The first of August is celebrated in Switzerland
about the same as we celebrate the 4th of July. Fessi has a home
in the Canton of Tocino in a little village by the name of Caslano which
is situated on another of the many lakes in Switzerland.
On Wednesday the 1st we loaded Fessi's bike on a
trailer behind the motor home and we headed off for Tocino. Given
the fact that the national speed limit while towing a trailer in Switzerland
is 80 kph (Fessi law is whatever he can get away with by the way) we marked
our map and wrote down the notes that we would need to find Tocino and
Caslano without the help of our tour guide.
The first part of the trip was on the autobahn where
we soon out distanced Fessi and Sylvia, only to find once we stopped to
look at the map that he was driving at Fessi law speeds and was real quick
to catch up.
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We left the autobahn to get onto the secondary roads
that would take us the rest of the way to our destination and up over Lukmanier
Pass. After riding thirty or so klicks up the twisting mountain road
to the summit we figured wrongly that we had some breathing room before
he caught up to us.
All I can say is that it must have been a very exciting
ride for Sylvia in a Fiat motorhome towing a bike on a trailer up those
As with most mountain passes there is a stop at the
summit where you can buy souvenirs and such and this time we found a small
booth that was selling mountain cheese. After testing a sample we
decided that we had better bring some of this stuff along. Who knew
when we might be able to find more cheese in Switzerland.
Upon our arrival in Caslano we discovered a postage
stamp sized village nestled on the shore of a beautiful lake. Fessi's
home faces the lake with a balcony that looks out over the water.
The house is two stories and was built about four
hundred years ago.
Teri found out that her favorite spot was of course
the balcony which was shaded in the afternoon.
Shade was important as the temperatures the first
two days we were there ranged in the mid to high nineties with humidity
matching the temperature.
Wednesday night we hopped in the boat and took about
a ten mile ride to the village of Lugano to watch the fireworks from the
All of us have seen fireworks in the United States
and the only way to describe this show is to tell you to multiply it by
at least ten. The sound of the shells exploding and echoing off the
mountains that surround the lake was nothing less than astounding.
Thursday afternoon all of us including Sylvia's dad
and his girlfriend Teri hopped in the boat again and headed for a small
village called Morcote on the opposite shore of the lake for some sightseeing
and an afternoon cocktail.
Morcote has boat docks so that you can park your
boat right in front of the restaurant and numerous shops to sell you stuff
that you can't live without.
As we watched the weather closing in on us Fessi
decided that the best place for us and the boat was not out on the lake
so we beat a hasty retreat back to the house before all hell broke loose
on the water.
Our meals while in Caslano were another part of our
continuing adventure in the culinary arts.
Fessi introduced us to Georgio's, a small out of
the way bistro with of course outdoor seating, where he did his best to
translate the menu for Teri.
Joe on the other hand requested the waiter bring
him whatever he recommended. This prompted a visit from the owner
Georgio and an inquiry about Joe's particular tastes.
So far on this trip Joe had used this method of ordering
dinner a couple of times before with great success. This time however
was to be the crowning glory when it came to food.
Georgio used the opportunity to prepare something
from his imagination rather than the menu.
Ostrich steak had been mentioned by Fessi before
as a delicacy in Switzerland but Joe had declined up until this point.
Turns out Ostrich tastes nothing like its cousins
turkey or chicken, more like the finest filet mignon you can imagine.
Saturday night was the day slated for the official
celebration of Fessi's 44th birthday. The party location would be
the yacht club located just down the path from the house.
The plan was for the party to be outside on the patio
with an alternate rain location of inside the clubhouse itself should mother
nature not cooperate. Good thing there was a Plan B!!
What a party this was gonna be!! The caterer
delivered the refrigerators, liquor, wine and of course bier Friday nite.
Fessi and Joe went down to the clubhouse Saturday morning to find that
one of the refrigerators had a bad cord and wouldn't work. Joe turned
into the refrigerator repair man for a couple of hours scrounging parts
and finally got the thing running.
When the party got under way the bier was slightly
cooled off but with the quality of bier it didn't really matter.
Try drinking Bud that's not ice cold!!
We must say, when Fessi throws a party, he throws
a party. Too bad mother nature was going to test Plan B.
The weather had looked a little threatening most
of the day but being the optimists that we are we didn't realize exactly
what she had in store.
We in Arizona think we've seen rain, well....we have
Although she tried to do her best to dampen the party,
the Swiss are used to this kind of thing.
It became a sport to see who could keep the water
from pooling in the awnings and collapsing them quickest.
Too bad for some of the guests who didn't realize
as they were running for cover that about twenty gallons of water was about
to come shooting down on their heads as they ducked out from under the
About sixty guests spent the evening helping Fessi
celebrate and making sure that he didn't have to drink all six of those
bottles of Jack Daniel's by himself.
We decided that around midnight it would be a good
idea for us to hit the sack as we had to ride back to Zürich in the
morning, not so Fessi.
It's our understanding from Betty his sister who
lives downstairs that he stumbled in sometime around six am.
Needless to say he was in no shape to do anything
beyond breathing in the morning when the rest of us were feeling pretty
good about going to bed early, sort of.
The decision was made that rather than fight to get
a size 10 bike onto a size 5 trailer, the bike would stay in Caslano until
the following weekend when Fessi and Sylvia were planning on returning.
No argument from Joe on that one.
We blasted off on our final ride of the trip leaving
Fessi and Sylvia behind to the comfort of the motorhome and headed for
The Gotthard Pass is one of two ways to get to the
other side of this particular mountain. The second option being the
Gotthard Tunnel, the longest auto tunnel in Europe, 17 kilometers to be
exact (over 10 miles).
Originally we had planned to ride through the Gotthard
Tunnel, but after talking to numerous people who rode we made the intelligent
decision and decided to go over the top. Good choice, not only because
the tunnel is not a good place for a bike, but the Gotthard Pass is one
of the best in Switzerland.
Our ride back to Uitikon was as leisurely as we could
make it, we really didn't want to end our adventure and we knew that the
next day we would be sitting in an airliner all day returning to the USA
Once again we had rule number one regarding riding
in Switzerland demonstrated to us. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER leave foul
weather gear or leather off the bike, no matter what the weather forecast
As it turned out the rain never really did appear
but a leather jacket would have been a lot more comfortable than denim.
We did manage to find our way back to Uitikon with
absolutely no outside help, something that probably sounds simple unless
you are used to riding on roads that have no numbers and reading signs
in a foreign language.
So....that's the story of our adventure. Our
return to the United States the following day was miserable to say the
least. Not only because we had to leave our friends both new and
old in Switzerland but 21 plus hours in airliners and airports is not something
we would wish on anybody.
When we originally committed to this trip we had
no idea what we were in for, it's something that has to be experienced
to be clearly understood.
We would like to thank both Fessi and Sylvia for
their gracious hospitality and all that they did for us. Also all
the people that we met including Christof, Liz, Beatrice, Willo, Willy,
Ula and Mike. And most especially Willy, Sylvias father.
Without him we wouldn't have had a dog sitter so we could take off with
Fessi and Sylvia on the bikes.
Will we be going back? You bet!! Joe
wanted to do it before the credit card bill arrived, too late!!!!