Day 45 - And Then There Were Three

Saturday 9th August 2014


We spend a restful night in the Blue House. As so often on this tour the background sound is rushing water as the stream by the house tumbles down the rocks to join the Soca River.
The house is filled with object d'art, many of a religious nature. There are wooden icons, a Madonna statue, and some fine paintings, old and new, in the hallways and on the staircases.
 
The drawing room in the blue house
The guest drawing room is lovely. All in all a very peaceful and relaxing place.
In the morning we sit on the terrace as the sun comes up over the hill and chat with our host Valentin and his wife. They are Slovenian and proud of their country's history and achievements.
 
Valentin tells us that there are five English houses in the village, some are permanent residents and others are holiday homes. He talks about his region and it's unique history as part Slovenian, part Italian. Of the terrible war that came through here in 1915, of the devastating earthquake in the mid '70s, and of the hopes for the future.
The more people I meet here the more I like Slovenia.

 
Our smiling host Valentin

After an excellent breakfast we set off to find the tiny pass road up the Uccea valley into Italy and over to Resia.
I first travelled this road by car with my son Jake some years ago. We were travelling in the opposite direction, from Italy into Slovenia, and the day was wearing on.
 
The satnav chose the way for us as we headed for the town of Bovec. According to the map this is a main border route into Slovenia but the road is very tiny, no wider than one car for most of it. It climbs up and up into the forest then winds down the Uccea valley to Zaga in Slovenia.
 
We were very tired and Jake was driving. Darkness fell. He had not been a driver for very long in those days but he handled the road with real skill. We thought we were lost in the mountains, but finally we dropped below the tree line and into the Soca Valley.  I'm sure Jake will never forget that drive.
 
This morning the sun flickers through the trees as we pick our way carefully around the hairpins. There is no traffic at all. The road has been resurfaced since that drive years ago, it's light, quiet and a lovely ride.
 
 
On the Uccea pass road

Mick and Erik deep in thought

We stop for coffee at the small cafe at the head of the pass then ride down the glorious switchbacks into Resia. Here we join the bigger road through to Chiasaforte before heading up the Passo di Primolo (Naßfeld Pass auf Deutsch).
This is a brilliant pass for motorcycles. The two sides could not be more different. Both are rich in hairpins but on the Italian side everything seems white; rocky white river bed, white rock walls and whitish tarmac. 
 
Dropping down to Resia

Switchback road down into Italy

On the Austrian side it is much greener. The tarmac is black, the trees dark and shady. Both sides provide great riding. One of my favourite Alpine passes, this one.
We stop by the lake at the summit for pasta at the little cafe in No-Man's-Land between the two country signs. There's no checkpoint here of course. These two countries have been in the EU for long enough not to bother with that kind of nonsense.
From here it's an easy ride into Austria and up to Malta and the Gasthof Hochalmspitze. This is one of my favourite watering holes in the Alps. Ros and John Gowers, expats of long standing, keep a great house for the weary traveller. 


And here we will finally join up with our friend Clive Reavie. Native of Northern Ireland, resident in Edinburgh, and undoubtedly barmy by nature, he will join us for the final two weeks of this tour. 

And then there were three

We get to GH first and are downing our first beer when a snorting red beast thunders into view astride an extremely loud Ducati 899. It's Clive.
Back-slapping completed, introduction made, beers in hand, we are ready for the next challenges of the tour as a threesome.  


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