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TDM2014 – Day8, Drive back to Switzerland: -1km!

after a very relaxing night at the casa mortarino, we’re seen off in person by the friendly owner wishing us all the best – this was by far the best stay we’ve had on our trip – should we be back to this part of italy anytime in the future, we’re certainly going to be calling there again!

today, we cross the flatlands around the river po and more specifically the rice fields that give us the raw material for our beloved risotto.


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unsurprisingly, today, again, the pianura welcomes us with a beautiful selection of greys and fog with varying densities. (it really pays to see things positively!)

driving to nowhere

driving to nowhere

we nevertheless see endless rice fields – empty and dry, ready for springtime planting.

from somewhere to nowhere

from somewhere to nowhere

there is not much more to say about the first 80kms of our day…except that the caffé cortos we had were exquisite!

today is sunday – jc remarked and that it might prove difficult to get the electricity we need for a quick recharge. a ver! (i’m counting on camping sites and ports at lago maggiore)

another thing that was interesting whilst driving through the pianura was our blue and red lines mostly were parallel and we knew we were right on course 🙂

efficient driving along red and blue lines

efficient driving along red and blue lines

a first little hill - finally, we've crossed the pianura!

a first little hill – finally, we’ve crossed the pianura!

we make it to lago maggiore on one charge and find a port, which was closed (although plugs would have been available) and just beside it we are lucky to find the camping site open, since the owner told us she was about to close next week for winter.

she let us charge and told us to use any power distribution point we wanted. a seasoned ev driver first checks the rating of the plugs offered…

dafuq? - 3A per phase?

dafuq? – 3A per phase?

but since this sector of the camping site was connected via one larger feeder cable and i could not find anyone actively connecting to the power distribution points i decided to disconnect the whole sector and use the big 32A plug instead – we were back in business! 🙂

creative sourcing of higher currents

creative sourcing of higher currents

it was obvious that most things around here were setup by untrained people.

creative wiring

creative wiring

during the recharge jc meets attractive “young” pensioner ladies which, yet again, are impressed by his travelling and the perceived freedom it gives. i could have left him to choose one (he actually fancied one of them) and let them drive off into the sunset 🙂

jc decided against leaving me at the camping site and off we went along lago maggiore.

TW560 knows lago maggiore already – we were here in 2010 on our TDI2010 and had some really good déjà-vu moments…

looks like 4 years ago!

looks like 4 years ago!

especially when we pulled up to the ferry port in laveno 🙂

TDI2010 - this exact picture was already taken of TW560 4 years ago

TDI2010 – this exact picture was already taken of TW560 4 years ago

driving along lago maggiore is just magical – such a nice place on earth. see for yourself:

just before we enter back into switzerland, we decide to stop at a small village and take in the view whilst having a nice glass of italian wine.

a fitting last treat before we re-enter switzerland

a fitting last treat before we re-enter switzerland

relaxing at the lake

relaxing at the lake

good-bye italy!

good-bye italy!

the best part of our trip today is still to come: a small winding road up to 1400m. i was telling jc that we would be going right into the clouds and above.

still smiling... we're going all the way up there!

still smiling… we’re going all the way up there!

if you’re ever around lago maggiore – try this road!


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we start our climb from about 200m at lago maggiore – the road is a beautiful single lane road with many, many hair-pin bends and crossing small and sleepy villages clinging to the hillsides.

after about 12kms we reach the swiss border – geographically in the middle of nowhere. we are at about 75% DOD and know that we still need to climb quite much more.

let’s see if we’ll make it – according to my calculations, we should (famous last words *lol*)

crazy climb up to the alpe di neggia

crazy climb up to the alpe di neggia

the road continues to wind up the mountain – we both get somewhat concerned, since not only the motor temperature is soaring but our battery is running out of juice fast!

crazy cloud formations on the way up

crazy cloud formations on the way up

but then, at the very, very last minute we reach the summit – see how finely we cut things!

we made it... just!

we made it… just!

remember us using 5733Wh of 5900Wh available during our recent one-day trip across 3 alpine passes in switzerland? well this time we cut it even finer: 5874Wh used! whew.

cutting it really, really finely

cutting it really, really finely

the views however were exceptionally beautiful – especially the clouds being both beneath and above us.

at the top of alpe di neggia

at the top of alpe di neggia

we let the motor cool for a while and have a drink at the restaurant at the top.

since we’re back in switzerland and the ticino region in particular, we are in no truouble finding a charging point – there are official ones everywhere.

we just need to see how much energy we can get back on the way down and take it from there!

back down to the lago maggiore

back down to the lago maggiore

we arrive back down at the lake and check our display:

back down to lago maggiore

back down to lago maggiore

with this we can reach our quick charge point in bellinzona

with this we can reach our quick charge point in bellinzona

ahh. 1076Wh reclaimed during descent! enough to reach bellinzona with it’s castles and 6 charging points 12kms down the road.

bellinzona castle

bellinzona castle

the first charging point was one that i had visited on one of my one-day trips earlier this year – it had a very nice high-power type2 socket then…

all charge stations should have this choice

all charge stations should have this choice

but today, things are different…
a) a mitsubishi plug-in hybrid is already using the parking lot and charging off a type1 connector.
b) the guys have changed the socket to a lead with a plug… no chance to charge for us …yet – i will need to build a type2 “socket-socket” converter someday soon since most newer ac quick charging stations come with a cable instead of a socket…

this is how the charging station looks like today, just 4 months later:

hmm. not as expected

hmm. not as expected

but since this is bellinzona and charging station density is crazy, we can just drive a mere 500m to find the next one ready for us.

we've definitely seen some sun

we’ve definitely seen some sun

after just one hour and some sightseeing in bellinzona, we’re ready to drive to our hotel for the night in piotta, lower ticino.

since it has just begun to rain and dense clouds are being pushed down the gotthard valley, promising more rain, we decide to take the motorway to our hotel instead of the main road. we’re not gaining anything regarding the distance however, it’s a small valley and both roads are more or less side-by-side.

heavy rain ahead

heavy rain ahead

no need to waste time on small roads

no need to waste time on small roads

end of heavy rain in sight

end of heavy rain in sight

after just 35 minutes we check into our hotel rooms after being provided with a plug for the night. then we relax at the hotel lobby before eating some very tasty dried meat and risotto. the only shock came after being in italy/slovenia/croatia when the bill arrived: it cost about three times the amount we were expecting… swiss prices 🙂

tomorrow is our last day and we are acutely aware that yet again, a TWIKE adventure is about to come to its end – faster than ever.