Italia via Barwies, Austria!

September 29, 2011 - Dolomites, Italy


alpine ItalySo we were up at a comfortable rate this morning.  No reason to be in a yank because there’s a light mist saturating our view early in the morning.  We seemed to be the only tenants at Haus Weiher last night.  We enjoyed a very romantic little breakfast all by ourselves.  Today I made a sandwich to take with us as instructed by the Frau.  We settled up (116 Euros) and took off towards Innsbruck, Austria.  We would not be staying long in Austria but just passing through on our way to Italy.

                When planning this trip Bill had realized how close we would be to Italy and remarked that he’d like to have a real, Italian pizza.  We have our own tradition of homemade Shepherd, Michigan pizza almost every Friday night and we both wanted to see how much better the real deal was.  During the planning stages I had figured that the Dolomites in the Trento region of Italy would be beautiful and afford just a taste of Italy.  I had settled on lodging in the cozy town of La Villa per suggestion of a fellow TripAdvisor traveler.Barweis, Austria 

                As we traveled through Austria; beyond Innsbruck, I saw a little church that begged for me to take its picture.  We veered off the GPS route for a very small detour into the village of Barwies, Austria.  As we approached the church I couldn’t find the right angle to capture the church with the gray of the mountains behind it.  I easily coaxed Bill a little farther up a one lane road.  Finally I saw a spot where it looked like he could pull over.  “This is some farmer’s drive,” he said.  I assured him I’d just run up the little incline, take a snap, and be right back.  As I headed up the small incline, there was a small grotto there and as I approached I heard voices on the other side of some bushes.  “Hallo,” I said so as not to scare whoever was there.  I peeked around the bush and there were two beautiful, elderly Austrian ladies sitting on a bench.  They immediately motioned for me to sit down between them.  In German I explained that I understood very little (German) and that my “husband” was over there and pointed down the hill.  They nodded and still patted the bench for me to sit down.  I was worried that Bill would be impatient and as I was trying to explain that I would go get him, around the bushes from the other side he came.

              Teresa, Kelly, and Karolina  This was one of those spirit-lead moments.  I sat on the bench and we had a lovely conversation with both ladies; Teresa and Karolina; both 86 years old.  Teresa motioned to her head and gave thumbs up while attempting to tell me that her mind was still good.  She then pointed to her right hip and said, “Kaput!”  I grabbed my small photo album from the car and we conversed about our home, our respective children, our families (I had a picture of Bill’s family as well as mine), etc.  They asked if we liked Obama and were able to communicate that Austrians did; but Bush – not so much.  The ladies were sincerely happy to have us there and reluctant to let us go.  I pulled out the map of Austria and showed them the places to which we would be traveling after our one day in Italy.  Finally, I had to get up and we said good-by.  This was a precious encounter in my life and I believe Bill’s too.  We were both eternally grateful that we had studied some German before making this trip.  We could actually manage somehow between the four of us.  I never ended up getting a picture of the church from that spot but certainly the quest for that picture led me to an even more perfect memory.Dolomites1

                We entered Italy a short time after Innsbruck and continued on to Ortisei.  I had read that the Val Gardena Pass was a drive filled with awe inspiring scenery and hairpin turns.  Indeed it was!  We wound our way around until the Dolomites were all around us.  Bill, who really does know a lot about a lot of things, was familiar with the Dolomites prior to this trip.  I was not.  They stand like gigantic jagged teeth rising up from the earth.  It took me a little while to get past the feeling that they were going to tip right over and collapse upon us.  I need to research via the net (when I have it again) how high they soar but it is truly impressive.

               dolomites2 I had intended to cap this day off with a visit to Passo di Falzarego (Falzarego Pass) but could not get the GPS to accept it as a point of interest.  Instead I went to the old-fashioned method of attempting to follow a map.  Needless to say, we ended up seeing places I had not intended for us to visit.  After some distance on one winding mountainous road with no recognizable villages (to me), we pulled over to ask some workmen directions.  The man was able to tell me in German directions to the pass and that we were about 40 minutes driving time away.  Dang it!  We had done quite the detour all the way around the Grupp di Sella Selagruppe of the Dolomites (look that up in a guide book!).  By now we figured it would take us until at least 4:00 p.m. to get to the Lagazuoi funicular.  from Lagazuoi in Italy

                This late in the season there are only two funiculars that will lift you to the top of the Dolomites (or so my research had led me to believe).  One was in Ortisei and the other by the Falzarego Pass; the Lagazuoi funicular.  I was told that the views from the Lagazuoi were absolutely spectacular.  We arrived at the ticket counter around 4:05 p.m. and had to wait only 10 minutes before the next cable car lifted (think James Bond).  Again, now that I’ve been here I want to know more details but I can assure you we went so high at such an angle (between 30 – 60 degree angle) that I kept going around to all the windows just exclaiming, “Wow!”  A British biker in the car with us; who chose to look at his feet the majority of the time; remarked, “I could think of better things to say than ‘wow’.”  What he meant was more in terms of “Oh shit!”

                From Lagazuoi in Italy2Once at the top there is a small but significant incline to a refuge.  Hikers can actually sleep here if they chose.  We chose to split a beer while standing on top of the world.  It really did give us that sensation.  All the way around us were peaks of the Dolomites.  I’ve never encountered anything like it in my life; neither had Bill.  In addition, during World War I this peak had served as a line of defense as it then was part of the Central Powers; part of Austria.  Carved into it are bunkers and tunnels from which the (then) Austrians defended their country from Italy.  Again, I have to refresh my memory later – but one can still clamber down into one of the tunnels if one’s knees are beginning to go (as are ours)!

                We lingered up there until the last car down at 5:00 p.m.  It was a very humbling, moving experience and in fact, I remarked to Bill that there were really no words in the English language to describe it. 

                From there it was only a 35 minute drive to our lodging, the Montanara.  Our room was not ready when we arrived (close to 6:00) so we were provided some little beers to drink on the patio.  The view from the patio was quite stunning.  The setting sun was illuminating the Dolomites and the valley was shaded below.

                After checking into our room, we headed out in search of Bill’s pizza; the reason we came to Italia.  Upon recommendation we located “La Tor” restaurant and requested an English menu.  So many choices!  I ended up with a ham, spicy salami, onion, and mushroom pizza that was most delicious.  Bill ordered a sausage pizza with radicchio, and smoky cheese (that he requested be left off but none-the-less was left on).  His was not so good.  I shared, but ate the lion’s share myself.  For dessert we split a tiramisu; my favorite dessert of all time and that was delicious!real authentic Italian Pizzas

                We made it back to our room where we wound down, me at the computer; Bill watching the Chinese television station.

And okay, now that I’ve confessed to being a glutton, let me say a word about obesity; particular the morbidly obese:  Aside from an American man, I think I’m the fattest person we’ve seen.  There are walking and biking trails everywhere.  Even on the “top of the world” we saw a couple who appeared to be in their 70s, wearing red, wood knee socks, long shorts, and carting backpacks.  People walk around here; they bike, they hike – and they are not obese.  The showers are compact and tiny.  I cannot imagine how an obese human can even get in one.  Yes, we have seen McDonalds, KFC, and at least one Burger King but they are much fewer and far between.  It is refreshing to see; yet also embarrassing to think what impression Americans must make on Europeans.



Bill and Kelly Profile
Bill and Kelly on top of the world
Barweis, Austria
Dolomite panorama


October 4, 2011
OK Kelly, Hallow out to for the "Obese". First you referring to yourself as fat in any form is a joke. And Lord knows you are always moving, so whatever you eat, doesn't stand a chance to hold on to anywhere!! Did you forget our friend "Character" :) We are having just too much fun sharing your adventures. And the Dolomites are sort of creepy and they do look like teeth, ready to chew you up.....haahhahah
Theresa Freihart:
October 17, 2011
Dear Kelly,
let us see your fat parts on your body, otherwise we don´t believe it. You are good looking.
That´s from Theresa from Germany.
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