Monday, August 03, 2015

Adventures in Ticino: That day we went to Ascona

I don't know how to describe Locarno exactly. If I'd only ever been to Locarno, I'm not sure I'd go back to the Ticino. But luckily there's Ascona. Locarno though was definitely more appealing this time on my second trip. For instance, this was the front of our hotel:

And the morning view from our room. In this hotel, every single room had a lake view. Wouldn't you hate to be coming up that road and meet the bus?

The plan this morning was to walk down to the lake and catch a boat to Ascona. As I mentioned before, many boat trips here are free with our train pass. But, after walking down to the lake we found out that they wanted $40 franks for each of us. Crazy. Even crazier, there were no other options according to the lady selling tickets. And she rudely told us to catch a bus.

But according to the sign at the end of the pier, it was only a one hour walk along the lake front to Ascona. Andrew thought that with lots of breaks he could make it. So off we set.

Where I met my favorite car ever. The Swiss made Monteverdi Safari.

They actually have a really interesting history. If you're into cars, you can read about it here.

We encountered a really fat tree... and met a woman who told us how old the tree was. Now I've forgotten of course, but needless to say, an uncle of hers had his picture taken in front of this tree in the first half of the 20th Century. So it's been a thing of wonder for quite some time.

For the first little while we got to walk along the lake. It was very nice...and would have been even nicer if we'd been able to continue to do so. There was so much to look at.

Especially if your grosspapa will put a frank coin in one of these machines for you to look around.

Then we walked past the marina and looked at all the boats.

And debated about their owners.

And posed for silly pictures. It was hot, but we were all quite giddy.

We passed a huge indoor/outdoor leisure centre. It had a pool and all kinds of stuff inside, and then it had pools and a beach AND THESE INSANE WATER SLIDES outside. We all wanted to know what happens when you don't get enough speed doing the loop da loop one there. Do you just sit at the bottom of the O until they unbolt the slide? I get panic attacks just thinking about it...

We continued on to a park and found a shady spot to enjoy the fruit we'd brought with us.

There were all kinds of painted rocks. Some with whimsical drawings and others with characters we recognized. Like Sylvester the cat and Nemo.

There was a campground along the lake too. It was very private though. Try as I  might I couldn't find a good spot to take a picture. But here are Andrew and Elisabeth walking down the street past it.

And despite it's location next to a street, the site itself had prime lakefront location and was very treed and lovely (from my glimpses through the fence, anyway).

We'd reached the river that separates Locarno and Ascona. Surprisingly, there is no foot bridge spanning the river, and signs warned us that it was far too dangerous to cross. So we walked a few kilometers up the river to the road.

Luckily along the way there were interesting facts about the solar system. And each of the planets was represented to scale and spaced to scale too.

This trail reminded me a little of parts of the Fort to Fort trail.

Thank goodness we had the planets to look forward to because by this time we were all HOT and tired. Elisabeth had worn a cruising outfit with exactly the wrong shoes and well. It could have ended badly.

But we made it to the bridge and spirits soared once again!

Then we had the task of trying to find the Ascona waterfront without a map. We found a lovely gentleman who gave us some directions.

And wandered through residential Ascona.

Here we've finally made it to the waterfront. Starving, hot, tired, happy to be here and eager to eat and then see the sights!

I wonder if I like Ascona because it's more compact. And a little like West Vancouver.

I finally had my pizza in the Italian region by the water. I decided to be adventerous and try something new.

This was the Ticino pizza with salami, a few different kinds of cheese and arugula.

Elisabeth always enjoys the bread basket.

And David had his usual Marghareeta. Yes, that's a personal pizza. Oy.

Delicious, as always. Then we split up. Dad napped on a park bench, Elisabeth played on the beach and Andrew sat in the shade and watched her. David (he's such a trooper) followed me for a walk.

We walked past Elisabeth.

Past the hotel where Andrew and I stayed in 2002 (although we were not in the main building, but an annex around the corner somewhere).

Along the lake shore.

Past Elisabeth again.

And up to the houses where the rich people live.

The architecture here is just incredible. Look at all the rockwork.

And above that parking garage - those are the steps up to your property. No idea if you can get up from inside the garage too (you often can), but imagine doing that in the winter!!

We peered down on people's yards and boats.

And found a private beach. You can't really tell from the picture, but it was lovely.

This is the view back to Ascona from our walk.

We continued into town. When Andrew and I were here in '02, we stepped off the train in Locarno and tried to find our bus to Ascona. I remember hating Locarno because it was loud and unfriendly. It was dirty (though not as bad as Domodossola). And I just didn't feel safe. We stepped off the bus in Ascona and it was different. Clean, small, people SPOKE ENGLISH (I speak fluent German. In some parts of Switzerland, they can't believe I wasn't born here. I've never experience culture shock until that day we arrived in Locarno. I'm pretty sure that I hated Locarno because I was in serious shock).

Anyway. I have good memories about this quaint little town. Also, if you haven't noticed yet, people here are rich. There wasn't a lot of riff raff.

It was just as nice as I remembered.

Teeny tiny little alleyways. Some of them had shops. Some just had pretty doors and windows and rockwork.

There's so much colour here. And look at the roads.

David and I spent quite a while looking in windows at all the beautiful clothes. The clothes are really beautiful.

Beautiful little sidewalk cafe...only wide enough for you to sit side by side but you can even trip the traffic going by :)

It seemed to me that it would be very easy to get lost since the alleys are so narrow and high you can't really see anything - right?

But David and I found our way around okay. We found our way to this open courtyard where the Police? (City works?) and a beautiful old church were.

It looks to me as though the tower and the church are from completely different time periods. But David and I only had an hour for our whole walk so we rushed through as quickly as we could.

We found our family again. And quickly ran to grab

some gelato. I had totally planned on having chocolate and cherry together, like a blackforest cake. But David tried lemon and I was so hot, I thought that actually lemon would probably really be refreshing. It was SO good. I may have to switch to lemon sherbet when we get home.

We went for a little stroll and found marvellous hats.

When we were here in '02, there was also a night market. It lined the entire lake front and there were buskers and street entertainment as well as all kinds of stalls. It was magical.

Now it was time to catch the boat back to Ascona. Yes. We'd found a boat that left straight from the pier. We weren't able to use our train passes, but it only cost 40 CHF for all five of us. Take that grumpy, rude lady!

David was mad at me, so he didn't want to smile. Elisabeth is a wonder at making him laugh.

Even without manipulating his face.

Gosh, I love these kids.

The boat ride was wonderful. Dad and David rode upstairs in the shade, but the rest of us sat out in the full sun.

We had a beautiful Italian lady - probably in her mid fifties - sitting beside us. She was everything you expect an Italian lady to be. Classy, elegant, gorgeous. And the poor guy working on the boat was trying so hard to impress her. She was laughing but then he decided to show off when we docked at one of the ports...and failed miserably. It was hilarious.

I promise I wasn't pinching her :)

Elisabeth would love to come back to Switzerland. She is loving it here, even though the food is so strange to her. So far the only food she really likes is Grosspapa's chicken. Everything else is strange and weird. Oh. She likes the Coupe Danemarks too.

I think she fits in with the scenery pretty good, don't you.

We docked in Locarno. And saw these two yahoos.

And then walked back up to the hotel.

This is not the hotel, but it's a pretty building on the way to the hotel.

And in the interests of full disclosure, we walked to the funicular and rode that to the hotel.

On the day we arrived we were given vouchers for welcome drinks on the patio. I think they're to try and entice us to eat at the hotel. But the prices were steep and the food wasn't really that exciting. As is illustrated below:

So we went back in to town and had delicious food that came with an ice cream cone and a balloon instead.

Last picture, from instagram, scene along the beach in Ascona.