Ever ticked something off your bucket list without knowing? I did. Didn’t realize it for years. It was one of those funny little travel things, where two goals overlap in an unexpected way.
It all happened because Ron loves to drive. Fast. That’s why, whenever possible when we travel to Europe, we include a stop at Germany’s famous Nürburgring, where he rents a zippy car and does this:
But on the last of our European jaunts, we did something different. Normally we get from city to city by train, but since trains don’t go to Nürburg, and the shuttles are expensive, we rented a car for some of our journey.
That made planning for this trip a little different. Because we were going to have a car, we decided to work in a few of the more remote places we’d like to see, where trains either don’t run or aren’t convenient. And we planned our routes accordingly to get us on to some fun roads: everything from highways like the Autobahn to twisty mountain passes.
Like the Splügen Pass, for example, a mountain road that connects Italy and Switzerland. The only reason we went to Switzerland at all on this trip was because Ron thought the pass looked like it would be a fun drive.
This trip was the first time either of us had ever used GPS before which, as I have mentioned previously, didn’t go very smoothly. Ron was concerned that if we simply plunked our starting and ending cities – Modena to Splügen – into the GPS, it would plot a route that would bypass the pass. To prevent that, he programmed the GPS in two phases, first from Modena to a little mountain town well off the highway, and then the little mountain town to Splügen.
His plan worked – so well that we happened to reach the little mountain town around lunchtime, so we stopped for a meal and a wander. It was a beautiful place, with a lake and mountains and a town centre and boats on the water, and I fell in love with it, to the point that I took down some realtor information for future reference, as I expect there are worse places to retire than a little apartment in a sweet Italian mountain town.
Fed and rested, we continued on our way. Ron drove his mountain pass while I kept firm hold of the Holy Shit Bar, we spent a lovely night in a mountain lodge, and the next day we made our way back to Germany for the flight home.
It was years before we realized the significance of our midday stop, and it was all thanks to James Bond. We were watching Casino Royale, a movie I’ve seen roughly a gazillion times, when I decided to see where the hospital scenes were filmed. The location was gorgeous, and I’m always on the lookout for new places to visit.
It turns out it was filmed at a villa on Lake Como, which is one of my bucket list destinations. I mentioned this to Ron, suggesting that maybe one day we could stay in the same hotel as James Bond, and he got out his computer to find its exact location. A few minutes later, he asked me what the name was of that little mountain town we stopped at on the way to the Splügen Pass. “Was it Lecco?”
It took me some time to find the answer to that. I eventually had to go back through the trip photos to figure it out. But finally I could confirm that yes, it was, and ask, “Why?” At which point Ron spun his computer towards me. Google Earth was up on the screen, focused on the Lake Como area – with the town of Lecco on its shore.
I guess in the long run my instincts were both a little bit right and a little bit wrong. My reaction to Lecco proved that I was right in wanting to visit Lake Como – but I do believe my chances of retiring to that little mountain town will be somewhat beyond my means.