Thursday 6th September 2018
APOLOGY: I am a bit behind with the blog. There have been issues with data and access to internet. I promise to try to get back up to date soon.
Switzerland is draining our wallets so we are heading for Italy. Aosta to be precise. Recommended to us not for climbing but for culture but, more about that later.
First, a tail (no, I didn’t spell it wrong) of our journey from Switzerland to Italy. We travelled over the Great St. Bernard Pass. Yes, we could’ve gone through the tunnel but:
- Where’s the fun in that?
- We are cheap skates and you have to pay to go through
But, mainly, I wanted to visit the famous, nay, legendary Great St. Bernard Hospice. Hopes of salvation are low but the chances of seeing St. Bernard dogs are high. Mrs P is VERY excited at the possibility.
The geography of the St Bernard Pass is a bit like…, scratch that, a lot like… nope, try again… it is exactly the same as North Wales. Right the way down to the rain and low cloud.
Admittedly it is a bit higher, 2,469m and it has more crosses but otherwise, you can’t tell them apart.
A brief glimpse of a dogs behind as we parked up was enough to guarantee a visit to the museum (that’s where they keep the dogs).
It’s an unassuming entrance with a less than unassuming CHF 20 entry fee but, it was well worth it. We spent 2 hours wandering round discovering not only the story of the founding of the hospice but also the history of the Pass from ancient times to the present day and, of course, we visited the dogs.
16 of them I believe. There was certainly enough damp dog smell for 16 and the snoring! Normally Mrs P is very anti-snoring. This can be evidenced by the numerous bruises on my body. I was therefore less than impressed when she suggested that their snoring was cute. I shall point this out next time I am prodded in the middle of the night.
We also visit the monastery, church and a display of the monastery’s numerous riches. They have multiple, gold and silver bejewelled reliquaries. If each one contained a single bone from St Bernard they would have enough left over for a coupe of spare saints.
Visit over, we drive down into Italy, crossing the border just a few dozen metres from the monastery. Our wallets breathe a sigh of relief.
The border crossing is tense. If that is, you consider ‘tense‘ to be driving past a deserted border post.
We drive down and down… and down. Gandalf and I are very pleased by this general trajectory as Gandalf’s fuel gauge has been flashing a warning at me for some time. I am relieved when we finally coast into a fuel station.
After this mini-drama we head off to find somewhere cheap (read: free) to spend the night eventually ending up in a car park with a great view of a castle.
Tune in tomorrow when Mrs P and I visit the Roman city of Aosta where we do cultural things such as drink coffee and eat ice cream.