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Road Trip
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Road Trip to Lugano

Having been granted two days off work this week, Dan and I decided to take off south in search of sanity and relaxation. Yearning for freedom, we hired a car from Bruno, a local taxi driver, and took the highway towards the Italian region of Switzerland. For the first few kilometres I struggled to remember how to drive, frequently riding the kerb and attempting to change gear with the door handle on my left. However, by the time we began to climb the first of two mountain passes I felt fairly competant, and even managed to carry out an emergency stop when suddenly out of the thick fog traffic cones appeared across the carriageway in the entrance to a narrow tunnel. I think Dan was a bit freaked out - but not as much as me when earlier I simply couldn't remember which was the brake and which was the accelerator. Thankfully Dan's driving wasn't half as bad as mine - we both then had the opportunity to relax.

Reaching Lugano everything fell into place. A rare space for the car appeared right beside the tourist information office on the lakefront, and not 50 metres from there a cheap hotel where we got their last room which apparantly sported "lake views". Hhhmm, yes, we couldn't deny it - we could see a thin slice of water at the end of the narrow alleyway that lay between the buildings opposite.

Lugano held a great surprise for us in that it was Italian in every way. It was difficult to remember that we were actually in Switzerland when all around people were speaking a language neither of us understood, Pizzas topped every restaurant menu card and the architecture was undeniably Italian with the cobbled squares and arched walkways. The local population were sophisticated in their dress, looking appeallingly sexy in an unmistakingly Meditteranean fashion. Ice cream carts stood on every corner and there was the relaxed disorganised atmosphere that I have not experienced since my February trip around Europe.

Having had a look around town and admired the local sights... (such as the children's circus that had pitched itself just down the street from our hotel) we decided to do a little tour of the local area by car. Our goal was to find a big shop where we could spend lots of money that we didn't have, but all we could find was a tiny Co-op in a petrol station. Loaded up with beer to drink in town we headed back across the lake, getting lost for the 8th time in 10 hours and ending up in the parking lot of a Ferrari Showroom. Realising that neither of us knew how to hotwire a car we soon gave up on the idea of ram-raiding the place, and instead moved on to the nearby Ikea store where we walked around in circles for what seemed liked forever in a bid to escape the notorious 1-way system that they employ to get you to spend more money. Depressingly, neither of us was able to spend a single Swiss Franc in a neighbouring huge electrical store, although on my part that was purely because I knew that whatever I did buy I'd have to cart back to the UK (where I'd only be able to use it for three weeks in any case).

Having discovered that all films were in Italian at the local cinema we ventured back into the main square for a meal. From under the big canvas umbrellas of the Tango bar we scoffed our way through pizzas, downed our beers and admired the torrential thunderstorm around us. Although initially amused by the fact that we were so close to the downpour and yet still dry, we soon found ourselves being laughed at as the splashes of rain on the bricked ground soon ensured that we were pretty much soaked through. Next, it was onto a club which was quite a treat as the most action we'd seen was in Tiffanys in Wengen - those of you who've been there will know what I'm saying... it was 4.00am by the time I staggered home. I can usually tell when it's time for bed - I start making international calls with my cellphone.

200 minites later we were up once more, cruising in the beautiful Italian sun, head out of the sunroof with Fat Boy Slim blasting out. Boy was I happy... it just felt great to be free. Returning home we stopped off in Locarno where my parents had been for their honeymoon over 35 (?) years ago. A spot of bull-riding and a milkshake provided amusement there, but hangovers always win and so home it was over the Gotthard Pass where we witnessed a motorcyclists hopping around in agony having wiped out not far ahead of us on the twisty wet roads. Back in Interlaken I bought a new camera (Canon 300 EOS - 1-year-old model but a bargain at sfr500 and half the weight of the Nikon F50 I've had for the past 5 years and have now sold to Dan), filled up with fuel and fell asleep on the train back up the mountain.

It's so good to get out of this place sometimes. It's vital to remeber that life is about living for the moment and a lot more fun if you refuse to follow routine for the sake of laziness and a lack of imagination.

Lugano August 2001 was sponsered by Fiat.

© Joseph Tame 2000~2009 | Contact Joseph