Four mountain pases in a day and buon giorno again Italy

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August 2nd 2013
Published: August 9th 2013
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Gretchen was up early and out to get her sunrise pictures.It was another magnificent day with a cloudless sky and prospect of temperatures into the 30's again.

We are starting to enjoy the breakfast provided with the room rate and it will be hard going back to having just our muesli and yogurt with toast and coffee.Breakfast was varied again as were our fellows in the breakfast room with a range of accents although none were English.

The road from Obern took us down into the valley in which Innsbruck is located and we joined the highway towards the city.We did not feel a need to go into the city as we had passed through there 4 years ago and could recall that finding a car park had been a nightmare.

With the first of what turned out to be 4 mountain passes to be negotiated we turned off the A12 and started to climb steadily towards the Brenner Pass which at 1375metres would take us into Italy.

We had stayed at a homestay place up near the top of the pass 4 years ago and recall the secondary road to it from Innsbruck as being winding and slow with many motorcyclists on it.

The A13,and toll road,runs very directly up the steep valley from Innsbruck but that road wasn't for us.Instead we drove up the other side of the valley to the side we drove 4 years ago and so saw the landscape from the reverse view that we had remembered which made our choice of road just that much better.

The scenery was spectacular to say the least and it was necessary to pull over and get out to admire it as it was certainly impossible to drive on the narrow winding road,watch for frequent oncoming traffic and look at the scenery all at the same time.

As we progressed upwards it became evident that a bus was due down the road soon as there were people waiting at bus stops we passed by.Would we meet the bus before the road narrowed any further as it was showing signs of doing?

The answer was no! We met the bus on what was probably the narrowest piece of road on a corner with virtually no where else to go but in reverse to let him edge by.Luckily the two cars following me had given me enough space to reverse back when we encountered the bus.Why the local authority would run a large 44 seat bus on a very narrow country hill road where a mini bus for the number of people on board and waiting would have been enough, we will never know!At least with it passed by there would not be another while we continued our journey up to the top of the pass.

At the top of the Brenner Pass where Austria meets Italy there was a new shopping complex selling top brands at up to 80% off.We can only assume it has been built on the Italian side of the border at the top of a mountain pass for tax reasons and not because it is just down or should we say up the road from both Innsbruck and Bolzano.

We couldn't pass a shopping trip at an outlet centre go by without going inside.Gretchen couldn't find anything she liked but I got myself another Nike brand shirt for the absolute bargain price of €15 or about NZ$22.I really should have bought two or three at that price.

It was only after I had made the purchase that Gretchen spotted something that she thought looked a bit odd about the shirt and it was nothing to do with the shape or size.

So it is here we shall open up to our readership this question;

On what side of the front of a genuine Nike shirt should the 'swish'be? Usual prize applies,recognition by name in this blog once all answers are in.

We had lunch just on the other side of the summit of the pass watching people pass us on bicycles going to and from the two countries on the special cycleway to the side of the road.While we were stopped we also had a visit from a dog from a house at the start of the road layby we had pulled off into.When we told him we had nothing to offer him he lost interest and disappeared as quickly as he had appeared.

We noticed as we drove on down the mountain that the railway line disappeared off into a tunnel and ddin't re-emerge until 5 or 6 kilometres later when we reached the turnoff to the R44 at Vipiteno.

It was from here that we started the approach for the second mountain pass of the day,the Jaufenpass,which at 2094 metres gave us more spectacular views out over the valley and Vipiteno.

This mountain pass was much busier than we had expected but it is obviously nothing for people on day trips on motorbikes and bicycles to take on such roads in the summer.The uphill climb was slow and winding with numerous hairpin bends and it was probably just as well that we rarely got above 30kph because on one corner a motorbike rider coming down at a speed far in excess of what we considered safe nearly ended up underneath us.he had leaned over as they do for the corner and then realising we were already in the corner he was thinking about cutting,had to straighten up and in doing so nearly lost his balance.

The views from the top were panoramic with mountains all around us and far down in the valley,almost too far away to see,was the town of San Leonardo in Passiria which took us a further 30 minutes or so to reach by slowly winding our way down the mountain pass.

Once we reached the town of Merano made famous(to our family anyway)by the musical 'Chess' we had the option of taking the highway south to Bolzano and then turning towards Passo del Tonale or take another road and so continue with the mountain pass theme for the day.The BBA V2 being up for some more adventure opted for the mountain pass which again provided wonderful scenery as we snaked our way up a mountain side again to an elevation of 1518 metres.

On this road Cindy justifiably felt a bit humiliated when a sizeable dump truck overtook us on a relatively shallow grade.He had nothing on board and seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere and we were pottering along enjoying the scenery.

At the bottom of the Gampen Pass overlooking acres and acres of apple trees with maturing crops we switched to the R42 which took us upwards again through a number of quaint Italian hillside villages with cobbled streets barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass.Out of the villages the road was a good width and so we deduced that the National Roads board,if that is what it is called,only pays for what is outside of the town or village limits leaving the road inside the built up areas to how they have been for years and years.

We reached our destination of Passo del Tonale at 1883 metres feeling we had travelled around every corner on those 4 mountain passes in quick fire time,yet we had been all day in travelling as the time was now approaching 5pm.

Tonale is essentially a ski town which we can imagine would be over run with people during the winter.This evening it appeared to be mainly people passing through and by the time we went out for dinner at 7.30pm the one and only street through the township was almost deserted of people and traffic.

We shared a tasty pizza,fries and salad at a Pizzeria and retired to our room sure that sleep after a long day covering 4 mountain passes between Austria and Italy would come quickly.And it did!

Additional photos below
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10th August 2013

Nike swish
From a discussion with all family members gathered, and some are quite experts on the matter, if it looks like a tick it is the right way round. The prize of an "all expenses paid ...." can be posted to our home address. Remagen postcard arrived today - was that the prize in anticipation of the correct answer?
10th August 2013

Yes,it looks like a tick.But.Should it be on the left or the right hand side of the shirt?That is the question.The prize remains unclaimed
10th August 2013

Nike swish
The tick starts on the right hand side, whether it covers the whole shirt or just a small swish on the right.

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