Up Your Dolomites

Earth Pyramids Dolomites.

Week 1st to 7th May 2017

Lago D’Iseo in the sun

With the calling of a bacon sandwich and a lakeside view we left Lago di Garda in normal bank holiday weather and traffic heading to one of the lesser known Lago’s that being Lago d’Iseo cradled in a deep glacial valley surrounded by soaring mountains. We were all set to head to Lago di Como but Mr Clooney wasn’t able to make lunch that day, he was apparently busy with a cup of coffee so we thought sod you then we’ll go and meet up with fellow travellers Phil and Jules a much better option in the long run, although the bacon seemed to have disappeared

Our lovely duck friends

by the time we arrived but the lakeside view had not and even in the pouring rain the outlook from our new pitch was lovely. We were met after parking up on a very sodden spot by P&J and the local duck gang some of whom brought their offspring along as well for our inspection. The afternoon was spent discussing travels, journeys made and to be made with a fair amount of liquid consumption to help pass a wet afternoon and evening.

 

Monte Isola on Lago D’Iseo
The happy travellers on route

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankfully the sun was shining the next day and we all set off for Monte Isola which towers over the southern end of the Lago and is apparently Europe’s largest lake island. With the cost of the ferry for us and bikes being fairly high we made sure we got the best of it and did a full circle of the island before disembarking and starting our cycle tour of Monte Isola. Our cycle ride lead us up to the very top of the island with 2 very fit people competing extremely well with us not so on our struggling electric bikes. The views were amazing and the descent down taken at various speeds by all of us before we regrouped at a bar near the ferry stop. Options

bad hair day for both of us on ferry to Monte Isola

for dinner were to eat on the island or head closer to home and we were all glad we chose the latter as the sky darkened and the rains fell just as we approached home. The next day was again hit and miss on the weather front but David and I managed a walk into the main town of Iseo and even a few hours outside over our lunchtime panini before the rain began again as we had a farewell dinner in the camp restaurant. By the morning even the ducks were despondent with the weather and couldn’t muster up any enthusiasm for our German cornflakes

Our two very fit fellow travellers Phil and Jules plus one at the top

we gave them (not surprising really nor could we!) The question now for all of us humans was whether we could get off the mud from our pitches. David and I opted to go first but even with Phil’s help/advice NiKi could not get over the slight lip at the top of the pitch and was just wheel spinning. Help was needed and as we assumed rain is not uncommon in these regions we headed for Luca’s help. Luca arrived in the camp site’s very growly and battered small jeep which to be honest really had seen better days but once the chains were on all NiKi needed was a small tug over the lip and onto the gravel before we set off on our journey into the mountains and more rain.

Luca our saviour hooking on the tow chains with Tigger on our windscreen supervising
Heave- ho

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have over the past few weeks due to various reasons changed our route up and into Germany

More bloody snow as we pass over the pass the Dolomites

and again this was no exception with the lure of ‘these look interesting, I think they might be near you’ weird sculptures photo from my niece. Well we couldn’t actually discover from the picture or our trusty LP guide where they were exactly other than in Southern Tyrol and the Dolomites but after a quick read up on the town of Bolzano we decided that would be our next stop anyway and also our gateway into Austria and Germany. South Tyrol- what an interesting history and place- it’s history being marked by its tug of ‘love’ between Austria/Germany and Italy with neither sides really winning out like most disputes over the war era’s.

Balzano camp site in the Dolomites

At the moment we found it to be a complete hybrid of Austria and Italy taking your pick essentially as to which way you wish to go but thankfully now all living happily alongside each other. Other highlights are it’s a major ski region and also produces 50% of Italy’s apple consumption and 12% of Europe’s with many varieties being grown on small farmsteads giving rise to stunning scenery.

Apple orchards that produce 50% of Italy’s crop
Cable car view in the Dolomites missed by me understandably

So did we find the ‘these look interesting’ sculptures – oddly enough we did after showing the picture to a lovely young man in the tourist office in town. He knew exactly what they were and where and it involved one of the 3 cable car rides from Bolzano up into the mountains. This one is the world’s longest single track stretching 4.5 k’s approx. Seemly the views are stunning but for me on the ride up WhatsApp chatting and head down were the only way- thanks Pete for the chat.  At the top normal life happened alongside the tourists with children, Mums and Dads doing their daily stuff. However as norm we seemed to be causing some degree of entertainment in our shorts and T-shirts.

Dandelion fields in the Dolomites

The day was very sunny at the bottom and to be fair we hadn’t started out knowing we were going to do the cable car and mountain that day, but we also realised that we were again caught in between cultures- the ever present chic of Italian dressing combined with the must be dressed in the correct clothing for the task rules of the Austrians and we fell right down the middle. Our outfits really should have been Snow and Rock with Nordic poles for this- wrong again!! However we survived and as ever if we can give a little amusement along the way…..

The amazing wonder of nature -the earth pyramids

Despite not being mentioned in LP the ‘Earth Pyramids’ as we now found out they are called were clearly marked out at the top after a short train journey and were an absolute delight coupled along with the truly stunning scenery. Earth pyramids are formed due to a number of fundamental and unique factors happening simultaneously. Erosion, clay, wind etc etc cause the formations to form and then during times of drought other loamy material hardens forming a ‘stone’ which as the erosion underneath continues sits on top of the pyramids until the structure falls away completely with the stone falling and pyramid collapsing and this is a continual unique process hopefully giving many more tourists great delight.

Controversial Monument to Victory – a Mussolini build!

Saturday brought a greyer start to the day and the promise of more rain so we got the bikes down and did a smallish cycle though the apple orchards into town stopping at the Monument to Victory museum just on the edge of the old town where the history of the originally Fascist monument is given and how in a matter of months in the 1920’s all places and names etc had to change from German into Italian with Mr M ordering the building of this monument. It has survived and now represents unity and coexistence.   

Temple Bar- Balzano voted best Irish bar outside Ireland and Mr N put it to the test.
Goulash for lunch with bacon and herb dumplings a real rain warmer
Mini desert for me but apple strudel for D
White asparagus now in season along with the green stuff
Merano heading towards Austria and amazing flower displays

Our march now has to continue northward with only a month to go we no longer have the luxury of trying to follow the sun and with prediction of mixed weather ahead we left the Dolomites and onto our last town in Italy-Glorenza.  A small medieval walled town again with a mix of population between Austrian and Italian. Cute little place and the Aire provided by the town is lovely, not free but has all the amenities you need and way cheaper than our last stop @€15.  A quick walk and refreshment in town again proved that this region whether

Glorenza fashion very Sound of Music!

Austrian or Italian isn’t cheap especially when the young waitress tried to short change us for €2.50 against a €7.50 bill. Uhm Italy having the last laugh or what lies ahead as we dart through Austria or perhaps benefit of the doubt a young girl who can’t do her maths! We’ll venture back in tomorrow for our last Italian coffee and perhaps even our last Italian gelato before we head on, for tonight its home cooking and a lovely shepherd’s pie.

Happy gelato faces

Germany here we come………

Our Route This Week.

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