Blending the days
Selva Wolkenstein Travel Blog› entry 8 of 15 › view all entries
The days are beginning to blend into one another, with little different happening for me to write about so the next few days will be posted as one, which is probably much to your relief. Continental breakfast is really beginning to lose its attraction; just a change of cheese or meat would make the world of difference. The hostess took me by surprise by asking me a question at breakfast, it was still early and I had to think a bit, and my answer wasn’t especially literate. The German family seemed to think that my poor German was exceedingly funny and the father was being quite rude, admittedly between themselves, thinking I wouldn’t understand, it seems they leave today, I will not miss them.
The weather is great, a few clouds dawdling across the blue sky but otherwise a stunning day. I skied in a short sleeved shirt, which probably amused everyone else, mad dogs and Englishman and all that. My skiing legs are slowly returning, but I am so unfit, it is quite embarrassing, to me at least, I really must do something about that soon; I promise. I was still able to beat some Italian guy that insisted a race was on the cards, he brought out my competitive instincts, so I duly obliged, it was short and messy with plenty of tears.
I usually have a chairlift and often a cable car to myself, as most people seem quite shy about sharing, either that or I need to change my deodorant. This maybe just as well as I am not sure any of them would appreciate my singing, which is an acquired taste to say the least. I usually sing along to my iPod often loudly when passing the time away. Travelling in the cable cars especially can be quite rewarding if you bother to take the time to look around you, I have seen deer on several occasions and when looking especially closely in the trees the odd red squirrel. On the way up the Seceda there also appears to be a small lama (or are they alpacas?) farm, though from the distance it is not totally clear, they could be woolly goats.
I went to Pizzeria Erica for dinner and tried a speciality pizza; Alpina which I thoroughly recommend if you’re ever in the area. There was not an opportunity to expand the menu to include Irish coffee, as the place was quite busy, but the chef/owner was still very sociable and took every opportunity to ‘chat’ with all his guests. I then went to a place called Vinotheque, which I am sure you’ll realise specialises in wine (although I did have a small carafe with my pizza). I tried a glass or two of the local Blauburgunder and found it very much to my taste, so after a couple of glasses decided I should retire before it got the better of me. It was a very tired but very satisfied me that made his way back up the hill to my digs that night.
The next day I awoke to a glorious day, blue sky with occasional lazy clouds crawling across it.
I skied over the St. Christina side and soon began to feel better. I met a group of about three English families, which made up quite a tribe, must have been around fifteen of them altogether. I initially travelled up in the Seceda cable car with the parents, where they were chatting amicably amongst themselves about the price of retirement homes and a detailed explanation of the content and abbreviations used in the personal ads in local newspapers, which one guy read avidly. When I eventually got the chance to reveal that I was in fact English, they were not in the least bit perturbed, and we had a bit of a laugh about it.
Things were a bit busier today and the cable car from the intermediate station had a queue, the first one all week, and later over the St. Christina side the main chairlift was inoperable for quite sometime. However the skiing was good and I stayed on late eventually having dinner in one of the mountain huts, Gulasche suppe (goulash soup), thick and meaty, nothing like the thin rubbish we get served as an excuse for soup back home.
Stopped at Hotel Genziana for an eiscaffe (frappaccino), to
read a little more of my book and to ensure the last rays of sun didn’t escape
without warming me before it finally disappeared. This was made a little more difficult by the
most obstinate little cloud I have ever experienced. It really was only a pocket-sized cloud, but
it simply refused to move and blocked out the sun for the best part of an hour,
obviously everything moves at a slower pace over here, even the clouds!
The next day came a little too soon for me, one of the new groups of guests had arrived quite late the previous night, around 11.30pm. It was obviously a bit of a large family reunion, with a great deal of hugging and stuff going on for quite awhile. At least everybody seemed more sociable at breakfast the next morning. There are two quite large Italian parties and two German couples, everybody at least greeted each other on arrival and both the German parties in particular are quite friendly. As I wandered down the street to get some Factor 6, it was refreshing to see that they were cleaning the streets with huge fire hoses, and almost every shop and even the banks were out cleaning the street in front of their businesses and also busily wiping down windows, doors and paintwork. They really care about the appearance of their town, litter is almost extinct here. I am unable to think of anywhere in my own country which shows such pride in its own appearance, and where everybody living there seems to feel responsible for it!
Decided upon a lazy start, with a latte machiatto at the Seceda bar and a short day, although in the end I skied until relatively late in the afternoon, and was down only just before the ski rescue team cleared the slopes. The weather was pretty good, skiing excellent although I did have an embarrassing fall at speed a few hundred metres from a chairlift. I guess I was day dreaming or something towards the ‘run in’ and caught an edge in some slush and suffered the ignominy of a ‘wipe-out’, banged my head quite hard though, which considering the fate of a well known actress recently could have been worrying.
People were a little less inclined to wait for the next chairlift or cable car today, it was a little busier than it has been and I shared both of these at times, fortunately for my fellow snowsport lovers I refrained from also sharing my dubious singing talent.
I stopped off at the ‘sunshine cafe’ for a glühwein and to try some tiramisu, when in Rome and all that good stuff. Bravissimo! Read some more, had my customary espresso doppia and then off to the pizza shop for a slice or two of salami pizza, I’m getting into a little routine now. I need to keep my strength up for the walk back to Garni Dolimitenblick you understand. My friend from the Punjab told me the terrible news about the earthquake in Italy whilst I was there, which put more than a bit of a dampener on the day.
I was woken by the sun streaming through a small gap in the curtains, the promise of another glorious day. More importantly though, wonder of wonders, there was even a different choice of meat at breakfast!
I headed up the Seceda again, but it was exceedingly busy at the middle station, with at least five cable car loads already waiting ahead of me. I skied back down to the bottom three times, enjoying the early morning conditions, icy but I always ski well on ice, and each time I returned the queue was at least the equal of the first visit. I stopped for a latte machiatto and tried one last time, but to no avail. So I decided to take a walk over to the Funivia to ski the Alpe di Suisi again.
The weather conditions were far more favourable this time, but the pistes were in pretty bad state, the snow was already melting and it was like skiing through porridge. There were also large patches of grass in the middle of some of the pistes. However I enjoyed the day and the skiing, and managed to navigate my way back to Ortisei by way of the chairlift system and saved myself having to make another trip from Castellrotto.
Bar Haiti provided my afternoon refreshment, and I officially became the best customer at the pizza shop, this time enjoying a focaccia with meat and cheese, which I did not recognise, who says I’m not adventurous? I was on my way back to the Garni when I passed Vinotheque, well it would be rude not to pop in! I enjoyed a couple of glasses of the Blauburgunder again. Asked the girls that were serving there for a few phrases in Italian, and they also corrected my pronunciation on a few others. I really appreciate this though, as so many places just let me carry on speaking rubbish Italian, I much prefer being corrected and getting it slightly right!
So with that it was back to the Garni, practising my new found expertise of the Italian language all the way up the hill.
My final day of skiing today, and so I was up bright and early ................. well early anyway, as I planned to complete a tour of the Sella Ronda and wanted to beat the crowds at the Seceda. I also hoped that by making a detour at Arabba, up the Porta Vescovo cable car to the Belvedere I might be able to catch a glimpse of the very tops of the Marmalada.
The weather could not have been more perfect, with a pure blue sky straight off a postcard. After skiing over from Ortisei and taking the Ronda Express to Selva Wolkenstein I travelled up the Clampinoi cable car to the start of the tour. The pistes in Wolkenstein promised perfectly manicured slopes and excellent conditions, but the first piste on the Sella Ronda soon dispelled this illusion. I doubt if it had been prepared in weeks, it was like a moonscape except the bodies of skiers lying prone all over the place, the debris of the conditions.
Fortunately that was the worst of the conditions, as all the remaining pistes were although not exactly perfect had at least received some TLC. My skiing was the equivalent of the first slope though, terrible; I was like a novice again. Probably the worst skiing I have done since I first started at sixteen, just a few years ago of course. I was just not concentrating on skiing, but then it is hardly surprising when you just took a look around at the awe inspiring scenery all around. It was simply breath-taking, and whilst the skiing was not especially good, I seemed to spend much more time on lifts than pistes, the views along the route more than compensated for this.
In the end I was finished quite early around 2.30pm and this included my little detour up to the Belvedere, as I had suspected I was unable to see any of the Marmalada. I do not have any complaints about the view from here, known as Forc. Europa, (I don’t know what it means, I just read a sign) the jagged range of snow covered mountain tops lined up in front of me did not disappoint in anyway.
I finished off by skiing somemore around the Selva Wolkenstein slopes and then St. Christina. I thoroughly enjoyed my springtime skiing experience. The snow conditions may not always have been the best, but the great weather which allowed me to ski in short sleeves on several occasions, the general lack of a need to queue, comparatively empty pistes and the majestic views had made the trip an unqualified success. The skiing in Val Gardena and the Dolomites may not be the most technical in the world but it is still great fun. It is best suited to beginners and intermediates, with mainly blue and red runs, even the blacks are fairly tame. However in the spring conditions that I experienced this week even some of those blue runs would challenge the average intermediate. In fact to be honest, some of the black runs were probably easier, as there were fewer skiers on them and they did not suffer from being ‘cut up’ so much by the passage of hundreds of pairs of skis or snowboards over them.
Looking around though it did seem that I was finishing skiing at about the right time, although there was still plenty of snow on all pistes it was usually in poor condition by about midday. It was also quite amazing to look around the valley and see slopes that just a day or two ago had been loaded with snow and were now almost all grass, with just the odd patch of the white stuff here and there.
Evening refreshment was provided in the sunshine cafe, which
more than lived up to the nickname I had given it, especially this
evening. It was then onto my pizza shop
where I am expecting to receive a loyalty card soon, as I’ll probably have
enough points to pay for a repeat trip to the area next year.
I then rushed back to the Garni for a shower and after wading through the inevitable puddle, a change of clothes. Tonight was Champions League footie, the quarter-finals, and I knew I was not able to get either of the games in my room, both of which featured English teams, Arsenal and Jamchester United so I wanted to get back into the town to watch a game. I was in for a rude shock though, I could not find a single bar showing the beautiful game, and I was in Italy for heaven’s sake! The only place that even had a television was showing some ice hockey play-offs which seem particularly important over here right now.
I therefore had to return once again to the Pension, this time a little dejectedly and had to make do with catching the highlights on a Champions League Magazine programme on a Swiss channel that I am fortunately able to receive.