Monday, September 26, 2011

SUNDAY 18th SEPTEMBER 2011 (Friendly faces)

We woke to LOTS of thunder and rain this morning but we managed to get to the breakfast tent during a break in the weather.

You haven't heard thunder until you hear it in Mandello. It rolls and bounces off the mountains on either side of the narrow Lago di Como and can't seem to escape. It was rather dramatic and we could afford the luxury of enjoying it, knowing we didn't have to take off on the bike (!) today.

Once in the breaky tent the heavens opened up big time and that's where we stayed for the next two hours...along with a couple of hundred suited up riders waiting for a break in the weather to hit the road.

Even though lots of people were leaving it didn't seem to make a dent in the camping population. There were so many campers that a mere thousand or so departures seemed to make no difference!

We wondered back up to the town square where there were the remnants of bike displays, tourer's selling their books and of course the brand new statue dedicated to CARLO GUZZI which was unveiled the day before. There are no words for the pride Mandello has towards the Guzzi. There's no doubting the passion behind the Italian marque.

We still hoped to run into a good friend of ours from near home but we now knew that it was next to impossible to happen. We put the idea out of our mind and continued on back to the Guzzi Factory.

At the very next corner we stood facing a fellow (big silly grins on our faces) and he did the same in return. It was John, who we'd been looking out for. The chances of meeting at the corner were a zillion to one but hey, we did it. Two steps in either direction and we would've missed each other. There was a tiny bit of jubilation as we both realised our chances of meeting were virtually nil.

We also met John's friends Sed & Olga and immediately found our way to a cafe to have an espresso.

Lots of chatter, swapping travel stories and weekend experiences. Of course the time escaped our notice. We all decided to revisit the factory as it's a place you can't revisit too many times.

Never saw a sad face at the Guzzi entrance...why would you! Here's Olga, Sed, Paul & John about to go back inside the factory.

Mission was to go shopping. We were surprised to see the Guzzi items substantially reduced in price so EVERYONE bought something.

We also bumped in to some other Aussies from Brisbane & Tamworth who were staying a full two weeks at Mandello. We had met them earlier and they were having the time of their lives.

Here's Bernie, Craig, Bill (who's favourite saying is ... "I always have one before eleven and eleven before one"), Sed, Olga, Paul & John.

After the shopping session it was off to the ever popular ROSALBA Pizzeria for something to eat. We were all famished. We all thought it was lunch-time and were surprised to learn it was after 4.00pm! That's what happens when you're having too much of a good thing.

Food of course is better than excellent.

We wondered down to AGOSTINI's which was a disappointment. It's no longer owned by the Agostini family and it just felt like another retail outlet. The history of the shop was lost. Having said that, there were still lots of people there.

Nothing was purchased from Agostini's but the shopping bags from the factory were proudly displayed for a group photo.

We all headed down  towards the lake shore. Still lots of motorcycles everywhere but they were beginning to thin out.

We went to visit long-time friend Elios and the reunion was sweet. At the same time the heavens opened up and that's how it stayed for the rest of the evening. We're not talking ordinary rain here, we're talking a never ending torrential downpour. Later on the wind picked up and added more discomfort.

We'd already packed up our belongings (all except the tent itself) as we had planned to leave today. Bumping in to John made it easy to change those plans. It was decided that we would stay with Elios the night and so we forced our way through the gale and rain to pack up the tent and then settle for the night. Paul & I, John, Sed & Olga drove to Al Verde, another famous restaurant in Mandello. Not only for the food but for the incredibly difficult and dangerous drive through the mountain pass to get there. Exciting though...the fact that we survived.

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