Day One: Stau
We arrived in Selva di Val Gardena (aka Wolkenstein) this afternoon after a 22-hour journey. Despite some pretty bad forecasts (here, there and everywhere), the flying part went pretty smoothly, and we touched down in Munich only about 25 minutes late. Claiming luggage, getting cash, picking up our rental (a small Mercedes)—equally smooth. Not so smooth…the traffic most of the way down from Munich, as we joined a legion of Germans and others headed south for their holidays. Very quickly, we learned the meaning of “stau”—a word we saw frequently on the autobahn signs all the way south through to the Italian border. To make matters worse, a steady rain fell throughout the drive. Unlike our trip through this area 18 years ago, there would be no speeding tickets on the Austrian autobahn this time.
The worst was yet to come—a back-up of several miles leading into the autostrada ticket plaza just south of the Italian border that lasted a good 45 minutes or more. Once we cleared the toll plaza, though, some good things began to happen—and not just with the traffic. The rain stopped, the sun began to peak through, the temperature rose (from a low point of 5C going over the Brenner Pass), and by the time we were driving up the Val Gardena, we could actually see a few blue patches of sky.
The Val Gardena revealed itself to be more lush, green and beautiful than we’d even imagined. We found our home for the week, Residence Carin, with little difficulty and checked in. Although we’ve only been here a few hours, our initial reaction is very positive. We have loads of space—two bedrooms and two baths, with a nice kitchen with octagonal breakfast nook and two balconies (photos soon). It is on the eastern end of the “downtown” area, where things are a bit quieter and more peaceful… but still within easy walking distance of everything.
We’ve done a bit of exploring and some grocery shopping now, and enjoyed our first dinner back in Italy, at Pizzeria Rino (a recommendation from our proprietor; delicious!).
Tonight, we’ll be struggling to stay up late enough to re-set our clocks—watching the light change on the stark stone walls of the Sella Massif and enjoying some local wine.
Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny but cold. Not sure what we're doing yet, but I'm sure it will involve some hiking.
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Live trip report from the Dolomites and beyond, by mr_go & ms_go & daughter
Day One: Stau