Switzerland - a trip on a scooter
Updated: Aug 31, 2020
Sometimes, the craziest ideas lead to memorable experiences - in this case, a trip with a scooter through parts of Switzerland. Oh man, was it great fun!
I, Nina, needed a break from the daily routine. I was too tired of working never-ending hours. OK, by working for your own company, this is different. But still, when creative ideas stop coming and one is only tired, then it is definitely time for a short break. So I decided to go to Ticino, the italian speaking part of Switzerland. As we are currently expanding our business to this region, a trip had the pleasant side effect to know this region a bit better (and to look for places where we might establish our second office is the near future). Markus could not join straight away, but came later to spend the weekend together.
As Markus needed the car, I was left with 2 options to get there: the train or the scooter. When the weatherforecast showed sunshine - there was no doubt. The scooter was my choice!
Well, to start: packing was difficult. I used only little waterproof bags that could fit underneath my seat. And well, I could not take a lot with me. Carrying a backpack for several ours on my back was not an option. So just the necessary cloths, water, my mobile phone and a toothbrush... that was it. Good excercise to travel light. No camera (sorry for the smartphone pics only).
From Lake Thun, where we live, I drove up the Kander Valley to Kandersteg. It is a relaxing, scenic drive right in the middle of the Alps. After 40 minutes a reached the mountain village. It is famous for the Lötschberg, a tunnel which goes to the other side of the mountain range and reaches the canton of Valais. But it is not a tunnel to drive through. Instead, you go with your car, motorbike or scooter on a train. In 12 minutes this train brings you through the tunnel. The option would be to drive the long way around which by scooter would mean about 4 hours at least. So I took the train, of course. Reaching the Valais I had to continue my journey south-east through the valley to Brig. From here it was uphill on the mountain pass
of Passo Sempione. It was hard to go up there as big lorries also drive this road sometimes (well, especially that same day!). But my scooter was strong enough to drive fast even on the steep uphill road. The scenery was amazing and it was getting colder and colder. So I put on all the warm clothes I had, even gloves. On top of the pass I needed a well earned break. I sat down close to a little lake and enjoyed the scenery and peace. Surprisingly, there were only few tourists, even though it was peak tourist season. After the break, I passed the boarder to Italy and it was a breeze to go downhill all the way to Domodossola. There was no way to pass Domodossola without stopping at the vegan restaurant of Sali & Pistacchi on the main square. They simply have amazing food and the best vegan cappuccino I have ever had. And it was hot in Domodossola. Temperature nearly reached 40 degrees C. I got quickly rid of all the clothes which I had to squeeze underneath my seat. I had a perfectly relaxing time in Domodossola, before continuing my trip further east in the direction of the Centovalli. This is a super scenic, curvy road - perfect with a scooter. I was lucky to meet only few cars and nearly had the road to myself most of the time. In Santa Maria di Maggiore I visited a small, lovely church before I stopped at the famous pilgrimage place in Re. In this church, the Madonna once had tears of blood running down. The church is huge. There is an old part with a famous fresco remembering this wonder and there is a new part. While the new part is, well, just modern, the old part is really nice and special. I sat down for quite a while.
After this stop it was back across the boarder to Switzerland and then through stunning landscapes passing by many many valleys to Losone. From Losone it was again uphill for 30 minutes till I reached my final destination for the day, Ronco sopra Ascona. It is a small village up on the hills overlooking Lago Maggiore. What a wonderful place to be! The views were amazing! I checked in a small, affordable room in the middle of the old village. It was clean, spacious enough but had no views and no balcony. Anyway, it was refreching cool inside the old walls of the old house and it was cheap (for swis standards). So I was more than happy and stayed inside for sleeping only anyway. After check in I took the scooter again and drove the 15 minutes down to the lake and back to Italy. I went to a supermarket which is definitely cheaper in Italy. Over all, the trip took me about 5 hours including some stops. But I was tired. The scooter is comfy, but still, it is a scooter. So I cooked something and called it an early night.
During my 4 days, I woke up every morning early and went to the main square close to the church to do my morning meditation overlooking the lake and enjoying the sunrise. What a perfect way to start a day. Having a scooter in Ticino is a breeze as traffic is horrible, roads are narrow and the scenery amazing. So on my first day I drove through the Maggia Valley. After a morning cappuccino in Coglio (this is definitely off the beaten path) I continued to Cervio where I visited a church. Further on I drove through the Bavona Valley. What a wonderful and peaceful valley. I was surrounded by the most beautiful nature, fresh air and only few people. I stopped at the Cascada di Foroglio, the highest waterfall in Ticino. And I made it to the only restaurant there just in time before a heafy thunderstorm started. I had clothes against rain with me for the scooter, but this was too much rain. So I waited for half an hour till the rain stopped and went for a hike around the waterfall. As it was still cloudy afterwards I did not feel like jumping in the water here and drove to Giumaglio. There is a little waterfall in the super kitschy little old village away from the tourists. I had a swim there and enjoyed the sunshin. But after an hour I had to move again as the next thunderstorm was coming. So I went to the Maggia river in Avegno to swim a bit more and enjoy the last rays of sunshine. Early evening I made my way to Ascona for a troll along the scenic (and touristy) promenade, had a vegan ice cream before it was time to go back to my little room for dinner. The follwing day, Markus was about to arrive. He had left home in the morning I I did not want to wait in the room. So after breakfast I drove to the Verzasca Valley. Without a map or GPS I got a bit lost in Locarno first but finally found my way and after a scenic ride along Lago di Vogorno I reached Lavertezzo with its superfamous bridge (Ponte dei Salti). It was packed with tourists,
but as it is really a beautiful place, I found myself a quiet corner right on the river. Many childhood memeries came up as I came here often with my parents during school holidays. The place still looks the same and it was wonderful to be back, especially with the scooter. Well, cars spent a fortune here for parking fees. My scooter parked for free - the big advantage in Ticino with a scooter. You safe tons of money. I relaxed, slept, swam (the water was freezing) till finally I got a call from Markus that he was approaching. So we met in the nearby grotto for a coffee and a refreshing gazosa (a supersweet but tasty ticino lemonade). Unfortunately no food for us - eating out in Ticino for vegans is nearly impossible. The evening we spent together with friends in Losone. Next day we went to the Madonna del Sasso, one of the Sacro Monte (holy mountains) in Ticino. It is located in Locarno with sweeping views over the city and parts of the lake. From here we drove back down the the city and took a boat to the wonderful islands of Brissago. This is a pure natures paradies. Unfortunately, by walking around the island another thunderstorm caught us. So the our time in this little paradies was over a bit too quick. But we heated up with a coffee in the city and quickly drove back to Ronco put on warm cloths. That evening we spent again with friends in the Centovalli. But we took the car there as temperatures had really dropped and it was raining non-stop.
So the next morning it was already the last morning. After a relaxing breakfast we packed our things. This time I could give all luggage to Markus in his car. Rain had luckily stopped but it was really chilly. So a cold ride back home on the scooter was waiting for me. Anyway, we took it slowly. Markus came with me through the Centovalli and we had so much fun driving together through the curvy road with no other cars or bikes around. We stopped again in Re. I wanted to show Markus the church with the famous Madonna. And of course, we made an extensive lunch break in Domodossola. The weather was nice but wind started coming up. Anyway, it was not super cold any more. Then, it was driving up the Passo Sempione - a very special adventure. A storm hit us. Markus was fine in the car, but driving the scooter was really challenging. I could not go any fast than 50 km/h and had to take great care that the scooter stayed on track. That was really a physical workout. On top I made a small break to warm up with a hot tea before driving down into the Vailais region. There still, the storm continued. I was super relieved when we reached the village where to board the train through the tunnel. Normally, on the other side of the mountain the weather ist different. So Markus drove with the car on the train, me with the scooter. And then the big surprise: on the other side of the mountain indeed, there was no storm. But it was only 10 degrees C and raining like crazy. OK, I put on all my rain clothes and the last 40 minutes of my trip I went through heavy rains.
It was not always a comfortable ride but one that will stay in my memory. But travelling on a scooter one is really in the moment and out in nature. The trip gets another quality, not always pleasant but really rewarding.
For the rest of the summer we stayed at home. But a big trip is planned already for the end of the year......