We stayed for a week from October 2 to October 9 at our rented holiday cottage in the South Tyrol (but we arrived in the afternoon on the first day and left in the morning on the last day, so those two days don’t really count). We had lovely sunny weather the first couple of days, then a couple of days of rain and snow. It got quite cold during the second part of the week and the snow stayed on the higher peaks around our plateau. We did a lot of walking and hikes, although I kept to non-challenging paths, as Curious Dog isn’t the dog for demanding trails what with his inability to stop pulling on his leash. The others once took a cable car up to one end of the Rosengarten mountain range and walked across the western face of it. I took them to the cable car terminal and picked them up at the point where they came down again. They did the walk on the day after it had snowed during the night and I think they took about 3 or 3,5 hours. They loved it and I would have enjoyed it too, but having CD pull you on a potentially slippery steep track on the side of a mountain was just too dangerous. And I didn’t mind. CD and I did an easier hike and I also read a bit, so that was fun, too. Also, I wasn’t sure what CD would think about a cable car – much to my surprise he didn’t mind the suspension bridge that crossed a small ravine on the way from our cottage to the nearby lake. He didn’t turn a hair at its swinging at our every step. Maybe he would have liked a trip with a cable car.
We went hiking every day, except on the one day when it rained so incessantly that we only went on a couple of short walks with CD. The rest of the day we spent watching DVDs, playing games, and cooking. We’d brought along Partner’s DVD player, as there wasn’t one in the cottage (also no internet) and we brought the game Settlers of Catan which all of us had played before except Cousin 1’s boyfriend. I don’t know whether he entirely enjoyed it, but he was a good sport and joined us anyway.
Partner and I never had to go grocery shopping, because Cousin 1 and her boyfriend did it for us, since we had paid for the cottage. We told them that they didn’t need to do it, because we would have had the cottage anyway even if they hadn’t been able to join us. It was apparently a point of honour (my little Cousin, all grown up). On the last evening, they treated us to a take-out pizza (we didn’t want to eat at the restaurant because of Corona). It was quite hard to find a restaurant that was open. It seems that during the off-season between summer (hiking) and winter (skiing), a lot of places shut down (or maybe it was because during Corona the off-season was quieter than ever). I tried a pizza that I’d never had before, with Radicchio salat leaves and melted goat’s cheese on the side. It was interesting but not as good as I’d imagined. The cheese was very nice but those big salad leaves on the pizza were a little strange. I believe it would have been better if the leaves had been shredded into smaller pieces and spread more evenly across the pizza. I may try it on one of our homemade pizzas sometime (except without the cheese, as I only eat dairy when on vacation).
The hiking trails were very scenic, but sometimes puzzling to follow. On the longest hike we took, the signs at one place suddenly pointed straight across a meadow where you couldn’t see any trail. We crossed the meadow and then cast about right and left along a wooden fence until we managed to find the next sign, painted on the fence but around a corner. We then walked a narrow trail through woods, until at the bottom of a hill we came upon a sign that said “Trail closed for logging by order of the council of …” We didn’t feel like walking back up the hill and we also couldn’t see or hear any logging going on, so we ignored the sign. Luckily, we got to the other end of the closed off part of the trail without running into any logging whatsoever. Still – if you’re going to close off part of a trail, it makes more sense to post signs about it at the start of the trail and not just somewhere in the middle. That was weird.
The countryside was very lovely. Lots of views across the valleys and the mountains, with the higher mountains of the Alps in the distance, showing off their snow-topped peaks. A lot of the pine woods in the area are in a dire state (some of the views would not have existed if it hadn’t been for all the fallen trees). In 2018 a huge storm swept through the mountains and destroyed a lot of the pines. Some of the mountainsides are full of tree stumps – part of the reason for all that logging. In one of the valleys, we saw a huge number of logs collected for processing beside a saw mill. In front of our cottage, a big stump had been carved at the top into the shape of an eagle. A nice way of making the best of the situation. It must have been a very devastating storm.
I enjoyed our vacation a lot more than I had expected, but did I like it more than our usual vacation on the Baltic or the North Sea? No, not really. Mostly because of Curious Dog. His pulling on the leash all the time when we were hiking was just a real pain. He always pulls a bit, but on our familiar walks he usually stops pulling after the first excitement of starting out. In unfamiliar places, he never stops. In October at the seaside, when the beaches are always quite deserted, we can let him off the leash, because you can see what’s coming for miles and there are no cars. But he’s not very good at returning to us when we call, so it’s too dangerous to let him off leash when you can’t see what’s round the next bend of the trail. Being yanked along by CD was terribly annoying. He walks till he’s reached the end of the leash, then he leans into it and pulls. Then I stop and wait till the leash is slack. When we start up again, he dashes forward and yanks, because the others have overtaken us which he can’t stand. And again, and again until I’m thoroughly fed up. I’ve tried all sorts of things to make him walk properly on the leash (walking in circles, changing directions, stopping and waiting…) so far nothing has worked. I know he can do it, because he does it properly on our usual walks, both at my place and in Bavaria, but as soon as he’s in an unfamiliar place, he gets excited and forgets all his training. Also, in towns. He’s terrible in towns. So, with CD I prefer vacations during the off-season at the seaside.
Otherwise, the mountains were lovely. One of the biggest perks was that the cottage in South Tyrol was a lot closer to southern Germany than the Baltic or the North Sea. The trip took only about 5 hours (or maybe a bit less) as opposed to 9 hours. But vacations at the seaside are more relaxing. You can walk along the beach in two directions and that’s it. There’s no incentive to try out a large number of different trails and nobody minds if you want to spend the afternoon reading. I’m a lazy vacationer as opposed to Partner, who always wants to do and see everything that’s to be done and seen. Very exhausting. When I’ve been up on my feet sightseeing (or whatever) all morning, I need a nice long break in the afternoon. But I usually go with the flow. I can always read on those vacations when we don’t go anywhere, like my long vacation over Christmas and the New Year (which I’m already looking forward to).
The trails we hiked on our vacation were quite mild. That’s why I enjoyed myself more than I had predicted. I’d expected the trails to be more hair-raising in combination with Curious Dog. On our return, though, Partner and I once left CD at home with Mum and went to try out a trail just around the corner from my home in Bavaria. It was supposed to be a bit steep and narrow, and the description said that you needed to be sure on your feet. I’d wanted to try it for years, but it’s not suitable for dogs and I didn’t want to do it by myself. So, I got Partner to do it with me. It turned out that you had to scramble up and over rocky outcroppings in the hillside, gripping onto roots or rocks in places, which was occasionally quite scary. I’ve walked around the bottom of the hill many times and would never have guessed that the trail was so challenging. The hill is wooded, and it seems the woods hide the scary parts. The hike took us about three hours up and around about 10 rocky cliffs that jut out of the hillside (though we had to wait for a couple of other people on the trail as you couldn’t overtake anyone). Walking along the bottom of the hill only takes about an hour (I’ve done it tons of times with CD). I’m glad I’ve finally done the trail, but I don’t think I’ll be repeating it. I pulled a muscle (or strained something) in one of my legs, which was painful for a couple of days.
Partner and I also went sightseeing to a Catholic pilgrimage church, built in the Roccoco style, which had an exceedingly creepy decorated skeleton of a saint or a martyr (I’ve forgotten his name) displayed in a glass coffin and a statue of the Virgin Mary which has supposedly once or twice “turned her eyes away” as a miracle. A very odd miracle if you ask me.
Those were the highlights of our vacation, managed before Corona took off again.
Now, we’re back at my place in Baden-Württemberg with absolutely terrible weather. Rain, sleet, and wind all day. Curious Dog and I got drenched twice, in the morning and the afternoon.
I’ve got an appointment for getting a booster vaccination for Covid 19 at the beginning of February at my place of work. My company has restarted its vaccination offering. As my Mum has already had her booster, only Partner needs to get a booster early next year, too.
Keep safe, world.