A time for reflection…well.. we are by a pool after all!

Oooooh it’s nice not wearing ski boots.

As we kick back by our hotel pool in Singapore for the last couple of days it’s given us a bit of time to reflect on our three months in Italy and the Dolomites.

And here’s what we’ve come up with :

Firstly, we think that we will re-name the blog….”A visit to Planet Dolomiti!” With subtitle. “No season for fat skis”.

Well there’s no question that we had to undergo a bit of mental shift about half way through our stay in the Dolomiti given the lack of snow and our preference for off-piste skiing! We confess to recalling our endless winter at Les Carroz in France all those years ago and naturally our expectations were pretty high. We were egged on by a super early dump of snow in the alps last November, but which evaporated with warm rain by the time we arrived at the beginning of December.

There’s one thing that you can guarantee when talking about skiing, fishing, or sailing. The snow, fish or wind is always better somewhere else. You can make a whole career of chasing snow around the planet….check the blogs! And it will always result in phrases like – “You should have been here yesterday!” and “It’s dumping in the Rockies!” when you’re in the Alps. It’s like gravity. It’s totally a law of nature. However we didn’t quite expect that New Zealand would be getting more snow in January at the height of a southern hemisphere summer! That’s just perverse.

Once we made the “mental shift” around the middle of January, we were able to relax and more fully appreciate the breath-taking scenery of the Dolomiti and sheer mind blowing effort of creating their own winter regardless of what mother nature dished up. Add to that, we were gifted with day after day of bright sunshine which meant we could ski every day from 3 December until we departed, such is the snow & piste making capability of Planet Dolomiti. It’s worth mentioning that if we’d gone back to Les Carroz we wouldn’t have been able to put on our skis until mid January.  Up until then they’d literally had no snow.

I keep coming back to the scenery. We’re really not quite so sure why the world thinks that NZ is that beautiful? Gasp. Shock. Horror. But truly. Everyday we gazed out over the spectacular rocky peaks of the Dolomities and deep green forests and marvelled at the colours and contrasts. It always took our breath away. I think it’s easy to get a bit arrogant about NZ scenery. There are many other incredibly beautiful places in the world. It’s just that we’re spoilt in NZ …we don’t have to share the view with as many people.

While the village of Arabba certainly had some quirks, its location to the Sellaronda and Marmolada and access to high terrain was absolutely perfect. Having now visited every other Planet in Universe Dolomiti, we can confidently say that we were steered right by our Wanaka neighbour John in making Arabba our base for three months. Arabba is the most central location and it was only ever a maximum of 1.5 – 2 hours drive to any other corner of the Dolomiti we wished to ski.   This was a wonderful aspect to skiing in Universe Dolomiti.  Everyday was about making a journey on skis, not just lapping the same run over and over.  The Dolomiti, for us was all about discovering new valleys, villages and lunch spots and always a different vista.

But did we get to our target of riding 300 lifts?   Not quite!   Here’s the final stats.  Just short 9 lifts!   Oh well.  As G says…tell someone who cares!

2017-03-03_2039

We loved meeting all the characters of our village, the Delmonego family Mario, Patsy, Heidi and Austin and Mario’s brother Francesco, the butcher.  No, he’s not the local hitman, just literally the village meat supplier.  Marilena (“grappa is for babies”) and Bob ( “Mr Fixit”) from the local market.   Renaldo our “vege man” who we finally cracked a friendship with.   Miriam & Peter at Bar Peter, Lorenzo at Rifugio Plan Boe and Gabriel the barista at our local watering holes.  Our boot buying & fitting sagas with the mercurial Renato in La Villa and Manfred the boot fitting maestro at Corvara. And last but not least, Gabi & Carlo our landlords, who despite major language barriers, looked out for us, and gave us a great place to stay.

Communication in Arabba was always a challenge.  We underestimated the lack of English spoken in our village.  First it’s Fodom (the local dialect), German second and Italian sometimes a distant third.   In France, our experience was that most people spoke English, but they just choose not to, unless you at least tried to speak French first.  Then with the typical Gaelic “Bof” when the French can no longer stand the mess you are making of their beautiful language and switch to English.  In contrast, most people in our village genuinely don’t speak or understand English.  I am not particularly gifted at languages and while I didn’t make any major gaffs like announcing to the whole village that I was frigid (“Je suis froid”) as I did in France, I also didn’t manage to construct enough coherent sentences to engage the locals in any deep & meaningful conversation.  It’s a shame.  In many ways, I found Arabba a bit of an enigma and I would have loved to delve a little deeper.

Further afield.  We loved the opportunity to revisit with our Euro friends, Georgie, Hubert & Marie and Rick & Liz on our road trip to France.   And what a wonderful surprise to catch up with an old Aussie friend, Jane for a couple of days skiing.

We are officially “Italophiles” …if there’s such a word.  We love the people, food, wine and history.  Our little side trips to Verona, Treviso and Venice were real highlights.  We’ve barely scratched the surface of Italy on our trips here over the last few years and I can see us back here many more times in the future.

And finally who got our vote for the winner of the #1 Dolomiti Ski Fashion Crime?

ski-fashion-crime

Well it was a hard choice …but we think the fellow at Cortina gets our vote.  Mainly because he’s also wearing his stylishly colour-blind number in Cortina …which is a seriously fashion conscious resort and secondly because of his choice of matching headwear which really tipped our decision in his favour.

Ski Fashion crime contender
Ski Fashion crime Winner!!

And so it’s back to the real world.  We hope that Wanaka has saved a little summer for us before we head into winter once again.  

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Arrivederci Arabba!

Final farewells this morning.

Gabi, we think,…was most impressed with our cleaning efforts.  Her sentences contained lots of “Bravo’s!” as we had a farewell hug.  Hopefully, we’ve made her job a little easier today.   She was also excited to see the new wine glasses, steamer (sorry Georgie), jug, toaster and sundry other bits and pieces we’ve left behind.  Mind you …we wish her luck with the #!*%#!! useless toaster.  Maybe the sparks that spring freely from it will give her a hint that it should be headed for the bin.  It certainly doesn’t cook toast!!

And so begins the long journey home.  We’ve given ourselves a bit of extra time and have booked into a Milan airport hotel tonight to ensure we make our midday flight tomorrow to Singapore.   It’s just over a 5 hour drive from Arabba to Milan Malpensa airport and Sunday is a much better day to make the drive than a Monday morning. No trucks and few cars on the road, particularly over mid-morning/lunch period which is when we are travelling.   If we didn’t leave today, “Murphy’s Law” will tell you that the first time we have car trouble or get stuck in a monster traffic jam will be the morning we are rushing to make a flight.   We’re pretty sure we couldn’t cope with that sort of stress in our lives after our recent carefree Dolomiti existence.

We also had to say a final goodbye to our trusty companion – ” Gino the Grip” Peugot.  Gra was most impressed with this little car and it really has done us proud. Apart from a few little design quirks, it was sure-footed, agile and speedy.  Everything you’d wish for in car for mountain driving.  “But no, Graeme!  We can’t buy one when we get back to Wanaka!”   “Mutter, mutter, Piaggio…mutter” says G.

The airport hotel was not too much of a hardship. We spent the afternoon floating around in their nice warm pool which we thought was a good way to acclimatise to the next few days in Singapore.

Yoyo weather and cleaning frenzy!

Well we don’t feel so stressed about moving on tomorrow.

Snowing yesterday - +15C the next ????
Snowing yesterday but +15C today ????

The lovely snow that fell yesterday afternoon was just a little teasing farewell.  It’s +15C this morning as we lugged our boxes up to the Arabba post office.  With our fingers crossed and lots of prayers we’ve shelled out enough € to cover NZ’s national debt for an hour or so… and with a bit of luck our boxes will make it all the way…. intact to Wanaka.

Then back to “Appartmento Oxley”for a cleaning frenzy.  I used Google translate yesterday to ask Gabi for a mop.  I don’t really mind the Cindarella brush & pan and on my hands and knees scrubbing routine  but I wanted to do a really thorough job this last time.  Gabi looked at me blankly?   “Che cosa è una mop?”    “Right.  Well….  Back down on the hands & knees I go!”   Gra also thought that Gabi was saying “Not to worry, she would take care of all the cleaning after we leave!”  That could, of course, be wishful thinking on Gra’s part …. but both of us like to leave a tidy ship!

So while I was busy this morning bathroom cleaning & floor washing, Graeme was downstairs with Gino in the ski tuning shed trying to get the interior clean.  We’ve given Gino two external washes but he’s still seriously grubby on the outside.  And his internals are not much better.  The grit, salt & mud on the roads from the continual freeze thaw has pretty much stuck like “poo to a blanket” to his carpets.  Gra has put the powerful ski-room vacuum to work on Gino’s insides and it certainly looks a bit cleaner.  Shame I couldn’t borrow this vacuum for the flat, but no….it lives only in the ski room!  Go figure!!?   “Boys don’t use brooms!” …says Gra by way of explanation.   “Yeah right?”

We’re a pretty efficient team after 25 years together and we’d pretty much packed our ski bags and cleaned the entire flat by lunch time. So we thought we’d go and take one more last look at the incredible views of the Marmolada from the top of the cable car  before we say “Arrivederci” tomorrow.

And lastly, we caught up for a quick farewell drink with Patsy and had a few last “Dolomiti/ Arabba mysteries” solved for us.   We have been incredibly thankful to them for all the help they gave us to find us our apartment and other little things along the way.   But we haven’t seen that much of the Delmonego’s during our stay.  Patsy has been working almost every day at the B&B she runs and then she’s been busy with her daughter, Heidi and babysitting grandson Austin.  Mario has also been busy with ski school and his Dolomiti tours which see him away to 5 or 7 days at a time.  A bit later in the evening, Mario did also call in briefly to say goodbye.  He’s a hard worker.  All day at the ski school and then nights at the ski school owned Pizza restaurant.

It’s a very interesting system they have here in this town.  It’s a real socialist co-op system here.  Mario’s ski school is independent of the lift company and runs not only the school, but a restaurant, bar, rental shop and supermarket in Arabba.  All the profits from these ventures are shared equally amongst owners/directors of the ski school?    I’m not sure how it works in practice?   Mario did hint as he was heading off to do dishes at the pizza restaurant tonight that not all directors pull their weight?

The other interesting thing about the Dolomiti resort is that all the lifts are independently owned and the Dolomiti Superpass is really just a marketing and service firm that brings people to the region and services the lifts & pistes.   The lift owners clip the ticket for every person who uses their lifts.   This explains the huge number of lifts and their high quality in most areas.  Lift owners want to make sure that people use their lifts, so they are continually investing and upgrading them.  A downside is that they can sometimes manipulate the piste so that you have to ride a lift rather than taking a more natural & direct route.

We were also surprised that there is no priority given to ski school clients.  Because the lift companies don’t have an interest in the ski schools and they are independently owned, no priority is given to them in lift queues.  I guess it would be a problem if they had such a thing as a lift queue.  But after 3 months, including the busiest Christmas/NY & February holiday periods, we never saw what would even begin to approach a TC saddle quad queue…so I guess it’s not a big deal on Planet Dolomiti?

Some Arabba & Planet Dolomiti mysteries solved.

As we tuck ourselves into bed tonight we’ve already begun to reminisce about our time on Planet Dolomiti.  Gra is also starting to moan about the reality of a long plane ride home. Toughen up G!!

It’s a sign!

Last day on the planks today.

Even though we don’t leave Arabba until Sunday morning for the long drive to Milan Airport, we have a little bit of a luggage issue.

We only had 800g to spare on the way here.  Since then, we’ve each bought new ski boots and a few sundry other bits and pieces.  So we need to package up all the excess gear and mail it home.  If we are overweight, Singapore Airlines (bless their cotton socks) charge US$100 per kg over the 30kg allowance.  So the mailing option looks the best way to go since we have about 15kg extra!! And the last possible day to post our stuff is tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

Today for our last day skiing, we hit all our favourite runs in and around Arabba.   We enjoyed our last mid morning coffee made with care by our favourite Romanian barista – Gabriel.

Gabriel: our lovely Romanian coffee man
Gabriel: our lovely Romanian coffee man

And amazingly discovered yet another a lovely place for lunch.  It’s hard to imagine how all these rifugios, huttes, cafes and bars make any money given the level of competition?   On the main Sellaronda route, you have an endless choice of places to eat, drink and make merry along the slopes.  And today we made a reservation at a newly renovated Rifugio Burz, just at the top of the first chairlift out of Arabba.  We have probably passed by this Rifugio at least 50 times during our time here, but we’d never ventured inside.   A great place.  Friendly staff and delicious food.

It’s started to snow fairly heavily and predictably the restaurant rapidly began to fill up from late morning.  By the time we got there for our reservation at 12:30, things were a little crazy with a huge queue waiting for a table.  With our reservation, we naturally walked to the front of the queue, much to the chagrin of a sweet-natured lady who left the queue to tell us in no uncertain terms to go to the back of the line. Well I think this was what she was saying as it wasn’t Italian!  It was all very forceful, loud and red-faced!   Phew!  This was the first “aggro” we’d experienced in three months, so we were a little unprepared, but the head waiter took care of this charmer by responding in no uncertain terms that we’d made a reservation and maybe “Signora” should go to the back of the queue since she’d now lost her place!   Whoa…way to go Signore!

Arabba has decided to give us a lovely send off.  We loved sitting watching the large fluffy flakes fall from the sky over lunch.   The Arabba snow-god who has been conspicuously missing this February, does know that we love to ski when it’s snowing.  And while it is only predicted to snow about 5cm this afternoon, we made the most of it after lunch.    Right up until the moment….disaster struck!

Yes that's a broken binding!
Yes that’s a broken binding!

At precisely 3pm I misplaced Graeme.  Usually, like a good Muslim wife I ski a few paces behind him, but for one of the first times I skied ahead.  Probably because the visibility for the first leg of our run was fairly poor and G likes to follow me in these conditions.   At the half way point – G was missing in action.  I waited ..and waited …and waited.  I thought he must have skied past without me noticing, so I kept skiing down to the cable car and waited some more.  Now I was getting a little concerned…it’d be a real downer if the big G had done himself an injury.  So back up the cable car I went for a re-run.  I was very relieved not to see any bodies strewn on the slopes we’d just skied.  Instead Gra was waiting for me at the cable-car and revealed the extent of the damage.  He’d had to walk down the rest of the slope and download on the other gondola.

Well I’m thinking it’s a sign?   Time to head back to NZ I think!

“But Andy….there’s still time for ice-skating….it’s going to be sunny again tomorrow!” Graeme has reminded me.

“Fabulous!  (sarcasm intended).”

 

 

 

 

 

Carnival in Arabba & feeling the love.

It’s officially hot today in Arabba.   We sat in T-shirts out on our back deck at lunch today. Official temperature says 7°C but in the sun it’s a lot warmer.  The snow has all melted away on the sunny faces and we are back to white strips on brown ground.  A bit depressing if it wasn’t so nice sitting in the sun.

It’s Carnivale celebrations today in the town.  Carnivale can be celebrated at any time before the start of Lent so obviously this is the day or week that Arabba has chosen.  As we wandered through town doing the last of our food shopping we came upon the children from the village kindergarten who were “trick or treating” around town.  So sweet.  They were all dressed in cute little costumes and they chose to sing a number of songs along the way.  We encountered them outside the green grocer and again while we were having our morning coffee in the sunshine.

Kids in costume for Carnivale
Kids in costume for Carnivale

We took a day off today and did the last of the food shopping to get us through until Sunday morning when we depart for Milan.  We also went to the post office to frighten ourselves about the potential cost of posting a couple of boxes of stuff back to NZ.    While shopping at our green grocer – Rinaldo – I mentioned “Questa è l’ultima volta che facciamo la spesa qui” – that is this was the last time we would be here to get our vegies.   He can’t speak a word of English, but he seemed sad to see us go.  It was a fairly lengthy farewell speech and I think he was suggesting that we come back in summer.  I’m not sure he realises it’s a 27 hour flight?   But Rinaldo shook our hands solemnly saying “arrivederci” and gave us a lovely box of strawberries for our dinner.

And then when we returned to our apartment, Gabi had a plate of lovely home-made biscotti waiting for us.   “È per Carnivale”.   How lovely.  I gave my landlady a hug and many “Gracie mille!”.

Carnivale treats from Landlady Gabi
Carnivale treats from Landlady Gabi

Feeling pretty loved we whiled away the rest of the day getting sorted for our departure.  But the weather is changing.  Our sunshine is gone this afternoon and they are predicting snow tomorrow.   Typical.

And then late afternoon, Graeme decided that he wished to torture me with a bit of ice-skating.  Now to be fair, I’ve always loved ice-skating and traditionally we go every June to the skating rink in Queenstown for a whip around the ice.  But two years ago, I fell over for the first time since…I don’t know….when I was ten?   It really really hurt and I had a couple of huge purple bruises for weeks afterward.  It gave me a bit of a shock and I’ve been a bit gun-shy since.  I escaped ice-skating last year, but Gra has been pestering me for the last 3 months to go to the outdoor rink that we can see from our apartment.

About 4pm we walked over to the rink, but sadly (well not for me), it had been so warm today that the ice was no longer set.  What a shame….no ice-skating today.   Dodged a bullet there.  Besides which, as I pointed out to Gra…..we don’t want to injure ourselves before our last day skiing potentially in the snow tomorrow.  He reluctantly conceded…this time.

Spring has sprung & Piaggio lovin’

Today we had a lovely cruisey day. No flapping about on floppy xc skis or dodging rocks and tree stumps on a ski tour.   After high temperatures yesterday and strong hot winds overnight, the snowpack  has finally succumbed to the spring like conditions.  No more ski touring for us I’m afraid, even on the coldest and highest north facing slopes.

We reluctantly ate our last breakfast at Rifugio Scioatolli and thanked the lovely staff, before skiing down to Gino.  We really loved this little ski area – the 5 Torri.  Reminds us of a NZ Club field, but with prosecco on tap!!     It’s really warm again today, but the wind has died and the sun is shining brightly as we head down into the Cortina town centre.  One of the things that we still can’t get used to is the “siesta” when all the shops and offices close down between noon and 4pm every weekday.  We’d love to be able to ski early and sometimes finish at 2pm to explore the towns  we ski from.  But there’s no retail therapy to be had during the afternoon hours, so inevitably we end up skiing until stumps.

Cortina is a well established ski resort for the Italians. A host of the winter Olympics in the 1950’s, the glamour is still there, although a little faded as indicated by a few empty shops in the main street.  For the first time, the majority of number plates in the car parks were Italian.  According to a lovely lady from Rome who we met on the chairlift today, all the wealthy Romans & Venetians have an apartment or chalet here and they fill the resort during holiday times. Like Wanaka over Christmas New Year the town population of 7000 swells to over 50,000.  Cortina has a pedestrian centre where locals and tourists alike can perambulate.  We arrived at about 10:30am and it appears that this is the time of day when all the women of Cortina take their fur coats out for a walk.  While I failed to capture it with a photo, one of the most priceless images of the morning was of a very elderly lady shuffling along in her long mink coat and hat….talking on her mobile phone.  Old and new traditions merging!

Mid-morning is also the time when all the “glamour-mums’ come out for coffee. Resplendent in either their fur coats or Gucci puffer jackets over their designer gym gear, they all seemed to have tight figures and cosmetically plumped lips.  I’m perhaps being a little harsh as Graeme was enjoying the scenery.   Over coffee…the pièce de résistance – our neighbour, a cosmetically enhanced woman in a tight tracksuit had a “handbag dog”.   I have only ever seen papparazzi shots of handbag dogs, but I’ve never been up close and personal to one.  Graeme couldn’t believe his eyes as this poor little ball of fluff was stuffed back into the woman’s handbag as she left the cafe.   Actually he tells me now that he was rather hoping that the guy with the czechoslovakian wolfdog had made an appearance to really see some fur flying.

Again, the skiing at Cortina is surprising.  It is a totally disconnected resort, with each area a significant driving distance from the other.  Today we were on the eastern side of the resort in the Faloria area.  There’s only about 8 lifts here but the terrain is good with steep runs through the trees and the western faces have expansive views back over Cortina and the high mountains surrounding Arabba.

View from Faloria looking toward Tolfana and 5 TorriVeiw looking south

Lunch was outside in the sunshine today.  So much for my theory of Italians not caring about “table turns!”.  A very officious waiter was directing traffic in a loud voice with lots of Italian gesticulation.  We managed to get a prime table with a view out over the valley, but we had to vacate by 2pm.  It was only 12:15 – “no problemo”.  But then after sitting for some time before anyone noticed us, we realised that we had chosen a restaurant run by Basil Fawlty and Manuel.   It was controlled chaos.   But after we finally managed to order some wine, we sat back to enjoy the show. Eventually a harried underling “Manuel” served us some delicious food …and we just managed to finish our meal before the bells chimed in the valley churches for two o’clock.

Back down in the car park after lunch, Graeme has spied a Piaggio.  He loves these crazy Italian converted 3 wheel motorbikes.  I really really don’t get it?  As I am bullied into taking photos he is running his hands lovingly over the paintwork and peering into the cabin through the windowless door.  “This would be tax deductible in NZ…Andy” he gushes enthusiastically.   “So is a Karcher window washer Graeme,  but like you said to me…do I really need one?”    Well actually I do need an easier way to wash windows…but what’s wrong with a trailer behind our 4WD?  Why would a tiny, unstable 3 wheel motorbike be better?   Aaah men…they’re from Mars and we’re from Venus.

But somehow, we must have managed the art of compromise over the years.  Today is our 25th wedding anniversary.  There’s been some confusion over the last few days about the actual date?   Was it the 21st or 22nd February?  I thought it was the 21st which is why we stayed an extra night at R.Scoiattoli but Graeme is sure it’s today.  I expect he’s right.  But hey, it’s been a quarter of a century ago and already our memories are fading. But who really cares – we’ve made it a multi-day event!   What a fabulous way to celebrate 25 years together!   Three months in Italy doing what we love the most together and enjoying every minute… [well except for the vomiting and head cold parts….!!!].

Cross country cruising in Cortina

We both enjoyed a good night sleep at our Rifugio last night.  Even though we shared a bunk room with another group of 5 from Switzerland, they were all “church mice” in their former lives. They were so quiet.   To be honest it was probably me who kept them awake all night.  Unfortunately I come from a long maternal line of snorers.   My mother was known, not so affectionately in our family, as the “human buzz-saw”.     At least we were tucked into a corner of the L-shaped bunk room and hopefully I didn’t disturb them too much.

Rifugio’s here in Europe are a completely different proposition than Kiwi mountain huts.  We slept in freshly laundered linen under thick fluffy duvets, sipped our pre-dinner prosecco’s and enjoyed a 3 course meal from a menu of 4 or 5 choices for each course.  Hot showers with flushing loo’s…. there’s no comparison to the garden sheds with long drops we call our mountain huts.  We are looking forward to spending another night here.

Today we are on our way down from Rifugio Scioatolli to meet my old University friend Jane for some cross-country skiing in the valley to the north of Cortina.

OK...how hard can this be?
OK…how hard can this be?

Jane is a level 3 cross-country ski instructor, so Graeme’s keen to get some tips on his skating technique. He’s been watching so many biathlon Youtube clips lately that I think he’s dreaming about competing in the Olympics as his legs twitch from side to side in his sleep! I am just happy Jane has promised that today’s 10km skate is all downhill!!

We arrived early to the cross country facility and got organised with all our gear. A trail day pass is only € 6. What a bargain.  Cross-country skiing really has to be the most perfect exercise. It’s a hugely aerobic activity, like long distance running but also requiring good balance and co-ordination and most importantly, as cinquagenarians, there’s no jarring to our aged joints. Then add incredible scenery and exhilaration from whizzing along the snow at speed and I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more perfect exercise.

The trail we skied along is an old railway track that descends about 200m over 10km from Cimabanche to Fiames where there is a purpose built nordic centre.  The trail passes through forests, alongside historic WW1 buildings, over wooden bridges and through a series of lit tunnels.

The lovely scenery did certainly help lessen my intense frustration at watching Gra skate elegantly away down the track with lovely large gliding strokes while I flapped and flopped like a waddling penguin.  I didn’t fall over….but my, it was a close thing!  Adding to my woes, I learnt from Jane that I stick my butt out!   Well actually, I’ll defend my stance!  It was strategic.   I was just lowering my centre of gravity in case I needed an emergency bum dragging braking manoeuvre to avoid on-coming traffic.  But apparently, sticking your derriere out is not good skating technique!

Jane graciously rewarded us with lunch back up at Cimabanche after our ten kilometres of effort.  She, of course still looked fresh as a daisy despite recovering from a World Loppet 42km event on Sunday where she came 4th in her age group and 13th woman home overall.  She still has 2 or 3 more races coming up in Austria before heading home to Jindabyne.   As I have mentioned before…she’s no slouch.  Now!  Just to get her to the Merino Muster!!

We were sitting down to lunch when a man walked in with a huge dog.  Grey dappled fur, big chest, lean hind quarters and yellow eyes.  “Look, a wolf!” I pointed him out to Jane and Gra.  We ANZACs still have an initial disbelief that it’s OK to share a restaurant with a dog, and then today a second moment of disbelief when we saw it was a wolf.

And it really was a wolf or rather a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog.  After speaking to the owner we learnt that they are really quite shy and gentle with humans but he has to be careful taking him into the forest that he doesn’t hunt down all the small animals or even deer!  Also there has been a few incidents with poodles and sausage dogs…!?  Graeme liked the wolf-dog immediately upon hearing this bit of information.   There was also a snappy, yappy little sausage dog haunting the dining area and we all secretly hoped for some action, but apparently my soothing stroking under the table kept him happy enough to ignore the antics of the potentially tasty sausage entree prancing before his nose.

Well it truly is goodbye to Jane this time.  What a fun day.  The time passed so quickly and we lingered over lunch so long we almost missed the last chairlift back to our Rifugio.  No hot tub tonight.  The wind is blowing very strongly and they don’t light it when the wind speed is over a certain strength.  Not to worry. Nice long hot shower, delicious meal and early to bed.   The lovely guardians of the rifugio have given us a bunk room all to our selves.  Nice!