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Dolomites, Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm)


After a nutritious breakfast…

… we leave beautiful Villanders to drive further into the Dolomites, hoping to start a 5 day trek.

Here’s a photo of where about the Dolomites are (the lower white end in Northern Italy).

And our Camping spot with beautiful views over the Dolomites…

On our discovery route, we drive through Kastelruth (or Castelrotto) and get to enjoy fantastic views at the Alpe di Siusi (or Seiser Alm). Kastelruth is a lovely Tyrollean village with mural art on the buildings. During winter this is a snow resort town and during summer the gateway to an adventure land full of activities like mountain climbing, hiking, running or cycling.

  

Driving up to the Seiser Alm, an amazing plateau, we have to discover that there is no way we can possibly spend the night here. Cars are only allowed to a certain point and there is only one car park which is monitored by rangers regularly. We return to the village “Seis” at the bottom of the Seiser Alm and try to gather some information on possible hiking trails for the next days. Here we find out that the refuge huts are still closed and that there is still snow in the higher parts of the hiking trails. Our planned 5-Day walking track will not happen but we are still quite happy to go for a day-trek tomorrow.

For today we decide to just go for a walk from our campsite in Seis to a lake we found on the map.
It is a rather cool but sunny day (with clouds) and I’m struggling with a light headache caused by the cold winds, so I end up wearing a beanie.
We first walk through dense forest and just when I’m reminded of my childhood stories of witches and dwarfs, I discover a large rock in the middle of the woods with a sign telling a myth about a pastor who was once killed here by witches. Soon after, we come to an open alpine pasture with dozens of cows and bulls roaming freely. The cow bells are ringing everywhere and one cow curiously walks right up to me, smelling me and my hand. I think I have never been so close and vulnerable to a cow before but even though we were both slightly afraid of each other, I felt very close to this lovely creature. The soft nose touched my hand and the big eyes looked at me with curiosity. I think I really fell in love with cows and I’m glad that these ones here have such a wonderful live. They all were very active, running around, jumping and moo-ing loudly.

Not far and we arrive at a lake surrounded by forest. We walk around it once and then return to Seis via a different route.

  

     

  

This different route leads us past a restaurant and we can’t resist but follow our noses…

    

So after having filled our stomachs with Schnitzel and fries, Logan got stylish for his run.
Here, a photo of the 2012 sport’s outfit:

Logan actually ended up running all the way up to the Seiser Alm and back, he’s just that crazy guy from Down Under who can’t get enough!

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Austria – Kirchdorf, Tirol

The alarm rings but we ignore it. It’s just not a good start for a holiday, so we add another two hours of sleep before finally getting up. Our bags are full of winter clothes and the skiing gear is already waiting for us in the car.

Logan forgot his ski pants in Robert’s car when they climbed the Brocken over a week ago, so we have to go to his place to pick them up. Then we have about 6.5 hours drive ahead.
Behind Munich, the picturesque scene on the horizon is beautiful. When the big wall of mountains appears, the sun is just about to set behind them. It looks like you couldn’t get through the mountainous landscape, just when you find out that the highway is bending and leading right into the majestic Alps.
Upon arrival in Kirchberg we have to learn that our Chalet is in Kirchdorf. Panic sets in: Hopefully Kirchdorf is not too far away?! Lucky, 20 minutes later we are in Kirchdorf at the Mountain High Chalet right near a creek. The snow is over a meter high but unfortunately it is raining.
Slightly exhausted we sit down to have a three-course meal, which is part of our booking each night (apart from Tuesday) for this week. Vegetable soup, Wiener Schnitzel with fries and cake: my goodness that was delicious and filling.

The chalet owner tells us he is French and his wife a Kiwi. Then he tells us, the ski hut down the road is owned by an Australian woman. The Alpenrider in Kirchberg is also owned by an Australian. Seems there are a few around from Down Under. Logan smirks.

Beep beep, beep beep. Great, again the alarm waking us up! This time we actually have to get up because breakfast is only between 8-9:30am. While I almost want to complain, thoughts of white powdery snow are shooting through my head. We are going skiing today!
The look out of the window makes me want to jump right back into bed: it is still raining and the snow is wet!!

I convince myself that it’s all going to be ok and jump under the shower: next dilemma! I forgot my hairdryer at home.

After breakfast we are asking our host whether he thinks it’s worth trying to ski up the top of the mountains. He checks the weather forecast for us and recommends the Steinplatte (stone plateau), a mountain at around 1800m.

Logan and I walk across the street to get him fitted with a snowboard, boots and helmet. Not an easy task when you have shoe size 49 (14)! Bloody hell Logan, your index toe is a weird one! There is still a very big blister on top of that same toe from his Malerweg trekking adventure; only because it’s too long for every shoe and bends up in a funny way.

With a board as big as a raft and boots one size too small (it was the biggest size they had) we are now off to the Steinplatte, only a few km down the road.
From down the bottom we can visibly see the snowline. The trees suddenly go white from a certain altitude; that’s a great sign! The gondola takes us up past the snow line, and up… and up… and then even further up!!! You can only see about a quarter of the length of the gondola from the bottom, so we were quite surprised at how high we were taken. At the top of the Steinplatte there was so much snow, we couldn’t believe our eyes; and then we realised our eyes couldn’t make much sense of all the white anyway. Snow on the ground, white sky and falling snow resulted in one white image. It was incredibly hard to see how steep a hill was or whether there were any bumps on the track. My goggles helped to take the glare away but I still couldn’t quite see. Poor Logan didn’t have proper ski-goggles, only his sunnies that were a bit too dark and would fog up.

And off we went, howling down like the wind, as if we never did anything else. Ok, Logan fell over a few times and I did once, but let’s call it “tricks”. Yeah, we did some tricks!
Four hours went past like one and we only stopped because my muscles started to burn. What great fun, good we got a few more days to go!

Back at the “Mountain High” Chalet we checked out our footage and Logan even fell asleep for a few minutes. At 6pm we went down for our three-course meal: Soup, Goulash with Spätzle and Banana Split. Mmmmmmhhh! I’m about to explode and Logan isn’t moving either, right Logan? … Logan?? Oh, he’s asleep again!

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26-27/11/11 Leaving El Nido

Since the blog writing and editing of the footage has started yesterday, we kept on going all day today. A day not really worth writing about, except for the weird middle-aged Chinese man taking photos of me in the water from a 5m distance and the most delicious meal we had in months: Kässpätzle !!! It is some kind of German pasta thing with cheese and a few spices. Logan and I share the big meal for late lunch and return for a game of pool later on in the evening. The owner of “Marber’s” is German of course but has been in El Nido for about 10 years.

I hope I don’t end up on some dodgy Chinese website. That man didn’t even care that I looked at him, while he was taking dozens of photos of me. I was speechless and just sank down in the water, so all he could see was my face. How rude…

We are trying to sleep in today but the Sunday prayers have just started to be preached via megaphones in all of El Nido town. The sun’s rays haven’t even touched the roofs yet, so why why why? The preaching goes on for an hour or maybe two, it is just painful.
I feel intense vibrations in the walls of our motel, I figure it is the waves crashing against the little house. Global warming will get El Nido sooner or later, some of the restaurants and bars already have trouble at high tide.

Logan and I return to Marber’s and order another Kässpätzle for lunch. Then it’s time to pack our bags and head off to the airport in El Nido. The owner of our motel ordered a tricycle for us in which we are now hobbling down the street. I keep watching the wheel and hope it won’t fall off. Then we turn into a driveway and I see these markers, like a count down, along the gravel runway; very trustworthy!

Our bags are checked very thoroughly and everything(!) had to be weighed. The plane is tiny, I find out it’s an 18-seater. During our wait, we run into the Canadian woman we met on Malapacao. She had done a 10-day detox and lost about 5 kilos. I’m almost certain that what she lost, was only the inside of her intestinal tract and possibly a bit of muscle but at least she was happy.

The take-off is exciting but probably quite smooth for such a small plane. Ahead of us is an hour of spectacular views of islands, reefs, volcanos and forests.
The sky is turning blood red and the Manila’s skyline is coming closer. We land in an area of the airport that is meant for private planes and it seems to be a great spot for taxis to rip off their passengers. “To Malate? 450Pesos!” We want to get back out of the taxi and he says there is no other taxis coming and that this is the normal rate. We are forced to pay.

Back at Friendly’s Guesthouse the surprise: Our bags, including the guitar are still in the storage room! This is great news, especially since Logan doesn’t have one clean piece of clothing anymore. We are having dinner at a Japanese place only a few hundred meters down from Friendly’s and then lock ourselves in our shabby little room, turning up the air conditioning and fall asleep.

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