Facciamo Trekking! — A Weekend in the Dolomites

The base of Misurina
The base of Misurina
After the concert, I learned about an opportunity provided by one of the BU students’ host mothers who plans an annual trip to the eastern stretch of the Alps known as the Dolomites. She is friends with the owner of a hotel, called “Albergo Paradiso” (Hotel Paradise), and Alessandro (the owner) was able to give us a good price of 70 euros for the weekend. This included two nights, two breakfasts,

L'albergo Paradiso
L’albergo Paradiso

two lunches, two dinners, and transport from the train station to the hotel, and from the hotel to our destinations of choice. He has a dog named Mil (pronounced M-EE-L) which was very cute, but constantly barking at us. All in all, there were 6 of us who went with the host-mother. The rest of the group were going to do a day trip to Venice, so this trip seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime at a great price.

Since the host-mother, Thea, could only seat 4 people, me and another student had to take a train from Padova to Calalzo, which is the station closest to the townof the Hotel, which was called Vigo di Cadore. We had one layover in Belluno, and all the trains were regional-slow trains. The trip was beautiful, but my friend and I failed to validate our tickets, so the train conductor wasn’t too happy with us. Fast-forwarding to the end of the trip, we also failed to validate our tickets, and the same thing happened. Anyway, we got to the station in Calalzo, and Thea took us to meet te other students at a local museum.
The museum was the home of a famous Renaissance painter, Tiziano Vecellio. While it was modest, it was cool to see some of his works displayed in a home that was over 500 years old.
We then were driven to the hotel by Alessandro, where we got our rooms and had dinner. I was lucky to have a single room with a Queen bed, a bathroom, and a window. The best part, though, was the balconies looking out on the town. The pictures in this post speak for themselves, but needless to say, we woke up with a B.E.A.Utiful view each morning.
View from the Hotel Balcony
View from the Hotel Balcony
Dinner that night consisted of two plates an sides. The first dish was gnocchi with a ragu or pomodoro sauce. Of course, gnocchi is my favorite dish, and I wasn’t disappointed with how fresh the gnocchi

Gli gnocchi . . . . . .
Gli gnocchi . . . . . .

were, and how delicious the sauces were. When we thought dinner was over — which it wasn’t — we had our secondo piatto of turkey, roasted peppers, green beans, and eggplant. Everything was fresh and amazingly delicious. It’s even herder to imagine that, since this is the off-season, Alessandro did everything himself.

We then walked out to the town nearby to explore the nightlife, but I’ll spare you the details . . .
The next morning we got up bright and early for a breakfast of coffee (more like jet-fuel) and biscuits with jam. Then we left for the town of Auronzo with bag-lunches in our hands, ready for an adventure. The host-mother guiding us dropped us off at a bust stop, explained the schedule, and explained that she wanted us to take the 5:20pm train back — not a big deal right? So off we go, and the bus takes us to Misurina, the town with the hiking trails we were about to take. When we got there, we were paralyzed for at least 20 minutes, gaping at the beautiful mountains (even more beautiful than the last)and the nearby lake.
Panorama of Misurina
Panorama of Misurina
After buying a map (definitely a good idea) we decided to take a ski-lift/funicular part-way up the mountains.
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At that vista, we took some great pictures.
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Without any poles, helmets, or other hiking gear, we began the serious ascent. After realizing within a matter of minutes that none of us were physically trained to handle this kind of trip, we took it safe and slow. Even with a map, we didn’t really know where we were going — we simply followed the trail and followed the seemingly more experienced hikers. After about an hour and half, we made it to the top of one of the major mountains. There, we found a rifugio, which was a bar/restaurant/resting area where we decided to stop for lunch. The previous night, Alessandro asked if we wanted 2 sandwiches or 3, some of us were hesitant to say 3 sandwiches, since an American would imagine three regularly-sized sandwiches.

Il cane del rifugio
Il cane del rifugio

Thankfully, we each asked for 3! They were basically dinner rolls with a few slices of prosciutto crudo, prosciutto cotto, and salame. We definitely needed that. While we were eating, we met some really nice Italians, eavesdropped on some Austrians/Germans (I couldn’t really tell), and played with the little dog that lived with the owners of the rifugio. Form our seats, you could see Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Three Peaks of Lavaredo). The host mother explained that these mountains were recently added to the list of the great Wonders of the World . . . I wasn’t sure if she was right, but I’ll buy it.

Deceived by our feelings of readiness and well-restedness, we decided to trek on. We got to a point where there was an extremely steep incline. We thought that we would follow one of the trails over this peak, and then make our way back to the bus stop at the bottom in enough time to catch the bus . . .Boy were we wrong! One of the experienced Italians told us that you needed real mountain-climbing

Yeah, we (attempted) to climb this . . . .
Yeah, we (attempted) to climb this . . . .

gear to pass, and that they were going to spend the night before continuing on. We made it a little ways up the incline, but decided we needed to go back the way we came. When we got back to the rifugio, I decided to treat everyone to a much-deserved beer (brewed in the Dolomites, might I add).

Finally, we made it back down to the town of Misurina where the bus stop was. This is where the fun began. We got to the correct bus stop at the correct time, and we saw a bus coming. However, it was going in the opposite direction as compared to whence we came. Then we saw another bus going in the “right” direction, so we got on that one. We thought everything was fun, but then we didn’t recognize where we were going, so we asked the bus driver where our destination was. He responded “Cortina,” and then we were scared. Thea and Alessandro were supposed to pick us up at 6pm, and now we were going to be really late! The roads around the mountain make one gigantic loop, and instead of going a short distance one way, we went all the way around the loop in the other direction.Luckily, Thea was happy we made the mistake, because Cortina is a beautiful resort town.
Dinner that night was pasta boscaiolo, which had a sauce made of things found from the forest, among which were MUSHROOMS. Let it be known that I HATE mushrooms. HOWEVER, I loved  these

Pasta Boscaiolo!
Pasta Boscaiolo!

mushrooms! Maybe because they were local, or maybe Alessandro prepared them in a special way, but I couldn’t wait for more!.Our second dish was pulled-veal, which was delicious. We finished the night off with tiramisù gelato.

Porcini, finferli, and chiodini mushrooms that we ate. I still can't believe that I ate those!
Porcini, finferli, and chiodini mushrooms that we ate. I still can’t believe that I ate those!
That night I taught the group how to play Rummy 500, and then we went to bed.
The next day, we went back to spend the morning in Auronzo, and we decided to walk around the perimeter of the Lake, which was

The town of Auronzo
The town of Auronzo

beautifully clear and perfectly blue. The perfect weather really made our day enjoyable. Then, my friend and I had to catch an afternoon train back to Padova. Like I said before, we failed to valid

The group
The group

our ticks, so we had another run-in with the train operator.

After all this, I can say it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken, and I am so glad I spent the money and took the initiative. I don’t think I’ll ever see anything like this ever again, so it was the perfect opportunity. Enjoy the pictures!
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