Notes to Home
Date: July 5, 2013 6:06:12 AM EDT
Subject: Greetings from Tuscany
Hi Joyce and Irv, I will take plenty of pictures, but picture this, I am sitting at a round table in the kitchen of the Cantina, old tiled floors, sky light , sun Brightly shinning down on the yellow table cloth with motif of lavender and black olives. This room is on the second floor, rustic beams, all windows shuttered from the inside, all open, birds of many variety singing, sounds like an aviary, breeze blowing, making the olive trees right nearby the door quiver, leaves silver and grey tones. View to the southwest down to a valley and off to a landscape of Tuscan Hills.
All travel went well. Boy did we sleep last night! Having a hard time waking up this am, it is almost noon time.. I am sure this drowsiness has nothing to do with the two bottles of wine we shared last night!
Date: July 6, 2013 11:17:07 AM EDT
Subject: Lunch with 5 turtles
Today we took off with Ruth driving to San Quirico d'Orcia along a dirt road from Castelmuzio to our destination. If you have a map it was Stradio Provinciale 71. It was a perilous journey - I don't know what possessed my sister to drive so fast. Anyway, we survived and then walked up hill from the parking areas to the town with all it's shops. I stayed outside while Ruth and Wendy marveled at all the goods.
At lunchtime we just picked a place on the main drag. It had a spacious rear open rear patio And only one other couple there. Plus a turtle. No, no said the waiter, cinque tortises. The tortises have been with the family for 50 years. We spotted all 5 of them, and then one decided to be our friend. He strolled across the room in less then five minutes and then snuggled at our feet. At one time he started to climb up my leg. We placed a piece of a sandwich on the floor and that seemed to keep him busy. I have had lunch with cats, dogs, hens, and peacocks here in Tuscany, but never turtles.
Date: July 6, 2013 6:25:12 PM EDT
Subject: Contrada in Montisi
One of those evenings! We just left a celebration of the Goose! Streets of Montisi closed, tables set for two hundred, lining down the street and the middle of the square, all lite up, locals and visitors gathering for a local celebration, we left at midnight, party still going on, dessert just being served! Met some very nice friends of Ruth's - Brits. Needed to get back, cause she has a full day planned for us tomorrow! Plus a concert in the evening.
Very warm evening, no breeze tonight. All is still outside.
Date: July 8, 2013 10:25:24 AM EDT
Subject: Sunday in Montisi
We were invited to attend a concert for harpsichords given at a local church in Montisi. These concerts are given every Sunday by participants in the Montisi School of Harpsichords which is sponsored by Ruth and many others during July and August. You may recall that Bruce Kennedy moved the school here when the Costello at the top of the village became available. There were about 12 participants from all over the world - about 4 from Russia, one from Mexico. The leader of this week's class was a Norwegian, holding a professorship in Cologne, Germany who, thankfully spoke English, as did all of his students.
The concert went on from 6:00 - 8:00 pm. All the kids were accomplished musicians, but the leader saved the best for last four. These were absolutely amazing. Two of these never looked at the music -- they were playing all by memory. The applause they got was truly heart rendering.
After the concert Bruce invited all the players and a select few of the harpsichord aficionados up to the school for cocktails. That included me. Robert Etherington (Roberto of Balloning-in-Tuscany) served the drinks as Wendy talked to the participants.
After that, about nine, we and the Etheringtons went to a local pizza parlor and consumed lots of vino and pizza. That ended about 11:00 pm as I finished up a glass of grappa
Such was the life in Montisi on Sunday.
Date: July 9, 2013 4:55:03 PM EDT
Subject: Driving in Italy.Tuscany
Hi you two, Boy did I think of you two when David was driving us up to Montisi.....driving with jet lag would not be fun. However, David said he went the quicker route but more complicated and more congested. Ruth has been doing all the driving, thank goodness, and she does a good job. One cannot take their eyes off the road for one second. Saw a red convertible Farrari today. Now that is the only car one should have on these roads! Today John offered that I should sit up in the front seat!! I could see he was gripping the seats at every turn!
Today was a visit to the weekly open market, and then to the Coop (large grocery store) two towns over. It would have been so much better with Joyce there. John tolerated it, said nothing, but it was the body language. Because I miss a good cup of American coffee, I had coffee gelato at 11am. Boy did that hit the spot! Funny. all the men huddled under umbrellas, sitting around little coffee tables while the women were shopping! I bought ribbon. This is when I wished I had a larger suitcase.
Have to tell you, we are getting so used to the after siesta, don't know how we will manage next week.
We were invited to have English tea with friends of Ruth's......the retired English balloonist and wife, Roberto and Liz (a future story).
Supper here at Picciolo, Ruth served up the last of her lamb, boy was it good!!!!
John is hanging over me to go bed! Oh, tomorrow we will be going to Siena with a private tour guide. (this was to be a special treat for you) so hope I can remember and can record the events successfully.
Did you ever read Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes -..author of Under Tuscan Sun? I am trying to read it this week, fun, but as you know I am a pokey reader.
Date: July 11, 2013 9:51 AM EDT
Subject: Siena Tour
All. ... Yesterday was a long and educational day. Left for Siena with Antonella our private tour guide, a young (late 30's). You all would have enjoyed her immensely as we did. Attractive, ah yes, Italian thin, pretty ankles, large Sardinian dark eyes. Yes, she was born in Sardinia and very proud of it. Speaks seven languages. Was very clear to say that her native language is not Italian, and the closest to Latin of any language. BTW, if I do not say it again, we suffer from the American guilt of not speaking anything other than English...although most everyone speaks a little English. Antonella was brilliant. A back ground in computer science, worked in Calif., for an Italian company that was the first to work on language translations for the Internet. Also an art history background. She is an expert in cheese. Her husband is an expert in wine. He represents several vineyards for export. They own a new bar and wine shop in Montisi..Gorgeous!
Emails are not meant to be lengthy, but hard to filter through the many sites and thoughts one experiences.
Siena was marvelous. We were there only a couple hours. (Ruth has trouble walking). The history of Italy not only the world during many centuries a long time centered here. The stories of the architecture, the sculpturers, artists...all that talent, and fortunately, this city was spared during the later wars.
Our focus of the trip was to see the newfound discovery of another section of the cathedral during some restoration in the year 2000. Once the sand was scooped out and brushed away large rooms with frescos, still in beautiful colors, remained since the 1400's. So much information. What an imaging story. This was all found under the main cathedral.
We then went up to the main cathedral, huge massive, Moorish a bit in style - close to a thousand years old. And actually just think of the skills acquired to build something like this. (But then, we are not even talking about the work in the mid East. Boy, J & I, bet you are glad you got to Egypt when you did. Wonder if they have put a travel band on that country?)
We walked through the compo/main-square. Siena is loaded with tourists. It was also graduation day for the students of the University. Those who graduated were wearing a ring of flowers and leaves, even the guys. By late morning they were celebrating, singing and dancing in the streets.
As has been our custom here, we got home to the cantina and slept. Hot and muggy. For the last three days the clouds build up, wind blows, and there are thunderstorms. In fact, I am sitting here at the table as the storms are building up again.
Yesterday afternoon we managed to get to La Foce (a place Judy Bowman recommended).
Very large estate purchased in the 20th century, still privately owned by the same family. The gardens are wonderful and opened to the public by reservation. What a fantastic view from here, did not rain on us, but we could see the storms all around us.
Dinner was nearby at a new restaurant Dopolavoro La Foce. We ate inside, had barbecue pork ribs..yummy.
Each of these trips yesterday were an hour drive in one direction. Scenery beautiful.
Bang!!!! Thunder storm right on top of us! John was just awakened, I can hear him stretching!
As Joyce and Irv know we took a nice walk in and around Montisi this a.m. Concert tonight and supper out if weather improves.
Date: July 13, 2013 4:54:19 PM EDT
Subject: Last night in Montisi
All, Just found out that John did not check to see if all messages We're sent out yesterday..they were not. Service connection from here needs careful watch. Very difficult using the IPad.
Sorry you all, we think of you all the time.
Quick note: Just spent our last evening out under the pergola at Ruth's. Today's quick notes. Another lazy a.m. Too hot to walk. Left at 11.30 to return to the Monestary near by where we went on our last visit, years ago. I went to get their most wonderful foot cream at their store. This is an active Benedictine Abbey. Took a little walk, then had a fantastic two hour lunch on location. Many photos taken. Returned to Ruth's to do two loads of wash, and afternoon Siesta. When was the last time you hung laundry out on the line????? We are mostly packed. Can not believe that we have to live tomorrow. Have to depart at 8:30 am!!!!!! Now that is a real challenge. John is hoping that is is cooler up in Sulden.
We have a 2 hr. drive to Florence to train. Should arrive at hotel in Sulden about 5.00.
Date: July 15, 2013 3:24:57 PM EDT
Subject: Arrived in Sulden
Jim, we are having trouble with reception. The kitchen help, a chap about 16 has helped us all out! Also I cannot get the phone to work, it says that I either have the wrong number or it is temp out of order. Will get one of the members of our group to help tomorrow.
Well we made it here. Hotel Gertraud is very nice, spacious, very clean, and food very good and a lot of it. I had venison tonight!
I will try to write a new letter now and will cc you on it. Dad had a tough time this morning, along with another person. But made it to the lunch spot, enjoyed lunch at 2:30 , no nap!!!! Did fine coming down. Hiked about 1700 ft today. Tomorrow we will use lifts in some locations. This place is spectacular, feels like Switzerland. Sulden is not large but bigger than I expected.
The group is very compatible. We have had a lot of laughs.
Date: July 16, 2013 1:28:06 AM EDT
Subject: Arrived in Sulden
I will have to make this short, we have to get up at 6:30, you all know that is not John's favorite time of the day.
Day one: Very nice group and quite compatible. I will do the bio's another night when there is more time. This hotel is very nice, rooms quite spacious, very clean and food and service excellent.
Yes, we all made the first day hike. Going up was a challenge, John had a tough time, but there is another John, a Brit, who had an even worse time. We made it to the lunch restaurant, the pomme frittes were out of this world. Good salad. Going down was better for all. Fred adjusted his pace, but at dinner tonight, everyone was very satisfied with the pace. There is no one who wants to challenge Fred. The whole group was very tenuous this am, and I think still is. Tomorrow we are venturing higher also with the aid of a lift or two. Fred is watching the weather, afternoon thunder storms are in the forecast for a coupe of days this week, which means earlier mornings. The scenery here is absolutely gorgeous, and the hill sides loaded with wildflowers as per advertised. This is a tight valley, and the surrounding mountains are high. By the way, we climbed 1700 ft. Today. Good thing he did not tell us earlier!
Date: July 16, 2013 3:39:24 PM EDT
Subject: Thinking of you.
Hi, Not much free time. What a hike we had today, much more than I ever expected. We made it up, but not to the book time. Beautiful day, but a huge challenge. We dragged to the top - a mountain hut, actually. Many others hiking. Another challenge was a vertical traverse that lasted for almost two hours. John and I took the lift down, along with the Brit. We did enjoy the day!
Date: July 17, 2013 2:51:44 AM EDT
Subject: Minutes to day three
Hi, Today we are headed up Fred says! BEEEE. GEEz. No nice mountain hut for lunch. So we are headed to the store to get a picnic......that means more weight in the pack!
I am amazed that I have not been stiff, and so far no joint pain...Linda I did switch to the same med you are taking. The thin air is an issue for all. Area is just spectacular.
Gotta go. Good day to all, sure am thinking of you all. I have taken a ton of photos, hundreds so far.!!!!!!
Date: July 18, 2013 4:38:37 PM EDT
Subject: Day off, free day, whatever
Hi, We signed up for a private tour, four of us went. First destination to an active convent of the Rule St. Benedict, dating back to 12th century, located right over the border in Mustair, Switzerland. Lots of history, this area was quite populated during this time. Ride over was splendid, driving through orchards, neatly organized plots of farmland. Very lush. Lunch in Glurns, a quaint old village, several tourists. Then on to a famous castle still occupied by a family for the last 500 yrs. The walk to get into the castle was steep, so we felt we did our hike of the day! The driving is this area would be fun if no one else was on the road. There is only six inches between cars, buses trucks, and maybe twelve inches to the drop off, in some cases several hundred feet. It is crazy.
Decision for tomorrow was debated at dinner tonight. Three of us will take the low road tomorrow. The designated hike is 2500 ft and the pitch is very steep so we decided we would start off with the group and then break off for a three hour walk nearer the valley floor.
The dinner was delicious tonight! I realize I do not mention the food much, but this place does a grand job. The chef is only 29. So creative. Fun trying new tastes.
Weather has changed a bit. Was chiller this evening, - good sleeping weather. So headed to bed.
Date: July 19, 2013 7:04:57 AM EDT
Subject: Re: Day off, free day, whatever
John and I took today off from the big hike - did start out with the group then branched off and had a wonderful three hour walk along the valley. So peaceful, although passed several people on the trail. Linda would love all the wildflowers in bloom; has been a perfect time for that.
The temp. must be about in lower 60's, very comfortable. Cloudy in the afternoon, shower later in the evening.
I am starving, so we need to find lunch somewhere! We have one more full day here then go to Tiers, in the Dolomites----Fred says it is an isolated place, and everything is up!
Date: July 19, 2013 11:14:05 AM EDT
Subject: Ortler History
We went to a museum in Sulden this afternoon and learned some incredible facts about the highest mountain here - the Ortler. It's right across from the hotel. It's 3905 meters high. Amazingly, it was the scene of several battles between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Italians during the First World War. The museum had motion pictures taken during the battles. Cannons were dragged up the mountain and used to assault the other side. There were actual pictures of soldiers getting wounded in battle. What a stupid place to conduct a war. Of course everything written about the war was in German or Italian.
When the war was settled, obviously this part of the Sud Tyrol was seceded to the allies which included Italy. But I can tell you that all they did was to add Italian names to the maps - like Meran/Merano. Everybody speaks German. When on the trail, we greet people with "Hello" and they reply "Gross Gott", which I guess means God is great.
Fred took three of the six hikers up to the Tarabette Hutte this morning. We started out with them, and then, as intended, we left the group and did two long traverses farther below the Ortler. We could stop and smell the flowers. It was wonderful. On the way back, we spotted a lone hiker and instead of the usual "Hello" we addressed him in straight English. It was Roy, the sixth hiker. So I can't say that everyone on the trails is German - only 99.999 percent.
Date: July 19, 2013 4:38:47 PM EDT
Subject: Enjoyed your old photos from ....
One of the members of our group is from Oxford area - John Hewitt, Yew Cottage, Old Boars Head Hill, Oxford. He works for one of the colleges and is head of fund raising - is a stock broker, British and funny as anything.
I have been watching an Opera on the TV from Switzerland, elaborate ...but can not figure out the story .. Think it may be a contemporary piece.
We are not going with the group again tomorrow. There are several wonderful walking trails without much elevation. The 'going up' is a real problem for Dad, however, keeping pace on the flat and down hill is not a problem. Fred has been very kind to us and helpful with suggestions. Says he will adjust things for next week so he can make several trips. The others in the group do not mind waiting at all, they like the breaks, however, as soon as we catch, they all take off!! I am still doing fine with only a coupe of sore toes that should be ok!
Another great dinner tonight!
Date: July 20, 2013 2:57:44 AM EDT
Subject: Re: Day off, now Friday.
Soooo glad to hear that all is going well with you. We had thunder storms during the night and the thunder was so strong bouncing off the mountain walls, Quite something to hear. This morning it is crystal clear and delightful cool air, but the sun feels strong. The others have left for the day. John is now looking at the map to pick out our walk of the day. Think we will head back up to the hut we were at the first day with the great pomme frittes..
Date: July 20, 2013 3:57:28 PM EDT
Subject: Lovely Last day in Sulden
The group of four plus Fred drove to another location just a short way down the valley and took a long chair up to a location where they began their long hike, the most strenuous of week. John and I went back up the east side of the valley where we had hiked on Monday, only we walked up part of a service road, took us three hours to reach the mountain restaurant. This is the one that serves those great pomme frittes. Had a relaxful lunch, then walked down the same way we walked up and it only took us one and a quarter hour to the hotel. John has no difficultly going down, I find it more difficult than going up. Anyway, I started to pack before supper, and we will be leaving by bus at 11:00 am to go to Tiers. We will be stopping in Merano for lunch...at the same hotel we stayed at ten years ago.
We walked outside after dinner, and found it much warmer than last couple of nights. Also it appears that a full moon is rising on the mountain tops, such a sight. This location is really very beautiful and a great place to come for a few days of hiking. The climbing has to be incredible...if your into that! We have seen many families with young kids, all hiking along.. Also during the week many older folks, like us, out hiking the trails.
And again, the wild flowers are so pretty. Of course, there are window boxes and pots everywhere filled with either petunias or geraniums, and assorted other flowers. Hope my pots and window boxes are surviving.
Really liked the accommodations here and the food. So will be interested in seeing the hotel in Tiers. Think I mentioned that Fred said the next place is quite isolated, no shopping nearby. We will be going to Bolzano on Wednesday, which Fred highly recommends.
Busy weekend for all I am sure. Hope your weather clears up.
Date: July 22, 2013 4:00:26 PM EDT
Subject: Weisslahnbad Hotel, Tiers
Arrived at the Wiesslahnbad Hotel Sunday late afternoon. Clouds started to form, and we were meeting at 6:30 pm. Started to pour and hail stones as big as nickels, the temp probably dropped 20 degrees. It is Monday evening, after dinner as I type this and another thunderstorm is building. Can hear the rain on the roof, starting to come down hard. When it thunders there is a huge sound as it echoes off the mountains.
On our way here yesterday we stopped in Merano for lunch at the Aurora Hotel. How absolutely beautiful and busy the town was. We got a wonderful welcome from the same owners, had a great lunch, they gave us complimentary wine and dessert. Place looked in great shape. Because it is now summer, the many trees are of course out, made the place seem very different, and instead of every corner and flower pot filled with pansies, they were filled with assorted annuals. Wished we could have spent more time there. It was very hot, as now the elevation is lower. It too is very warm here in Tiers, about 88 degrees today. (Boy is it pouring now, John is lying in bed, pooped from today's activities.)
John seemed to have a good day hiking, the going up part has been a struggle for him, but perhaps the lower elevation helps. However, coming down this afternoon he was talking and not paying attention - his words - and fell off the trail, being stopped by a rock and tree. No injuries, he immediately was worried about his glasses, fine. We cleaned him up and all continued down. The hIke today was about 2700 ft., to a grand view point. Terrain very different here than last week (as was advertised). Very warm this afternoon. Heat really got to us all. Had a great lunch up at a darling, quaint, family run mountain hut, however.
Because of the weather forecast tomorrow, Fred has had to change the plans, we will leave by bus at 9, driving about one half hour away I think.
The hotel here is larger and accommodates more people. It is an older hotel with all kinds of amenities, except they have the craziest hair dryer I have even seen, and took me forever to do my hair. Hate that when you are traveling. Our room is on the top floor, a separate toilet room with sink, then across the way is a full bath with both shower and tub. This hotel has a lot of history with pictures everywhere, also some wonderful old pieces of furniture in the public rooms.
We are on the fourth floor, thankfully there is an elevator---we do walk down the stairs!
Oh, about the food. Food is good, but definitely not like last week, last week was over the top, and we found out that the chef was only 29.
IT is still thundering, John waiting for me to shut off the light!
We do not get any news here, no English anywhere. We did hear that Kate was in labor however!
Date: July 23, 2013 3:57:19 PM EDT
Subject: Beautiful Day, Body aches
Hi, What gorgeous scenery today, and a work-out to see it. Everything is relative you understand, we were not the only ones on the trail going up. Popular route. However, after another great mountain lunch (I did pasta with pesto-huge portion, needed a doggie bag, or at least our grand kids as I know they like it. Passed out free schnapps! A lot of that going around up here. The walk down was on a different trail, and no one else on it - we did 3000 ft. going down. We walked back to the hotel arriving at 5:30 . I was pushing past very tired to extremely pooped, could barely make it up to the room. Shower always feels good. We are going to do our own thing tomorrow with another hiker, as tomorrow's hike has steep vertical terrain. John did very well going up today, however, the fascial expressions, and occasional remarks to JC were part of the morning.
We will be departing on the bus with the group and it leaves shortly after 8am. Another challenge. Then once at a particular location, we will separate from the group. Hope we do not get lost, seems tricky figuring out where one is. We just follow Fred.
Our weather forecast is now pretty good, no more late afternoon thunder storms.
Early to bed, early to rise.
Date: July 24, 2013 1:23:31 PM EDT
Subject: Re: Beautiful Day, Body aches
Well the above Subject line still stands! This is Wed. And John and I and Roy did our own trip in the area where the others took off from. We are now sitting out on the patio finishing a gin and tonic and the others just returned from their long day hike. I was tired at 2:00 as the heat was strong today and we had a fantastic walk.
Date: July 25, 2013 5:02:15 AM EDT
Subject: Twenty Years Ago
BIRTHDAY GREETINGS TO IRV from Tiers Italy!!!!!
Several times this trip we have made reference to our time in Murren and all the hikes made in the Lauderbrunan (sp) Valley twenty years ago.
So this is our official day off this week. Fred has just left for Bolzano for the day, and to get a hair cut! He really likes this barber, and sees him a coupe times a year. The rest of us may be hanging around the hotel area, this place is extremely charming and amenities many, hotel accommodates 80, so is larger than many Fred stays at. Plus, the weather is beautiful BUT hot during the day. For the most part the heat has not been too much of an issue as we leave early enough to get to the lunch restaurant just in time for a cool drink!
We will probably find a short walk to do ourselves today, but for the most part will just try to let this place sink in. We are very isolated...Tiers the village is a mile down the hill. A public bus has come up here once an hour. The buses travel like race car drivers, one just hangs on. Yesterday we drove up to a bus stop that went between two buildings covered with ivy of some sort, and the greenery was mushed against the bus windows (no picture, I just had my eyes closed)!
How technology has changed travel...the hotel has Internet connection up here, but only in a very small area outside the bar. It is so funny with people sitting around with their faces in their respective devices, and no body acknowledging each other. Fred does not appreciate this. He is still not connected.
Date: July 25, 2013 6:10:48 AM EDT
Subject: Tiers - My Version
I find this to be a very confusing place. Reason #1 is that we had no map of the area until yesterday when Mom found a store, next to the ladies room, in the basement under the lift at Seis. Reason #2 is that there is no WiFi in our room. We have to go down to the porch outside the office to get it. Therefore, no maps available on the Internet until today - our day off. No time to use the Internet for studying a map when hiking.
I have studied the map now, so I can tell you where we were yesterday. If you have a map or access to the Internet, locate Tiers which is east of Bolzano and south of the Schlern. To the WNW, about two miles, is Wiesslanbad, where our hotel is. We took a bus around the Schlern, to the west, and ended up in Seis, above the Schlern. The bus roads were in many areas, only one-laners, so you won't find our route but it went through St. Katherine, Voser Aicha, Prosels Dorf, Ums, and Vols. From Seis we took a 20-minute ride on a beautiful Doppalmayer lift to Compatsch. At that point, we split, and I led our group to a smaller lift that took us to our destination - the Pluflatschalm above Kastelruth. This is a high unwooded area that also overlooks Ortesi where we skied (Val Gardena) a number of years ago.
Upon my successful navigation, Mom took over and said we were going to take the complete PU route around this vast area. I am not sure if she was fascinated by the name of the route, but I said, no way, we won't make the bus for our return trip. The negotiations ended in the usual manner - we took the complete route, which, of course, began with a one-hour ascent. But that is where we saw the villages of Kastelruth and Ortesei, so it was worth it. We stopped for lunch at the Puflachutte, when Roy, looked at my watch and said, "We gotta go now ". Luckily I had finished my kleine bier and gemusesuppe so we virtually ran down hill for 20 minutes to Compatsch, got the lift to Seis and were 7 minutes early for the 2:00 pm bus.
This area is beautiful. Hopefully our day off will stay as it is now - just me and five other people typing on our iPads.
Date: July 25, 2013 3:31:00 PM EDT
Subject: Two more days
What a beautiful day, but hot. We just lounged around the hotel, John has been studying the one map we finally got....for hours he has been looking at this thing. After the IPad gets over heated, he,s back at the map....driving Fred crazy with questions about locations! Fred is not good with much information, and of course, much of it is names of places we do not know of and always in either Italian or German. So who can remember????
Lots of laughs this trip. Three crazy men, very smart, extremely well read, stories are endless.
Any of you remember the incident about twenty years that happened to a Mr. Bobbitt???? His wife got so mad at him she cut off his you know what???? Well, the Doc who spent the nine hours sewing it back on is Dr. Jim Sehn on this trip. You can read about it here.
Have to get mentally prepared for tomorrows walk. Going to be hot and a little steep. We have the option of taking a lift down. Sounds like a good idea!
Date: July 27, 2013 3:36:36 AM EDT
Subject: Last Morning, Saturday
John and I are sitting out on the lawn area out in front of the hotel, air is much nicer than we thought...still shaded by the trees. Years ago this place was the first establishment on this hill side, dating back almost two hundred years, and there were no trees around the building. One could get a great view of the surrounding dramatic peaks . The forecast for today is extreme heat, so John and I decided (reluctantly) to pass up the last hike and have a casual day before starting the trip back home. Yes, it really has flown by. I am so glad I have taken so many pictures, cause it will help us to review. Haven't even taken any time to reflect, but there will be plenty of time for that. The hike we took yesterday was the highlight of the trip, and we are so happy and surprised at what we did it. Must say I had some freak out moments. John wanted to quit before he was ahead, that is why we are here now! John from England also felt the same way, the others left for a walk to a special meadow, about an 1800 ft.walk, couple of steep places, and Fred said it was not that hard, but I was very concerned about the heat not the elevation. Think he was disappointed we did not go today. We know where they are lunching, so will try to meet up with them.
Spring in Italy has got to be beautiful, Keep that thought!!!!!!! Did I mention that the olive harvest this year looks very good, so hoping for a good supply for all of us!
Of course, we have mentioned you every day. Fred has expressed his sadness many times about your not being able to come. I have said to the group how they would have loved meeting you and the added nonsense of conversation which ends in fits of laughter was right up your alley..just pure silliness. Of course Fred's jokes can be a little on the rough side....He has repeated them many times. What a memory he has.
I look up at the front of the hotel, four floors, not counting the main floor.....beautiful, typical Tyrolean facade and window boxes with red cascading geraniums, tall peaks of the Dolomites behind.
Date: July 27, 2013 5:02:49 AM EDT
Subject: Last Day, Saturday
Roads and driving. Think I have mentioned this before. Guess I am too timid. The roads here are hair-pin turns everywhere you travel, yet the drivers do pass on these roads. You do not see signs of auto accidents, all repairs must be made quickly so as not to scare the traveling public. Surprisingly, the buses are long and maneuvering around these bends makes one hang on for dear life. Often the on coming vehicles have to stop and back up, lots of hand movements. Learned after the first day to not sit in the back of the bus as it feels like being on the back end of a cats tail. Tomorrow will be a long travel day, over four hours to the airport. We all have flights tomorrow evening.
Haying. That time of the year, ever since we have been here, even at Ruth's, the fields, alps, no matter what the angle of the land are being hayed, and a lot is done with hand labor, using old well used tools. Amazing, little old ladies out with their aprons on, feet in black leather boots schlepping the hay. No matter where you look, even the sides of the roads, are all being tended to. Right now a hotel worker is out with a power trimmer..so the quiet has turned into the noise of a weekend in the suburbs.
Time for a little walk. Don't want to stiffen up!
Date: July 27, 2013 6:30:40 AM EDT
Subject: Re: Last Day - My View
There was no doubt that yesterday's hike was the highlight of the trip. For those of you who have been tracking our trip on the Internet, here are the details. As you now know, Tiers is the advertised name of our hiking location, but we have spent no time in Tiers. We are in area about a mile west and a half mile above - shown on the map as Weisslahnbad. This is the also name of our hotel. We hiked about 15 minutes down to St. Zyprian where we got on a bus headed west on a road that was built by people that had no idea what a straight line was. We then headed south through Nigerhutte, Frommer Alm, before coming to an intersection at Paolina. There we changed busses and went a very short distance to the Karerpass where we dismounted for our hike.
We then slogged northwest for 2 hours, up steep slopes and reached the Rafwandhutte where we had lunch. This was an amazing site surrounded by tall spires on three sides. The Col de Ciampas was about a 20 minute walk, which we did not do, but we could see hikers looking down at us. The place was loaded with hikers. There were smaller spires nearby, that kids were all over - a perfect place for John and Reid. It was Dr. Jim's birthday, and Fred arranged for the crew to sing Happy Birthday in what ever language they spoke, give kisses to Jim, and then provide us all with schnapps of all flavors. I hope that Mom got some pictures of that place, but Fred was in a hurry, so time was limited.
After lunch, we headed south and east at our elevation of 2800 meters and came to a monument of an eagle that overlooked the Karerpass. We stopped for a rest and Fred questioned one of the hikers that had come down a trial from the Rosengartenhutte. Fred had wanted to go there, but there had been avalanches earlier this season and it was considered unsafe. The hiker said that the devastation had been limited to only about 20 meters and a new path had already been beaten in. We continued on our trail until the branch to the Rosengartenhutte took off, and then Fred said, "What the heck, let's do it - it's only an extra hour". Thus began our two hour adventure with rock walls of 500 feet high on our right, a trail of width 18", and abysses, rock slides, an avalanches on our left. Now this is what it's all about. There were hikers passing us from the front and the rear. One was a bunch of campers - it made me think this would be a good place for Katherine to work out. Fred did his usual ,"Wendy, follow me and put your feet where mine were" bit to try to speed things up. But hopefully Mom was too busy taking pictures. In addition to all of this, we passed a lone hiker, down one of the slides, who was trying to rescue a sheep. Crazy. Then a helicopter came over the cliffs above us and circled, circled, hovered - we could not figure out what it was trying to do. Then it flew away.
Finally we rounded a cliff and our destination was in sight. Unfortunately we were pretty much exhausted and the final quarter mile was almost straight uphill. Fred had left us behind, and when we got to the lift and the four stories of buildings on top, we could not find him. I said, "Let's just take the lift down" but Mom insisted on finding Fred. He was in the top building enjoying apple-strudel.When Mom found him, he invited us to join him. Then we hung around for a half-hour as he introduced us to all of his friends. Then we heard several thunder claps, so we ran for the lift and made it down to the Frommer Alm location mentioned earlier. That was the end of the trip. Except that when we got back to St. Zyprian we had to hike up trail that Gretel (that's another story) had told him about that took another 30 minutes. We got to the hotel at 6:45; dinner was at 7:00.
I hope that Mom got a few pictures.