With a day of fun and a lifetime of memories, we decided to leave the Italian Riviera and get back to our roots. Surrounded by gourmet Italian cuisine, vineyards and views of the Mediterranean, we felt as if we were a little out of place. We felt so grateful to have experienced this wonderful part of the world, but in all honesty, we preferred swimming in the lakes in Switzerland and drying our bathing suits out the back window of the car (a technique we used to rapidly dry our clothes while on the go, patent pending).
As the sun began to come down, we figured it was wise to arrange an Airbnb nearby so we could rest up for our next international drive. Now, I’m not saying this place was haunted, I just remember being pretty frightened at the time. We drove up a winding road into the vineyards. There were no lights on and we only could see what was right in front of us. We were in a part of the country where each house owned a huge plot of land so there were no neighborhoods per se, just acres of vineyards with the occasional house, high up in the mountains. It was about 11pm and I had to get out of the car and walk through the pitch-black vineyards to look for the house we were staying at. Eventually I found it, and rather than a host being there to greet us, we simply let ourselves in. It was a stormy night and the house was so big it was pretty creepy. You had to walk up a few flights of stairs just to find the bathroom. Anyways, I think I’ve made my point. It was a really weird scary house, and I was lucky to get any sleep at all that night.
In the morning, we set course for Interlaken, but we decided to make a quick stop along the way. We had heard good things about Genoa, and decided that if we didn’t see it now, it would be a long time before we would be back. We headed into the city for breakfast and coffee and in the 20 minutes we were gone, we had gotten a ticket. For the past week we’d drive through 3 countries and parked in just about the most creative ways you could possibly imagine and this was our first and only ticket of the entire trip! We also got it after being in a coffee shop for only 20 minutes. Unfortunately for them, getting us to pay that ticket was nearly impossible. I was an American student with a student visa in Germany, renting a German car from a Swiss rental agency and I got a ticket in Italy. If they are willing to fill out all that paperwork for $20, they deserve every penny!
We then set our course for a second detour. Locarno seemed to be a cool destination where we could get a nice swim in and some decent food. When we got there, we ended up enjoying neither of those things. I had been told by some Swiss friends that in Switzerland it is illegal to restrict access to a lake. They are considered public bodies of water for everyone to enjoy. I guess this law skips over Locarno because they were charging 5 francs a head! I had never seen anything like this, charging people to swim in a lake? Already I was starting to not like this city. Although this was pretty annoying, we stuck around for the promise of food. Some people were setting up big tents and picnic tables and grills. It was about noon and we were starting to get hungry. We asked a few people if it was worth waiting to have lunch here and they all said “yes”. They were right, as long as by “lunch” you mean a 4:30 meal. When we eventually found out we would have to wait another 4 hours to eat, we were discouraged. “Strike two for Locarno” I said under my breath.
We had heard about a good diner in town, and we decided to give the city another chance. We pulled into a empty parking spot right outside the diner, and immediately noticed 4 older men staring at us. I had never seen 4 people so angry in my entire life. They looked angry that we even existed. The images of those 4 men are still burned into my mind. Sitting outside the diner, playing cards, and then as soon as we pulled in, their jaws dropped and their faces began to scowl. One even had a lit cigarette hanging out of his mouth. That’s how much he hated us, he didn't even take it out. One of them got up from his chair and started walking towards us. “Strike three!” I yelled, my brother put the car into reverse and we pulled out of there as soon as we could. We drove out of that town as fast as possible and we never returned. I have never really encountered a city that I did not like, but that city was terrible. I did not have one pleasant encounter the entire time there. Plenty of stories, of course, but not one pleasant encounter.