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Bus Train Boat

10 Aug

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Unless you drive a car there is no direct way to go from Cortina in the Dolomites to old Venice out in the lagoon. For me it took a combination of bus, train, and vaporetto (water bus) and about half of a day to arrive at my next destination. The vaporetto in the photo is about to pull in to the station (the yellow and white platforms on floats) at St. Mark’s Square along the Grand Canal. The weather was hot and clear.

I left Cortina in the early morning on the Dolomiti Bus, which I must say, was very comfortable.

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Looking back on Cortina as we headed south.

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I saw the Cinque Torri one last time from below.

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We passed the Olympic ski jump.

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A picturesque old church.

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And a spring.

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I got really lucky with this shot from the bus window.

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The roads in the small towns are very narrow and here we had a standoff with another bus. We won. He had to back up so that we could both pass.

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Arriving in Calalzo. This whole valley from Cortina to Calalzo is so beautiful and the bike path was visible from the road most of the way.

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Transferring from bus to rail at Calalzo Pieve di Cadore.

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Then the transport became much faster. We left the mountains behind. The land became flatter and the houses looked more like this.

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And I have a few more photos, but wordpress won’t let me upload them.

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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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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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Rain! Book Store Day

29 Jun

Rain! Book Store Day

Whenever I am visiting a strange city, entering a bookstore makes me feel right at home. We had consistent low clouds and some rain this morning in Luzern, although it was less rain than was predicted. I began my day at the Rosengart Collection, which contains many works by Picasso, Klee, Chagall, Kandinsky, Seurat, Braque, Renoir, Monet…all the artists which propelled us into the era of modern art. Photographs were not allowed in the museum.
A local festival was in progress along the Reuss River and in the Old Town. I meandered among all the umbrellas, and spent a while in Stocker Buchhaus where I made two purchases, something to read tonight and on my 8-hour train ride tomorrow to Bolzano, Italy, the starting point of the Dolomite hike. Before I left the Old Town I saw a big pink neon sign in a store window advertising “Bachmann”. It was a chocolate store, and I thought, “Now that’s a Bachmann I think I like!” They sold chocolate replicas of the Luzern Water Tower, but I had a scoop of chocolate ice cream.

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The rain had stopped and I ascended the hill above the city to walk the old city wall and go up the watch towers.

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The walk on the wall has only an iron railing on the open side so I had to fight my acrophobia as I hung to the stone side. There were great views overlooking the city.

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There was an interesting mechanical clock in one of the towers.

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Still with plenty of time and a smidgeon of energy, I began the walk along the lake to the Transportation Museum. It is actually a museum of transport and technology. The desk clerk at the hotel had told me that it was a fifteen minute walk from the train station. I walked and walked and walked. There was a lovely promenade along the lakeside. I passed the Luzern Casino.

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Finally after what seemed an eternity, I arrived at my destination. I realized the clerk had probably said “fifty minute walk” rather than “fifteen”. My feet were killing me. I don’t know how many miles I walked today.

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There were trains…

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An engine with a snow plow on the front.

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And planes, all of the SwissAir variety.

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It was an interesting visit, but transport is really not my thing. There was no way I was going to walk back, so I rode the lake steamer, just a short hop across the water to the train station. There were those beautiful sailboats again.

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I will make it an early evening, because the train leaves early tomorrow. Switzerland, It’s been great!

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Up and Down…Pilatus

28 Jun

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Mount Pilatus, the top is more than 7,000 feet above sea level, and on good sunny days you can look down on Luzern, Switzerland and the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake of the Four Forest Cantons). Today was cloudy. I took this while standing atop one of the peaks and looking down on the observation area and one of the TWO hotels located up there. (Don’t you wonder how they build something that big on the top of a mountain? I know I do. Oh well, the Incas did it.) It is good that there were clouds and I couldn’t see how high up and open things were. I am afraid of heights. As it is, I always kept my eyes focused only a few inches ahead of my feet. These were the conditions around noon today. Here is how we got to the top…

It began with a 45-minute lake steamer ride to Alpnachstad.  A beautiful ride, the lake was like glass.

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We made several stops along the way. All lake steamers fly a large Swiss flag.

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These steep green hills met the water on all sides, clouds hanging very low.

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Then we arrived at the Pilatus Bahn, the steepest cog wheel train in the world, a 48 degree gradient.

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Here we go, rising very fast from lake level.

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And higher when the trees disappear.

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Nearing the top we have risen above much of the cloud cover. You can see the railway line and even a red train slicing across the high alpine meadow.  There are also hiking trails.

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Now we have reached the snow and you can see the incline of scree to the right.

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We walked up the steps into the observation area which includes two hotels (one a luxury hotel), three restaurants, a gift shop, and several paths to take to various peaks, even a tunnel with look out windows.

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Here is the luxury hotel.

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We stood on top of one of the peaks looking toward the observatory.

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I used my zoom lens to capture this ascending cogwheel train.

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As I stood in the tunnel looking out a opening in the rock wall, the clouds parted enough to reveal this tiny church on the high alpine meadow.

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Tiny white flowers grew out of the rocks up here.

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We walked through some snow before we began our descent and we did not go down the same way that we came up.

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Seilbahn…cable car. We had to take two different cable cars to get to the bottom. The first cable car was huge and carried about thirty people.

 

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We were smashed together standing in this hanging box so I had to hold my camera above my head to get any photo at all. That’s the lake down there.

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Then we switched cable cars  at a station, and these were smaller with two facing benches.

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And we were on our way down again over very green hills and meadows.

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Then Luzern came into view now totally sunny in the mid afternoon.

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One of the supports for the cable system.

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Finally at the bottom station in Kriens. Then we still had to take a bus to get back to the Hauptbahnhof where we had started our trip. Even with the cloudy conditions, it was a wonderful excursion. Cold and invigorating at the top. I’m glad I went.

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Changeable Weather in Luzern, Switzerland

27 Jun

Changeable Weather in Luzern, Switzerland

The Chapel Bridge. This is a famous landmark with the water tower, a remnant of the old fortification of the city. This covered bridge has old triangle shaped paintings under the roof. They are irreplaceable, but a few years back, the bridge caught fire and many were destroyed. There are signs all over warning that there is no smoking on the bridge. The swan population in Luzern in huge. And the sky is clear. It didn’t stay that way.

Looking across the Rathaussteg named after that large brown building on the right, the town hall.

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Looking back toward the other side of the Reuss River.

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The oldest part of Luzern is a pedestrian only zone, and the poet Wolfgang von Goethe stayed here in 1779.

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You know you are in Switzerland when you see store windows like this.

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I was on a mission to see the Lion of Lucerne. This sculpture commemorates the Swiss mercenaries who died in Paris during the French Revolution. Missouri author Mark Twain was moved by this sculpture describing it as the most sorrowful. It is a quiet and holy place, disturbed when the busloads  of tourists descend and make silly poses in front of it. My mother always loved Luzern and I am here partly because of her. I feel she is near and with me as I walk up and down the hills and through the narrow streets.

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I was hoping to see mountains in Switzerland, but it might not happen. Here is Mount Pilatus above Luzern. You can see that it is enveloped in clouds and fog.

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The Chapel Bridge again from another angle and later in the day when the rains started up again.

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One of the extant bridge paintings…

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And some that burned up.

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Not sure of my agenda tomorrow. I was going to go up a mountain, but the weather is not cooperating.

 

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One Step Closer

18 May

One Step Closer

Excitement building. Today I ordered my Eurail Pass. That’s how I found my way around Europe four separate times back in the 1970’s. I am looking forward to sitting back and watching the countryside pass by me. I only wish it were as inexpensive now as it was back then.

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Abfahrt!

30 Mar

Abfahrt!

Departure. I cannot wait to ride the European trains again. They have such a wonderful rail system and their trains are state of the art. Why can’t the USA develop something like this?? (Luzern Bahnhof)

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