Three Festivals in the Südtirol

2018-07-21 18.24.0125 July, 2018: We attended three surprise festivals in two days in Brixen, and wrapped up our stay there with a wine tasting. First I found a flyer in the Brixen tourist office advertising a wine festival with live music in the nearby village of St. Magdalena on July 20, so we decided to check it out. It was probably related to the feast day of their patron saint, Mary Magdalene, though that’s normally on July 22; it also seemed to be a celebration of the first tapping of the wine casks, or something like that. In any case, this festival in the tiny village (~370 inhabitants) featured live music (in the general polka vein), wine from their famous local cellar, steins of beer, and lots and lots of German-style fair food. It was amazing. Continue reading “Three Festivals in the Südtirol”

Hiking in the Dolomites, Part 4: Seceda Summit (Val Gardena)

2018-07-24 12.39.0024 July, 2018: time for the hike that started it all! I have an established habit of seeking out Windows 10 lock screen images as travel destinations (see also: Plitvička Jezera in Croatia) and it was a lock screen image that made me first decide to visit the Dolomites, too.

The Seceda Summit has a large cable car and a ski area, so it’s quite accessible and therefore quite touristic. The geology makes up for it, though — the Fermeda Peaks are incredible.  Continue reading “Hiking in the Dolomites, Part 4: Seceda Summit (Val Gardena)”

Hiking in the Dolomites, Part 3: Puez-Odle Altopiano

2018-07-23 12.27.2923 July, 2018: Third hike! This one was my favorite: 9-ish miles of gorgeous mountain scenery and more time spent going downhill than up, thanks to a cable car at the start of the trail. For a step-by-step guide to this excellent hike, check out Earthtrekkers’ chronicle, which we found quite useful.

I love a cable car: there’s something so peaceful about being calmly scooped up the side of a mountain. This one left from Selva di Val Gardena, and the drive to get there was lovely on its own. When we arrived we stood in line for a little bit to get tickets for the gondola, which was quite popular, but fortunately there are a few different trail options at the top, so the hike itself wasn’t too crowded. Continue reading “Hiking in the Dolomites, Part 3: Puez-Odle Altopiano”

Hiking in the Dolomites, Part 2: Herrensteig

2018-07-22 12.33.33 (1)22 July, 2018: time for our second hiking attempt! After bailing on the last one due to the bugs, we were a little apprehensive, but excited to try again.

This time we chose the Herrensteig loop in the Villnöss valley, which is in the Puez Geisler Nature Park. Or, if you prefer Italian, it’s in Val di Funes in the Puez Odle Nature Park. The Südtirol isn’t confusing at all. Continue reading “Hiking in the Dolomites, Part 2: Herrensteig”

Hiking in the Dolomites, Part 1: Panoramaweg

Abort, Abort!

2018-07-21 15.30.0121 July, 2018: this will probably be the shortest post on this site.

After several days exploring Brixen, we were excited to put our rental car to use and head out hiking in the mountains. We (mostly Alex; credit where it’s due) had researched multiple options, and decided to start off with a moderate day hike from a nearby village.

The day started nicely; it was a bit cloudy, but not raining — not too hot to hike, with some nice mists on the mountaintops. We packed up our backpacks the night before, had a quick breakfast in the morning, and headed out. Continue reading “Hiking in the Dolomites, Part 1: Panoramaweg”

Discovering the Südtirol

Suddenly my German skills are useful in Italy

2018-07-21 12.39.0318 July, 2018: the 17th was a long day. We woke up at dawn and walked down the hill to the train station in Corniglia (we had to catch the first train, which is before the first shuttle, so walking was the only option — downhill is easier than up, at least). We took the train to La Spezia and changed for a train to Milan. A few sleepy hours later we made it to the main train station, and spent a little while hunting around for the airport bus. Eventually we found it, and a half hour or so later we made it to the airport, where our rental car (a cute little Fiat) was waiting. Continue reading “Discovering the Südtirol”

Cinque Terre

2018-07-15 10.31.06-217 July, 2018: From Florence we hopped a bus to the train station, then a train to La Spezia, where we changed to a small local train to our next destination. Cinque Terre is a long-famous (it inspired Dante, among many others) tourist hotspot on the Italian Riviera; five extraordinarily picturesque villages set among steeply terraced vineyards on rocky hills along a very pretty coastline. It’s accessible almost exclusively by train (though some of the villages have ferries and there’s very limited road access). We stayed in the third of the five villages, right in the middle. Continue reading “Cinque Terre”

Florence, part 1: Welcome to the City of Narrative

2018-07-09 06.19.0807 July, 2018: Florence! I landed fairly late, and took a taxi to the address of my Airbnb. It was a proper Italian taxi ride, complete with wild acceleration, sudden stops and turns, and the driver gesturing wildly from time to time. He was very nice, but he had a little trouble finding the address — we got fairly close, though, and I had already downloaded the map to my phone so I was happy to walk the rest of the way.

My host lives in Spain, so the process of getting the keys was a little bit worrisome, particularly since I didn’t have cellphone service in Italy when I arrived. I messaged my host from the airport wifi, and told him I was about to hail a taxi. He then called the person who takes care of his apartment, to tell her about when to expect me, and the plan was that I would meet her there. Continue reading “Florence, part 1: Welcome to the City of Narrative”

The Softest Sand Yet

2018-07-06-17.23.0306 July, 2018: I mentioned two days trips from Lisbon; the first was to Sintra, and for the second (a week later), I went to the beach. I wasn’t quite well enough to go surfing, so I was aiming for a nice big beach, with a pleasant town or boardwalk to get my walking in, and lots of sand to stretch out on. I was hoping for a spot that wasn’t too crowded, but was in easy reach of the city center by public transit. I found all that and more in Costa da Caparica. Continue reading “The Softest Sand Yet”