We set out from Luzern under cloudy skies on what should be our last long drive as we decided not to stop in Milano for Jess to shop. An Italian American woman we met while shopping in Paris suggested that if Jess wanted value and a few deals it would be better to miss Milano and focus on Firenzie.
We started by following the route of yesterday’s drive to Interlaken. Although today we didn’t experience the surprise we got yesterday when we were driving close the end of one of the many air force runways scattered around Switzerland. All of a sudden we heard the roar of a jet engine and then followed by another. These installations are so unassuming that it’s easy to overlook their presence . . . until a fighter jet takes off over your head. Many of these jets are stored in quonset huts that are covered with grass. I believe the history behind these grass covered quonset huts is that they are virtually impossible to discern from the air and therefore it is more difficult for an enemy to bomb them. Switzerland has been able to maintain its neutrality through the years by having a fully trained and active civilian military.
As we climbed to the top of the Grimselpass the sight of several dams in the gathering fog confirmed how Switzerland can generate enough electricity to avoid dependence on foreign oil. Near the summit we climbed a 9% grade in a tunnel that Deana and Jeff remember when traveling in the opposite direction during their trip in ’88. In ’88 a motorcycle blew by at the top of the tunnel and the tail light got smaller and smaller until the brake light flickered and the motorcycle took the turn as he emerged from the bottom of the tunnel and then disappeared.
It was so foggy at the summit . . . or where we think the summit was . . . that we didn’t bother to start and started down the opposite side. Immediately you see the road snaking its way back and forth down the side of the hill to the valley and then back up on the other side.
At this point you’re sure you’ve seen this vista in a James Bond movie, perhaps Goldfinger. We zigzagged down the hillside into Gletsch and then up the other side towards the Furkapass.
We stopped at the viewpoint at the Hotel Belvedere to appreciate the spectacular view from this classic hotel.
The third and final pass was the St. Gotthardpass (tough to believe Jeff could make the Popemobile handle like a sportscar) and drove into the clouds and then out of them. The sun was out for most of the drive and then we decended into Italy where the temperature rose steadily and the drivers became more animated.
As we neared Venezia it looked like we’d arrive in time to check in and wander the canals to locate a nice restaurant for dinner. Then we hit the traffic. Apparently a couple of semi’s had an untimely meeting and caught on fire. Two hours later we pulled into the parking lot on the island of Venezia. A short 5 minute walk and 2 bridges later (not made for wheeled luggage) we located our hotel, Marinello, and were escorted through the courtyard to our “family room” with two rooms.
We enjoyed a pasta dinner at a canal-side restaurant within a few hundred feet of our hotel.