As we didn’t have to assemble until 10.20, we took advantage of a lie-in. Consequently, when we went down to breakfast, there was nobody from our group around at all. Weird.
The weather was dreadful. Absolutely throwing it down.
We met Frederica at the appointed time and, after a call to the boat people, we decided to defer our departure to Isola Madre by half an hour and review then.
It was still chucking it down at 10.50, but a few of us hardy souls (10 in all) decided to give it a go.
And I’m so glad we did.
We boarded our vessel, skippered by the (I’m told) devilishly handsome Ricardo. The rain was actually beginning to ease off at this point.
15 minutes later, we set foot on Isola Madre (Mother Island), probably so called because it is the largest of the Borromean islands.
Isola Madre is home to the original Borromean Palace, but it is not used by the family and is now a museum. As a result, it is in a state of some disrepair, but it was interesting nevertheless. One could walk around it at one’s own pace in peace and relative solitude, unlike the palace on Isola Bella, which was rammed.
Although it was rather dark and gloomy, it was genuinely interesting and thankfully free of the ostentation of the Isola Bella palace.
As part of the package, we had a chitty for a free coffee at the cafeteria, redeemed with alacrity. Very good it was too.
Next, the gardens. Except that it sort of turned into a circuit round the island.
A real treat. The gardens were more understated than their equivalent on the Isola Bella, but lusher and greener. Beautiful.
Despite the dire weather forecasts, we didn’t experience too much rain. Umbrella and shirtsleeves very much the order of the day.
I’ve been impressed with the Riviera setup so far. They seem to command the same attention amongst the various tourist organisations as Viking do. Witness private water taxi transport back to Stresa again.
Once docked, we went looking for somewhere to eat. Neither of us were particularly hungry, and we chanced upon a bar which appeared to suit (particularly as its soundtrack was music I adore).
I settled on a cheeseburger, Jean on a pulled pork sandwich. A superb red wine was also provided.
OK. This is heaven for me. Fantastic food, great red wine, and music I can listen to all day long. Proper, proper blues rock. The Doors, The Stones, Buddy Guy, Freddie King, Led Zeppelin, The Animals, Black Keys, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Cream, Hendrix, ZZ Top, John Mayall, JJ Cale….. I think Jean enjoyed some of it as well. It certainly brought back so many memories.
Fabulous. It was all I could do to drag myself away.
Bit of an anticlimax after that. We walked back to the hotel and spent the next hour or two relaxing on our balcony before dinner.
As we have an early start tomorrow morning, we exited the dining room earlyish.
Zermatt tomorrow. Let’s see how that goes.