May 15: Travel to Malles and visit 4 countries in one day!
Today was our travel day to Malles, a city in the northern part of Italy where we were to spend two days.
Our ride leaders, Sid and Caryl, had hired a bus to take us, our baggage and our bikes from Munich to Italy. The van that would be used throughout the trip to schlep our luggage from place to place also needed to be driven to Italy.
After eating a German breakfast at 7:30, we loaded our stuff in the bus, and our bikes in the bike trailer attached to the bus. Bryan, Patty, Faye and Mary snagged the first two van driving stints so they wouldn't have to miss a day of riding. The rest of us rode in the bus.
We got on the road a little after 9, and our bus driver, Wolfgang, drove us through Germany, Austria, and then into Switzerland. The whole while he told us interesting facts about the territory we were passing through. A most enjoyable journey!
We arrived in Malles, Italy around 3 PM, so there was still time for a short ride after unloading our bikes and luggage. Bryan, Patty, Faye, Mary, Kurt and I got on our bikes and rode to Mustair, a small town just on the other side of the Italy-Switzerland border. It really hit me then that we were riding in Europe, and it was so wonderful!
The whole way to Mustair we had beautiful views of the Alps, while riding through narrow roads with few cars, and through small villages with room enough for little more than one car to pass. It was a steady climb the whole way, with the wind at our backs on the way up.
There is still a border at Mustair, and border guards on both the Italian and Swiss sides. I forgot to bring my passport, so I was unable to get two more stamps. I may ride up there tomorrow to do so...
On the way down, it was quite windy, and was raining a little bit. Or was it snow? I didn't get as many pictures as I would have liked, because it was a choice between riding through the quaint little villages or stopping every 10 feet to take a photo. The riding won out. It was also getting cold and looking like it was going to start raining in earnest. So it was time to get back to the hotel.
Riding distance: 20km. Altitude gain: unknown.
We assembled with the group for the explanation of the next day's activities and for a northern Italian dinner served at the hotel.
After dinner, Mary and I went for a short walk through the town of Malles before dinner. Malles is a classic European town, quite hilly, with narrow streets and shops in places you wouldn't expect. We ran across a beautiful church with a cemetery in back.
We also found an ATM that would take our card on only the second try! We returned to town as it got dark, and retired early. Jet lag was still present.
Tomorrow we ride up to Austria.