Ortisei Travel Blog› entry 2 of 15 › view all entries
It wasnâ€™t going to be cheap due to the poor showing of the pound against the Euro, but I booked a single flight to Bergamo (Milan) with Ryanair, a hostel in Milan, transfer to Ortisei (St. Ulrich), Val Gardena and my accommodation for fifteen nights.
I flew out from Manchester just a few days later after helping a friend move house, and landed in Bergamo around 10.30pm. I had been forced to rush most of the arrangements and this was my first mistake, I forgot that airports used by Ryanair are rarely close to the actual city and I required a longish transfer by coach and an expensive taxi to the hostel, dragging a great deal of gear, including my skiing equipment. This at least provided some other hostel guests a source of entertainment when I eventually arrived at the hostel, Piero Rotta, which is situated near the San Siro, not that I actually saw it.
Arrival and booking in was painless enough, the night porter being both friendly and helpful, I was pleasantly surprised to discover breakfast was included in the already reasonable price. It was getting quite late and everybody in my room (which was fortunately very close to reception, it must have something to do with me being tender in years compared to the usual hostel guests) was already in bed so I attempted to quickly and quietly to unpack the basics and climbed up to a free top bunk. I did not get the best nightâ€™s sleep, it was not really the fault of the hostel, just that other travellers were a bit noisy and the walls seemed quite thin, although the snorer in the bunk below me didnâ€™t improve matters!
After a basic but acceptable continental style breakfast I was able to check out and get another taxi ordered for my return to Bergamo. The reviews I had read about the hostel all seemed to mention an expensive extra charge for non-members. I am an International Hostel Association member, but had misplaced my membership card, so half expected this charge to be added, however it never materialised. Maybe there is a central database?
The ride back to the train station was anything but boring, the driver set off whilst chatting on his mobile phone and changing gear with his left hand, as the vehicle was left-hand drive this meant releasing the steering wheel altogether. It was also of course rush hour so everybody was cutting each other up trying to get into work, take the kids to school or whatever else they had to do as quickly as humanly possible. Italian drivers will not win any prizes for patience, I was amused to see there was a lane specifically for buses and taxis, but every scooter rider and a large proportion of the car drivers risked a fine by using this lane without concern. At one point a car turning right had the driver behind go around and turn right ahead of him, thus cutting him off, even the taxi driver was shaking his head, whilst still clutching his mobile to his ear of course, I merely smiled.
The bus ride to Bergamo was uneventful, and I was soon on
the bus to Val Gardena, on which I was the only passenger for the whole journey,
a four hour trip, just the driver, an escort and me, seems hard to justify
economically! Here I made my second
mistake, as in the rush I had printed almost all important documents off,
except the one concerning the accommodation.
For some reason I thought my â€˜Pensionâ€™ was in Selva Wolkenstein, and
took the bus to there, only to be called by a friend whom I had asked to check my
emails to inform me that I was in fact in Ortisei, so had to catch another
expensive taxi back to there and the guesthouse. This ten minute trip had cost almost as much
as the eight hour round trip from Bergamo was costing me.
Check-in was amazingly quick and painless. As it turns out I was met by the ownerâ€™s daughter and she just showed me the room didnâ€™t explain anything except where to deposit my skis, which I had to ask about and then left me to it, this suited me down to the ground! The room was again basic, but functional and certainly lived up to the name of the guesthouse â€˜Garni Dolimitenblickâ€™ which translates something like Guesthouse Dolomites View, fantastic, youâ€™ll see the view from my balcony quite a few times in the accompanying photographs.
I hurriedly unpacked, had a shower and headed into the town to explore and get something to eat. I attempted to withdraw some money from the â€˜hole in the wallâ€™ and found that I could not get any of the machines to accept my card. This could cause some major problems, to say the least, so I contacted the issuing bank and was informed there seemed to be a problem with the card being accepted, no kidding Sherlock! All the banks in town were by now closed so I was unable to speak to anybody, and would have to wait until Monday! Oh great I had about fifty Euros to last until then, no expensive meals for me this weekend. I worked out a budget and went to a pizzeria and spent my daily allowance, a pleasant little place called simply â€˜Ericaâ€™, I attempted to speak some of my known Italian, which is severely limited, but they also speak German so we got by. I then headed back to the digs as I would not be any appreciating the â€˜aprÃ¨s skiâ€™ for a few days.