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Unread 8 Jan 12, 08:32 PM  
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geoffa
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Coach trip - "The Voyage of the Damned" - DAY 2

Day 2
After a good nights sleep and a hearty Continental breakfast we board the coach. Our seats, 17 & 18 are right by the drinks / bar area. However, drinks are served from front of coach to rear so we do have to witness a few being dispensed before one of the Als get to us. Im on holiday so its coffee with a shot of whisky in it. Its not long before everybody else seems to jump on my band wagon and start ordering the same. Some ladies opt for Baileys in their coffees. Its a dead easy system. To save messing with change, you buy ten tickets for 10 euros or multiples thereof. All soft and hot drinks are 1 ticket. Alcohol is 2 tickets but the coffee with whisky / Baileys is still 2 tickets.
Now then EU rulesIn UK you dont need to wear your seatbelt on the coach but you cannot be served with alcohol. In mainland Europe you can be served with alcohol but you must wear your seatbelt at all times. Failure to do so is a Euro 180 fine on the spot. (OK, I accept you could get yours on and fastened before the officials got to the back of the coach. Front row would most likely get caught.)
The on board toilet is close by too. To use you must adopt a Quasimodo hunch and reverse in. At the rear of the coach is a lounge area which we are asked not to hog so that everybody has a go.
Anyhow, now everybody has a drink we can proceed to look at the scenery. The weather is not being kind and so we gaze out onto gloomy and rainy fields as we pass down through France. There is a foul weather front crossing northern Europe. Hopefully, the other side of the Alps will be kinder to us. At Mulhouse we pass over into Switzerland where we make a short stop for fuel and a few minutes for us to look around the shop. Now I know the Swiss are a multi language country but when you have a petrol station in Switzerland with German speaking staff but stocked with Italian products it all gets a bit confusing.
The weather worsens and soon we are speeding along in the teeth of a blizzard:
The mountains start to top themselves in white and when the blizzard stops it all feels very Christmassy.

We now have to pass through the Gotthard tunnel. This runs 10.2 miles under the St Gotthard pass and emerges at Airolo to the south of the mountains. We plough on into Italy and into the Lesser Alps until eventually we reach the shores of Lake Como. There are road signs everywhere so that, as Big Al explains, Italian drivers can ignore them all. The lakeshore road is extremely narrow at various points, particularly in villages and so when we confront an oncoming lorry it becomes a battle of wits as to who will give way first. Whilst we glare at the lorry driver and he glares back at us some teenager squeezes past the front of the two vehicles on a moped! Its at this point that Jennifer, a lady sat behind us says: Theres a sign there for pedestrians. Believe me, if Signora Pastrami ventured out with her designer doggy on these roads they would both be squashed into the brickwork! Eventually the lorry gives way and reverses. A huge cheer goes up.
Having set out at 7:30 a.m. we arrive in Cadenabbia at our hotel around 17:30 p.m. - a ten hour journey. Its the Hotel Britannia Excelsior sounds very Imperialistic. Lovely furnishings Venetian glass chandelier and typical Italian dcor and furniture. All very swish.

We are already for a wash and brush up. Well, we would be except our room card wont unlock our room door and does not give any light signals. We try the card on another room door and we get a red light. So its the door thats the problem not the card. 25 minutes later after pointing this out to reception we are sitting on the stairs as Dario appears with screwdriver and a pack of batteries:

Everyone else in our party has freshened up, changed and headed to the bar.
So tonight, Ladies & Gentlemen, the yellow card goes to the hotel:

It could have been worse, two ladies who were given their card before us went up to their room to find it hadnt been made up from the previous occupants!
The bar is all inclusive along with the food so we have a couple of aperitifs before dinner. Well if you can call whisky and lemonade and a gin and tonic aperitifs!
The food is excellent. I cant recall what we had first night but lamb chops, pork cutlets, roast beef, lasagne featured throughout the week. You could have as much as you wanted many had seconds. Desserts ranged from gateaux to fruit salad to about twenty varieties of Italian ice cream. You just helped yourself. Then it was back downstairs to the bar. The bar attendant was called Massimo and what a darn good bar tender he was. He remembered everybodys drinks from only an hour earlier! Whilst we should have been sensible and had an early night most folk sat chatting and drinking until about 1a.m. Tomorrow (Today ? ) Lake Como and our first Christmas Market.
Some room shots:



Bouna Sera or should that be Boun giorno ?
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Unread 8 Jan 12, 08:36 PM  
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Kellea
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All looks fab xx
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Unread 8 Jan 12, 08:43 PM  
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djewkes
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Can't wait to read more... sounds a really different sort of break x
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Unread 9 Jan 12, 11:08 AM  
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geoffa
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theDIBB Guidebook
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A different sort of break. It was surely that!
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Unread 9 Jan 12, 12:51 PM  
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JaneSi
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Can't wait to read more - always wanted to go to the Italian lakes. Not so sure on a coach tho!
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Unread 10 Jan 12, 12:41 AM  
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nickymouse66
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Hotel room looks fab (after you'd got in )
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Unread 13 Jan 12, 08:28 PM  
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highland lass
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Loving the report
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Unread 16 Jan 12, 02:32 PM  
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Eeyore rocks
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A long travelling day..but you got into your room... at last.

Off to read the next one.
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