10 years in the making! That’s how long my wife Sue had had to wait for me to take her on a return trip to the Dolomites. I hadn’t helped my case by riding there in July and telling her how good it had been, so with the weather promising great things for the next few days, we set off towards Gletsch and the Furka and Oberalp passes en route to the Dolomites.
The first night we stopped in Ardez and took the opportunity to walk round before the evening meal to see the beautifully restored buildings with their ornate paintings. The town is perched on a hill so many of the buildings are sloping to match the contours of the land.
Beautiful detailing in the doorway
Intricate painting, shown in greater detail in the following two shots.
The town is watched over by an old tower
Amazingly accurate sundial
One of my favourite photos from the whole tour, the tower in evening sunshine
Here it is first thing the next morning and you can see it sitting atop it’s own hill
Day 2 saw us heading into Italy, circumnavigating the Stelvio which looked pretty cold, and aiming for the Jaufenpass and PenserJoch which had been in low cloud during the July tour, but today were much more inviting
I missed this shot last time, it’s just outside Bolzano
I had booked us into the same hotel as visited in July, views from here are amazing
Sunsets are beautiful here
Morning sun starting to light up the valley
First pass of the day was the Sella, but it was packed with cars and was extremely busy, so much so we didn’t stop too long, other than to take some pictures of course
The Valparola and Falzarego passes meet at this point
Busy souvenir and coffee shop
After consulting the map we made a quick change of route and took the Falzarego down and joined the road leading to the Passo Giau. I hadn’t ridden the Giau before but it turned out to be an inspirational choice as the sights at the top were outstandingly beautiful!
Amazing how this huge hotel looks superimposed against the towering mountain here in Misurina.
Return via the Passo Staulanza
Next day saw a demand from Sue for a “gentler” pace, my enthusiasm for the roads hadn’t been appreciated quite so much by my better half who insisted we take more time to see the scenery today!
The Passo di Fedaia was an excellent start and we were greeted with these great images with the still waters reflecting the mountains in mirror images
Not quite as beautiful, but more mirror images, this time houses
The Passo Cereda
Coffee stop but too many wasps around attracted by the flowers which were everywhere
Amazing bends descending the Cereda
More great mountains and views en route to the Passo Rolle
We ate at the top of the pass and watched bikers come and go, including a husband, wife, daughter and friend group from Germany. Nice to see women riding and the first time I’ve seen a mother and daughter pairing, fair play to them!
Another new pass explored, the Nigerpass
Back at the hotel and some pics of the artwork
The return home saw us pass through some beautiful countryside towards Castelrotto and later onto the Passo Mendolo. This was perhaps the best surfaced pass of the tour and is clearly where all the locals hone their racing skills because the pass was full of sports bikes being ridden flat out everywhere in formation fly pasts. Rossi look out, there are a lot of wannabes out there and some pretty fast ones too!
This house appeared in a magazine I read at the hotel so had to take my own picture too
We found a great little spot in Cagno for a lunch break with a great view
We decided to try and stop and find a hotel in Lugano, but baulking at the prices of those we found which all seemed to be 3 star Superior establishments, we eventually turned into a motel we found in Vezia, expecting it to be cheap, but it turned out not to be that much cheaper than the hotels we had discounted earlier. We were too tired to look further, and at least the room was directly over the secure garage. Apparently the hotel was first built in 1956 and charged 31chf a night, being one of the first in the country to incorporate a room and garage, and at least each room was decorated tastefully with designer pictures and furniture.
It started to rain soon after we arrived and we settled for a pizza in the restaurant opposite and hoped the weather would improve for the final day tomorrow.
With only 340 or so kms to return we had plenty of time, although the GPS didn’t show the correct exit around Locarno and we ended up retracing our steps. Clearly the function NO U TURNS doesn’t work very well! There is always an upside though as the new route took us into some stunning countryside and great roads, starting with quite possibly the steepest and tightest hairpin bend I have ever ridden! Luckily the large and well positioned mirror showed I had time to make the turn before the descending vehicle arrived as if I’d had to stop I don’t think I’d have ever made the turn!
Here is a church? We came across in Re, literally in the middle of nowhere. A huge and impressive building, another major surprise of this route
McDonalds at Brig signalled a mere two hours before we would be back at home, and though it’s always nice to be in your own bed, we really had had an epic tour with some great scenery, weather, and memories. Hopefully Sue won’t have to wait another 10 years before she can experience them again!
The trip stats were 2063.4kms and 33 hours and 58 minutes of riding.