Lake Garda. What a place!
Eh.. I loved it!
It was sunny, pretty, italian and very accomodating for anyone keen to pratice acrobatic paragliding.
Lake Garda is a gigantourous (yes thatis a word now) lake stretching across from south to north inbedded in tall rolling mountains with the occational peaks here and there. Malcesine is a quaint little spot of a town that starts right on the lake and has expanded alongside the lake and up the hill with olive gardens and parking garages everywhere.
We arrived in the middle of the night.
A little worried about Fritz, as the sounds coming from the engine had been getting louder. We set up camp, on what we were told the last weekend of the season, and decided that we were going to ride out the storm in some cafe the day after.
Happy to be in a well known paragliding spot with internet and good coffee, we spent the day in the corner café. Catching up on blogposts, checking our emails, watching videos and getting more and more concerned that our camp might have involuntarily changed location in the gusty winds and side-ways-rain. It might have been the stickers on out laptops, our gear spread across the tables or our body language (or a combination) that caught the eye of Alice from Chamonix. Alice beacame our introduction to Lake Garda, apparentently we hade timed our visit perfectly with an acrobatic paragliding event that was taking place over the weekend. We felt that maybe our luck had changed (except for the weather)!
The next morning, after a pint of coffee, we walked down to the landing on the lakeside, just down from our campingsite. The well kept landing of the paragliding club of Malcesine showed the next level of dedication. Right on the lake with its own bar and shuttle service set up for the weekends event, perfect! Up to this point i think we all felt the same. Beautiful place, good access and lots of people to share it with. However, my point of view changed slightly when i got on the gondola.
I can handle some hights, but the first flights from the main takeoff (after an hour and a
bit of waiting for the rain) made me absolute terrified. Petrified. Why? It was bloody high! I had a lovely takeoff, the first row to a spectacular acro show, right in mid air. But just as I flew in the box it was like my litte fear of hights knocked me on the shouder and asked me what the hell i was doing. And I had no good answer. 1500m over the lake with no real flightplan other that ”flying out there and feel how high it is”, I spent the next 15 minutes trying practice some 360s and not freak out. When i had checked the landing in the morning it had felt spacious and unworrying but once in the air it felt like a tiny tissue of a landing. The flight went without problem and i landed safely.
I was in no way hurt, except for my mindset. I managed to push myself into flying a few more times but it was absolutely exhausting. I flew a handful more times but that little devil on my shoulder kept on flying with me. However, there was some sweet moments, when you fly in clouds like this.
My uncomfortable feeling might have somthing to do with the tandem flight I did with Tzak.
It almost made me cry. Here you go, watch the video!
The other side of the Malcesine story is the one told by Tzak and John. Tzak loved every little bit of it, the people, the flying, the beers, the gondola and the alpacas on the top. John had a good time crusing inversionlayers, drinking local beer and chasing thermals. The weather just kept on getting better and we made some good friends and got to hear some good stories from some local legends.
We also managed to take Fritz the car to the local doctor. After visiting the friendly but way-too-busy-mecanics (we met Luigi irl) we got sent to the don’t-go-to-those-guys mecanics downtown. The challange we stood in front was 1. Not get ripped off (as we had been warned about) 2. Make sure they fixed what needed to be fixed.
It might have been a challange since the mechanics did not speak any english, just Italian and a little bit german, but this did not discourage Tzak who set out to solve this problem. With his best Spanglish (spanish/english) with a hint of Svorsk (swedish/norwegian) he managed to lure a smile out of the mecanics and both get a diagnosis and get a part ordered for the next day for a reasonable price. Victory!
On the way back we bought 4 bottles of good wine and invited our new friends (3 badass french acro chicks) for hangout in our very italian appartment we rented for the night.
Life is good! Thank you Malcesine!