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Tom Brett, Winkel, ZH, Switzerland

Popped over to Italy for lunch

Zurich in late October: descending into cold, grey winter with daytime temperatures struggling to reach double figures, and the lake water temperature at +12 deg.C (and dropping rapidly!). Time to put our SUP boards into winter storage!  In Ticino (the southernmost Canton of Switzerland) it's a different story, though: glorious sunshine all weekend, daytime temperature up to 17 deg.C and the water temperature around the same. So we hopped on the train with our inflatable SUPs for a day's paddling on Lake Lugano.  Bonus no.1: it's a lake we've not been on before, one more to tick off on the collector card. Bonus no.2: the lake borders on Italy, so we could go and have a nice lunch in a waterside restaurant at Italian prices - essential if the lady wants fillet steak! (You can't afford fillet steak in Switzerland. Well, we can't, anyway.)

Shortly after 10.30 we were inflating the SUPs on the waterside at Melide, against the backdrop of these gorgeous autumn-hued trees. Note the upside-down sunbather on the left. She was alive and waved at us, honest!

And not long after that, we were out on the calm blue waters under clear sunny skies, in just about perfect SUPping conditions:

The plan - executed to perfection - was to paddle southwards down one arm of the U-bend, cross the Italian border to Porto Ceresio, land and have lunch, and let the southerly breeze which tends to spring up in the afternoon waft us back up the other arm of the U-bend to reach a convenient railway station for our return trip home.

On the way to Porto Ceresio, we passed Morcote, which is reputed to be the prettiest village in Switzerland (no doubt dozens if not hundreds of other communes would dispute this!) - parts of it resembled a building site, with at least 4 cranes, which I cunningly managed to crop out of this photo as we passed.

Porto Ceresio was much more scruffy and homely-looking, with a street market in full swing, chestnuts roasting on a brazier, a convenient slipway for landing the SUPs, and a whole row of different eateries to choose from along the lake promenade.

No sooner had Caroline's fillet steak arrived at our table, right on cue the flags and the leaves on the trees rustled into life as a southerly breeze sprang up, and by the time we had finished (the steak, by the way, was utterly delicious, as was my lasagne and the carafe of cheap local red wine) it was blowing briskly from astern as we set off back towards Switzerland.  Not quite exactly astern, as it happened, and we had to work quite hard to avoid being blown off to one side as we crossed the open lake.  

Once hugging the Swiss shore, we were somewhat more sheltered and were able to enjoy a leisurely wind-assisted cruise up to Agno, where we hauled out and deflated the SUPs and backpacked them off to the nearby railway station.  Picnic supper and a well-deserved snooze on the long ride back to Zurich!

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SUP season finale on Lake Lugano
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Popped over to Italy for lunch
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Tom Brett, Winkel, ZH, Switzerland
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