Location map of the area | Back to 2007 stories | Home

Taking a break on the 314

Day1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Other thoughts

horizontal rule

Day 1: Tuesday 28 August

Travel to Milan

I left my house and picked up Gordon, Liz and Linda, then headed for the M8 to drive towards Edinburgh.  It was an uneventful journey and it turned out we were the last to arrive at Park and Fly.  Having sorted out the admin, we got in the minibus and made our way to the airport.

We got checked in without problem .. however, most of us had to take the rucksacks to the ‘large luggage’ conveyor.  We had time to get some lunch and then headed through to departures. As we were ‘Priority A’ we all managed to get good seats.

It was a good flight and we arrived on time at Milan.  Collecting the bags and getting through arrivals was without problem and, having made our way outside Terminal 2, we discovered the bus stop for the Malpensa Shuttle.  We had to wait a short time for a second bus but got on without any problems with the pre-paid ticket voucher.

The journey was pretty quick and before long we were in the outskirts of Milan.  We were duly dropped off at Mila Fiera.  Having got our bags, we then walked along the Viale Teodorico to Piazza Firenze.  From there it was a short distance to Piazza Caneva.  The street that our hotel was on started from this piazza but of course was at the other end.

We arrived and there was a sign on the door that reception was at 2 Via Aosta.  We walked down and went through a gate into what seemed like the reception.  However it turned out there were 2 buildings and we were in the wrong reception.  CCTV is a good thing and as we were being watched, someone came round to get us booked in.

We all got settled in the rooms and decided that before having something to eat, we would find out how long it would take to get to the Garibaldi Bus Station.  Armed with maps from the hotel, we found our way to Piazza Freud.  On one side was the railway station, but on the other side was a building site.  The bus station had been demolished!

Iris spoke to some taxi drivers and found out that the bus services had been transferred to the Lampugnao bus station.  We decided that tomorrow we would get taxis there and then returned towards the hotel.  We found a nice little restaurant near the hotel, and all enjoyed their meals.  The food was good and a chilled ‘Myrtle’ went down very well after.

Having settled the bill, we headed the short distance back to the hotel as we had an early start.

Back to the top!

Day 2: Wednesday 29 August

Travel to Madonna di Campiglio and Rifugio Graffer

Having set my alarm for an early call, I was awoken around 5.00am by a fire engine passing the hotel.  Having just dozed off again, the alarm roused me at 5.45.  I got up to discover that I had been food to some mosquitoes.  Unlike the others our room didn’t have air conditioning so we had left the window open!

Having got washed and dressed we headed for breakfast.  It was very good .. cereal, fruit juice, breads etc plus coffee or tea.  Having paid the bill, Iris arranged with the staff to get 3 taxis to take us to the bus station.  They quickly arrived and we got loaded up to go to the bus station.

In the ticket hall Iris made enquiries for tickets to Madonna di Campiglio only to be told that the buses don’t run midweek!  However the girl was very helpful and made phone calls to find out about a possible connection at Brescia, which turned out to be not possible.

We knew that we could get a train to Trento and should be able to get a bus from there.  As the bus station also has an entrance to the Metro, the ticket office told us to get the Metro to Cardona station then change for Milan Central.  It cost us €1 each for the Metro and we soon arrived at Milan Central station.

Iris and I went to the ticket office.  The guy wasn’t very helpful but we got the ticket for Trento and extracted from him that we change at Verona.  Meeting up with the rest we realised that the Verona train was due to leave within 10 minutes, so we quickly headed for the platform and boarded the train.

We get settled in and after a while the ticket inspector arrived.  She looked at the ticket and started to query something.  Iris intervened, but when she realised that we were British, the inspector explained the problem in perfect English .. we hadn’t franked the ticket to say we're travelling today.  We didn’t know that we had to do this, but she wrote on the ticket that it was valid for that day.  We could have been fined €25 for not franking the ticket .. compared to the ticket office guy, she was exceptionally helpful.

We duly arrived at Verona, and once off the train, checked a timetable for the train to Trento.  We had enough time to get a coffee and look around outside the station and relax in the sunshine.  We all arrived on the platform and got the advertised train, and soon got settled in for the journey.

However, the ticket inspector arrived and stared long at the ticket.  I thought that he was going to query the franking, but no, he got out a calculator and started to key things in.  Iris queried what was wrong.  It turned out that the ticket was a ‘Regional’ and the train we were on was ‘Intercity’.  We were therefore due to pay extra.  It was annoying as this hadn’t been explained to us, but the excess wasn’t too much, so I handed over the money.

We arrived at Trento around midday and walked the short distance to the bus station.  The ticket office was very helpful and we soon got the tickets for Madonna di Campiglio at €4.50 each for a 2 hour journey .. they even gave us a timetable with some notes for the return.

Having enough time to spare, we headed for the bus station café, which we had made use of 2 years ago and had a very nice lunch.

We duly made our way to the bus and loaded our rucksacks before finding some seats.  The bus was very busy with few seats to spare but we all managed to get seated.  It set off on time and we then had an interesting journey up through the valleys and through some picturesque villages.

However, as we got further up the valleys, the weather got worse.  First misty, then into rain.  As we neared Madonna di Campiglio, the rain was quite heavy.  We were trying to decide where to get off, but there were 4 guys who were also going to the Rifugio Graffer and they told us to stay on until the cable car station.

View map?

This was a good piece of advice as it was 120m higher that the centre of the village.  We got off the bus and first sorted ourselves out, getting waterproofs on.  We got tickets to the top station so that we could walk down to the Rifugio.

As we got higher, we actually got above the rain.  There was a lot of construction gear around as we headed up.  When we got off, we realised that they were building a large new rifugio at the top station and all the other stuff was to get the services to it.

Ian managed to bang his head as we were getting out, so we had a short delay while he got some repairs done.  We then all set off to descend to the Rifugio Graffer.  It didn’t take long to arrive and there was no problem getting booked in.

The rooms were good and after we all managed to get showered and changed, we headed down to meet at the bar.  We had a good meal and returned to the bar to finish off the wine.  As the bar was closed at 10pm, we all went to our rooms for an early night as tomorrow would be the start of our first real day’s walking.

Back to the top!

Day 3: Thursday 30 August

Rifugio Graffer to Lago di Tovel

Well .. it was an earlier alarm than expected.  Although my phone was switched off, its alarm still went off at 5.45!  As it was in the rucksack in a wardrobe it took a bit of time to switch it off.  I took the time to look out the window and the weather looked good.

An hour or so later we got up and, having washed and dressed, headed for breakfast.  We got a good breakfast but outside it was getting misty.  We then got ourselves tidied up and having settled the bill, I joined the rest getting ready outside.  After a few photos were taken, we started back up the track to the top cable car station and the col.

Outside the Rifugio Graffer  Leaving Rifugio Graffer

View map?

It was quite windy and chilly.  As we followed the route, the weather got worse and before long we were all wearing full waterproofs.  We had an uneventful walk along the path and eventually came to the junction of routes 306 and 334.  Most decided that they would take 334 and descend to the valley and route 314, but Allan B, Gordon and I decided to continue and try the via ferrata.

I found out when we met up later that the route the others took was not just a path down and they had a couple of ladders to descend that hadn’t been indicated on any of the maps.

As Allan, Gordon and I walked on, the rain stopped and we started to get glimpses of the valley through the mist.  Before long we arrived at the start of the via ferrata and got ourselves geared up for the climb.

It was a good climb with ladders, rungs and traverses.  With the mist, we didn’t get any sense of exposure.  We stopped for a break at an outcrop and took a couple of photos.  The mist cleared for a while and we could look down at our route.  From there, there was a path then a short traverse before finishing by climbing up a gully to Cima di Palete.

A break on the Palete via ferrata

We followed the path and descended into Val Gelada di Tuenno.  We then came to the junction with route 312 and decided to take this down.  This turned out to be a path that was not frequently used.  Like the others we came across some ladders that were not marked on the map.

We also had to negotiate an electric fence.  There was an ‘insulated’ handle on a hook so we could go through.  However as it was very wet the insulation didn’t work too well.  However we eventually managed to get it set up after we had passed through.

Eventually we came out at the main track (route 314) to Lago di Tovel and as we walked down the sun came out.  It wasn’t long before we arrived at the hotel and some of the other group were sitting outside.  Iris told us to put our wet gear in the garage and then showed us up to our rooms.  We quickly got showered and changed and headed back down.

A couple of beers were bought and we wandered down to the lake side.  It was very pleasant to sit in the sun in such a nice location.  Some of the group went for a walk around the lake.  On his walk, Ian managed to take a photo of a dead snake.

Lago di Tovel

Once everyone was back, we sorted ourselves out for the evening meal.  Although the booking had been for B&B, they offered us the half board price for the meal.  The food and wine were good and everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves.  Again we had a relatively early night.

Back to the top!

Day 4: Friday 31 August

Lago di Tovel to Rifugio Croz dell’ Altissimo

It was still dry outside when I got up and headed downstairs for breakfast.  It was a more basic selection compared to yesterday but was still filling.

Our wet clothes had been arranged around the stoves overnight so everything was dry.  We gathered them up and duly packed them away. However during breakfast it started to rain again.

View map of first section?

Having settled the bill, it was get the waterproofs on again to start today’s walk.  However before long it stopped raining and blue sky was seen in the distance and we stopped to take off the waterproofs.  We continued up the track and came in sight of Malga Pozzol.   However this was closed up for the winter so no snacks or drinks.  We continued to Malga di Flavona.  This again was unattended but the generator was running and doors were open.  There was a kitchen and also a bunk room. Obviously out of season it was intended as a self catering hut.

At the Malga di Flavona

We stopped for a break before continuing on and up. We eventually came to the junction with route 301 and then went up a short distance to a col.  We took a break there to let everyone regroup.

After a while we set off again on route 301 but it was soon obvious that the turn off to route 314 had been before our stop point.  Checking the various maps, Allan B’s indicated a route that would meet up with 314.  After some searching we found the first markers but it was clear that this was a route that was not in general use.

View map of middle section?

We eventually came to route 314 but again had to do some searching to find the markers.  We eventually all arrived at the Bocca di Vallazza .. it had been a tiring 1400m+ ascent from Lago di Tovel.  We were however rewarded with our first glimpse of Lago di Molveno.

Ascending to the Bocca di Vallazza  At the Bocca di Vallazza

We started our descent.  It was slow progress at first as it was bouldery scree that seemed to be continuing forever.  We ended up splitting into groups, some going ahead to find the route with others holding back to indicate the way to the following groups.  Although shown on the map as a route, it was not easy to find.

View map of final section?

Eventually it flattened out to a grassy field and we came to the path of route 322.  A sign for Rifugio Croz dell’ Altissimo .. 1 hour 15 min!  Ian and Iris set off so that we could let the rifugio know that we were on our way.  I headed off with Linda and Allan H, reassured that we should get there at a reasonable time.  But being the Dolomites, we soon came across a steep decent of logged steps, a ladder and also a scramble where part of the path had collapsed.

Linda and Allan H on the track

After that, it was a straightforward path.  Allan H, Linda and I continued down.  Suddenly Linda exclaimed that she had seen a bus!  Seconds later we spotted the rifugio.  Ian and Iris were sitting outside and as we walked down we spotted Ian heading inside.  3 beers were waiting when we arrived. The rifugio was in a very scenic location.

Before the beer was finished, the others all came into sight.  I went into the bar and got 5 more beers. As they arrived, the beers were much appreciated .. even Liz who doesn’t normally drink beer took hers.  It had been a very long and tiring day.

We got booked in and went up to the rooms .. 1 room for 4 for the girls and an 8 bunk room for the guys.  After a shower and getting changed, everyone felt better.

We had a very good evening meal and when we headed for bed, as we were all pretty tired, there were no problems in getting to sleep.

Back to the top!

Day 5: Saturday 1 September

Around Molveno

I had slept well and we got up for a basic breakfast.  The weather was great and all of us had decided to walk down to Molveno.  Before doing that, most did some washing and hung it up on the nearby washing line.

View map?

The path down to Molveno was super.  It clung to the cliffs and there was even a short tunnel.  We eventually came to a clearing that was used as a paragliding take-off area.  It was a good spot for taking photos and I ended up with about 6 cameras taking shots of the group with Molveno below.

On the track to Molveno  At a tunnel entrance  Above Molveno

On continuing down, we spotted an open gondola and reckoned it would be worth taking it back up.  We walked down through the town and came to a café where we stopped for beers and coffee.

Molveno is a very beautiful town.  Jim Scott had told us that he and Irene had visited Molveno and that it was a beautiful spot.  We all agreed with him and sent him a postcard to let him know.

Linda, Liz, Diane, Gordon and Allan H decided that they fancied a swim and headed for the open air pool.  The rest of us decided on a walk around the town and by the lakeside.

As we strolled about we spotted the swimmers in the pool.  We then headed for a restaurant and ordered some pizza for lunch.  As we were finishing, the girls arrived and also decided to try the pizzas.

The 5 of us had a walk through the town but most of the shops were shut, so we headed up to get the gondola.  It was a chase after and jump on effort similar to the one at Passo di Sella 2 years before.  However this one was like an open cage.  I don’t think it would be very nice in bad weather.

The "chase after and jump on effort"  Bob arrives in style .. sorry, with style

When we got off, there were a couple of refugi and the place was quite busy.  We started off on the path and before long joined up with the one that we had descended.  It was a good walk back to the Croz dell’ Altissimo.

When we arrived, we got some beers and had a seat outside.  This was when we were introduced to the 2 tame ferrets that were running about.  One took a great liking to Ian’s feet, nipping him on several occasions.  They had a bolt hole below a large boulder and quite a few photos were taken.

The swimmers arrived before long and we checked out our washing on the line.  Not everything was totally dry but we took it in.  We all got showered and changed and congregated in the bar before the evening meal.

A lot of us had the goulash which was excellent.  After the meal we spent some time in the bar before heading for bed.

Back to the top!

Day 6: Sunday 2 September

Rifugio Croz dell' Altissimo to Rifugio Agostini

Up early as we had a long day ahead.  We had breakfast and then started to pack for the walk.  While sorting ourselves out Gordon realised that he had a bag of clothes missing.  We all checked but soon realised that he had left it at the Lago di Tovel.  We couldn’t do much about it at that point.

Iris and I went down to the bar to settle our bill.  No problem as the cash was handed over.  However our host disappeared into a cupboard and then she handed T-shirts to us.  It was a nice gesture.

Outside Rifugio Croz dell' Altissimo  Leaving Rifugio Croz dell' Altissimo

View map?

After some photos, we set off on the path to the Rif. Selvata.  It was a good path and as we walked, the sun came out.  It did not take long to get to the Selvata and we stopped for some water and to make use of the toilets.  We continued on the path steadily climbing, but as we got higher, it started to get misty.

Spot the rifugio .. Selvata!

We stopped near a mountain hut to regroup.  When we set off again, the mist got thicker and it was getting colder.  There seemed to be a choice of paths. But we stopped again to allow everyone to regroup.  It was then the final push to get to the Pedrotti and Tosa rifugi.  Latterly the service lift helped to show the way and before long, we spotted the first of the buildings.  A short walk and we could unload the packs at the Pedrotti.

Lunch at Rifugio Pedrotti

We then walked in to find a table and order some lunch.  However, Linda had taken unwell just before she got to the Pedrotti.  Fortunately there were others with her and she managed to arrive.  At first we thought it might have been the altitude.  However after a break, she looked less grey and we set off for the Agostini.

We had a couple of ropes on our descent, but it wasn’t too difficult.  When we came to a renascent, Linda was having problems, so we split up the contents of her rucksack between us.  On the way we walked above a depression similar to the hoyas that we had seen in Spain.  As I took a photo, the batteries in my camera ‘died’ .. no more photos today.

We carried on along the track in the mist and eventually came to a sign saying the Agostini was 10 minutes.  This was all climb!  We arrived at the hut and got booked in, assisted by the fact that a girl on the staff spoke excellent English.

We got 2 good rooms and soon got settled in.  We got showered and changed and headed down to the bar.  Fortunately, Linda was feeling better. We had an excellent meal that night.  I checked with the staff about paying with the Visa card.  As they had a satellite phone, they did not always make a connection.  They had a try and were successful, so the bill was paid.

As usual we had an early night but with the promise that the weather was to be good the following day.

Back to the top!

Day 7: Monday 3 September

Around Rifugio Agostini

It was still misty when we got up but the valley seemed to be clearing while we had breakfast.  Again it was a bread and jam with coffee or tea.  Some of us strolled out to the chapel where (on a good day) you could see Lake Garda.  Mostly we saw cloud and mist.

The 2 Allans, Gordon, Ian and I decided to head for the via ferrata up to the Bocchetta dei due Denti and possibly then walk to the Rifugio Dodici Apostoli (12 Apostles).  Allan B and Gordon borrowed kit from the Rifugio and after stowing it in the rucksacks, we set off.  The others were planning to walk down to the Rifugio al Cacciatore.

View map?

We had an easy walk up to the start of the via ferrata.  To our left, we could see some climbers on the rock face.  We could see the first few ladders but the rest were not in sight.  Allan H decided not to do any climbing but the rest of us put on the harnesses etc and prepared for the climb.

After the first 3 ladders, there was a slight traverse.  More ladders followed this, then a traverse including a 1-plank bridge.  We had all taken some photos as we climbed and I got one of Allan B by the bridge.  There was quite a bit of mist around and this obscured any sense of exposure.

We continued up, negotiating the ladders and gullies without any major difficulty.  The second-last ladder was quite long and a bit awkward.  On the first bit it seemed to be leaning back from the perpendicular.  However, the last ladder was reached and then we got the view of the Refugio XII Apostoli.

The Castiglioni via ferrata  At the Bocchetta dei due Denti

The valley was bathed in sunshine and made for a good photo.  I took a pic of the other 3, and then Allan and I scrambled up to a gap to the right.  We couldn’t see anything looking towards the Agostini due to the mist.  As I took a couple of photos, yet again the batteries died on my camera .. and I'd bought them the night before in the Rifugio!

We then all headed back down .. the descent didn't seem to be much trouble.  After reaching the bottom of the last ladder, the four of us got the harnesses and slings off and stowed them away.  As we headed back down the path, we met up again with Allan H and walked back down to the Agostini.  Allan B and Gordon handed back the borrowed gear, then having tidied up, we had some lunch.

It wasn’t long before the other 5 got back.  They had walked down to the al Cacciatore by route 325, where they had a snack sitting in the sun, but the mist started to roll in.  They climbed back to the Agostini by route 351 and also had some lunch once back at the Rifugio.

As we had plenty of time, we took the opportunity to shower early and even wash some clothes.  The hut started to get very busy .. a lot more people staying the night.  We passed the time looking through some of the magazines.

Checking through my bookings, I realised that I had to confirm the Rifugio Alimonta by phone.  I had a couple of tries on my mobile without success.  I asked the girl who spoke English if she could contact them and she obliged confirming our booking.

Again we had a good dinner.  Shortly afterwards, we started to notice a lot of light flashes outside.  We went out to see what was happening.  There was a thunderstorm and the lightning was arcing from one side of the valley to the other.  It was very spectacular and some managed to get photos of the lightning flashes.  It was also raining heavily, so the mist had cleared.

Eventually we headed back in for a nightcap before yet another early night.

Back to the top!

Day 8: Tuesday 4 September

Rifugio Agostini to Rifugio Alimonta

During the night, there was still some thunder and lightning but it got more distant.  When we got up the weather was clear and we had blue skies.  After breakfast, we said our goodbyes to the staff and then set off back along route 320 to the Rifugio Pedrotti.

View map?

It was fairly easy going and before long, we came to a split in the track.   Ian, Gordon, the 2 Allans and I decided to take route 320B that indicated some via ferrata.  The rest opted to take the lower route that we had walked round 2 days before.

The high route was not particularly difficult.  Mainly some wire rope when walking along some more exposed ledges but we didn’t bother putting on any of the gear.  We eventually got back to the junction with route 320, not far from the Pedrotti.  When we got there, we could see the others below us, strung out along the path.

Checking with binoculars, we realised that Willie was carrying 2 rucksacks and that Linda again seemed to be in difficulty.  Ian and Gordon left their sacks and walked down to meet the others.  The 2 Allans walked on to the Pedrotti so that they could leave their sacks and come back to carry the spare rucksack.  I stayed watch on the gear that had been left.

Ian arrived back carrying Linda’s sack, followed shortly by Liz and Diane.  While Ian waited, the 3 of us set off for the Rifugio.  We hadn’t gone far before we met Allan and Allan coming back.  When we arrived, we left the sacks and went inside.  The rest arrived before long and we had a welcome break for coffees etc.

At the junction of routes 320 and 326  At the Rifugio Tommaso Pedrotti

After our break, we split up all of Linda’s stuff between us and then set off on route 318 for the Rifugio Brentei.  After an initial climb, it was all downhill although some of the track was a bit tricky.  We arrived at the Brentei not long after 2pm.

They officially stop serving lunches after 2pm but we managed to get soup and sandwiches.  Having been fed we all felt a bit better.

We managed to persuade Linda to stay at the Brentei rather than climb to the Alimonta.  Iris helped in getting her booked in to a suitable room, and having repacked everything back into her rucksack, we said goodbye until tomorrow.

The Rifugio Alimonta (and Bob)

The climb to the Alimonta was straightforward and it seemed that we reached it quickly.  It's in a great setting .. a rocky coire surrounded by impressive peaks.  We got booked in explaining why we were one short.  We were all in one room and soon got ourselves sorted out.  There were no showers, just sinks on the stair landings .. and no hot water!  Despite this we all got washed and changed and headed down to the bar.  The place was mobbed.

We had problems when ordering drinks, as they wanted to put everything on the room bill.  We managed to pay for some things but the rest was added to the tab.  I resigned myself to sorting it out in the morning.

Despite being the remotest and highest (2600m) rifugio we stayed in, they had the biggest selection of food on the menu.  We picked a variety from the menu and all enjoyed the food supplied.  We had a few more drinks, before heading for bed at the by now usual time of 10pm.

Back to the top!

Day 9: Wednesday 5 September

Rifugio Alimonta to Rifugio Graffer

A day to remember .. Willie was up first!  It may have had something to do with him sleeping next to the open window.  The rest of us got up and joined the queues for the toilet and to get a wash.  Breakfast was quite good .. nice bread rolls.

I settled the bill for the accommodation with my card and then paid separately for the drinks that had been added.  We then all got our packs together and headed outside.  Although it was a clear day, there was a biting strong wind and ice on the ground.  We all wrapped up accordingly.

View map of first section?

We then set off back down the path to the Rifugio Brentei.  We came to a point where the path split.  Allan B, Ian, Gordon and I were going to take the higher route .. the Sentai Sosat (305B).  The rest took the path down to the Brentei to meet up with Linda.

Our route was a via ferrata that included a low overhang where I ended up crawling on hands and knees, shortly followed by a descent down a 52 rung ladder.  There were some Italians in front of us on the ladder so we spent some time on a rather narrow ledge not really wanting to look down.

After the ladder, there were a few traverses and some rungs but the rest of the route was fairly straightforward.  We eventually spotted the Rifugios Tuckett and Sella, and shortly afterwards descended the last ladder of the via ferrata.

On the Sentai Sosat via ferrata  Above Rifugios Tuckett and Sella  The final ladder on the Sentai Sosat

It wasn’t long before we arrived at the Rifugios and stowed away the harnesses and slings etc.  We took a few photos before we went inside to have a coffee and to wait for the others to arrive.

The other 5 had picked up Linda at the Brentei and arrived in sight just as we were ordering some lunch.  It was quite chilly inside and we kept our jackets on.  The second party came in to join us and also ordered their lunch.  While there, I sorted out the previous night’s drinks bills and got everything settled up.  Some of the girls ordered the carrot cake that had been recommended in a guidebook .. the verdict was that it was ‘OK’.

View map of final section?

We then all set off to head back to the Graffer.  It was a good path and we took our time, stopping to regroup and take in the views.  At the 3rd stop, Allan B picked up Linda’s rucksack ‘to carry it to the top of the last climb’.  Allan H, Gordon and I walked on with him and took turns.  In fact, once we reached the top of the climb, Gordon carried the sack all the way back down to the Graffer.

We all arrived over a 10-minute period and took the chance to sit out of the wind and in the sun.  It was very pleasant and a couple of photos were taken.  Eventually, I stirred myself and went inside to book us in.  We got the same set of rooms as the first visit.

Return to the Rifugio Graffer

We bought the shower tokens and the queue soon formed.  After getting settled in and washed, we gradually collected in the bar for a pre-dinner drink.  The dinner was good and Linda bought the wine as a ‘thank you’.  After the meal we headed back to the bar where Liz went to buy us all a peach schnapps.  The bar staff told her that it would be cheaper to buy a bottle which was duly purchased.  We all chipped in and also got a bottle of apple schnapps.  Again it was an early night as the bar closed at 9.30.

Back to the top!

Day 10: Thursday 6 September

Rifugio Graffer to Milan

We were all up early and headed down for a very good breakfast.  The rucksacks were packed and I went down to settle the bill.  Willie met a guy from Glasgow who had arrived the night before.  It turned out that Gordon knew him.

Once we were all assembled, we headed down to the mid station of the cable car, arriving shortly after they opened for business.  We all got on and headed down to Madonna di Campiglio.

We walked from the cable car station down into the town and headed for the Tourist Information to confirm the bus times and where to get it.  We decided that we would all meet up again at the same spot and then headed off to walk around the town.

The Guides Memorial in Madonna di Campiglio

We had a stop for coffees and teas at various spots and some did some shopping in the sales.  We then all met up again and headed for the bus stop.  There were a lot of people waiting but fortunately they all got on a private bus.  Our bus arrived shortly after and there was no problem in getting on.  It was a scenic route down and we were even able to spot some of the rifugi that we had visited.  When we arrived at Trento, we headed straight for the railway station. 

We got the tickets (again a not very helpful teller).  We had first to get the train to Verona, which was due almost immediately.  This time I franked the tickets and then headed for the platform.  The train was very busy and we had to split up and get seats where we could.  4 of us got into a compartment where the 2 occupants both spoke excellent English.  They checked with the ticket inspector that we only had 1 change of train at Verona.  The train we were on was an Intercity and I had checked the tickets.

When we arrived at Verona, we had enough time to get something to eat, before heading for the platform.  The train that arrived was very streamlined and we duly got on and settled into comfortable seats.  It moved off and was soon speeding along.  The ticket inspector arrived.  Yet again we had the scrutiny of the tickets.  No this wasn’t an Intercity it was a Eurostar and we again had a surcharge to pay.  I handed him my Visa and for the next 15 minutes he struggled to get the machine to work.  He made calls on 3 different mobiles before eventually the extra payment was made.  It was very annoying but the train did get us to Milan about an hour earlier.

Before heading for the hotel, we checked if we could use our bus tickets to the airport from the railway station and were told it would be OK.  We got the metro back to the nearest station after some exploration of the metro stations.  We then had a walk back to The Hotel Bogart.

At reception, after handing over the passports, we were given the room numbers, but when we got into the building, we met our first problem.  One of the twin rooms was still occupied.  Ian and Iris headed back to reception to get it sorted while the rest of us headed up to the remaining rooms.  Ian and Iris were given a twin room in the other building.  However we then came across the other problems.  One of the triples had a very unpleasant smell, so we went back to reception.  The only other room free was a ‘single’.  However, when Ian checked it, the bed was larger than a normal single and he and Iris said they could take it.  The girls could than have the double and the staff said they would put another bed in the room.  That only left getting 2 of the beds in the other triple separated and made up as singles instead of a double.

We all eventually got showered and changed and met downstairs.  We walked a short distance up the road to a restaurant that had been recommended by the hotel.  The girl spoke excellent English and we soon got the tables sorted out on the pavement and sat down.  We had a very enjoyable meal and the time passed quickly.  Eventually we settled the bill and headed back to the hotel.  All of the changes had been made in the rooms, and compared to staying in the rifugi, we had had a very late night.

Back to the top!

Day 11: Friday 7 September

Travel home

I had slept well and having got dressed, headed down for breakfast.  Compared to the rifugi, there was an excellent choice for breakfast.  We then headed back up to finish our packing.

Iris and I headed round to sort out the bill.  After the fiasco the night before, I wanted some sort of reduction.  The boss offered to not charge for one triple room and we accepted that.  We got the passports back and arranged taxis to take us to Milan Central where we would get the bus to the airport.

The taxis arrived and we got the luggage on and got in.  It was a very interesting journey and Allan B quickly decided that he wouldn’t be hiring a car when he came back with the family.  The tram lines were used as some sort of bus / taxi / scooter lane to bypass the queues which was OK if you didn’t have trams coming towards you.  However we all arrived safely at Milan Central and met up by the bus stop.  There was no problem getting on the bus and the journey out to the airport was without problem.

We found the check in and waited for it to open.  Linda had to get her new poles wrapped before they would let them be booked in.  We all had to take the luggage to the ‘bulky bags’ check in.  Then it was through security and into the departure area.  I had a problem at the Duty Free shop as when I came to pay, discovered that the phone line was down so they couldn’t accept payment by card.  No sweets for the work!

Among the passengers was a rugby team who were flying to play a game against an Edinburgh select.  This was of great interest to Liz and Di.

We had time for a snack before the flight was called.  We all got on but as we had missed our take off slot we had to wait for 30 minutes before taxiing out.  We had good views of the Dolomites and Alps as we headed home.

The flight only landed 20 minutes late.  When we arrived at the baggage claim, Willie’s was the first to come through.  The rest of us soon got ours and we headed through.  We called ‘Park & Fly’ and were told to go to bus stance 7.  We had no sooner got there than the minibus arrived.  In no time at all we were at the car park and the cars were lined up waiting.  We loaded up the cars and said our goodbyes and then set off for the M8 and home.  The traffic wasn’t too bad and before long we were in Glasgow and I dropped off Linda, Liz and lastly Gordon, before heading home.

Bob MacDonald

horizontal rule

Other thoughts on the trip ....

I did enjoy the trip very much ... the scenery was lovely and the company good.  Things I remember are ...

... and I do clearly remember a certain scree field on the second day as my backside unexpectedly made sudden contact with it on several occasions, but the silver lining was the reward of seeing a herd of alpine ibex on the way down!

Liz Williamson

Back to the top!