Around The Alps 1995 Japan 1996 Around Poland 1997 Madagascar 1998 Grand Canion 1999 Cuba 2001 Mexico, Belize, Guatemala 2005 Sri Lanka 2006 Crimea, Moldova, Romania 2008 Corsica and Sardinia 2009 2021 2022 2023 Sorry, your browser does not support inline SVG.
Through Italy towards Swizerland
On my way to Italy I crossed two minor passes: Col de Castillon (elevation 706 m) and Col de Vescavo (477 m). I intended to use the tunnel under Col de Tende to enter Italy. Unfortunately, no bikes were allowed there.
I did not have much choice but climb Col de Tende. Easier said than done! Paved road ended after a few hundred metres and rubble surface began, on which cycling with heavy luggage and road tyres was impossible. I had to walk the bike, and it wasn't until the next day that I managed to reach the pass. My accommodation that night was extraordinary – I put up a tent inside an old, dilapidated house. My nose told me that a source of running water was somewhere nearby, and indeed there was.

From the pass (1871 m) there was a 20 km section of paved road, as smooth as a table (finally Italy!), leading towards Turin. In Savigliano I cycled under a triumphal arch, but it was too soon to feel triumphant. It started raining cats and dogs in Turin. I stayed for one night at Ostello Torino youth hostel, where my personal belongings were not perfectly safe, as it soon turned out. I lost almost 300 dollars, but the thief had mercy on me and shared his loot, leaving almost 200 dollars in my wallet. I was furious, especially with myself, because I had not been cautious enough. Well, it's easy to be wise after the event. That incident made me completely depressed. I thought I would not have enough money to continue the expedition, and I was already wondering which way home was the shortest one. However, having calmed down I decided to take the risk and continue the journey according to my plan. I kept thinking about the theft for the following days, unable to shake the stress off.

I reached Como, with its beautiful Gothic cathedral. Cycling along the shore of Lago di Como towards Switzerland, I admired local villages, full of ancient villas. In Chiavenna the climb to the Maloja Pass (1817 m) began – gentle at first, but later...
Luckily, the steep section was not too long. I was surprised to find out that the road down was very "flat". I passed St. Moritz – one of the most snobbish cities of Europe. If you have a lot of money, you must visit the place in wintertime, and book a room in the most expensive hotel. Firstly, it is considered fashionable and secondly, you may bump into celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The next day was tough. To begin with, there was a 14 km section up to reach Umbrailpass (2503 m), where I met a group of Czech cyclists. They treated me to beer cooled in snow.

And then the ride down. Forty turns at a breakneck speed. I overtook a few cars. Some drivers even gave way to me. That's what I call polite driving! After spending a short time in Switzerland, I was back in Italy. I headed for Europe's second highest pass in the Alps: Passo dello Stelvio (2758 m). A few dozen cyclists, probably participating in some kind of marathon, were going in the opposite direction, making the pass as crowded as a busy city centre. [Road down from the pass]