28 July 2006: In the morning, I woke up at 8:30. Sun was shining outside, without a trace of clouds. That fact was filling me with strength, joyfull and appetite! I enjoyed a full breakfast with coffee, croissant and marmalade. Around 9:30 I had already emptied my room and I was at the reception to pay. The sum for one room (breakfast included) plus a super lunch plus one coffee with chocolate chips and biscuits was 54€ ! I was amazed when I heard it. Greeting everybody for their hospitality, I started to drive off, heading for the Autobahn.
I stopped at the lake that I saw the previous day for a few photos, where I discovered that it was actually an artificial one. While I was driving away from the lake, I already knew what route I should take. I was planning to drive directly through the Autobahn up to the borders and then take the superstrada, to descent through the Italian side of the Alps. So I departed for Pack, after that, headed to the “known” cross-road and then out to Autobahn A2, heading for Kalgenfurt. Road signs from Modriach till Klagenfurt were showing 95 kilometers max. The rest of the route, up to Villach (Italian borders up to Villach have a distance of 3 kilometers), was 33 kilometers. 15-20 kilometers after the first exit from Klagenfurt, I decided to leave the Autobahn, in order to find “my way” through the superstrada.
Trying to get out of the highway, I found myself stuck in a huge traffic jam for about 3 kilometers. The road that I decided to drive through, was passing through Klagenfurt, which I accidentally thought I had already passed. Klagenfurt is a city with a huge lake, summer resort for a lot of Austrian and Italian tourists. It resembled a lot what I saw last year, in the French Riviera, with so many people, cars and expensive shops. Everybody was driving around with swimsuits and expensive cars! After a couple of minutes being stuck in the city’s center, I managed to get out of it. Five kilometers later, I found the first sign for SS13 (Superstrada) that I had to follow in order to go to Italy.
The main characteristics of the road I decided to follow were that it had two lanes per direction and the asphalt condition was mediocre. Tarvisio was the first Italian city I met. Around it there were huge mountains filling the place, some of them bald, some other with only a few fir trees. I was a little bit disappointed. It all seemed so “cheap”, cities and mountains; perhaps I was too much influenced from the Austrian side of the Alps. Continuing to drive through SS13, which was leading to Udine, the landscape still wasn’t impressive enough, even though I already knew that they were the last Southern mountains of the Alps. I concluded to the fact that the Italian Alps can be described as having a “wild” beauty. I still preferred the Austrian side!! Without finishing up my thoughts, I was already facing the huge valley of Italy, while the temperature had been raised so high that I felt as if I was in front of a heating gun! I had started to sweat, even though I was keeping a steady course of 120 kilometers per hour. At Chiusaforte it seemed that I was leaving the Alps behind me.
While traveling through Italy, I had my GPS closed, because my nerves were in tense. Once I was opening it, it displayed a message that the memory was out (thus the maps too) and shut itself off. This can be described as a stop every 10 minutes to see my location. I didn’t take any maps of the Italian road network, because I trusted my GPS, which had betrayed me awfully!
Since I was so disappointed from the temperature rise (and the landscape), I was thinking to start heading for Brennero (or Trento) where I had already stayed there last year. The landscape there was a lot better, concerning what I was seeing that moment. Of course, finding my way without my GPS would prove a VERY difficult task, something that was confirmed later. Temperatures, as far as I remember, were lower, since the place was on the foot of the Alps.
So I started to drive there. I reached up to Tricesimo to discover that I should get out of the SS13 earlier and then follow SS52 which had a course along the Alps. Time was already 3 in the noon. I decided to stop and eat something. 30 minutes later, I was en route again, driving south. Finally, after 20 kilometers, I found SS52 and followed it. At the second junction I saw a sign pointing right, mentioning “Austria”, something that I took as granted that I was heading on the right way. In front of me I found a German couple, driving an Yamaha FJR, loaded up to the top, both of the wearing t-shirts. I followed them. Once I looked up on the sky, I saw many dark clouds coming towards us. Two minutes later we were starting to taste a few drops of rain, which in a flash, turned to heavy rain. We stopped together at a small tavern with a small shelter, in order not to get (more) wet. While the couple was waiting for the rain to stop, I turned on my GPS, to discover that once again I followed the wrong road and that I should turn left at a junction, 15 kilometers before. Five minutes later, the rain had stopped, so I quickly said goodbye to the couple and headed backwards. Clouds were getting heavier, even at the place that I was heading!
I was looking desperately for a hotel or rooms to stay in the 2 – 3 towns I passed, but all in vain. I couldn’t find anything. Angry and disappointed enough with the whole case (Italy, GPS, landscape, weather etc.) I turned around and headed for Udine, which was 70 kilometers away, or 40 kilometers from Chiusaforte. At 5:30pm I entered the town of Udine. A few minutes of exploration in the city and right after that I was seeking for a room to stay.
I found a hotel, named “Principe Hotel”, near the central bus station, with the price of 55€ (including parking and breakfast). Without having the patience and strength (and with a big disappointment that I ended up to that big town), I decided to settle there. Whilst looking quickly the sky, I saw that the clouds were getting closer to the city. I asked the reception what was going on with the weather and she replied that they were expecting showers a long time now and also the weather station said it would rain a lot.
I went out to for a lunch and around 9:30pm I returned to my hotel. I was watching from my window, the lightings hitting one after the other, somewhere at the Alps. I can really say I have never seen so strong thunders hitting so fast one after the other. “If it starts to rain in the Alps, it never ends”, I thought. The big issue would be what I should do the day after. Should I stay there or should I go to Castelfranco for shopping and settling there? By mentioning shopping, I have heard of a shop there that offered motorcycle clothing at remarkably lower prices! Everything would depend from the next day’s weather. While I was in my room, I decided to take a look at my damn GPS to see why it was not working properly. As I discovered, due to vibrations on the bike, the memory card didn’t made a good electrical contact with the device. Solution was very simple. A thin paper jammed on the upper side of the memory card and the problems were history! So simple… yet so essential!