Arriviamo a Arabba

Well, we made it!

Landing in Milano at 5:30am this morning gave us a our winter reality check.  It was a frosty -3C!   Quite a temperature change from our last 2 days lazing by the pool at a steamy 30C in Singapore!   Donning our puffa jackets, hats and gloves, we managed to successfully contact our lease company, pick up our car and miracles of all miracles negotiate our way onto the Italian auto-strada network at dawn to battle the early morning Milano rush hour.

Graeme is pretty happy with the new vehicle – now affectionately christened “Gino” – it’s a Peugot 2008 Model diesel AWD.   It has come with a winter tyres, chains still in their plastic wrap and roof racks with no means of attachment.   It also has a glass roof….?  It doesn’t open like a sun roof, so we’re not quite sure why a SUV needs one?   Certainly it’s handy for passengers to see the tops of the mountains from all the steep sided valleys we have been driving through… but not sure how it will perform if the car ends upside down…..I guess we’ll be doing our best not to test any theories in this regard….but just saying.

All our friends who had been to the Dolomites told us that the scenery was amazing.   Truly an understatement.   In my current sleep deprived state as I write this first diary entry, I cannot quite find the words to describe the incredible vistas we have experienced on our drive to Arabba today.   Fortunately a picture is worth 1000 ……..

Arabba is a tiny little town of only about 300 permanent residents, although it swells to over a 1000 in the busy summer & winter seasons.  The township sits in a steep sided valley at 1602m that runs roughly north -south.  There are only 3 roads into the township, with both the north & west roads crossing high passes.   These passes can be closed for weeks at a time in the full winter, leaving only the narrow valley road east to Venice available.

We arrived into Arabba about 2pm, pretty shattered.  We found our apartment without too much difficulty and Gabi, our landlady was obviously on the watch for us, as she quickly came out to greet us and show us around.   Gabi only speaks Italian and German. No English.  But somehow we managed to get the “gist” of things with a lot of broken Italian words and arm waving.

Shortly after we lugged our 30kg ski bags up the stairs to our 2nd storey apartment, our kiwi connection – Patsy & Mario arrived to greet us.   As with our last Euro holiday, it was a lucky co-incidence that we were able to find some Arabba locals.  Finding good long term affordable accommodation in a ski resort is always really tricky.    But fortunately we got talking to our Wanaka neighbours John & Colleen early last year and learned that their family has been skiing in Arabba for almost 20 years.   John put us in touch with an ex-pat Kiwi -Patsy and her Italian husband Mario.  Mario used to do winter seasons in NZ almost 20 years ago, working for “PJ”‘s Yes Ski tours and Bobo a ski wholesaler.  I expect that we will find that we know many of the same people once we start the “do you know…” conversation.

Patsy & Mario helped fill in some of the gaps in our instructions from Gabi and we promised to catch up for a drink the next night.

The apartment has fantastic storage and it was a breeze to fit in all our gear and clothes to the ample cupboard space.  But it was a bit of an “eye-opener” as to what came out of the ski-bags….more about that tomorrow.

A forage for food in the village was the next mission.  Alas, like many Euro tourist towns out of season, the shop hours are unusual.  8am – noon, then 4pm – 7pm.   What do people do for 4 hours in the middle of the day?

Finally we found a little supermarket open to get dinner & breakfast supplies and headed back to the apartment.   Try as we might, after a quick pasta dinner and a dodgy glass of red wine, we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer.

Tomorrow, will be a busy day buying ski boots, ski pass and food for the week.

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