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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Day 5: Realp to All'Acqua

We woke up to sunny skies and another clear day. The place we stayed at didn't serve breakfast, but due to my reduced appetite the day before, we had plenty of left over food, so we ate that and then rolled out towards Hospental. Unlike the day before, the road towards Hospental was calm and rolled along smoothly. I felt much better than the day before and the climb on St. Gotthard went easily enough, with no wind or traffic.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

At the summit, I stopped at the museum to see if how much the entry cost, and it wasn't enough given my poor German to be worth going. It had warmed up considerably but the descent from St. Gotthard pass first went through a kilometer long tunnel. Once past the tunnel there were great views where XiaoQin stopped to take a beautiful photo of Airolo and the road below, but being on a bicycle I was having too much fun to slow down. We agreed to meet at the train station in Airolo before hand.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

Once past the flying hairpin the road splits into the highway as well as the local road, with the highway presumably off-limits to bikes. Given that the local road is filled with cobbles and extremely unfriendly corners, we took the highway and zipped down to Airolo quickly and with no ado.

At the train station, we spoke to the tourist information folks and were told that we would either climb Nufenen that day or stay at All'Acqua, the last hotel in the valley at about 1600m, giving us a head start on the next day's climb. Given that it was already 80F at the train station, the prospect of climbing in the hot afternoon sun didn't appeal to us, so we had the tourist information center call All'Acqua and make a reservation.

XiaoQin had trouble finding the train station, but after a bit she got herself corrected and found us. The tourist information center provided her with directions and we headed up the road. The climb wasn't very long but amazingly enough, as we gained in altitude the temperature of the road rose! By the time we got to All'Acqua the temperature was 94F and rising. The decision to stop there looked better and better, and by the time I stopped, I had sweat all over my face and bike, and Phil looked a little cooked and maybe even sunburned.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

All'Acqua had a restaurant, so we asked for some ice cream but got some lemon sorbet with some alcohol in it. It was yummy but with a bitter after taste. We later found out what it was called but I'd forgotten it again, having decided not to ever have one again.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

We took showers, rested inside, and then XiaoQin and I went out for a walk in the hiking trails. I didn't know it at that time, but it's actually possible to hike all the way into Italy from All'Acqua, even while carrying a bike. Jobst Brandt and Jeanie Barnett did that in 2003. In the hot weather, even hiking in the shade would caused me to sweat, and after wandering around watching hikers do the hike in various states of undress we went back to the hotel to cool off.

The restaurant menu for dinner didn't look especially appealing, but since we had a car, we got into it and drove down to Airolo where there were plenty of restaurants. We picked a pizza place that served good spaghetti and had a good meal. By the time we got back it was plenty cool and we enjoyed the mountain air before going to bed.


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