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Simply a winter paradise!

Written on: Saturday January 18th, 2014

A journal entry from: Mega Trip

If there is one blog entry worth reading, this is the one in my opinion. Especially if you like skiing!

My excitement had never been higher throughout the trip so far. This was my want and my dream for our trip. To give a bit of background, for several years I have been watching the Tour de Ski race in the Dolomites and specifically the little German/Italian mountain town of Toblach or in Italian, Dobbiaco. In fact Canadians have done quite well here and the Tour had passed trough only a week and a half before us, with Alex Harvey reaching the podium!

What a contrast, waking up in Venice and taking a "boat" to the train station and making our way north. Slowly the fields turned to large hills and then to mountains all around us. Yet there was no snow... As we transferred trains we started heading higher up into the mountains. I felt like a giddy kid on Christmas. But still no snow... Laure told me not to get my hopes up as maybe the snow had melted... My heart sank.

Up and up we went and slowly before you knew it we were in a winter wonderland. As we stopped at a little station I saw my first skier, it was like a Canadian spotting a moose! We had arrived in skiing paradise. There are OVER 1,200 KM of interconnected ski trails from village to village to village. Xc and Dh skiers everywhere! Our hotel was only a few hundred meters away from the station and to our surprise there was a ski rental shop kitty corner to it. After checking in, we went and got fitted for our skis. The prices were really cheap compared to back home. One can have an unlimited ski pass to all trails and bus/train pass for only 27? a week. They had a great selection of good skis for rent.

We explored the town that evening and enjoyed the hotels amenities, which were a bit of a luxury compared to the past two weeks. The town is quite quaint, nestled in a mountain valley. It is quite interesting as the area has gone back and forth over the years as both a German/Austrian/Italian area, and therefore everyone speaks both languages. I joked with Laure that the things that were done really well must of had more German influence and those that didn't Italian! ;)

The next morning we took an early bus south to Cortina, which was about 45min away and is the start of the flagship stage of the Tour de Ski. An approximately 31km skate ski over the mountains back to Toblach. After a few wrong turns we were finally on the right piste. The first 10km or so were continuous up hill, and the views kept getting better. We were both in awe and really took our time to take it in, stop take some pictures etc... The snow was hard and a really fast spring like condition which made for effortless skiing.

The trail follows an old train pass and therefore the gradient although ever constantly climbing was never too steep and you could one skate most of the climb. Near the top of the pass you actually ski through the mountain in a groomed ski tunnel! A surreal moment! Along the way there are plenty of restaurants and cafés where you can stop and get some authentic food and recharge as you continue to ski. The ski ambiance and lifestyle here is amazing. You can stop and enjoy a cold beer or coffee and cake and then just keep skiing. As you arrive into Toblach you enter the fairly new Nordic Arena which has an outstanding club house which you ski over and forms part of the finishing stadium. This is also where a sprint stage of the Tour is held. Surprisingly for not having skied much prior to the trip and for the past two weeks, we both felt quite good and finished the day with a sauna session and a nice meal out.

The following day we skied east to a town called Sexten. Nice forest trail running by a river. It was mostly 13km of solid uphill to get there and at one point you actually had to cut across a ski hill. We found a nice little restaurant off the beaten path in Sexten and then enjoyed the relatively fast and easy ski back! Saunas, exploring the town and having dinner became a routine. That night we also did a few k's of night skiing around the stadium. There was a ski trail connected to our hotel which made it really easy to get around on skis.

On our third day, we decided to sleep in a little as we were both tired from the previous two days. We had planned to ski west through the valley and take a bus back. However, a constant snow fall made for a change of plans and we decides to ski in the cover of the forest and around a mountain lake where we had lunch along the way. We were sad to have to start packing that evening.

On our last morning we got up early, took a bus half way back to Cortina and skied back down towards town. It was nice to get one last ski in before having to leave. In all we skied 85km, not bad considering I had only skied 7 before the trip :s

It was so nice to see so many people (from toddlers to numerous eighty year olds) enjoying the sport. It was also quite special to be here and ski together with Laure as it is skiing that allowed me to meet her in the first place. I am quite lucky to have someone who can ski 30km in a day and keep on going! In all, this place has been magical. We both quickly fell in love with the area and I could not recommend it enough to those looking for a skiing getaway. There is nothing not to like, and I cannot wait to come back. The people are friendly, the lifestyle is active, the air fresh and the skiing unbelievable and breathtaking!

It is with heavy hearts that we depart,

David W.

 

From Carmen on Jan 19th, 2014

Amazingly beautiful! It seems like you also had wonderful weather. I would love to go there some day. Thank you for sharing this blog with us.

From Wilfrid on Jan 19th, 2014

Wow ! Absolutely beautiful. You will have a whole new appreciation for the ski races when you see them on TV.

From Lydia on Jan 23rd, 2014

Beautiful pictures David & Laure!!!

From Meghan on Jan 24th, 2014

Wow, sounds like you guys are having an amazing time. Love the updates, can't wait to hear all about it, perhaps over reading week.

From pauline rochefort on Jan 25th, 2014

Merci Laure et David for sharing your trip with us. I would love the skiing...great to know how great it is and accessible. Tante Pauline