Day 7 was all about one thing, a long hard slog into the mountains with only one goal, the Stelvio Pass.

I was up at the crack of dawn ready with a toolkit to replace my worn tensioner with the one I'd refurbed the night before, then we took the daily supermarket trip to stock up. To get ourselves driving in the right direction we had to get around Lake Como, which meant nearly half an hour driving south on the road we came in on. With that out of the way it was a series of tunnels that took us above the shore line and north to follow just south of the Swiss border.

We made our first stop of the day just over the border in Campocologno where the fuel (in Swiss Francs) was about a quarter cheaper and we sat half way up a valley making our sandwiches.

From there it was onwards and upwards. The sign were all green and said the pass was open, so we made our way up before taking an unintentional wrong turn somewhere on the south side. The opportunity was taken to check everything that was affected by the air pressure, so bottles of fizzy drink were opened up as was Ed’s massive bag of crisps which now looked like a pillow. As we sat on the side we also had a convoy of supercars pass us. Unexpected, but nice!

The final ascent was very quick, even though not on the famous side of the pass, there were still hairpins everywhere and the drop on the side was massive. After not too long, the sight of hotels and the small village at the top came into view. We reached the 2760m summit and parked facing the well known stretch of hairpins we’d come to see.

It was quite bleak at the top, with flurries of snow from the cloud sat at the top and although the sun was trying it’s hardest to break through we were all consigned to our warm coats and hats as we milled about the gift shops. Meanwhile, Steff decided to take the 306 back down the south side to drive the part that Davo had driven up. So we had some time to spare.

I spent this by adding my sticker to the famous pass sign and then posing for a selfie and getting the car in position for a shot too. Not long after, loud noises came from behind, and in this case it wasn’t the blowing exhaust of the cab, but yet more of the same convoy we’d passed earlier and soon the deserted mountain top was congested with SLSs, FFs, a 12C and around 15 other super cars. What brilliant timing!

They didn’t stop long before roaring off down the 48 hairpins and then after an absence of close to an hour with us thinking we were continuing a car short, the 306 broke the silence again. Me and Steff waited around at the top of the pass while the others climbed to the very top of the peak, just over the border into Switzerland, where at over 2800m they raised the Swiss flag on the refuge hut.

Next, it was all about the drive back down, which after only a couple of the hairpins was already drying out as we were descending very rapidly. In honesty, I’ll agree with the reviews on this stretch, it’s not the ultimate driving road that Top Gear make it out to be. It’s spectacular, it’s incredible, but a succession of 48 super tight 1st gear corners gets tiring quite quickly. The southern side, which I’d been a passenger for, was a lot more fun.

Upon reaching the bottom, we now had our next problem, if you can call it that. The north east side of the pass leaves you miles from anywhere, which given the dreary weather made for a boring drive back west and over the border into Switzerland and over the Ofen Pass, a bit of a bonus that we weren't expecting but just happened to be on route. We entertained ourselves in the style of Dumb and Dumber by getting a train driver to sound his whistle as we passed the railway but the highlight of the next two hour stint would come in the shape of the next mountain pass.

The Fluela Pass should have been brilliant. It had all the right corners to make for a fast, flowing drive, with the perfect open bends to see what was coming and it culminated in another 2000+m summit with an alpine lake at the top. Instead, it was soaked and slippery, had a jackknifed lorry halfway up it and a disgruntled local at the top.

Any normal person would think that the large open layby beside the lake would be the perfect place to stop, run to the bushes for a call of nature and find the remains of one of Jez’s now infamous sandwiches. We were chased away before we could have a toilet break and told ‘I don’t come to your house to eat sandwiches’ when I got my food out of the boot. And I thought Switzerland was supposed to be a peaceful country? We swapped drivers and Jez gave the angry lady a couple of donuts before heading down the other side, chasing the clouds as they made their way down the valley.

All that was left was a breif stop at the entrance of Davos for Davo to have his picture taken at the sign and then we hit the motorway for 15 minutes before arriving in the regional capital of Chur, still high up in the Alps and still wet and miserable. Our hotel was an easy find, being a large white pyramid with a McDonalds underneath it. Once parked in the heated underground car park, we booked a couple of fairly expensive rooms and made our way to the top of the pyramid where they were located. It was certainly an unusual hotel, with the rooms all taking the sloping outside shape meaning it was far too easy to keep banging your head on the pillars. We each had a room for four, meaning that me and Jez shared a double bed with Davo and Steff taking the singles in our room. It was nice to have a bit more company for the night as we’d all been in pairs all week.

The other room ventured out into the town for a meal but given the weather we plumped for the ground floor and another visit to McDonalds, as the easy option. With that out of the way, we took an early night and found ourself something to watch on TV… Dumm and Dummer. Yes, in German. Luckily, between me and Jez (especially Jez), we were able to give a full translation into English, the sign of misspent youths watching the video on repeat I think…

A couple of plans were made, but it was to be up to the weather in the morning to see where we’d end up.
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Every petrolhead knows this view...
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Davo's true home
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Find the #topalwaysdown sticker!
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Rooms in the Ibis pyramid were certainly unusual!
 


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