Monday, 30 May 2011

Riding through the Dolomite Mountains

I am behind with my posts. This is actually from a few days ago....

We stayed on night 3 of our trip to Croatia in the Greif Hotel in Bolzano. This is one of those ultra modern, funky hotels that make you smile. For example, the room that Ian stayed in contained a grand piano, while my room had a fantastic antique desk. After a long days riding, I slept very well. I have stayed in many hotels in the last two weeks and my room had the most comfortable bed of any. Breakfast was eaten outside on a warm and sunny morning.

On day 4 of our ride from the UK to Croatia, we decided to change our planned route via Venice and head instead to the Dolomites, in the eastern Alps. Located to the east of Bolzano, this mountain range is in north east Italy and, well, it surprised both Ian and myself. After instructing it to take us only on secondary roads and to avoid motorways, we let the sat nav / gps do the route planning for us and we simply followed where she-who-must-be-obeyed told us to go. This was route planning at its simplest – you know where we are, this is where we want to arrive, now tell us how to get there. I think her name is Jane and today, she did us proud, as it was one of those occasions where we didn’t know the area at all and were quite happy to go where directed.

That happened to be through the Dolomites and Jane took us down some spectacular roads.

We passed tall peaks, fast flowing rivers and still lakes. We saw magnificent trees and glorious vistas. In the morning, the elevations we rode at lowered the temperature, only to be beaten back up as the sun triumphed in the afternoon and the mercury rose to just under 90F.

We stopped and looked down upon one lake, dam formed, against which Ian was pictured sitting astride his bike....




















The main part of the Alps have a splendour all of their own, where individual peaks reach for the sky in dramatic fashion. The Dolomites are different though, where craggy peaks exist, often close together to form dramatic shapes and silhouettes against the sky....





















Even in late May, the peaks are still covered in snow and the snow-melt water crashes down the mountain streams and rivers....


























Riding in the Dolomites is great fun, with steep and twisty roads everywhere. Mainly set amongst the trees, occasionally the road bursts out into large clearings where the views are impressive and the layout of the road ahead can be seen....





















We stopped at this particular view and scrambled up the slope to get a better view. Ian doing his best to look like the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro....
















Using my point and shoot camera, this is a short video of the view. At the end of the clip I zoom into the mountain peaks in the cloud to show just how tall they are....




More dramatic peaks....








































The same peaks set high above a mountain town....
















While I am sure the people who live there wouldn’t agree, this is a stunning road constructed high through a mountain valley....













One of the joys of not having a screen on your bike is you get to feel the wind properly. Sadly, you get to feel everything else in that air as well. Ian looking grubby from exhaust fumes / dirt....
















The same place a few minutes later after he had washed his face. Note the funky art-deco table cloth in the cafe we had stopped at....

















We stayed that night in Trieste, on the eastern border of Italy. This is the main city square and our hotel was on one side of the square....





















The hotel had a swimming pool in its basement, made to look like an old Roman ruin....


























































The square at night, taken hand-held with my phone....




















That was our final days riding in Italy. Tomorrow, we cross the border into Slovenia and then Croatia.

8 comments:

Charlie6 said...

Those were some magnificent mountain peak shots Gary!

Did you by any chance ride by the Pian Cavallo ski resort...that's where I tried skis for the first time much to the dismay of the other skiers who kept yelling out to me: "occhi avanti!"

They were trying to get me to look where I was going instead of fixating on the tips of my skis. I must have been quite the hazard that day.

Dom


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

mq01 said...

wow, thank you for sharing another trek of fabulous roads and times. stunning terrain!

SonjaM said...

Ah, Gary. Not only that you make me totally home sick, now I am actually considering a Harley road-trip worthy. And that is happening to me... a Beemer rider. All your fault, I only wish I had the budget... there is this one with flames, and chrome, and it fits me actually very well... but I digress.
Once again you are leading me towards familiar places. Thank you. I love the rugged look of the Dolomites, and the rugged look of the riders, too ;-)

Twitch said...

Some awesome shots there. Almost wish I could be there to experience in person.

bluekat said...

Just beautiful country! So many great places to see and ride.

Gary France said...

Charlie6 – No, we didn’t get to see the Pian Cavallo ski resort. Not being much of a skier, looking forward is probably good idea.

mq01 – Stunning indeed.

Sonja – A Harley is a good road trip bike. It may not go as fast as most other bikes, or handle as well, but it just keeps going without any trouble and they sure have a lot of character. Not sure about the flames though! I was really impressed with the Dolomites.

Twitch – It is truly an awesome place.

bluekat – Very beautiful indeed.

George F said...

No dipping in the pool? you could have given Bob some competition ;-)
Beautiful pictures and RR. The fumes must be from all the diesels in Europe, ha ha

Gary France said...

George – I went for a swim. I was in the pool when I took the first photo. I had to be careful not to drop the camera!