the Degree Confluence Project


near Gandria, Ticino, Switzerland
Approx. altitude: 271 m (889 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreetMap ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 46°S 171°W

Quality: good

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: Half of the Lugano Away Team, Brian and Kyle #3: The Julia Set vegetable #4: Lugano looking like Rio (except for the snow) #5: Panorama #2

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  46°N 9°E (visit #2) (incomplete) 

#1: View of confluence from Via Dramamine

(visited by Colin Irvine, Phyllis Irvine, Kyle Irvine and Brian Irvine)

29-Dec-2000 -- We were staying in Ringgenberg, between Interlaken and Brienz for Christmas and New Year. We had come to ski, but there was not enough snow on the Jungfrau to make a round of slurppies. We were building a family confluence of our own: two from San Francisco, one from Colorado, one from Connecticut and two from Saudi Arabia. Four of us decided to take a trip to Lugano and spend the night. We didn't even consider the bonus that there would be a degree confluence nearby.

We drove through Brienz and over the pass towards Lucerne, the more direct mountainous route towards Lugano being already closed for the season. We hooked up with the N2 just south of Lucerne and drove down to St. Gotthard Pass. It began snowing quite vigorously as we went up towards the pass. The road was still wet and clear when we reached the tunnel. The Swiss are the greatest diggers in the world. Their philosophy seems to be "Why go around anything if you can dig right through it?" The St. Gotthard tunnel is 17 Km long and about quarter of the way through, we had to turn off the heater. By midpoint, I was considering the A/C. There is also a rail tunnel which was completed in 1882. The Swiss must consider the shelf life to be up on this tunnel because they are planning a new "base" tunnel at a lower elevation. This one will be 57 Km long! It will be designed to allow passenger trains to use the tunnel at speeds up to 250 Km/hr. We didn't get anywhere near that speed in our Discovery.

On exiting the tunnel, the scenery was breathtaking. New snow, 50-mile visibility and the Alps. You had to be there. The Alps don't mess around with any foothill foreplay, they are just THERE, walls of rock that jump right up from the valley floor. We got off the N2 at the Lugano Sud exit and began our decreasing spiral search for the San Marco hotel. There seemed to be a local ordinance that required all parking places in the city to be filled at all times. No more than eight spots are allowed to be available at any instant. Traffic just circulates until a receptor site becomes available since the concept of "pulling over" results in half the traffic in town coming to a complete halt due to the narrow guage streets. We finally gave up and pulled the Land Rover up on the sidewalk to look at a map. The town is only about a mile and a half end-to-end and occupies a flat area at the end of the lake about equal to four K-Mart parking lots. All other real estate seems to be glued to a steeply inclined rock face. An hour later we were within 200 feet of the hotel and found a parking place. First thing I noticed was that all the people walking along the corniche and through the pedestrian shopping areas looked like they had stepped out of a catalog. If you need a $2400 purse or a $23,000 wristwatch, I can tell you just where to shop.

The confluence is about 1500 feet out into Lake Lugano South of Gandria. It was freezing outside and we decided to make this merely an attempted confluence visit. Next morning, we drove through Gandria and out the other side. This was on a cliffhanger road that was another testimonial to the Swiss rock carvers. It also made a photo of our closest approach to the confluence impossible to obtain as half of the team had their heads between their knees. Past Gandria, we drove to the Italian border before we found a gas station that appeared to be cantilevered out over the lake. This was actually wide enough to turn the Discovery around with only three cuts so we didn't have to reverse all the way from Italy to Lugano as I had feared.

Back at Gandria, we took a street up towards Mont Bre. We christened the street Via Dramamine as it resembled the Burma Road in places but gave some spectacular views of the lakes. This is where we got the best view of the confluence in photo #1. The spot is just above the treetops where the sun is reflecting off the water in the foreground. I will be back in Switzerland this summer and, time permitting, I want to go back to Lugano, rent a pedaloe and nail the confluence once and for all.

#1: Half of the Lugano Away Team, Brian on the left and Kyle. This is from the waterfront in Lugano proper. The confluence is just about under that cloud on the right-hand side.
#2: The most fascinating memento of the trip was the Julia Set Vegetable. I had NEVER seen one of these before, but I bet that Benoit Mandlebrot and Gaston Julia ate them for breakfast. I think it is called a Romanesque Cauliflower.
#4 and #5 are panoramic. They show the bay that is just in front of Lugano.
#6 GIF of the area showing the location of our adventure.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Lugano. For others who might want to visit I would recommend the following points of interest:
1. The fanciest McDonalds in the world. Right on the Corniche with breathtaking views of the lakes and hills while you slurp down your McNuggets.
2. Waypoint N46 00 11.4 E008 57 02.8 This is the Swiss Discount Cannabis Store in Lugano. Another good reason for a return trip.

 All pictures
#1: View of confluence from Via Dramamine
#2: Half of the Lugano Away Team, Brian and Kyle
#3: The Julia Set vegetable
#4: Lugano looking like Rio (except for the snow)
#5: Panorama #2
#6: The layout of the area of the adventure
ALL: All pictures on one page
In the Lago di Lugano.