October 28 – November 4, 2020
Dan and I had planned for a week off in early October. It would be our first holiday since the Covid “work from home” and “lockdown” that had started in March. I didn’t want to go too far, or rely on any public form of transportation, so we decided to drive to Germany to the Nordsee and spend a week doing not much of anything. At this time of year I expected only wet and cold weather, so we were packed and ready for it: cozy clothes, books, hot chocolate powder, slippers. Oh, and the bicycles on the back of the Volvo in case there was clear weather so we could explore. We were set to leave Saturday morning, and our cat sitters arrived Friday evening for the handoff.
Then Dan got a phone call: his colleague had tested positive for Covid – he was to quarantine for ten days. It was a complete upending of our plans. I scrambled to find a place for our sitters to stay, since they obviously should limit their exposure to Dan, and was relived that my cat-friend could take them in immediately. But our holiday plans were cancelled. For now.
There were no further complications from the virus and I once again began planning for a getaway. This time, however, I decided to stay in Switzerland and head south. We would visit the city of Locarno!
In an attempt to avoid traffic (and to take advantage of my own work schedule), I planned for us to leave on a Wednesday and return a week later. This confused a lot of people, but I really appreciated it. The roads were empty of “weekend holiday makers” (not that October in Covid times was exactly “high season”!) and our journey south was smooth and fast. It was our first time driving through the Gotthard tunnel, as usually we are on motorcycles and driving over the pass. We had packed the car in anticipation of almost any activity that might present itself. We were ready for anything!
Heading south under blue skies
Our hotel in Locarno was the Hotel Rio Garni. I chose it based on just a couple of criteria: cost, location, and an historical interior. The Rio Garni fit all three needs. The desk clerk was very friendly and immediately made us feel welcome. Dan and I dragged an embarrassing large number of bags from the car and into our room – we really had taken advantage of having a car. If we had taken the train, we would have packed much less and much more efficiently. And even more so if we were on two wheels. This was extravagant traveling!
View from our room
The rest of the day – what little was left – was spent walking the streets around the hotel and checking out the lakefront before tucking in for the night. We already had made plans for a big day tomorrow!
Ancient pathways in the city
Locarno is on Lake Maggiore, so it only made sense that the waterfront is full of boats. Sadly, most of them were put away for the winter. It makes for a beautiful setting though, and the blue skies were a nice contrast to the grey clouds over Basel.
Locarno creeping up the mountain sides
A late afternoon view from our room’s balcony