View over Lake Como

From Sestriere, we drove through some stunning Tuscan scenery to Lake Como, a most beautiful spot in Northern Italy.

Of course, the driving was hindered by lots of tolls and narrow, winding roads in the towns.  Having to manoeuvre the very large car and look at the stunning views was quite a feat which Trevor did so well. This is one time when I was really glad not to be driving.

Once again we encountered the completely business-like approach to having a B&B. I had made the booking over the internet and, included on our bill, which had to be paid in full before arrival, were all the bank charges he had incurred. The setting could not have been better. Our room overlooked Lake Como off which the setting sun glistened magnificently. The house was a triple-storey and we were placed on the top floor. Carrying our cases up there was quite a feat and this is a good reason why it is not advisable to have heavy luggage. There were 3 guest rooms allowing for up to 6 persons but there was 1 bathroom! Fortunately there were only 4 of us for the 2 nights we were there. Not that the other couple was concerned by our presence at all. They arrived later than we did, after 6pm, but immediately took occupation of the bathroom for almost 2 hours!

View over Lake ComoView of Lake Como from our accommodation

Our host was a young gentleman who had inherited the business from his mother a couple of years earlier and he clearly had $ signs and little else in his mind. When Trevor asked where to put the car he was told to go down a steep incline with a very sharp left hand corner. No other assistance was offered.  Declining to try that, one minor piece of damage to the car already was sufficient, he went with the only other option which was to park the car in the space which the refuse removal truck would require in the morning. This meant rising at the crack of dawn to move the car before it got towed away.

As we had planned to go out for the day anyway, we declined the minimal breakfast offered and drove back into the town where we found a perfect parking spot at the railway station and took the train into Milan which was an excellent idea. A most gorgeous city and The Duomo or Cathedral is impossible to describe adequately. A visit to the fort was also very worthwhile. We took the train back to Como and had supper in town. On returning to the B&B we were lucky to find a parking reasonably close to home.

Fort in MilanEntrance to the Fort in Milan

The next morning we were travelling to Interlaken in Switzerland which was just a few hours away so we spent the morning on a boat on the lake – wonderful scenery and relaxation. One thing we both enjoy is taking a boat on a river or lake just to enjoy the local scenery and relax. It is a treat for which we budget and we always take advantage of this of possible. It may be something to consider when you plan a trip for yourselves. Not necessarily a boat trip but there may be something else that you particularly enjoy – museums, art galleries or hop-on hop-off buses. If you are travelling as a Senior Citizen for pleasure, then decide on whether and how often you will treat yourselves. REMINDER: always enquire about discounts for Senior Citizens. There are plenty and every bit saved adds up.

Hotel on Lake ComoAn hotel on Lake Como

Having had a wonderful final 3 days in Italy we moved on to Switzerland. All my life I had wanted to visit Switzerland (maybe Heidi’s story was the influence) and suddenly I was there. The country was all I had imagined it to be and more. The drivers and pedestrians are so obedient! If one wishes to cross the road, simply look to your right and any approaching vehicle, including a bicycle, WILL STOP!! It is also the cleanest place to which I have ever been.

In 2005 we  co-hosted a lovely young Swiss Social Worker in the AFS Exchange Programme whose home is in Northern Switzerland, about half way between Zurich and Basel. We had arranged to spend 3 nights with her and her family, stopping in Interlaken on our way there. As we arrived at the border of Italy and Switzerland we were checked in by a lovely young woman customs officer who helped us as much as she could. We were the first people from Africa that she had met and, as still often happens in some places around the world, she was fascinated that we are not Black. The other good news about entering Switzerland was that there are no tolls to be paid. Once a year every car owner pays a road tax which allows him/her to drive on all roads in the country. It is the same whether you are in Switzerland for 3 or 365 days of the year and if you do not have the tax certificate you may not drive on any highways or major roads. We had a wonderful experience of B&B in Interlaken probably because it was owned by a British gentleman. After 2 nights there we drove on up to the village of Kappel where we spent 3 wonderful days with Nadia’s family. Even though there was a bit of a language barrier, we got on so well and they spoilt us outrageously.

Train from Interlaken to the JungfrauTrain from Interlaken to the Jungfrau

One day while in Kappel, Trevor and I took the train to Zurich. A beautiful city with a very large Lake on which there were hundreds of swans. We spent quite a long time in history museum and enjoyed riding one of their famous blue trams.

Clock tower in ZurichA clock tower in downtown Zurich

Trevor looks at 17th Century ovenTrevor admiring a 17th Century oven