Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Grand Dolomites Tour

Friday 17 August 2012. The only organised excursion we decided to do was to the Dolomites.

So we stood at some early hour waiting for our coach to pick us up, watching as masses of people came to join us, then a coach would come and pick the bulk of them up and leave us waiting again. But our bus did come pretty much on time and we found ourselves in a mixed bag of Italians, Germans and English and luckily with a multi-lingual guide!

This was to be a full day tour and lasted around 11 hours. We spent a lot of it on the coach as could be expected, but once we got to the Dolomites the views and the time we got to wander around were well worth the day spent on the coach.

We started off with a coffee stop at a place called Moena. We were shown to the terrace of a hotel with some excellent views from the tables. They offered tea as well as coffee and I have to say it was a good cup of tea!

Our next stop was just a five minute photo stop and the guide apologised for the colour of the lake. I suspect it is normally the turquoise of melt water but the rain had brought a fair bit of mud down with it!

Anyway - that's long enough! Back onto the coach folks!

We drove for another long spell, passing through the Rose Garden, where the pink stone of the mountains combined with a sunset create a glorious colour. Of course we were still only approaching lunchtime so we missed out on that. But we passed through some lovely villages and saw lots of wooden statues and heard the story of the Dwarf King, Laurin, who stole away a beautful maid, Kunhild, to be his wife and kept her captive in his rose garden when she would not accept him.

We came to the road to the Pordoi mountain with 27 hairpin bends to negotiate before we came to the highest point the road reached.

Here we had lunch. We were on a table of six, with another English couple who it turned out were staying at the Hotel Centrale near our own hotel and two German girls, who unfortunately were a bit excluded from the conversation either by their lack of English or by design, I'm not sure. My own command of the German language allows me to buy food but not hold conversations, but I did confuse them once or twice with attempts to converse...

We now had free time either to look around the small village where we found ourselves, or to take the cable car to the top of the mountain. We had done that before, in 2003, so we decided to have a look round the shops and stay warm. It had been snowing at the top when we went up before!

There were a lot of bikers going up and down the road and one party included a matching pair of scarlet vintage bikes from the 1940s or 50s in glorious condition.

We bought the inevitable fridge magnet and went to have a look at the ski slopes. Near the chair lift we found an ice cream stall and I invested in an orange ice lolly - the first such I'd had in a good 25 years I suspect. I went all nostalgic as it melted over my hand, making my fingers sticky...

And then it was time to leave. The tour takes a large circle before rejoining the road back to Lake Garda and this afternoon we will have a stop at Ortisei, which is well worth a visit. Join us for a look around in the next entry!

Large versions of the photos: all the photos from this holiday will be available over the next few days in this set at Flickr

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