Sellaronda by car

Today, Gra kindly agreed to take a day off skiing and take me for a drive.  Secretly, I’m a little nervous about the driving part given the twisty mountain road and my tender tummy.  But I’m sooo “over” my bed!

Plan is to do the Sellaronda by road, over the high passes,  Pordoi and Sella for morning tea at Selva di Val Gardena or “Selva” as the locals call it, then over the Passo Gardena to Colfosco for lunch and then, Corvara for afternoon tea.   How civilised.  Not that I will be tucking into any gnocchi gorgonzola in a hurry!   It will be cups of tea and maybe some barley soup for me.

There are 4 quadrants making up the “Sellaronda”, the 2 to the north  (Val Gardena & Alta Badia(Corvara) are heavily Austrian/German influenced and the southern quarters, Val di Fassa and Arabba/Marmolada are Italian/local Fodom culture speaking Ladin.   Every sign in the northern half has 2 names – the German and the Italian and in the south – Italian and the local dialect Ladin.   It does make trying to understand the language quite confusing especially for Gina the GPS.   She really struggles to find place names the closer we get to the Austrian border as she doesn’t know which place name to choose.

map

It’s quite a different experiencing the Sellaronda by road, but apparently in the summer months this route is an equally popular circuit for motor bikers and road cyclists.  Our friend Gavin, from Wales mentioned to us that he has guided trips through this area in the summer.

Selva is one of the towns where the skiers have to cross the road.  They have a unique solution – traffic lights to stop the traffic and gates to stop the skiers hurtling out on to the road, as the piste literally stops by the roadside.

After a coffee and a chamomile tea for me, it was back over Passa Gardena to Colfosco, a pretty mountain town in the Alta Badia quarter.  The road is close to the piste here and it’s a little disconcerting to see skiers moving down the slopes faster than we can drive!!   Lunch was at a lovely family owned restaurant in one of the slope-side hotels.

And finally our day ended at Corvara where we were tempted back to our a little tea house that we’ve been to previously.  Serving our favourite bourbon vanilla flavoured tea, we settled in for the afternoon to watch light snow showers sprinkle down around us.  Maybe, just maybe there will be heavier snow tonight?

And lastly, another paparazzi moment in our collection of photos for ski fashion disasters.  These photos were hurriedly snapped in Colfosco while at lunch. For obvious reasons, in a crowded lunch room, I needed to be a little circumspect in snapping off a photo.  But this zebra suit was quite something and the photos don’t really do it justice!

 

 

 

 

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Playing paparazzi in the Dolomites

OK back on the slopes of the Dolomites again.  The super cold, still and dry weather continues unabated.   Perfect for snow making.   This morning, we have noticed many more runs opened as the snow makers of the Dolomites pump cubic tons of man-made snow onto the slopes.

There’s also a noticeable increase in people in Arabba & on the slopes.  We went to park our car in our usual free car park closer to the chairlift….and the carpark was full!    Eeek!  It was 8:30am….what’s it going to be like between Christmas and New Year?

We don’t actually have to drive to the lifts, but we’re still a bit precious about our brand new ski boots and the damage that will be caused even with a 10 minute walk on the hard granite cobblestone pavements.

So this morning we drove about 10 minutes up the Passo Campolongo which is to the north of Arabba.   We knew there was parking here and it’s easy to connect to all the lifts of our area.

This morning we headed first to a little area called Colfosco which is only about 3 or 4 lifts. This tight little mountain cirque catches all the morning sun and it was a great place to warm up the legs after more than a week off.

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Colfosco… a lovely sunny start to the morning’s skiing

Stopping for our mandatory morning espresso, we were amazed to see groups of people ordering beers and bottles of wine.

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I couldn’t get the full shot here.  They’d just finished their beer and now there’s 3 bottles of wine on the table !

It was only 10am!   I guess it’s going to take a long time for us to get used to the drinking culture here in Europe.   In Italy it’s absolutely not about “getting drunk” but rather the aim seems to be to keep a little alcohol in your system all day?   Which, I think, is all fine and well if all these lovely gentlemen stayed sunning themselves on the deck chairs at the restaurants & cafes….but instead they spend their day hurtling down ski slopes at break neck speed, with their reactions impaired…even by a little alcohol.  I’ll certainly be keeping my wits about me when skiing on crowded slopes.  I’ve found that the very edge of the runs is the best place to stay out of the main race track.   If worst comes to worst, I can always dive off the side into the grass or trees if necessary.

In the early afternoon we headed over to another area above the village of Corvara.  We passed by a cafe and a group caught our eye.  There was a whole gaggle of old white haired & super suntanned men cuddling up to very young gorgeous women – think Georgio Armani!  Actually I’m not sure that one of them wasn’t the man himself.  Armani is a main sponsor of the World Cup race being held just down the road in La Villa.

The trio of “silverfoxes” were sitting with their backs to the restaurant wall in prime position for every person to see them as they skied past.   Stopping at the cafe for a quick bite, we watched the staff fawn over the group.  Taking a photo of them proved fairly tricky as we didn’t want to be caught doing the “paparazzi thing”..but it was so tempting.   We’re starting to get the idea…prime position in any outside area of a restaurant or bar is with your back to the wall so the sun hits you at full force to improve that tan and you have a clear view of all the other people at the tables in front of you.

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As we hang our skis in the racks of each establishment we enter, we realise that our fat skis are totally out of place here.  All around us, people are skiing on super-shaped piste skis or stiff GS racing numbers.

How wide are our skis?
How wide are our skis?

If the real stuff continues to stay away and we are piste bashing, we might need to think about swapping weapons.  I wonder how a telemark binding will go on a slalom ski??

Tomorrow – we go to watch the World Cup Mens GS in La Villa.