A few aching muscles saw us make a late start this morning. We also spent some time talking to the respective parents in Australia. What is totally amazing is not the fact of using VOIP systems like Viber and FaceTime but that Graeme’s octogenarian parents and my 90 year old Mum have both mastered the concept. In both cases they answered right away. I think my Mum, in particular was totally amazed how clear the line was. It was a lovely catch up time.
While there’s no new snow and none in the forecast for the next week, the days are brilliantly sunny with no wind. It’s a really hard concept to grasp, but there is still so much skiing to be had here. Sure it’s on-piste, but the great weather gives us a terrific opportunity to take the car on the currently uncrowded roads and venture further afield.
Today we drove about 50 min from Arabba to Ortisei/ St Ulrich, one of the towns in the Val Gardena. I had heard of Val Gardena before but I had always assumed it was the name of a ski town. In fact, it’s name of an entire valley consisting of about 3 major villages – Selva di Val Gardena/ Wolkenstein in Groden, St Cristina, Ortisei/St Ulrich. As I have mentioned before, for most of the Dolomites, German is spoken equally with Italian and a mountain dialect, and many of the villages have both Italian and German names.
The plan was to do a circuit of the St Cristina area from Ortisei. When we arrived at the gondola station it seemed hard to imagine that there was going to be any snow. We couldn’t see anything white. But the skiing area is to the east of Ortesei and it takes two long gondola rides to travel the 1300m up to the ski slopes. Once at the top, you are skiing on a SE sloping plateau. No natural snow at all, but they had made a some huge piste areas.
We were lacking a little in enthusiasm for skiing and instead we were tempted by a beautiful restaurant in the middle of the main slope. It was much more expensive than other places we’ve been to, so we just had a primi piatti / entree and soaked up the sun and the views from the deck. While we were there, paragliders seemed to delight in flying directly over the restaurant causing the all the patrons to gasp with surprise as they skimmed the roof.
We did the circuit right down to St Cristina, then took the underground furnicula railway back up the hill to reverse the direction and then ski the Val Gardena’s longest run – “La Longia” at 10.5km back to St Cristina.
Arriving back at the car we decided to take a different route back to Arabba, which took us over Passo Gardena instead of two passes back to Arabba. While it looked like it would be quicker, with yours truly behind the wheel, it seemed to take a long time.
This alternative route took us back to Corvara, which was handy as we were on a mission to get a Christmas Tree for our apartment. We’d been on the look out for the last couple of days and had considered a covert night operation to chop down a small fir tree at the back of the apartment. But given that we’ve already come to the attention of the local carabinieri, we thought it best to buy one. We found the perfect one and we may even be able to get it home, if Graeme decides to leave a few hats behind.
Graeme also found our new Christmas tree decoration. We have a custom to buying a christmas decoration everytime we go overseas. So each year when we put up our tree we can remember each holiday by the distinctive direction. We think cute little skiing troll in in his santa suit will do nicely.