Italy

Not your average huwelijksreis (honeymoon) – Part 2

It’s nearly 3 weeks since we got back from our honeymoon and I write this with serious post-wedding / honeymoon blues! BUT: time for Part 2! The Stelvio Pass. Oh My Life.

I would love to be mysterious, to build the suspense and keep you waiting but I just can’t! It’s too exciting! I now see what all the fuss is about on Top Gear,  motorbike forums and whatnot. It’s the best road I’ve ever experienced, a real drivers road and I will never forget it. (Yes, I am getting excited about a ROAD. You’ll see…)

The Dutchie summed it up perfectly… posting this panorama on Facebook with the caption “The drive of a lifetime”. Boy was he right.

Stelvio Pass Panorama

Stelvio Pass Panorama

Unfortunately, this is the only picture you’ll see from the Dutchie… while his photos can be restored, the price tag is ridiculously hefty… so for now at least we’ll have to go without. A massive shame that he has lost hundreds of photos (including the beginning of the honeymoon.) Damn.

The idea of going via the Stelvio Pass (in Italian it’s called the Passo dello Stelvio and in German: Stilfser Joch) came from one of the Dutchie’s work colleagues. He’d recently been on a similar road trip and said it was well worth a detour. Yep. Yep. Yep.

Stelvio Pass 2

Stelvio Pass 11

Stelvio Pass 4

There were tons of insane brave cyclists tackling the pass. At 21.5 km long with 48 hairpins… that’s no mean feat!

photo 179

Stelvio Pass 5

Stelvio Pass 6

The pass is located in the Ortler Alps in Italy between Stilfs (“Stelvio” in Italian) in South Tyrol and Bormio in the province of Sondrio, Lombardy, Italy. It has an impressive elevation of 2,757m (9,045 ft) above sea level!

Stelvio Pass 7

Stelvio Pass 8

Stelvio Pass 8

The views are absolutely breathtaking! We stopped to admire them at pretty much every opportunity we could! There are several parking places for cars, some more hairy (scary) than others! The advantage of cycling is that you can stop wherever you like. Maybe not so insane after all.

Stelvio Pass 9

Just WOW.

… and out the other side! This was taken just after the small town of Bormio, a popular skiing destination in the Alps.

IMG_8995

An amazing start to the trip and highly recommended if you’re going to Northern Italy!

I’ll end with a couple of tips if you’re going to the Stelvio Pass yourself:

  • When driving the pass: don’t be a dingbat! The road is narrow, there are lots of other road users present. On certain hairpins, cars in front of us were blindly taking corners without looking what was coming the opposite way. This just causes a traffic jam as the road isn’t wide enough for two cars. I repeat: don’t be a dingbat!!
  • On that vein… I wouldn’t recommend driving this road with a camper van. Too big, too slow. We didn’t see one truck on the pass. There’s a reason for this 😉
  • There is no need to stay in a hotel on the pass itself. The prices are at least double! We stayed at La Baita which was a 10-15 minute drive from the “beginning” of the Stelvio Pass. More than close enough! (If you do stay here: the food in the restaurant next door is LEKKER!! I had a seasonal mushroom dish and the best pizza I tasted in Italy. Prices are great, too! 10/10.)

Phrasebook

Oh, and if you don’t speak Italian… take a phrasebook or a dictionary!! Few people speak English so if you want to be understood, you’ll need a little help! (You’ll thank me later.)

Part 3: Lake Garda! Have you been?

Hayley x

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Not your average huwelijksreis (honeymoon) – Part 1

I was hoping to share the official wedding photographs with you – before the honeymoon pictures – but I’ve only just received the “sneak peek” myself… so in the meantime… let’s crack on with our beautiful huwelijksreis!

My dream honeymoon destination has always been Thailand. The clear water, the blue sky, the perfect beaches… it’s just ideal honeymoon material! However when my friend got married in Bali in October last year, we thought – “heck, we’re going all that way already – let’s go to Thailand as well”. It was everything it was cracked up to be and more… and I would LOVE to go back, but for our honeymoon, we wanted to go somewhere we’ve never been before. (If you’re new to the blog and want to read about our Thailand trip, you can do so here: 10 things to to do on Koh LantaKoh Lipe: Thailand’s secret island?Thailand Packing List.)

So we decided on… ITALY! (There is actually a significant reason for this, but it’s better to explain that in a later post… it will all become clear later – I promise!)

As we wanted to visit several places in Italy, we did the Dutch thing (they love camping and caravaning!) loaded up the car and decided to turn it into a road trip! A mix of hotels and camping, keeping the plan flexible so we could stay in places for longer if we liked them… and move on if we didn’t. But first stop: Basel in Switzerland! We left for our honeymoon on my birthday, so didn’t want to spend the whole day and evening driving. Basel is around a 7 hour drive from home so it seemed like the ideal location for a stopover. We were right.

En route to Basel

En route to Basel

We arrived quite late in the evening, so only had time for a quick shower, change of clothes and then went out for dinner: a cheese fondue! Of course! We’d done a bit of research prior to the trip and found a highly recommended restaurant on Trip Advisor called Elsbethenstubli, serving the “absolute best fondue you’ll ever have” – according to one reviewer. They were right. It was delicious. The best we’ve ever had! Another reviewer thoughtfully added “Remember, it IS Switzerland”… so we weren’t too surprised when the bill came. It was expensive… but hey, it IS Switzerland.

Cheese fondue, Basel, Switzerland

Cheese fondue, Basel, Switzerland

On the way back to the hotel, we stumbled upon a fantastic bar called Zum Kuss. (It means “The Kiss” in German.) Again, it was expensive (10+ euros for a double gin)… but so, soooo worth it. Their gin collection was one of the most impressive we’d ever seen! The second shelf down is ALL gin. I shit you not. AMAZING!! The Dutchie had one with cucumber and pepper. Yum!

Zum Kuss, Basel

Zum Kuss, Basel

And now for some “real” photos, from my “proper” camera!! (The above were phone photos… Sorry!) The next morning, we wanted to get on the road by lunchtime, so we had a couple of hours to explore Basel:

Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland

Zum Andreasplatz, Basel, Switzerland

Zum Andreasplatz, Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland

Basel Town Hall (known locally as Roothuus) is over 500 years old and dominates Marktplatz (market place) in the centre of Basel.

Basel Town Hall

Basel Town Hall, Marktplatz, Basel, Switzerland

Basel Town Hall

Basel Town Hall

Basel Town Hall

Basel Town Hall

Beautiful! You must go there if you visit the city!

On the subject of recommendations… a place to avoid is Restaurant Zum Alten Stockli. It looks great from the outside and has a lovely terrace, but the waitress was unbelievably rude, slow and unfriendly and one of the locals was even worse! A terrible dining experience, we wanted to get out of there as fast as we could!! Later we discovered it’s the #346 worst restaurant (out of 411 restaurants) in Basel!! Lesson learned… ALWAYS check Trip Advisor first!!

I’ll end on a positive note, however, of a cool mural we spotted… plus some street art! (The Dutchie had a better picture of the mural… an amazing panorama… but since his phone ended up drowning in a swimming pool in Italy – the less said about that the better – this will have to do!)

Music mural

Music mural, Basel, Switzerland

Street Art, Basel

Street Art, Basel

Street Art, Basel

Street Art, Basel

Part 2 coming soon: Italy and the Stelvio Pass!! Now I’m off to relax before my first ever Dutch lesson! Nervous? Me…? Eeeeeeeeekkkkkkkk!!

Hayley x