Europe Day 8: San Gotthard Pass & Venice

Hello! Today I’m sharing pics of our road trip between Zurich and Venice.

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We set off in my friend’s grandpa’s car and made our way from the north to the south of Switzerland to Italy. Considering I was told that Switzerland is smaller than Etosha Pan (Namibia) I wasn’t too worried about it being a mission. The section of Switzerland that meets Italy is divided by the beautiful Lake Lugano and Lake Como. We drove past lake Como which is a really big glacial lake surrounded by high mountains. It’s truly beautiful and makes you want to jump into the water instantly! My picture below really doesn’t do it justice 🙁

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On our way through the mountains we got stuck in traffic trying to go through a Swiss tunnel. While we were sitting there I heard the sound of cow bells jingling REALLY loudly. I tried to look up on the hill we were parked next to and saw dozens of cows hooves stamping past. I said, “Hey! There are cows coming down the hill!” My Swiss friend immediately said, “The cows are coming down from the Alps!” Apparently it happens once a year and is a really important passage for the animals. They are adorned with flower crowns and HUGE Swiss cow bells that jingle all the way down their passage from the alps to the low lands for winter. It was really awesome to see! Cow hats, too cute!

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Once we managed to get past the traffic we made our way up a very, very high mountain pass. Switzerland is a strange mix of very low valleys surrounded by very high mountain. It’s fascinating and unusual to see such dramatic difference in land levels. The name of the road is the San-Gotthard Pass and it truly makes you feel like you are in the middle of the sky. The pass is 2106 meters high – Table Mountain is only 1085 meters high! The air in incredibly clean and everything looks like it’s in HD with crystal blue clear skies. The air is also FREEZING as there is always snow on the mountain – even in summer!

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The pass connects the German half of Switzerland to the Italian half and lead us to the boarder with Italy. They didn’t even check our passports at the boarder and just let all the cars go through! It’s a surprise why there are so many immigrants in South Africa when in Europe they’re not even worried HAHA! I was told that the north of Italy was really beautiful. I think the people who told me that must live in a box because it looked like Joburg! (Sorry Joburg!) Instantly the quality of the buildings, highways, infrastructure appeared cheaper than the Swiss equivalents. We drove past Milan and made our way to Venice…

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I had a little laugh to myself because at the very first petrol station stop we entered, the store was filled with plays on fashion including chocolate stilettos! They also had incredible sausages/hams, cheese, pasta and olive oils available, on mass, right at the petrol station.

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I enjoyed looking at the Italian landscape. Everything is so stereotypical with the Tuscan style buildings but it’s a special feeling knowing that it is the real deal.

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We arrived in Venice after driving over a LONG bridge! It must have been about 3kms! It crosses the sea and connects Venice to the main land.

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No cars are allowed in Venice so everyone parks in giant car parks. They were absolutely stuffed and we ended up parking on the top story. And no – the parking isn’t free! We grabbed our bags, headed down the 10 stories (after taking in a good view of the Venetian cathedral towers – there are SO many) onto the street below to navigate our way to our accommodation. We crossed the first main bridge and was met with this:

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Venice is truly surreal and unreal and beautiful! You literally can’t believe what you’re seeing. I kept saying, “Hey! I’m in the food court at Grand West!” haha! The only thing is that it’s Grand West that’s the fake and it made me realise how often this city has been replicated and why. It’s almost a pity but when you’re there your brain keeps telling you it’s fake and too magical so you  have to constantly remind yourself that THIS is the real deal. It’s truly magnificent. Having said that, it is also RIDICULOUSLY crowded. And personal space in Europe doesn’t seem to be a thing. People have no issue touching you when you’re next to them or walking into you. It got quite annoying! Especially being South African where you’re constantly vigilant for pick pockets and then people randomly just touch you. I didn’t like it much!

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Luckily we had an amazing apartment in Venice that was far from the madding crowds with Italian children playing on their tricycles below and Italian grannys hanging out the window and women pulling in their laundry lines which hang out in public ( I guess this is where the saying, “Don’t hang your laundry out in public” came from.

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After we settled in at our apartment we went out for dinner. Knowing where to go is difficult because Venetians aren’t friendly and everything is in Italian. Luckily, we found a reasonably priced, delicious restaurant close to home. We were very happy to see the bread stick snacks on the table. We weren’t, however, happy when they charged us 2 Euros a pack! What a scam! Obviously that’s normal in Italy but in South Africa the bread is free and anything that is charged for is made clear.

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None the less, we had an amazing dinner. I really went all out and ordered scollops. I don’t actually eat seafood but I’ve seen scollops on every cooking show on the Food Network and in Gordon Ramsay shows so I was determined to try them! They were rather tasty (quite like crayfish meat) but the sauce they came in was to die for! White wine, cream, buttery sauce, amazing!

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Our friends ordered the procuito starter with rocket and mozzarella cheese. It was also very tasty and others had the prawn starters.IMG_9366  IMG_9368

For mains Mr Love had a pizza with chips on it LOL. Apparently it’s quite a popular dish in Venice as it was on many restaurant’s menus. I had the lasagne which was stupid enough to gobble up before taking a picture! I managed to get a picture of one last bite so you could see the layers in the dish. The sloppy American kind of lasagne doesn’t seem to be the authentic kind. It was really delicious (could do with some now!). Friends had the dish which they dissect at the table :X

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Another weird Italian thing I had was a cheese and rice ball. It was pretty tasty.

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I was told that Venice is a really romantic city and considering there was a wedding while we were at dinner…I’d say so!

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We had a beautiful dinner and went for a slow stroll home. The masks of Venice is a well known element of the Italian city so I enjoyed taking a look at all the glamorous masks in the windows. Much easier to see at night with less people around too.

Thanks for reading! *Penguins*

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