South via Sud – Day Three

Todays drive was all about the Alps and the Great St Bernard Pass that leads us to Italy. We traveled south with the towering mountains before us, past ugly Swiss industrial areas we wondered why Switzerland was thought of as so idyllic. Only when at the foothills of the Alps, in the small Swiss villages was the beauty of Switzerland apparent.

Any thoughts of the old AlfaSud keeping up with modern autos up the steep twisting roadway over the alps disappeared instantly when we found ourselves glued to the rear bumpers of frightened drivers of big SUVs with brake lights stayed on almost the entire time. Driving a standard shift car is perfect in this region when you are able to choose the suitable gearing but when forced to drive at a speed too slow for 2nd and having to downshift to first (Alfas are not build for this) to climb a switchback is no fun. So we pulled over to admire the scenery and let the timid drivers move on.

Once back on the road driving at proper speed the pass was no problem for the little AlfaSud. Much of the journey seemed to be downhill so only an occasional tap on the breaks was required along with steering.

Arrival in Italy and our stop for the night at Lake Viverone was welcome. Temperatures after the chilly alps had risen quite a bit and a swim in the beautiful hotel pool and walks around the small lake where a welcome change. It’s hard to fathom  how a lush and opulent lake-side hotel with large rooms and air conditioning could only be 73 euros per night – but this is Italy – Switzerland is back over there.

South via Sud – Day Two

After an early morning walk in the mostly deserted French town of Dun-sur-Meuse we ended up at a BOULANGERIE for a croissant and coffee. The baked items on display were all postcard perfect – sadly modern technology invaded into the coffee preparation area, and like so many other shops, they pushed a button on a small machine for our coffee.

Driving Sud by sudwest through small villages and large areas of parklands, past the town of Verdun and several others scared by the effects of “the great war” we arrived in the very large city of Nancy.  Here and now the Germans arrive via tour busses rather than tanks.   The primary point of interest in the city of Nancy is the ornate center square Place Stanislas and the surrounding shops and cafes. Unfortunately the beauty of the square is marred by the now too often sight of the tourist train dragging bloated shoppers from sight to sight.

On the road again traveling through the beautiful twisty mountain roads of the Ballons des Vosges Natural Regional Park. The temperatures dropped as we rose up the scenic route past dense very green forests. Architecture takes on a very Austrian look as the wooden homes peek out of the woodlands.

The historic town of Eguisheim guidebook favorite luring tourists with its promise  of wine and beauty. One gets the feeling the town was wholly created by a group of vineyard owners as a ploy to get tourists to load up their cars with bottles.  The ominous tourists train indicated it was time to depart.

Wanting to get to the nights accommodations and explore the area traveled via highway to the Swiss border where we were greeted by the unfriendly faces of the guards who angrily waved us by as the new road pass was already affixed to the windscreen.

The Swiss Hostal Lago Lodge in Nidau Switzerland is part hostel but mostly brewery. These two ingredients are an irresistible combination to  hipsters and hippies and the lawns were full of them.  The beers were great and the food (as usual for Switzerland) was too expensive.



South via Sud – Day One

Departing Egmond aan zee and its gale force winds and crashing waves we started our trip south with the little AlfaSud. The navigation systems consisted of: main turn by turn navigation via WAZE. This app is most useful for avoiding traffic. As most of the route involves large highways full Dutch caravans heading south too – this was essential. The second device displayed our planned route and points of interest.

Our first stop was the castle / tower Musée du Silex  just over the Dutch border in Belgium.  This fortification is proof of what some time and a vision can achieve.

The first beer related stop was Abbaye du Val-Dieu. The beers here were all uniformly excellent with the darker Grand Cru being the highlight.

About an hour south of the Abbey was another beer stop whose vocation was not dedicated to religion but to money: Brasserie d’Achouffe. A reasonably famous brewery whose iconic gnome mascot adorns every item of tat available in the  crowded gift shop.

Skirting the border of Luxembourg  our route afforded us the opportunity to fill up with inexpensive fuel. One side of the road was Belgium, the other (filled with gas stations) was Luxembourg. Travelers from everywhere were here with the same money-saving idea.

The bumpy roads and ugly scenery of Belgium gave way to the sweeping wheat covered hills and smooth roads of France and our stop for the night in the town of  Dun-sur-Meuse.  A very simple but modern American styled motor inn with parking outside the door and air-conditioning! The surrounding village is typical French – few people around but lush and beautiful.

Colorado Rhino

The name of the River North Arts District of course has been shortened to RiNo to meet hipster qualifications. Then that shortened name was changed to Rhino so they can use the image of the animal.  ( The area itself formerly was an industrial area just northeast of downtown Denver. Continue reading “Colorado Rhino”