Mountains and meeting Fionn

5th July

So when I last wrote a diary blog we were parked in the most beautiful location in the Dolomites, the air was cool, the scenery was spectacular. We enjoyed our cool night there. Some animal came in the night and emptied out the car park bin so Ignatius did his duty the next morning aided by Slovenian and Dutch campervanners and picked up all the litter. I love the multi-national mix of people you meet when travelling.

We drove on along the rest of the Great Dolomites Road, through more spectacular scenery. Stopped for coffee at the top of a pass, in a ski resort. It’s fun picking out the runs and deciding which colour they’d be, when all are green and grassy!

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Gorgeous Dolomites

Stopped also in Cortina for a look around. This was apparently a very trendy place to be in the sixties but now just felt like a sleepy out-of-season ski resort. We ended the day at Brunica (Bruneck in German) in a car park on the edge of town.

6th July

There are two more of Messner’s Mountain Museums near Brunica, so today we visited the one that’s in a castle in the town. Again, what a great use of an old castle! This museum (Ripa) focuses on mountain peoples throughout the world. A great museum though not as good as the Bolzano one. We also walked around the town, which is small but pleasant and had a late lunch out.

7th July

The other mountain museum is up in the mountains outside Brunica. The only way to reach it is to take a ski gondola (or do a 5 hour hike) so we caught a bus to the gondola then took that to the top of the mountain. There’s a small plateau with the usual ski resort stuff – some accommodation, restaurants, loads of lifts coming up and runs down, and Messner has built a museum here that focuses on the history of Alpine climbing. Another good one in a spectacular location. The views from there are amazing – 360 degree views of Alps and Dolomites.

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Outside the Corones Messner Mountain Museum. Ignatius taking a photo, reflected in the museum glass

When we went back down we missed the bus by seconds so decided to walk back to town. It became very hot as we walked.

Left Brunica and drove on through deep valleys to a campsite at Ossana which was still offering ACSI discounts (most ended at the end of June). This was in a lovely spot with a fast flowing river running right through the middle of the site.

8th July

A day for relaxing around the campsite. We realised we’d had 6 days of living in various car parks – I think that is the longest away from official campsites. Got the washing done, walked around the village where there is a small castle perched on an outcrop of rock, but otherwise we didn’t do much.

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Gertie crossing the bridge in the Ossana campsite

9th July

Time to head south again as we need to be in Bergamo to pick up our son Fionn tomorrow. Beautiful cross country drive, over another mountain pass, and eventually down to Lake Iseo. We’d hoped to drive down the western side but Gertie was too big for both the height and width restriction so we had to take the east, which was pretty enough anyway. Stopped at a supermarket to stock up with food. Fionn is always hungry. We arrived at the town of Iseo and took the last space in the car park – there had been a triathlon on so loads of people in campers and cars with bikes and tri gear.

It was SO much hotter than up in the mountains, so we went down to the lakeside for a very pleasant swim.

10th July

We had plenty of time before we needed to be at the airport for Fionn so we spent the morning wandering around Iseo. It’s like a smaller, quieter Lake Garda and very pleasant.

Drove to Bergamo, checked out the route to the airport and the camperstop, and then basically waited for Fionn. We’d arranged a spot to pick him up – in a camper you can’t just drive into the short stay car park. After a bit of a delay it all worked out and we spent the evening at a camperstop just outside Bergamo. Lovely to see our boy again! Gertie sleeps three – the bench seat converts to a single bed, so Fionn slept there, after we’d drunk champagne with him to celebrate his graduation and also his job offer.

11th July

We walked to the nearby train station and took the train into Bergamo. Fionn’s really into all things medieval, and Bergamo has a medieval old town. There’s a funicular to take you up to the high, old part of the town and we spent the morning exploring that, going into several churches and walking around the town walls.

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With Fionn in Bergamo

In the afternoon we drove to Lake Garda, to the last campsite offering ACSI discounts. There were thunderstorms when we arrived but then it cleared up and we were able to go for a swim in the lake before dinner. It cooled down nicely and we ended up staying up late chatting and drinking wine and enjoying Fionn’s company.

12th July

We hired a town bike for Fionn and rode our bikes up to Sirmione – the town on the little peninsular that juts out into Lake Garda. There’s a castle there with moats and drawbridges so we explored that then after lunch walked right round the headland to the remains of a Roman villa. It was extremely hot by this time, so we went for a much needed swim in the lake beside the castle before cycling back to the campsite for a barbecue dinner.

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View of Sirmione from the top of the castle

Tomorrow it’s back into the mountains. I hope to be cooler next time I write a blog!

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