Saturday, September 3, 2011

7 mountain passes and a local Fest

It was a beautiful, sunny morning in Kötschach Mautern, Austria, the start of our third day on the ROADRunner magazine 5-country motorcycle tour.

A few of us decided to start the day with a run along the river, then headed up into the foothills on a well-maintained path. It was a great way to start the day!
Our route today took us over 7 mountain passes in the Italian Dolomites, which required navigating more hairpin turns than any of us can count. You can't miss the video of today's route!

The talk among the drivers is all about the correct technique to safely navigate the hairpin turns, but as the pillion rider, all I care about is the scenery (awesome, stupendous, awe-inspiring), the camaraderie (it’s amazing how quickly we’ve become friends, how much we have in common with people from all over the world, and what we can learn from each other), and of course the delicious local food. Mike takes care of the technical parts of the trip, and we both enjoy spending time together. A perfect vacation and 30th wedding anniversary celebration!
Lunch today was something you might imagine in a dream:  picture a clear lake, surrounded by the craggy high peaks of the Dolomites, anchored with gorgeous hotels, and a beautiful sunny blue sky. Throw in pizza (we ARE in Italy) enjoyed lakeside, and the dream comes true.

After lunch, as we were heading up the Passo di Giau, we were passed by a man driving an Army green Ural motorcycle with a sidecar. He had a huge grin on his face, and looked to be having the time of his life. We met up with him at the top of the mountain pass, and had fun talking about motorcycles, his travels through Europe, and how much he loves driving a motorcycle with a sidecar. Motorcycle riders are definitely a friendly, talkative bunch!

The afternoon was spent enjoying more incredible mountain views and hairpin turns. When we arrived in Arabba, Italy, our final destination, everyone was in a celebratory mood after a perfect day. We were in luck, because a local group was hosting a festival right next to our hotel, complete with a 3-man band (accordion, tuba, and vocals) and "nogln" a famous Austrian drinking game that involves trying to hammer nails into a large tree stump, using a hollow metal hammer. It reminded me of the whack-a-mole game we used to play with the kids when they were young, except in the Austrian game the loser buys the winner a beer. We danced the polka and Ukrainian 2-step, played the nogln game, and had a wonderful time with our tour group members and the local folks. It reminded me how much fun can be had at a small, local Fest, and it was a fantastic way to end an absolutely wonderful day.

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