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Lunching at Lago Misurina

10 Aug

Lunching at Lago Misurina

This is where we celebrated the end of our six day journey from west to east in the Dolomites. Lago Misurina is about a 20-minute drive from Cortina. A beautiful still, glassy lake surrounded by high peaks and tall fir trees.

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We ate at that inn right around the bend.

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Back at Hotel Menardi we bade farewell to each other, our trio through the mountains.

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Back at the hotel I sat out on that lovely green back lawn and let the fresh breezes and the sun relax my bones. I thought about my kids and how much I wanted them to be here to share the experience with me.

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Happy feet.

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Just gazing up at the sky congratulating myself on completing my hike.

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Then one more delicious dinner in the hotel dining room before packing for an early departure. Next stop:  Venice.

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Two Rifugios

5 Aug

Two Rifugios

Mountain inns are such an important feature of the Dolomites. When you are out hiking, trekking, or mountaineering in nature or in the wild, they provide warmth, sustenance, and camaraderie at the end of the trail. We arrived at Rifugio Averau after a serious trek uphill from the Cinque Torri.

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A woman outside was busy stacking wood against the side of the building, almost like constructing a puzzle.

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The resident canine was a calm and observant German Shepherd.

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Inside there was a big old-fashioned stove that would turn all that wood outside into warmth when the weather turned cold.

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We ordered something to drink and then we made our way back down the trail.

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We passed a car on its  way up. That’s taking the easy way.

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Walking back down on the slippery scree was no party. You really need to watch where you place your feet, so that you don’t slide.

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Finally we were back at Cinque Torri and it had clouded up since the morning.

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Croda di Lago was looking positively ominous.

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However, we were at Rifugio Scoiattoli and it was time for lunch.

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Dogs are welcome at the rifugios.

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And they serve hearty fare.

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A cozy and amicable place to eat and rest after a day’s hike.

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Pralongià: It’s All Downhill from Here (5)

31 Jul

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Marion told us over lunch that we would be walking all the way back down into Corvara rather than taking the cable car. This was probably the longest hike I had ever made…between 10 and 12 miles.

The way down was marked by fields of wildflowers, most notably these voluptuous yellow globe flowers.

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Sassongher in the foreground, Puez in the background.

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Now we could begin to see some of the houses of Corvara.

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When we hit pavement, we knew we were almost back.

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We peered into a nicely kept Churchyard.

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And a lovely kitchen garden.

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That night we went to dinner in the town of Ojes (pronounced Oh, yes). The group included Marion Posch and her boyfriend Vincenzo, the Russian Vladimir, and me.

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Pralongià: Are We ThereYet? (4)

31 Jul

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Much to my chagrin Rifugio Pralongià was not our stopping place for lunch. We walked on. The small green peak in the near distance was the Col di Lana. Once more I photographed the Sella behind an unused chair lift. Some of the lifts operate only in ski season.

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As we began our descent we passed this meeting of bikers.

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Marion on the trail before the Marmolada.

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The starkness of the Sella offset by the exuberance of yellow globe flowers.

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Kids hiking up the trail. They made it seem so easy.

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And a lone mountain biker.

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Yes, here we are at Rifugio Marmotta. This is where we finally sat and ate lunch on our way down from the plateau.

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Hearty food. That’s what they serve. This was an appetizer of Speck (bacon).

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Looking down to the remainder of our way. This had to have been a good 10 to 11 mile hike.

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Our Pilgrimage to Santa Croce

22 Jul

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The dubious weather conditions made Day 3 in the Dolomites a bit if-y as far as hiking conditions went. Our plan was to hike up to the pilgrimage church of Santa Croce, underneath the peak of the same name. Donatella was our guide for the day. Here you see her and Vladimir approaching the church from below. You will also see that it was very cloudy, although I thought the cloud cover actually created more atmosphere and depth for photo taking. Following is a photo essay of the journey. We began with a chair lift from Badia. There are actually two consecutive chair lifts to Santa Croce, but we only used the first one, then hiked up the rest of the way.

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The chair lift allowed us to have a real bird’s eye view onto the farms on the hillside.

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Here is what it looked like to be sitting on the chair lift, camera securely around my neck, feet dangling over fields of wildflowers.

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We arrived at the mountain station where we begin our walk. Actually, the guide called it a walk. It felt like a trek or a climb to me. I am still trying to figure out what the teepee is doing on the mountainside in Italy.

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As I mentioned, Santa Croce is a pilgrimage church. The Stations of the Cross lead you up the trail to the church. Here is Station #3 where Jesus falls for the first time.

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Here is our guide Donatella coming up the path. You can tell judging from the teepee the steep grade of the trail, like climbing stairs, a lot of stairs. In the background is the Sella group, which forms the center of the Dolomite region.

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Here was a very unusual crucifix. Notice the absence of a body, but there is a heart, two hands, and two feet. The path at this point ran through forest.

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Two more photos looking down the trail to see how far we’ve come. It was a constant steep grade, to me at least, and this was the first day out after being sick in bed with a fever.

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This is the consistency of the rock and gravel we walked upon. It was loose, so there was always a danger of slipping, particularly on the way back down, but I never fell.

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Here is the top station of the second chair lift that we didn’t take. Here is a good view of our mountain track and the elevation grade.

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Looking back down the valley. The rain  clouds were still present, although we had not had a downpour yet.

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I was smiling with the church in view. Forested slopes, green meadows. the stark beauty of the Dolomite rock with its pink cast, and the humble church and rifugio at journey’s end.

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At the church looking back.

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Interior of Santa Croce.

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A stairway leads up to the three crosses.

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The rifugio was so welcoming with lovely potted flowers flanking the doorway.

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And inside a warm and cozy atmosphere and hearty food for travellers. Vladimir and Donatella.

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And me. While we were inside eating, it rained.

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But it stopped, when we were finished. We had time to explore the area and take more photos.

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The dolomite rock was seabed eons ago. It is made up coral, shells, and the remains of sea creatures. All over the Dolomites you can see erosion at work with the slides of scree falling away from the mountainside. In millions of years will the Dolomites be reduced to giant piles of rubble as the wind and rain and snow do their work? Donatella told me that she and her friends loved to run down the scree slides digging in their heels as they ran.

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More photos of this hike still coming.

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I’m in Italy!

30 Jun

I'm in Italy!

After more than seven hours on the train, there is nothing like a delicious dinner to revive you and make you feel like a person again. Here is my table at the Blue Moon sidewalk restaurant in Bolzano, Italy. When we passed through the Brenner Pass today we left the clouds behind, and this evening was breezy and languid, shirt sleeve weather. Let me describe my evening meal. Salad: arugula with cherry tomatoes and cherry mozzarella; main course: lamb chops with roasted potatoes and chanterelle mushrooms in season. Then I walked some of that off while enjoying a scoop of coffee gelato.
Bolzano is down in a valley surrounded by steeply sloping vineyards on all sides. And as I had learned previously, all signs are in two languages–German and Italian, but almost everybody speaks English, the international language. It is unfortunate for me, because I really would like to practice my German.
Here I am enjoying my main course:

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I have a very slow Internet connection in my hotel, so there will only be several photographs.

High end shopping in Der Lauben, but not the reason I am here.

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Beautiful Italianate frescoed buildings, but not the reason I am here.

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Picturesque narrow streets, but not the reason I am here.

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Fertile valley of vineyards, but not the reason I am here.

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Look above the traffic and buildings and you will see the reason I am here. The Dolomites are calling to me and I will get to know them tomorrow.

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Evening Walk/German Hospitality

25 Jun

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After the rains and a nap Hannes and I went for a walk up the hill to the nearby water reservoir, revisiting another location from 1971. My Lowa hiking boots are great.  Back in 1971…

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And some other views…

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From the roof of the condomium building…

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My cousin Hannes.

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Back home Dorothee prepared a lovely Abendessen.

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Dorothee is a wonderful cook and is mistress of her kitchen.

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Hannes and Dorothee.

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Where Is My Suitcase?

22 Jun

Where Is My Suitcase?

I wish I could say that my first day in Europe was a charm and everything I dreamed of. Well…it’s hard to be in a happy place when your suitcase didn’t arrive with you. Most of my belongings are missing, all of my clothes except the ones on my back, all of my hiking paraphernalia, shoes, personal items. SwissAir is working on it. Meanwhile, I made the best of the situation by walking around Zurich taking photographs, enjoying the beautiful weather and beautiful day. I had a light lunch along the Limmatquai by the river where I learned that Zurich is very expensive. That lunch cost $55. Here are some photos I took in the Zentrum. Late in the afternoon I wandered into the Predigerkirche near my hotel, and I heard a choir rehearsing for a concert that night. I returned to attend the choir and organ concert later that night and let the resonant sound wash over my sweaty and sleep-deprived body and bring me some serenity. Things have got to look up from here. Did I mention that my first plane landing in Chicago had a near miss? Someone is trying to kill me.

Rooftops of Zurich from my fourth floor balcony.

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Zurich Hauptbahnhof

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Pledges of love…the padlocks on the footbridge over the Limmat.

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The water of the Limmat is so clear is looks drinkable.

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Looking across to the Limmatquai.

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One of the striking church towers.

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Fresh fruit and smoothies.

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At lunch along the Limmatquai.

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Predigerkirche where the choir was rehearsing.

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Johannisbeerkuchen

22 Feb

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Spending some time in Germany in the 1970’s afforded me the opportunity to learn about Konditorei, the wonderful bakery/cafes where you could enjoy delicious pastries with Tee oder Kaffee. One of my favorites was the simple Johannisbeerkuchen, which I enjoyed on many occasions. There was a second floor cafe at the Marienplatz in Munich where I loved to spend time watching the famous Glockenspiel performance in the Rathaus tower, writing in my journal, or studying Level 1 German. There will be changes this next trip. Now I have to eat gluten free. I’m not sure that I will be able to find pastries in a gluten free version. But I still remember and savor the sweet and tart flavor of Johannisbeerkuchen and recall how I could convince myself that it had fewer calories because it wasn’t chocolate.

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