Leaving the Dolomites

Author: , June 6th, 2013

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on the go again, this time in Italy. She has graciously allowed us to republish her travel blogs. Enjoy!

Dolomites - DollyI am a bit sad today because we had to leave the Dolomites. We had 4 lovely days there. Monday and Tuesday were absolutely wonderful days for hiking. No rain, and the temperature, although a bit cool, made it perfect for hiking. We were in groups of 2, as everyone had their own ideas of what they wanted to do, and that made things easy. Everyone got to do their own thing.

First we took a bus from our hotel to the gondola station at Seiser Alm, and rode the gondola up to Compatsch, a little town at the beginning of the Alpe di Suisi meadow. “Meadow” makes it sound a bit like a cow pasture, but it is actually miles long and wide, with trails and lifts to different areas of the area.

Janis and I took went on a hike that I had done before, but this time we also got to take a chair lift to the top of a mountain, had lunch at Williamshuette, a little refugio. We felt like we were on top of the world. Eveywhere we looked was magnificent. i swear we. Could see 100 miles across the valley, to more mountains. After lunch we took the chair lift back to Saltria, and hiked back to Compatsch.

It was fun to all have dinner together and recount our activities of the day. Although we all did different trails or lifts, we all had a wonderful time. On Tuesday the weather looked threatening, but by the time we finished breakfast, the sun was out, so off we went again.

This time Janis and I took a gondola up to Puflatsch. (Don’t you love these names?) we hiked back down to Compatsch, as the air was so thin up on top, I was having trouble breathing, so we hiked downhill instead. As soon as we got a bit lower, I was fine.

Hiking in the Dolomites was so rewarding: one would have to work at being unhappy. Everywhere we looked was another fantastic vista, or another meadow with wildflowers just starting to bloom. Seeing a dog leading his master along the trail, or seeing fish in a little pond….all these were memorable experiences, and although we were a little tired at the end of the hike, we all felt good about the hikes we took.

Now we are on a train, headed for Lake Como, to the village of Varenna on the lake. That will be another great experience, I know, and in 2 more days, we are going into Switzerland.

I hope you are continuing to enjoy our travels, and I also hope that you will visit these places yourself. If you decide you want to do that, just let me know, and I will probably go with you.

So, ciao for now. Yes, we are back in the part of Italy that speaks Italian. I will write again soon.

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Celebrating in Castelrotto

Author: , June 5th, 2013

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on the go again, this time in Italy. She has graciously allowed us to republish her travel blogs. Enjoy!

CastelrottoToday was a very interesting day. Today the town was celebrating Corpus Christi, which is held every year, supposedly 50 days after Easter. I learned from the owner of our hotel that Corpus Christi is always on a Thursday. In Germany and Austria the celebration is held on that day, but in Italy it is celebrated on the Sunday following.

Therefore, the huge parade after a Holy Mass at the church. I was fortunate to have a ring side standing place, so I got quite a lot of good pictures, including one video that runs for 9 minutes, with the music from the bands included. I won’t try to send that to you, but if you want to see it after I get home, it is on this little iPad.

The parade started at the church, wound its way through the town, stopping a few blocks away from our hotel, where we watched it from our balcony. It was so fun seeing the people in the traditional costumes, and the little children in their dirndls and short pants.

Later, after lunch, we took a chair lift up the mountain to the little area of Marinzen, where there is a playground for children, as well as goats, cows, a Mommy horse with her colt, and goats. There are also trails, of course, so some of our group hiked back to Castelrotto, which was about an hour’s hike downhill. But I decided to ride the chair lift back down, and the view was so pretty.

It is cold here, and more rain threatening over the mountains, but so far no rain today. I had sent my earmuffs, gloves and scarf home with Patrick and Kiri, thinking I would not need them anymore. As I watched the hotel receptionist put more wood into the fireplace yesterday, I asked her if she thought she would be doing that on June 1.

She told me that the weather here has been very unusual this year….the same thing we have heard all along our travel route. But tomorrow is supposed to be warmer, so perhaps we will get up to Compatsch, the little town at the start of the Alpe di Suisi meadow and hiking trails. I hope we get to see the wildflowers, as I remember how wonderful it was to see green meadows with the beautiful wildflowers all over.

So, even with cooler weather than we expected, the atmosphere here just lends itself to relaxing, enjoying the hiking through beautiful landscapes, and I am sure my blood pressure has dropped at least 20 mm/hg since arriving here. I could easily stay here a month and find something new each day. The people are very friendly, some do speak a bit of Italian or English. Our hotel is very nice. If I don’t return to the U.S. when I am supposed to, look for me here.

Hopefully I will be able to send more pictures tomorrow.

Auf Wiedersehen for now.

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Dolly Travels: Bolzano and Castelrotto

Author: , September 15th, 2011

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Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on the go again, this time starting in Switzerland and ending in Italy. She has graciously allowed us to republish her travel blogs. Enjoy!

Dolomites, Italy

Hello, everyone,

Dolomites, ItalyWe are finishing our stay in the Dolomites now. Tomorrow we leave here and go to Lake Como.

We arrived in Bolzano about 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. With not much time to waste, immediately headed for the Museum of Archeology to see the Ice Man, Otzi, whose frozen body was found high on the mountains near the Italian-Austrian border in 1991. He is over 5000 years old and looks pretty good for his age. The museum has put together a fantastic display of real, fiction, scientific evidence, on 4 floors of the museum.

After seeing this, we took a cable car lift to Oberbozen, a small village above Bolzano. From there, we got out first good view of the Dolomites, then hiked down to see the Earth Pyramids, a very interesting rock formation. It was a pretty strenuous hike, for me, back up the hill, but the view was well worth the hike.

We had a good Tyrolean dinner, with sausages and beer, then slept well that night. Sunday morning we woke up to a gentle rain, our first rain of our journey. We caught the bus to Castelrotto and the rain had stopped.

Dolomites, ItalyAs we got off the bus, we could hear music coming from the square, and as we checked into out hotel, here came the marching band, all dressed in their Tyrolean finest, headed for a beer garden set up in town. Apparently, it was an afternoon of band music, so we settled in and had a great time, listening to the different bands, enjoying more sausages and beer, and seeing the people in their cultural dress.

After the concert, we took a lift up the mountainside to Marinzen, a small area with goats, burros, a playground for kids, and of course, hiking trails. Patrick got tom pet a dog, and some goats, which was good for him, as he was missing his dog.

By the time we got back down to Castelrotto it was raining. We went out to dinner, then settled into out nice down comforters for a good night’s sleep.
Monday was overcast, but we still tried to go hiking up in the Alpe di Suisse, but the weather just did not cooperate. Once back in the valley, the kids decided to take another hike, up to some castle ruins, in spite of the rain.

Today started out cool and overcast, but no rain, and became a glorious day to hike. Up in Compatsch, in the alpine meadow, we took another lift up to Puflatsch, where we could see the villages down below, as well as across the valley to more mountains. We saw the Witches Benches, and some more goats, then we went down again, took the Panoramic lift, finally hiking about 2 hours to Saltria.

There was just more and more beautiful scenery, everywhere we looked. Patrick and Kiri then took a third lift up to Williams. I opted to hang out at the Saltria outdoor restaurant, and wait for them. I thought to myself, if I died right now, I would die happy! And in such a beautiful setting!

So now we are contemplating dinner, and packing. It is always difficult to leave such lovely places behind, but we are off to experience more adventures.
As always, I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to enjoy so many of God’s magnificent works.

Until next time,

Dolly

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Postcards From an Italian Adventure: The Dolomites in September

Author: , September 15th, 2010

Gay Friendly Italy Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs. Enjoy!

Dolomites, Italy

Tuesday, September 14th

Dolomites, ItalyIf I had the capability to send you 1000 pictures or 10,000 words, I would still not be able to describe the beauty of the Dolomites. Everywhere I go, as I am photographing my travels I have the opportunity to see lovely landscapes, and I try my best to describe these, but this area, the Seiser Alm, or Alpe di Suisi, is indescribably beautiful. I can stand here and try to think of enough words to describe what I am seeing, but words are inadequate. It has to be seen to realize the beauty.

These mountains rise above the meadows, providing the most dramatic landscape imaginable, from the peaceful meadows, the cows grazing, the meadow flowers, so delicate under our feet, that we are going out of our way to avoid stepping on them, to the soaring towers of the stark, bare, dolomite mountains, with small patches of snow still hiding in the crevices.

Dolomites, ItalyOn the shoulders of some of the bare peaks are narrow ridges of green trees, looking like epilauts on the uniform of soldiers. The weather had been cold and rainy in this area the day before our first hike, and there was a dusting of new snow on some of the mountains; it seemed as if a giant baker had sprinkled powdered sugar over the peaks. Fortunately for us, the weather was sunny, with just a touch of autumn in the breeze that was blowing, making great hiking conditions.

There are so many hiking trails here, that one could spend an entire summer, or a Iifetime, trying to hike all of them. The magnificent mountain plateaus, so far above us that we know we can never hike that high, but, oh my, do we want to do that. To be able to hike those upper trails and spend the night in a rifugio would be so awesome! I am just sorry that I waited until this stage of my life to go hiking up here.

Dolomites, Italy - CattleOn our first day of hiking, we took a relatively easy trail; nevertheless, we had the opportunity to see the cows up front and personal, we were able to visit a few of the “hutte” , where we were able to get food and drink, visit with the locals, and get ourselves refreshed for further hiking.

I do highly recommend this area for anyone who is planning to visit Northern Italy. Be advised, that the primary language spoken here is German, although many people also know English. Not very many speak any Italian. It is difficult to remember this is Italy, because the people here definitely are Austrian.

Dolomites, ItalyThe region is called Sud Tirol, which is in effect, South Austria, rather than Northern Italy. Culture shock, no, as these people became Italian due to political changing of territorial boundaries between World War I and World War II. It is a great culture, with the Tirolean food; schnitzel, bratwurst, great beer, very good white wine, apple strudel, dumplings. On festival days, people dress in the finest Austrian jackets, hats, dirndls for the women. Their music is Tirolean, with alpenhorns and yodeling. No Italian operas up here.

While we are hiking, there are bicyclists going past us. This is a magnificent area for mountain biking, and some of these people are as crazy as the biciclitti personi that I know in USA…(no names, but you know who I am referring to.)

Bella and Franco in the DolomitesSo, whether you want to hike or bike, take photos, or just enjoy the beauty, come to the Dolomites and see it for yourself!

In the meantime, I will continue to absorb all the beauty of this area that my mind can hold, and I hope, that somehow, I can relay what I am seeing to you. I want everyone to see the wonders that I am seeing, and I can only hope that I have the means to convey this by my writing.

Mountain Goats in the DolomitesWe are staying in the town of Castelrotto, just a few kilometers from the Seiser Alm. After our hiking one day, we were just exploring this little town, and came across a path that wanders along a ridge at the west end of town.

From this ridge we were able to look down, across some green meadows, to another little village, that looked like a picture postcard. Again, one beautiful view after another.

After a one night stay in Bolzano, we will be heading back to Florence. So I will finish this note now, so that you have the opportunity to savor the sights I have described, and get just a glimpse of the Dolomiti from my pictures.

Ciao for now…

Dolly

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Postcards From an Italian Adventure – Dolomites

Author: , July 6th, 2010

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Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs. Enjoy!

Dolomites, Italy

Monday, June 7th

Hi, everyone,

Dolomites - HotelI am stiing on the deck of our hotel room in Varenna on Lake Como, looking out at the clear blue water and looking across at the town of Menaggio. We arrived here yesterday afternoon, and the weather was muggy and hot….a huge difference from what we were accustomed to feeling, in the Dolomites.

However, we had a magnificent thunderstorm last night, and it rained cats and dogs (they are all over the place today..Ha!) When we woke up this morning, though, the skies are blue with puffy clouds that let us know we could get more of the same, but at least we are having the opportunity to enjoy Varenna today.

Dolomites - FarmhouseI want to tell you about the Dolomites, though. We left Bolzano in the early afternoon on Thursday, and took a one-hour bus ride, up into the Dolomites, and reached our little village of Castelrotto about 3 p.m.

As we were traveling up the road to Castelrotto, the views kept getting more and more beautiful: green fields, with farm houses neatly tucked into the landscape, farmers raking the cut hay into piles by hand (and the women were out there raking, also…not my idea of fun, but a glimpse into the lifestyle of these hardy people).

Although technically, we were still in Italy, it felt more like Austria. Their language is German, the children are taught in German in their schools. They do learn English, but not Italian. Their culture is definitely more Austrian. Although occasionally, I could make myself understood in Italian, those times were rare, almost as rare as being understood in English.

DolomitesHowever, this area is peaceful, and beautiful. From Castelrotto, we took a bus about 2.5 km up to a cable car station. We rode cable cars up the mountain to the little town of Compatsch, where the hiking began. Everyone in our group did some hiking, or strolling, depending on their abilities, or what they chose to do. Nathalie did the most strenuous, as she is the most athletic of the group.

She clocked in 14 miles that first day, doing a more difficult hike, up higher that the rest. Kristie, Ruth, Susan did another hike, not quite as high up as Nathalie, but strenuous, also. Marlene, Ali and I did the hike that went along the ridge, probably about 6 miles total. It was a medium difficult hike, a lot of up hill and paths made of rocks, but when we were on the ridge, we could look down and see Castelrotto miles below us. Christine and Kathie did a short walk, about a mile, which was great for Chris in her walking boot.

Dolomites

We all came back tired puppies, but it was fun to compare notes, and complain about how inaccurate the map was. And it was not very helpful at times, sending us off into a different direction, where we had to back track. But that was minor.

We saw quite a few glider airplanes, as well as parasailers, or whatever you call people who walk off the mountain with a parachute, and float across the valley. Susan had an encounter with a cow, who probably would have licked her to death, but scared the heck out of her, being a Chicago city girl. That group had to climb through snow drifts, and you will see a picture of their writing their names in the snow.

The scenery up here is just indescribably beautiful. As Kristie said, everytime we went around a corner, they would find a sight more lovely than the one before.

The next day we did the same thing: Everyone went up to Alpe di Siusi meadow, to Compatsch and did their own thing. Christine and Kathie took the chair lift up to the Panorama Trail and back down again. Kristie, Ruth, Susan and Nathalie did another more strenuous hike. I took the meadow trail up to another little settlement about 2 hours away.

DolomitesIt was still a medium difficult hike, but I did OK both days, and was quite pleased, as it has been over 2 years since I have done any real hiking. I had a blast, as did everyone else. We all met for dinner that night, and had more fun exchanging hiking stories, We were all wishing we had another day, as the weather was perfect, and the Dolomites are probably one of the most beautiful areas in the world. It is much like Swiss Alps, but the altitude is not as high, so I did not have to deal with altitude problems.

Sunday we had to leave, and were we ever sorry then. Sunday was a celebration of Corpus Domini in the village. All the villagers came to church in their Tyrolean costumes, and after church there was going to be a parade, and we had to miss it. But new adventures were waiting, so here we are in wonderful, peaceful Varenna.

Tomorrow we go to Cinque Terre, which will be the second time this year for some of us. But now that I have my new hiking poles, and shoes, perhaps I will do some hiking there. We will be there for 3 days, then back to Florence.

I hope everyone is enjoying the blog. Let me know how you like these little excerpts from our wanderings.

Ciao for now.

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