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A Walk into Town

7 Aug

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Cortina…pedestrian walkway. The golden color of some of the buildings indicates a shift in culture from the greater Tyrolean influence in the towns to the west. This town feels more Italian, although there is certainly a mix of styles. The church tower has straight sloping sides rather than the onion-shaped variety in Tyrolean towns.

You would think after a long hike in the higher altitudes that I would have been ready for a rest, but I wanted to see Cortina, and I needed to find a bank to replenish my Euros. Directly behind the back lawn of my little hotel there was a bike/hiking trail (paved) that led into the downtown with a 10-minute walk. I went for a stroll.

I walked up the sloping lawn of the quaint Hotel Menardi (which I highly recommend).

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Here I hopped onto the bike path. This path is a old rail line that has been transformed into a greenway. It goes for miles and miles in each direction. Speaking of rails, Cortina eliminated its trains and train station years ago. Public transportation to and from the city is only by bus.

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I got an intimate view of people’s houses and yards as I walked along.

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Before I hit the pedestrian zone there was a tiny little park with this small fountain.

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For the first time on this trip I passed frescoed walls, so Italian.

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I stopped in at the church where the organist was practicing. It was wonderful to hear the powerful sounds resounding through the church.

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Several mountain bikers made their way home through the pedestrian zone late in the day.

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Standing outside the Cooperativa, the big store in Cortina.

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A colorful house, “Ciasa” (chyaza) is house in Ladin.

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These banners represent the various allegiances of the people in this region. From Left to Right:

the flags of Veneto (state), Italy, the European Union, and the Ladin people.

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Sun sets on the rooftops of Cortina.

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On the way back to the hotel the surrounding mountains are lit with late afternoon Alpenglow.

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So glad to be back for the night at my Cortina home, Hotel Menardi.

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Cortina d’Ampezzo

6 Aug

Cortina d'AmpezzoAfter we left Cinque Torri, Marion drove us to our final destination, Cortina. Before this curve in the road, she pulled over and let me take some photos looking down on the city and the valley. Here I got my first view of the city of Olympic and glitterati fame. James Bond and Pink Panther movies have been filmed here. For a small town it is a shopping mecca for designer brands. Mountain bikers ride right through the middle of town. In the winter it is a center for all winter sports. Cortina…it’s fame precedes it. Surrounded by mountains on all sides it is in a beautiful location.

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For me the most significant aspect was this comfortable spot to lay my head that night.

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Pralongià: Zoom Lens (2)

29 Jul

Pralongià: Zoom Lens (2)

The natural balcony of the Bioch Rifugio provided an excellent spot for photography. I changed lenses to see what I could capture with the zoom. Marmolada! Now with some interesting cloud cover.

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Sella.

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La Varella.

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Sella.

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Then we resumed our hike, so back to the regular lens, and another beautiful view of Marmolada.

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The pathway is this photo leads to our next destination: Rifugio Pralongià, the white building in the distance.

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Oh, to sit and meditate on Sella.

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The hillsides fall away like folds of green fabric.

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The truth in a small rundown hut on a mountain hillside.

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The dogs loved their hike too.

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Pralongià: The Most Beautiful Hike (1)

29 Jul

Pralongià: The Most Beautiful Hike

How could I pick this Day 4 hike as the most beautiful when each day’s hike produced scenery that was breathtaking? I chose this one because it had the elements which drew me here to begin with. I am referring to the green rolling hillsides and valleys with the towering stark peaks above covered with snow. To top it off the weather was absolutely perfect…sunny with some clouds and fresh cool mountain air. Blue sky, white snow and clouds, green meadows. These are the three colors of the Ladin flag. This lead photograph shows Marmolada, the Queen of the Dolomites, draped with glacial ice, the only glacier in the area. As we walked we could see mountains in all directions. There were so many beautiful views that I am breaking up this post into several segments.

We began early in the morning taking the gondola to Col Alt. Far below was the town of Corvara at the bottom of the valley. The Sella towered above. (The Sella can be considered the center of the Dolomite region).

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At the top we got our first stunning view of Marmolada blinding in the morning sun.

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In another direction we saw La Varella, the mountain where they have recently uncovered a prehistoric bear foot. We were standing on the undulating green hills of the Col Alt.

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In yet another direction we could look out on the peaks of the Austrian Alps in the North.

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Standing above the valley and covered in clouds was the tall sentinel of Sassongher.

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At first our path headed downhill, but not for long.

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Looking back on the Sella.

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Here were the rolling green hills we would climb to the Pralongià Plateau.

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We climbed through forested areas as well.

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I would have gladly rested here on this bench to catch my breath and contemplate the beauty all around me. However, this was a hiking trip, and we kept hiking. You can see the path that we were on curving up the hill ahead.

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I asked Marion to take some photos of me climbing the steep path so that I could show everyone back home the difficulty level of the hiking. Here you can see me with my orange backpack negotiating this particularly difficult stretch. Then in the following photo, if you look closely, you can see my arms in victory after I reach the top.

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Higher up now we saw Sella from a different vantage point.

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In the distance we saw Lagazuoi, our destination for tomorrow.

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I got out my camera for a people picture, and all of a sudden a voice drawled “Can I take a photo with all of you?” It was strange because the man’s voice sounded like John Wayne. I thought I was the only American in these parts. I asked him,” Where are you from?” Can you guess his answer? “California.” Whoa, that’s heavy man, being this far from the USA. So here we were, the hikers three, Vladimir, Marion, and me.

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A mountain hut with La Crusz behind (that is Santa Croce where we had hiked the previous day). To the right, La Varella.

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Once more Sassongher dramatically lit by the sun filtered through the clouds.

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La Crusz and La Varella.

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The path from whence we had come.

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Approaching one of the rifugios, this one called Bioch.

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From here there was a magnificent direct view of Marmolada.

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There was a large playground and sunning area here. Those big log chairs looked so inviting. I wanted to chase those kids off and lay down. This was not yet our stopping place.

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And the Rains Came

23 Jul

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The threatening skies made it look like we were in fact on Golgotha. At this point we began to make our way back down the trail to the chair lift. Climbing up had been taxing on the leg muscles, but going down created great stress on the knees, and there was always the possibility of slipping on the loose scree. We wanted to be back before the skies opened up.DSC_0652

It was always a little adventure to get on the chair lift. The three of us stood in place and the chair lift came up behind us and scooped us up. I liked the knowledge that there was a safety net in case someone didn’t quite make the seat.

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We could look right into a garden, a lovely garden as we reached the town station.

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The rain held off until we were almost to the car. We piled in and Donatella drove us to San Martino where the Ciastel di Tor houses the Ladin Museum. Surrounded by mountains the Ladin culture has survived for centuries. Ladin language is taught in the schools and there is a great sense of national pride among the Ladin population. By the time we arrived at the museum the rain was coming down hard and the ground was soggy.

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Inside we found some very modern Ladin woodcarvings.

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Ciastel di Tor

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A typical cooking hearth from the past.

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Here is the only Edelweiss I ever saw, one made of silver in a traditional jewelry style.

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Wooden toy making.

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Traditional painting of chests and wardrobes.

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Back once more in Colfosco we said our goodbyes to the lovely Donatella, since Marion would take over as guide for the remainder of the hike.

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