We are sitting on the lounge (in that picture) at Hotel Tyrol, Funes , sipping a Prosecco and awaiting the sunset, hoping a rusty hue will descend upon the spectacular Dolomites.
I have been dreaming of this part of the holiday for 12 months. And it hasn’t disappointed. If you remember I showed Bob a photo I had seen when I googled The Dolomites and I said I want our hotel to look at that view. Well it didn’t quite include the church in the view- see our own photos below- but to me it was even more magnificent. They just dominated the skyline and the colour changes as the sun hit different angles was magical to watch.
The iconic photo taken by Bob- no google image there
View from our balcony
We arrived two days ago to spectacular sunny weather and the imposing view of the Geisler group in the Dolomites from the balcony of our hotel room. All the hotels in this region and really all through northern Italy, have spectacular petunias and geraniums adorning their facade. Bob is impressed and incredulous at their magnificence and is madly googling how to grow flowers like the Italians and Swiss.
We hiked to the church above our hotel which had even better views and a beautifully kept graveyard with family plots and names going back over 100 years.
After lunch we then headed off for a more major walk out to UNESCO Zentrum (walk 6 and returned on 35A/36). The scenery is spectacular with the Geisler group dominating every corner we turned. The trails are well sign posted and there is a map which is well worth the 9 euros it costs, as you can ensure you are heading in the direction of home when it most counts…as the legs are flagging. To get close to the mountains, there is a lot of UP. I have worked out I am excellent on the horizontal and downhill stretches of any of these walks and less so on the uphill walks.
The next day we did a full day hike (starting from Waldschenke near St Johann’s Church Trail numbers 28, 34A, 34, 36, 36A, 35, 36B, 36, 33- all of this meant a 600 metre vertical climb up and down) and got very close to the base of the Dolomites- part of this is the well known Albert Munkle path (of the Geisler group of mountains) which runs parallel to the mountains.
It is a beautiful trail and because its a proper trail rather than a service road for the ‘refuges’ (which are amazing restaurants high and deep in the national park) there are rocks to clamber over and massive tree roots to step around, ensuring concentration is required to ensure safe footing.
Geisleralm Restaurant at 1996 metres
When I was telling people that I was off to Switzerland and Italy to walk and corrected them if they said the word ‘hike’, I had no idea that what we were attempting was quite so hard. I am now a fully fledged hiker (albeit much slower than the estimated times on every signpost) and I now own proper hiking sticks to prove it. I borrowed a pair from the hotel and they were so helpful I purchased my own in Cortina to tackle the enormous walk today.
The best part about hiking in such beautiful country is the high value ‘homoncular refreshment’. Walking surrounded by beautiful scenery, where it is peaceful and quiet with the only loud noises being the odd jangle of a cow bell and just the sense of achievement at the end of a 4-6 hour walk has certaily reinvigorated my senses! Plenty of times I wanted to stop or ring a taxi and say:‘Please come and get me’ . Of course ringing a taxi wasn’t possible, but I did slightly wish it. Bob just kept saying one foot after the other…not long now. Bob and the sticks got me there.
After two days at Val di Funes, we said goodbye and headed around to Cortina to see the other side of the the Dolomites. The wireless internet has been terrible where we are staying in Cortina, hence the slowness of this blog. But as we head to Venice tomorrow, with supposedly great internet, I will catch up on the absolutely spectacular vistas of Cortina then.