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Via Austria through the Alps and the Dolomites to Venice, Italy

Home -> Europe -> Italy -> Travelogue Italy -> 19 & 20 May 2004

Wednesday 19 May, via Austria through the Alps and the Dolomites to Venice, Italy

We are going to Italy!
Why Italy, people ask? Although Italy is a very popular holiday destination it is not so obvious for us, since we have not much affinity with this country. But it is the only big West-European country that we haven't visited yet and people tell us that it is a nice country. So, that is what we are going to find out ourselves, this time. We are a bit early with our summer holiday, this year. It is also one of the shortest summer holidays ever for us, only a bit more than 3 weeks. The cause of this is that our employers don't want to give us more days off... can you imagine? And there are two reasons for going so early: Teije has a temporary job and cannot take his holiday later in the season and somewhere in July we will become grandparents: Therese, Elisabeth's eldest daughter, expects her first child and naturally we cannot leave then!
We need a break We need a breakAt 10 we leave home and soon we are flying on the German Autobahn. We cross the border at Nieuweschans (only 45 km. from our home) and then drive via Osnabr?ck to Kassel and from there the long road southward. After 600 km. we need a break and we have the opportunity to make our first holiday pictures. The weather is fine, better than in Holland, so we are glad we have left our country far behind.
It is funny to watch the kilometers go by: we see the landscape changing, with now and then villages in the distance, but for some reason our perspective is totally different when making a long drive like this. We think in hundreds of kilometers instead of short distances and reality seems to be farther away. When we have to follow a two-lane road for some time and drive through the villages, our speed slows down and reality is near again.
We see the Alps againThe same happens when we leave the highways after 900 kilometers and find ourselves on the slowgoing two-lane roads in the south of Germany. It is like 'going out of warp' (Star Trek) and land up once more in the normal world. A world which is very beautiful, we realise, when we see the Alps before us!
View from our balcony Elisabeth on our balconyWe had no idea how far we would come today, but around 7 we enter Austria and start looking for a hotel in the first village we see, Reutte. In the center we find a big old house, the Black Eagle where we are taken to a room by a very old lady, whose back is so bent that she has trouble looking up.
The view from our balcony is great and the weather is still fine. Tomorrow we will continue our trip to Italy but now we first go on a walk through this nice village.
Reutte is a characteristic Austrian mountain village with it's houses and architecture, but it is striking how many foreigners live here, especially Turkish people. There are also a lot of foreign restaurants and after sitting outside at a pub (in t-shirt, until half past 8) we get ourselves a Kebab sandwich at a Turkish snackbar which we eat on our balcony.
Our hotel at Reutte, AustriaWe feel completely in a holiday mood now, especially with having mountains all around us. It feels good that it is possible to be in a completely different world after a one-day trip. Everybody who has read earlier stories on this website knows we just love mountains! That is, to see them, not to climb them...
As for Italy and our plans there? This time we just had a short preparation time and only made a list of some places we want to see; we will see how the plan will develops. Just before we arrived here, we considered the possibility of going to a campsite near Venice tomorrow, after a trip through the Alps and the Dolomites. We should see Venice!
After that maybe in the direction of Genova, and then further southwards: the Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence, Rome off course and after that we will see how much time we have left. Pompei is definitely on the list of places we want to visit. But first we enjoy the magnificient view from our balcony while the sun slowly sets behind the mountains.

Thursday 20 May 2004, through the Alps and the Dolomites to Venice

View from our balcony, ReutteThe sun is shining brightly when we get up and we leave early for our journey through the Alps. Not by elephant as Hannibal once did in Roman times, but surrounded by all the comfort we could wish for, in our car. As said before, we really love mountains, we never get bored of seeing them. We are already happy when we see hills, but mountains like they have here, are even much better. A lot of people seem to share this feeling for mountains.
Fernsteinsee The Italian AlpsThese rough mountains give evidence of how nature doesn't care about the little humans, although they are not untouched by them. We can imagine the desire of people to conquer these magnificient, silent monsters, maybe to overcome the feeling of smallness. We don't feel it that way, we just keep admiring these majestical giants.
The mountain tops are still covered with snow and therefore there is a lot of meltwater with temperatures of 25 degrees Centigrade, even at a height of 2000 meters. The lakes colour beautifully green-bluish from this water, like the Fernsteinsee at left.
The DolomitesThis time we leave Austria through the Brennerpass (€ 8 toll), but for some reason we had expected to drive through a very long tunnel. But we are mistaken since the tunnel itself is only a few hundred meters long, we have come through much longer ones today.
In Italy we drive over two passes along narrow roads, which are quite steep going up. The first is Passo Pennes, at a height of 2217 meters. For many kilometers we crawl we ascend in our small car while motorcyclists are racing past us.
It must be a wonderful feeling, riding a motor on these narrow, winding and steep roads, and we see hundreds of them. But often it seems to go wrong when they start overtaking other vehicles just before curves. And would they really enjoy the scenery, with so much speed and a lot of traffic along these dangerous roads. Maybe it is also the feeling of danger which is attractive. We rather enjoy the landscape from our car, although we are scared a few times by motors coming out of a curve and ending up almost in front of our car.
After a short break and a cup of delicious cappucino (in no other country can it be made better) we continue and drive into the Dolomites. At least, after we have finally found a way out of Bolzano. In our opinion it is too busy in the cities here, and not relaxing at all to drive a car through it. Another thing is the signposting, which almost can't be worse.
Pale di San Martino, 3192 meters Snow everywhereEventually we find the road that we want to take, along he mountain massif of the Pale di San Martino, 3192 meters high. A very impressive mountain which towers above it's neighbours and dominates the area.
After this pass we continue in the direction of Venice, or rather the peninsula opposite of Venice, so we can cross by boat tomorrow. It is only 100 km. but we first end up in a traffic jam and stay there for almost an hour. In the end we can go on and pass cars of the police, the fire department and ambulances. Near the cars we see one half of a motor, the front being completely crushed.
Near Treviso we are confronted again with the Italian way of signposting and we drive in circles for some time before we are sure we are going in the right direction. The distance to a certain town changes from 32 km. to 14 within a few minutes. Our roadmap seems to be more reliable but the scale is not detailed enough. So, we follow our sense of direction and use some common sense and that works much better. Nevertheless, it has taken us more than 3 hours to cover the last 100 kilometers and finally arrive at the campsite we have been looking for.
Campsite Marina de Venezia Cup of soupSoon we have put up the tent, but much sooner we get acquainted with the local musquitoes who have a large population here. We will be scratching again, the next days! Elisabeth has enough appetite for a cup of soup but she isn't prepared for the bowl that she gets: almost a whole soup tureen. We don't care, we have (plenty of) food, a place to sleep, what else could someone need?
It has been a long and tiring travel day, especially the last hours in the traffic. We knew that the north of Italy is a busy place but we are surprised by the large number of tourists that are already occupying the country in this part of the year. Not our favourite hobby, sharing a country with so many fellow tourists, but we have to pay this price when we want to see some of the highlights of this country, like Venice.


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