, where I went through the worlds most boring arae (which Peter had warned me about) and ate the most boring bread, with no salt it tastes of nothing….which Peter had also warned me of!! I couldn’t find a campsite open, or a “agritismo” (farm house) but eventually found one who let me camp for free! So I treated myself to my first beer (that I have bought!!) and a breakfast! In the night I was nudged by some animal who tried to roll me over!
I have been absolutely soaked by rain, and today I should make Siena where I can wash my socks and dry my things! My boots are pretty much destroyed and they smell horrifically!
Once done I will pop to Rome, then Bari to catch a ferry to Albania. At some point before Syria I will probably need a new carnet and a visa for Syria, so the problems are really just starting!