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Cortina D'Ampezzo


We had an uneventful transfer from Postjana across the border into Italy and up into the Dolomites to Cortina D'Ampezzo. The border crossing was our first open border for a month so it was great not to have to stop and go through the drama of being processed in and out of each country.
Our accommodation for the first 3 nights was in an apartment in the town before moving to a mountain hut for the following two nights.

Our first impression of the town is "chiuso" or closed! Shops, bars, restaurants, and activities more than half were still closed from the break after winter. It was a real downer at first with all the cool activities planned having to be scrapped. But as you do we adapted and ended up having an amazing time.

The town was like a postcard picture. It looked very Swiss with all the chalets dotted around the rolling green hills at the foot of the rugged mountain ranges. The view from our accommodation was worth the visit.

The view from our apartment

Because we were no longer paying to go Ice skating, the Adrenalin Forest or on the towns two Gondolas Rach suggested we hire E-Bikes as a treat. It was a fantastic idea and we had a blast on them covering 60km which was a lot more than we would have managed on normal mountain bikes. We stopped off at cool little bars and restaurants along the way and made a big day of it. Starting at 1200m and getting up to over 2000m at the highest point at Rifugio Vallandro, where the kids were very excited to see snow. They had no idea was coming in a few days!

Refreshment stop
e-biking fun

We also did some walks around the town. Making the trek to a lake nearby which had a restaurant where we were going to have lunch. But true to form it was Chiuso. Even though we had been told it was open!

Toby takes a rest
Holly reinacting "The Sound of Music"

The 2 days we had in Cortina D'Ampezzo were great but with the town still waking up for the summer season so we were sadly a few weeks early arriving. That was a bit of a worry for me as our next 2 nights were the opening nights for the summer season in Rifugio Lagazuoi which is a mountain hut up at 2750m.

Our move to the Rifugio started in a taxi taking us the 20km to the Falzarego Lagazuoi (Gondola). The gondola ride was a mere 3 minutes taking us from 2100m up to 2750m. The scenery from the top was jaw-dropping, 360-degree views of the most beautiful mountain ranges we had ever seen.
We had 2 rooms to accommodate us so Bella and I shared a room while Holly, Toby, and Rach roomed in together next door. In total, about 100 people stay each night at the rifugio and ranged from those just enjoying the surrounds to the hardcore trekkers who had hiked up to 30km in knee to thigh deep snow to get there.

The red circle indicates where the Gondola started from - a big climb for 3 minutes
The deck of the rifugio - most days warm enough to sit our in a tshirt.

We spent the next 2 days sipping hot chocolates and coffees on the deck and enjoying the amazing views. The food was great and the staff very friendly and chatty. We did venture out into the knee-deep snow to explore and a family snow fight until we all got frozen fingers and feet and returned to the hut for warm showers and hot drinks.

Snow is not something our kids have spent much time in - the novelty wore off when the fingers and toes froze
The drying room came in handy. Warm air blew out of the yellow pipes into your wet shoes

We also got to see incredible sunsets and sunrises. On the first morning, Bella and I went out onto the deck at 4.45am and joined the other 30 odd watching the most beautiful sunrise. We watched for an hour and a half in a balmy 3 degrees as the sun came up over the mountain range and lit up the valleys below. We felt we deserved our 6.30am breakfast that morning! We've noticed this side of the world certainly seem to have more than there share of sunlight with sunset at 9.50pm and sunrise at 5.15am. We understand why there are shutters on all the windows


On one of our ventures out into the snow, we checked out some of the tunnels excavated during WW1. This area was on the Austrian-Italian border and for 3 long years saw fighting in -40 degrees during the winter. It's referred to the "White War" for obvious reasons. Most of the casualties in the region were from avalanches, mine explosions or freezing to death. It must have been horrific fighting at this altitude during the war.

The downside of being at high altitude was once again the effects of altitude sickness on us Watson's. After Peru, I promised the family no more going above 2000m and here we were. I get it the worst and the feeling is like a terrible hangover and not being able to breathe properly. The 2 nights sleeping were ok but I don't think I could handle staying any longer.

We all loved the time we spent in the Rifugio and in the Dolomites. It's up there as one of the best experiences on this trip.

Our next move is a big one-Gondola down off the mountain, drive 2.5hrs to Venice airport and then fly to Paris.
We are getting closer to being homeward bound.

Posted by Watson5 12:58

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Wicked guys looks awesome????

by Tracey Parks

Looks amazing especially when you are all in shorts and the snow in the back ground.

by Val and Doug

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