This is the first time I’m travelling without any check-in luggage. In fact it’s the first time I’m travelling without my hair straighteners.
Day1 – This is the day I start to get an insight as to how I will cope with carrying 12 kilos on my back after carrying it around the airport for a while. Of course Tom offered to carry it for me a couple of times but I’d be on my own with it soon enough. One thing I hadn’t anticipated is the fact that I’d be carrying ALL my luggage around airports whilst everyone else wanders freely having checked in theirs.
Nerves hit me when we land at Marco Polo airport in Venice because I remember that I’ll be driving a hired 4 x 4 on the opposite side of the road and I pray I get the hang of it quickly. I originally booked a fiat 500 but the lady behind the desk laughed when I told her we were driving to the mountains. Apparently it’s the law to purchase snow chains or get a 4 x 4 instead. I drive us to the top of a mountain – a 3 and a half hour drive in the dark, through heavy fog, on deep snow. Once I stop punching the door to change gears and stop stressing at other cars behind me it’s not too bad!
The sat nav doesn’t know where we’re going and struggles to find where we are half the time, every single hotel we pass have all their lights out as if everyone has opted for an early night. We tactfully find our hotel using good old fashioned look-for-the-name-and-scream “THERE IT IS” whilst driving up a mountain, through fog, on snow, in the dark.
The lone-standing hotels here look like huge cabins and remind me of gingerbread houses covered in 3ft of snow. Such a long drive, I’ve never been so happy to arrive at a destination before. With everyone asleep, entry proves difficult, resorting to ringing the bell of the hotel owner to wake her up and she tells us our key is in a shoe at the front door.. we let ourselves in, dump our things and head back out in search of something to eat. A little restaurant serving food until midnight welcomes us in German accents and gives us German menus so we order German beer.
Day2 – I can finally see what the views look like, last night I could make out some mountains silhouetted against the moonlit skyline but I didn’t expect it to look this amazing.
Tom takes advantage of the free breakfast and I stick to coffee. The hotel is beautiful with most of the inside made of wood with open fires. The hotel owner welcomed us properly and we watch her go off to tend to her paddock of horses. I explore the area around the hotel, make friends with some cows and slip on some snow. We take the car just up the road, park up and explore some woodland and take some more photos.
I drive us to a town nearby without much of a plan except to just see what’s there. Everything covered in snow looks like something out of a fairytale but it all seemed so… German. Everyone speaks German not Italian making us wonder which country we’re in. I start to drive up a long, steep hill and decide to park up and get out for some photos until we ended up having fun with it and got these;
Day3- The moment I had been waiting for, a visit to Lake Braies. We arrive at 7.30am as per my 6 alarms this morning. The lake was a 3 minute drive up a hill away from our hotel, we couldn’t have been any closer unless we stayed at the hotel on the lake itself. Nobody around we were the first ones on the pathway. I knew to expect the lake to be covered in ice and snow but I can’t help but feel disappointment. My mood lifts when I spot a section of water uncovered by ice so I do what any sane person would do, climb down the embankment, submerge my legs in 3ft of snow and trudge through to get the edge of the water. I shake my hands to get feeling in them so that I can adjust my tripod. Tom’s nose is frozen so we leave very soon. The carpark is packed full of people arriving just as we begin to leave.
A visit to Bruneck is next, a town 30 minutes drive away for seeing colourful town houses and historical fairytale looking churches and of course, coffee.
Day4- The 3 and a half hour drive back to Venice is upon us and it’s much nicer in the daylight, the mountain views and little towns are amazing. We’ll be spending one night in Venice and then Tom will fly back to the UK leaving me to travel solo for the next 5 weeks!