La Dolce Vita in The Dolomites
Thirteen people flying into Verona from Birmingham were soon rushed northwards into the stunning scenery of the Dolomites. Their first reaction to this was to sample the delights of the nearest ice-cream parlour in the Val di Fassa (Campitello).
Their normal style of serious walking started the following day, with a gondola ride to about 8000 ft, a level walk to a mountain hut for lunch and a beer, then a steady downhill walk back into the valley 3500 ft below. As they became more familiar with the transport system, local buses and gondolas were well used, and even a few chair-lift rides sneaked into the itinerary.
To describe each day's walk would be tedious, but some of the routes selected were more interesting than others - meeting an endless succession of other walkers on a 2 foot wide path about 2000 feet above the valley floor tends to focus the mind, even after a couple of beers. As for the transport used, the open-cage gondola to the Marmolada Glacier, the coffin-lift to Sassolungo remain in the memory, as does the opportunity to talk to the bus driver from the back seat on a 'bendibus' on hairpin bends.
A transfer to Selva Val Gardena after a week gave us the opportunity to sample the endless food and wine of a Thomson's chalet. The only other guests were John and Barbara from the Birmingham area, who gave up trying to have a holiday and as Stan Warren put it, ‘joined in with our round of eating, drinking and walking. They even nearly won the quiz, but some creative marking ensured the prize came back with us. I am sure they will be claiming a refund’.
Stan’s notebook should offer further inspiration, but very few of the comments now make any sense. Quite what provoked such jottings as 'two old ladies locked in a lavatory', 'wife-swapping on buses', 'love in a basket', 'cold enough for a vest' and 'too exhausted to eat chocolate cake' is not recalled . Stan was apparently directly involved in 'a washing-peg war', 'evaporating red wine' and 'Harvey's early morning cuppa', but he strongly denies anything to do with 'Grand Marnier' 'sliding down bannisters' 'yoghurt stealing' and 'uncollected urgent post'. The only half sensible comment left seems to be a call for communication cords in gondolas.
The weather was excellent throughout and thirteen sun-tanned and happy people returned to Birmingham safe and sound. For some this was not their first trip and although the line up has changed over the years and numbers have fallen away the remnants of this happy band of members still go out there each year