Archive for February, 2015

Hiking in the Dolomite

February 22nd, 2015

Bee and I had been talking about a trip like this for several years.  I had thought about it ever since I had seen a picture taken by a friend of a refuge with mountains in the background.  I took essentially the same picture on the trip I will be describing here.

This was my 5th trip with Wilderness Travel and was another fantastic experience.  We had a group of eight people with three guides, including Giuseppe whom I had already met on my first trip with Wilderness in Slovenia.  Giuseppe was joined by Leila and Sean so we had three experienced guides (with two vans) to help us on this trip.  It was great to have that flexibility given the weather that we encountered on some of the walks.

We met the group at the airport in Venice and quickly got into our two vans for the drive to the first stop of the day – for lunch half way to our first real destination. We stopped in the small town of Vittorio Veneto, at the edge of the Alps in an old water mill converted into a restaurant and had a great meal outside even though it was somewhat cold for the season.  We then continued to Passo Giau where we would spend the first three nights of our trip at the Rifugio Pass Giau.

As soon as we arrived, I recognized where we were.  The mountain with a flat top in the background is quite unique – this is a similar view to the picture who had made me want to be here – thanks Bill.

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The was also the view from our bedroom at the Rifugio.  Sean and Leila have stayed here many times and therefore know the owners quite well – it is like being welcomed into somebody’s house!

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Cannot have a view of the Alps without a cow here and there!  The weather was not great, and was not going to be great for the whole week so we had to contend with a very heavy sky, not making the pictures as spectacular as they could have been.  But when the sun did shine, we were rewarded with spectacular scenery.

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The contrast between light and shade can also enhance the view at times.

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Near the Rifugio, there was a small chapel, as always called Santa Maria (or something) delle Neve to indicate that it is often covered in snow.  They are usually dedicated to the memory of mountain guides who lost their lives doing what they loved to do.

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We went on a ‘warm-up’ hike from the hotel in order to open our appetite for dinner.  The Rifugio where we stayed is the first structure on the right and is quite a popular place at lunch and towards the end of the day, when people have finished their hike and are ready to go home.  The crowd was thinning significantly as we were walking around. Continue Reading » (612 Page Views)

Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast – Part 2

February 9th, 2015

After 5 days in Naples, Bee and I moved to the relative tranquility of Sorrento, on the Bay of Naples, on the Amalfi Peninsula, and the gateway to the Amalfi Coast and Capri.  We had ten more days to explore this part of Italy, rich in History, Art and Nature.

We went to Capri on our first day there – the weather forecast was not ideal for the week to come and we thought we wanted to take advantage of a reasonable day to explore the island.

Unfortunately, two cruise ships had arrived overnight, and all passengers from the ships were also going to Capri.  Our ferry into the island was full and we could not get the return trip we wanted, so had a return earlier than we wanted initially.

Still, the day started positive – we booked a boat trip around the island, which included a visit to the Blue Grotto and wandered around the harbor while waiting for the departure.  It was very interesting to see that even though this is a very touristy island, there are still people here doing traditional work, such as fishing out of small boats.

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Here is a general view of the main harbour.  On the side of the mountain in the background, you can see the first few houses of the second town in Capri called Anacapri.

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Taxis on the island have been somewhat modified to cater to the expectations of local tourists.  It is obvious that the maximum expected speed on the island is very low, or this type of roof on a car would not survive very long.

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On the trip around the island, we first passed by the Blue Grotto.  We were told that unfortunately the tide and the wave were too high to be able to visit the grotto that day.  The entrance is very tight and it is often impossible to go through.  However, it looks like some people are making it, so I am not sure if the boat captain was telling us the truth or not.

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At the Western tip of the island, on Punta Carena, stands a very tall light house.  It is critical to mark the entrance to the Bay of Naples where there has been a busy port for many centuries.

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Again, we can see that normal life continues around tourism – this gentleman was fishing probably in the same way they were doing it 100 and 500 years ago!

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Continue Reading » (569 Page Views)