Vienna to St. Moritz

Friday 28th September, 2007
Saturday, 29th September, 2007
Sunday 30th September, 2007

Friday 28th September, 2007

Drop Cap nother day of acute disappointment! So far, of the major sights I came to Europe to see, only one has had good weather, Neuschwanstein. Today it was pouring as we left Vienna, and despite Elmar's assurances, the rain continued on and off most of the day.

Kindberg village photograph

Village of Kindberg, Austria

Drop Cap e paused for coffee in a pretty village, Kindberg, which had a spectacular maypole and several fountains, then arrived at lunchtime in Villach, where we stopped for the night.

Our hotel, the Romantik Hotel Post is very old and picturesque, on many levels and with many wings, making it a square around a garden.

We had lunch in an open air café, luckily with umbrellas because it was raining again.

Lake Bled photograph

Lake Bled, Slovenia, from Tito's Palace

Drop Cap nfortunately, this is the day we went to Slovenia. I had been looking forward so much to this optional and the weather just closed in. We had to take a small boat, rowed by a stalwart Slovenian, across lovely Lake Bled, clear and green, to the little island with the church.

Bled castle photograph

Bled Castle, from the Lake

Drop Cap t was freezing and raining. The church was up ninety odd steps, but because a wedding party had just arrived (poor things) we were rowed around to an alternative entry. The slope was so steep that I refused it and we walked around the island back to the steps.

Bled rowboats photograph

Some of the Rowboats on Lake Bled

Drop Cap oing on board again we were rowed twice as far in an almost open boat in the wind and rain to a nice hotel where we bedraggled into the rather classy tea room and had a coffee and lovely cream cake.

Drop Cap he weather really does make such a difference. I was unable to enjoy the fjords in Norway because it was so different from what I had anticipated and it was the same here. Both places were still beautiful but in a different way and I felt really frustrated and disappointed. That is really why I refused the slope to the church - I wanted to cry by myself.

Drop Cap s we returned to our hotel in Villach, Austria, the clouds started to clear! Hopefully it will be better tomorrow.

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Saturday, 29th September, 2007

Dolomites photograph

New Snow on the Dolomites

Drop Cap oday dawned clear and bright with blue sky overhead. We noticed a great deal of new snow on the mountains as we went on a spectacular drive through the Dolomite mountains and eventually into Italy.

New snow photograph

More Snow in the Dolomites

Drop Cap e were all snapping madly through the bus windows, probably not to much avail, as we passed a myriad castles and strongholds and the wonderful white towered background of the Kristall Massif. Not all of it was clear, but there was snow everywhere.

Dolomites photograph

We Enjoy the Scene in the Dolomites

Drop Cap e had a photostop by a little lake with chilly looking ducks and a view, then went on to climb the Pass of the Three Crosses and into Lake Miseratura (or something) which was used for Olympic skating events years ago when the Winter Olympics were held at Cortina d'Ampezzo.

Snowballing photograph

Snowballing at the Lake

Drop Cap here was thick snow everywhere and some members of the group could not resist snowballing.

Mac snowballing photograph

Mac About to Throw a Snowball

Drop Cap e drove into the high-powered (but pretty empty at this time of year) alpine town of Cortina d'Ampezzo for lunch at a pizza and pasta restaurant recommended by Elmar. It was OK, Mac and I shared a prosciutto pizza and mineral water and I started to feel my Italian coming back.

Bolzano Cathedral photograph

Cathedral, Bolzano, Italy

Drop Cap fter lunch the clouds closed in again and it was spitting rain again as we headed over the Brenner Pass and on to Bolzano. The sky was clearing once more as we arrived at the Best Western.

Bolzano is a very attractive town with a large central square and a cathedral with a colourful tiled roof. The little shallow river bounces and gurgles over the stones with an attractive bridge above with colourful flower boxes. And when the weather cleared there was a fantastic backdrop of jagged snowtopped mountains.

Bolzano bridge photograph

Bridge Over the Adige River, Bolzano, Italy

Drop Cap t has been a scenically spectacular day, only spoiled by Elmar's interminable saga of what went on in the area during two world wars, an Italian revolution and post war terrorism in aid of autonomy.

He is such a bore, and we seem to be the only ones who think so. "Isn't he clever, he knows so much" gush the little old ladies from Florida. Only in comparison with their total ignorance! Yes, I know I am being nasty but really, the area was so beautiful and all he could think of to talk about was war! Better if he had kept quiet and let us all enjoy it.

Drop Cap e head back into Switzerland tomorrow and go on the Bernina Express from St. Moritz. Hope for fine weather.

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Sunday 30th September, 2007

Drop Cap oday was a magical day! We left Bolzano at 0800 and set off for Switzerland through absolutely glorious snowy mountains with ruined (or not) castles on every point of rock.

We were certainly driving country roads this time because Bernd the driver had to shoehorn the bus through tiny picture postcard villages, some of the houses of which displayed paint scrapes from other large vehicles.

Julier Pass photograph

Climbing Julier Pass, Switzerland

Drop Cap e climbed a pass which was covered with snow with spectacular views of snowy mountain tops, then descended to arrive in lovely St. Moritz in time for lunch.

Drop Cap e had lunch in a hotel café recommended by Elmar where we ate grilled bratwurst, onion gravy and chips, quite tasty and very filling.

Drop Cap fter lunch we found our room in the Monopole Hotel. We have a wonderful view over the lovely green lake (cranes and construction in the foreground inevitably) to the white mountain behind. A very nice hotel too.

Bernina express photograph

On Board the Bernina Express

Drop Cap t 1425 we gathered at the bus for the highlight of the tour so far (among many, really) the Bernina Express train, (narrow gauge mountain railway) up to the high, glacier strewn passes of the Bernina Massif.

Bernina Massif photograph

Bernina Massif from the Train

Drop Cap t was a postcard of everyone's idea of the Swiss Alps, absolutely gorgeous. We tried to take photos but eventually decided to just enjoy the trip, as no photo could do it justice.

Bernina express photograph

On Board the Bernina Express

Poschiavo photograph

Poschiavo from the Train

Drop Cap e got off in Poschiavo, a very picturesque town where Bernd was waiting for us with the bus. We drove back up the Bernina Pass, parallel with the rail line and were able to see it all again from a different perspective. Everyone was raving about it when we got back.

Drop Cap e had a free drink with Elmar tonight when he gave out the gifts to return passengers. Since we had got these in Scandinavia we opted not to take them again but since they came with a photo of Elmar we asked him for one for our scrapbook.

He seemed flattered and promised to give us one.
After that we had a pleasant dinner of salad, baked cod (which even Mac enjoyed) ice cream and pleasant company.

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