We were able to make a leisurely start to our day today. The original plan would have seen us up early with Venice garbage men and catching the Vaporetta in the dark to meet Rick at the airport first thing this morning.
But Plan B, now allowed us a leisurely breakfast, a last farewell to San Marco square and an easy ride down the Grand Canal late morning to our parking spot.
Checking our emails this morning we received an hilarious email from Gra’s friend Ralf…who funnily enough we had been reminiscing about over the weekend as he was the mate that Gra had first visited Venice with, all those years ago. We don’t hear from Ralf overly much so it was rather a funny co-incidence.
Ralf was contacting Gra to apologise for a potential panic he may have caused….I’ll let him explain…
Hi – expect you are going to be back in time for this gig [ a 40th year school re-union ]
Cam probably updated you on the rumour from Mark Bytheway via Brett Kenny announcing your death…
… apparently a fiery car crash…. you hoon…. think I freaked out all of Wanaka when I rang Te Wanaka to check on you… sorry
Classic! And just as we were talking about it again while hurtling down the Autostrada back to Arabba at “hoon-like speeds”….we were overtaken by ……a hearse. OK….now all of that’s a little bit spooky! But since we don’t seem to have received any panicked calls or emails from Wanaka, I guess either everyone knows that we’re alive and kicking or …. they’re not that fussed at Gra’s supposed firey demise… I’m sure it’s the former and not the latter!
We are pretty stoked to see that there’s a decent amount of new snow. Presumably it will increase as we get higher! And sure enough, the road became narrower and more snow-covered the higher we climbed. It was lucky that we were going through to Arabba later in the day as it seemed pretty obvious that at least one of the passes would have still been closed to traffic before lunch.
Along the way we needed to give Gino some more mountain fuel. By that I mean diesel with a special additive that prevents the fuel from going “sticky” in the low temperatures. With temperatures regularly below -10C in Arabba, we definitely needed this type of fuel. The best place to fill up is when we’re actually in the mountains. You can never be sure if you are getting the right fuel if you buy it in the valleys.
We had been using a fuel station at Forno, in the Cadore valley just before the main Belluna valley to Venice. There has been a nice man in attendance previously. But this time, Graeme had to use cash in an automatic dispensing machine. After feeding in €25, the pump failed to fire. G was pretty upset about this and he was very reluctant to just abandon his cash to the machine. And fortunately for us…along came our good Samaritans. A lovely young Italian couple from the local village. The girl’s partner was the local snow-plough driver and it appeared she was keeping him company while he was busy clearing the roads and now the garage forecourt. They’d noticed our distress and the girl jumped out of the truck and started to speak French to us. Reasonable assumption since our number plates are French and bright red just to make sure no-one misses us! At this point, my husband, who tells me how fluent he is in french…regularly…looked blankly at the lovely young girl. I had to tell him that she was speaking French in the end…..hmmmm!!!!
It was a quick switch to English, which unfortunately neither the girl or her partner spoke well. But somehow with charade miming, lots of sad facial expressions and waving our machine receipt we were able to get across the magnitude of our dilemma. Guess what this delightful couple did? After they made sure that the machine was indeed working and it was just our stupidity, they put their own money in the machine and filled our tank for us. They just asked us for our receipt and told us they would sort it out with the garage owner when he returned from lunch. How was that? I hugged the lovely girl and shook the young man’s hand. I really wanted to take their picture…but thought it might have been a bit weird. I had to settle for a photo of their snow-plough instead. Both Graeme and I were so grateful. We spent the next few moments in our re-fueled Gino, sending mental messages of the best karma possible to this wonderful couple of good samaritans from Forno.
Back on the road again, we’re really appreciating the traction control button on Gino. We didn’t need to put chains on despite some fairly significant snow on the road.
And lastly a word about “Pram Hazards”. Because there are few foot-paths in the Dolomiti you will often find Mum’s out walking with their prams, right on the side of the road, around blind corners and with sheer precipices dropping away below them. Then add narrow icy roads, sun-strike from the low winter sun, fast Italian drivers in buses, vans & trucks and it’s enough to make your hair curl! Gra completely freaked out once while I was driving and we came upon a mum & her baby around a blind corner. And today, just to add to the hazard the road is down to one lane because of the snow. Perfect time to take junior for a stroll……NOT!!
There was so much excitement from Gra about all the lovely snow. Obviously our cunning plan to run away from Arabba for a few days did the trick. As the sun was setting and the clouds clearing, the views across the small villages as we approached Arabba were magical.