A Saturday drive from Hell.

I was all excited about today's drive up the Stelvio and along lake Como today.  We decided to take our breakfast early to avoid the many bicyclists that take the challenge of this climb.  Before we could even get out of the parking lot of the hotel, we had to wait for a delivery truck unloading fruit and vegetables.

After that delay we happily drove of the lot, and started up the more than 40 switchbacks to the top of the Stelvio Pass.  Almost immediately, we ran into a tractor going about 5 miles per hour up the hill.  Because the road is quite narrow, it was not easy to pass this tractor, but we managed!  What we did not realize was that there was a tractor rally going on which forced us to stick behind a large number of these smoke fuming and loud noises making vehicles all the way to the top of the pass.  After having passed a large number of these tractors, I got so frustrated that I stopped the car at one of the switchbacks and waited for this whole caravan to pass us by.  When we finally reached the  pass, we decided not to stop to take in the view and continue as quickly as possible to get away from the craziness! 

A couple of hundred yards down the pass we were stopped by the police, who informed us that the way down was closed until 12:30pm because of all the bicyclists coming up from the other side!  This meant we had to sit there for over two hours.  The good part was that I now had time to explore a few of the high points around the pass and take some nice pictures.

At precisely 12:30pm the police opened the road and hundreds of motorcycles and cars barreled down the mountain trying to pass tractors going down the same way, as well as avoiding bicycles going both up and down the road!  It was quite amazing no one got hurt or involved in an accident.

After about 3 kilometers, we took a sharp left turn to follow the road to Bormio, thinking that most people would take the road into Switzerland.  WRONG!  We quickly got ourselves stuck into  a traffic jam that lasted all the way to Bormio.  Once we reached Bormio, the traffic improved dramatically fortunately, except that now we had to deal with the crazy speed limits that varied from 50km per hour in the villages to 70 km/h  and 90 km/h outside of each township.  Pretty exhausting!!  The last 60 kilometers along Lake Como to our hotel in Moltrasio should have been a pleasurable ride, but no luck!  Being that it is a Saturday, it felt like the whole of Italy was on this road, and consequently it took us several hours to drive this stretch.  At every village we had to drive through, the traffic came to a grinding halt trying to squeeze through the narrow streets.  The tour buses had a very difficult time with this, and caused most of the holdups.

Needless say that by the time we arrived at the hotel I was totally wasted from the drive.  Fortunately I was able to find the only empty parking spot just across  from the hotel.  After unloading our luggage, we crashed into our room trying to recover a little bit from this day.  For dinner, we got a nice table on the outside terrace.  At one point everyone was watching a car trying to park in a very tight spot between our car and some motorcycles.  As we could see what was going to happen, after the car moved back and forward several times it rear-ended  our car.  I immediately got up and walked over to our car to make sure there were no dents or scratches, which fortunately was the case.  The driver of the other car still sat somewhat dazed in his car, and could not even utter any kind of apology! I told him he should be more careful trying to park in a spot that obviously was to small for the size of his vehicle.

All in all it was a day we will not soon forget!