Checked out of beautiful Lake Garda reluctantly. It is a terrific location but overrun by the holiday crowds. If I were going to ride these roads again I would do it earlier in the season or stay in a little guesthouse up a mountain somewhere. I was very lucky with my camp spot and got a quiet little corner with good neighbours but I noticed some areas were just heaving with people and lots of loud pop music was playing.
Where the Quecha (Two-second pop-up tent) rules in France, the Campervan rules in Italy. Every shape and size with every modcon you can imagine. I'm only envious when it rains.
I was following another one of JH's routes, but trying to follow it backwards. He is not great on describing the area and what to see, rather he concentrates on the hotels in the towns - kinda useless information for me.
I got lost almost immediately but found a lovely pass through the mountains and down the gorge in the general direction I needed. I'm often frustrated by Italian road signs as they rarely mention the Route Number - just the town name. And it is not usually a major town - it is the next village. And unless the next village happens to be marked on your map, you have to guess which direction to go. I knew I needed to head east so just picked a likely road and kept my fingers crossed. It was 30 minutes later I knew I was on the right road as the town name finally came up on my map. Just pure luck really.
And yet I still wouldn't get a GPS - imagine all the wonderful places I wouldn't discover.
JH had described a pass road where the hairpin bends had been built INTO the mountains in a series of tunnels. I had to do this pass even though it is quite a detour.
I skirted the very southern edge of the mountains which were completely covered with grape vines. Lots of lovely little villages and I'm very glad I didn't simply do the main road.
I found San Boldo Pass easily and was pleased to note that there was barely any traffic on the road at all. And what a wonderful road it is. 18 hairpins and the last 6 are indeed built directly into the rock. They've put traffic lights in so it takes away some of the excitement of meeting a car in the middle of the hairpin but really, the road is so narrow someone would have had to back up anyway.
The road on the other side was also a delight. Beautiful windy path through the forest with perfect surface and no traffic. It was already 4pm and I still had a fair way to go to get to Cortina, in the middle of the Dolomites, my base for the next few days. Luckily the road following the river was divine and then just one last mountain pass to my destination. At the top of the pass was a restaurant/bar/souvenir shop and outside was parked about 15 vintage Moto Guzzi's. I just had to stop for a better look.
Consequently it was past 6pm by the time I pulled into Cortina and it was just beginning to rain. I could not find any signs to the camping ground even though I had looked it up on the net earlier and knew the general direction.
I pulled over to consult someone and just then it began raining harder - which then turned into a torrential downpour. Henry was getting drenched but I was safe and dry under a balcony.
I waited out the storm (45 minutes), got directions to the campground and headed off wondering if I shouldn't just check into a hotel. The problem is, Cortina is one of those tourist towns where the hotel prices are so over-inflated it'd cost me double what I'm willing to pay.
I managed to pitch the tent before the next downpour and went off to find some dinner. I scoffed a very nice pizza and then went to bed completely exhausted. It rained all night - but I didn't notice.