Dog Encounters on Interesting Walk

Got up fairly early after a really nice sleep – had a lovely shower and stayed home and did yoga while Colin went up to Leroy and Merlins in Perugia to see about getting a few things taken care of for the house.
Mo and I were just starting out for a walk when we encountered one of the many village cats – as usual the cat kind of ignored Mo so she ignored it. Shortly after we turned the corner we encountered Colin coming back from his trip to town. He dropped a couple of things off at the house, then we went down to the other bar.
After lunch at home we went for a walk on the road that goes up the hill above the village and around to the south. We had to go past the house that had the very scary dog I had faced down last May while walking alone with Mo. This time there was only one dog, and while it barked at us from its yard it never came at us on the road – the vicious one wasn’t around.
The weather was lovely – not too hot, but not yet cold – just beautiful countryside.
Partway along the road I suggested that we take a ‘short cut’ back down to Papiano instead of continuing along to the main road like Mo and I had done last time.
It turned out to be an ‘interesting’ decision. It was an unpaved road, but many of the smaller ones around here are. It went down through an olive orchard – they look almost ready for harvest.
But it wasn’t actually a road, it was a driveway, and there were once again dogs – two very little yappy ones and one much larger one. They seemed ok with Mo at first, then the large one lunged and seemd like he wanted to eat her. The owner chastised him and told us we were welcome to keep going down the hill, which we could see turned into a grass track just beyond his house.

We continued on down and the grass track kind of ended in another house’s back field. It was on a fairly steep hill but we could see a track on the far side – we crossed over at the top of the field and followed the side down until we were able to get onto the track.

We followed that for a short way, then the track ended and we hiked up a small but very steep hill that brought us to one of the alleys just below Colin’s house. Both of us needed a drink after our adventure, so down we went to Poppy’s.
Back home for dinner we had fried eggs with mashed potatoes and beans. Watched a DVD of an old Italian detective show called Zen, then fairly early to bed again.

Leaving Austria (sob) for Italy (yay)

Got up at a fairly decent time so we could have a cup of tea and a bite to eat before packing up all of our stuff and loading the car.
I’m very sad to be leaving Austria – I’ve really enjoyed being here – the area around where we’re staying, the beautiful city of Innsbruck, and the road races have all been just fantastic. The only thing that makes leaving ok for me is that we’re heading back to Italy.
We said goodbye to our hostess Lisa, who gave us each a present – a little jar of herbal salts that were made by a local lady – and got underway around 10:00 under pouring rain. We crossed into Italy via the Brenner Pass and headed south through Bolzano and Trento.
We stopped at an Autogrill somewhere after we crossed into Italy and had the best cappuccino I think I’ve ever had in my life – they make good coffee in France and Spain, but somehow a proper cappuccino seems beyond them.
We passed many lovely looking villages perched on hillsides, as well as quite a few forts and castles.
I must say that Bolzano was a big disappointment to me as I’d read about how beautiful it was and I know it’s a ski destination and also has excellent cycling paths – one of which goes all the went to Trento and beyond, mostly downhill.

However, all I noticed was all of the factories and warehouses – it didn’t seem quite the quaint little town I was expecting. But we weren’t stopping anyway and continued on south.
We reached Modena just after 3:00 and followed the GPS directions to find the B&B that Colin had booked online. We drove over 50 km out of town and into the hills before we basically dead-ended in a farmer’s courtyard. A boy came out of the barn to see who we were, and called for his father to help interpret – there were several cats watching the exchange, but they weren’t very helpful.

We realized that the GPS co-ordinates must have been completely wrong so input the street address instead – all the way back to Modena. We made a pit-stop at a bar – mostly so we could use the facilities, and found the B&B around 5:30.

It’s a large house and you go up to the bedrooms via the host’s kitchen. It’s surrounded by a very large organic farm that produces Parmigianno Reggiano cheese. We brought our bags in through the still-pouring rain, and then asked where we could find a store and someplace to eat. Our host gave us directions and Colin input it to the GPS – hoping we wouldn’t be driving 50 km to find the shopping centre.

This time we reached our destination on the first try – a large mall not that far away. We went inside and found a huge supermarket and picked up a few things. Then we tried to get a piece of pizza but the lady behind the counter was too busy chewing gum to give us much help so we went further to a tapas-bar type place.

We wanted a few of the tapas so each grabbed a little plate, but one of the girls said no no – we then thought that they wanted us to pay first. But that wasn’t it either – one of the other girls spoke a bit of english, and advised us that the tapas are only for those that order ‘the plate’, and she would bring it to us when it was ready, so that’s what we got.

We each chose a few things to snack on – they were good – then ‘the plate’ arrived – it was several kinds of thinly sliced meat and two small chunks of creamy cheese along with several bread sticks. I ate until I was stuffed – much more interesting than the pizza we were originally going for.

Back at the house the host invited us down for a glass of wine – he was preparing dinner for himself as well as a long-term guest that stays there four days a week while he works in Modena, then goes home every weekend to Tuscany where he actually lives.

We had a nice visit for a bit – we were also served more of the local cured meat to go with the white wine. Afterwards we went back to our room – I have my own bunk-bed, and it’s surprisingly comfy.

The next morning we were up at 7:00 for our self-serve breakfast in the host’s kitchen, then packed up and on the way around 8:20. The weather was a bit better – not exactly sunny, but not pouring rain either.

We stopped at another Autogrill and had another delicious cappuccino, then continued on south. We skirted east along the north shore of Lago Trasimeno to the edge of Perugia, then south to Papiano.
We were going to pop into the local store, but it was all chained up so went directly to the house. After we’d unloaded the car we walked down to the village to Poppy’s bar – when I asked about the supermarket the owner’s son told me it was closed for a couple of weeks then would re-open with new owners.

After a glass of wine for me and a coffee for Colin we went into Marsciano to stock up on food, as the fridge was bare. We had a fairly early night after two days of travel – it’s good to be ‘home’.

The Big Road Race – Men’s Elite for World Title

Got up super-early and were on our way by 6:30 to pick out our spot for the race. We went up the circuit from the opposite side so we could pick the best spot on the way down, which would be the way up for the race. There are quite a few large areas to park – most of them seem to be run by locals who charge a small fee for the use of their field. But there are quite a few spots with port-a-potties and other places with beverage and food tents.
We decided on a spot just outside the boundaries of the town of Aldrans, just over ⅓ of the way up the climb that the racers will pass by six times. We found a great spot that we backed into so the flags will be right above the road.
It was still only a few degrees above zero and the sun hadn’t quite cleared the mountain above so it was incredibly cold – I had about six layers of clothes on, including my merino wool sweater and a fleecy pullover of Colin’s. All I really needed after that was a hat, scarf and mittens, but a black blankie had to do instead.

We setup the table and chairs and got the water started for the tea. At one point Colin went down the road to look around and I checked the water – it didn’t look like the flame was on and I thought the canister was perhaps empty. I put the kettle back on the burner and turned around and then I heard a sound – they whole thing had fallen over, and the canister wasn’t actually empty but was still burning away. If it had been hot and dry out it could have started a fire! And almost all of the water spilled out of the kettle so I had to refill it and start the boiling process all over again.

Finally we got a pot of tea steeping, and had a bit of food to eat. We were really glad we got such an early start – the field we chose filled up pretty quickly and cars and bikes came up the road by the hundreds. The moment the sun cleared the mountain above us it got instantly warmer and the layering process was reversed.
I took a walk down a ways to find a clean port-a-potty – there was a space around the corner below us that had a large tent setup with food and drinks, as well as a pile of tables and chairs, and a large tv screen. Their biffies were very clean and had toilet paper and water for washing – pretty spiffy biffy!
Back at our spot more and more folks kept coming – they finally put a rope up to stop more from trying to come in.
The first riders appeared around 12:12 – a breakaway of about 10 or 12, including a Cdn – Robert Britton.
The peloton at that time was about 17 minutes behind. Each time they came around again the breakaway was smaller, and the peloton was closer.
By the third time around Peter Sagan, the world champion for the last three years, gave up and packed it in. After that it was a process of reigning in the breakaway and establishing a position.
I got some great photos – Cdn Michael Woods…
Irish rider Daniel Martin…
Local dinasaur…

1733BF33-4FB3-410E-8ACD-6D5204EBFCD5Michael Woods and Alejandro Valverde…
Vincenzo Nibali…
Tom Domoulin and Nairo Quintana…
Fans high….and low…

After the race had passed for the sixth and final time we went to a campervan a few spots up from us and watched the end of the race on their tv. Spaniard Valverde, Frenchman Bardet and Cdn Michael Woods were in the lead, with Dutchman Domoulin trying to catch them, which he did. As they approached the finish it was a four-man sprint, with Valverde taking off first – the others were unable to catch him, although it was so close! Bardet came second and Woods came third, although neither one of them at the time seemed that happy to be on the podium since they weren’t on the top step. Valverde, on the other hand, was ecstatic, having come in second in the World’s twice before, and third four times.
The highland cows on the way home seemed just as unimpressed as the goats the other day were.

Meeting Sally

5256C178-7460-43CD-BD84-5A1D269A9FC9The sky was a bit overcast to begin with so we didn’t get out for a walk until almost 11:00. Mr. Rooster was walking his mini-harem around the yard as we passed, but Mo didn’t seem interested in them and they basically ignored her.
We walked down the path just in front of our apartment and headed north – this time we crossed the road at the bridge and followed the path on other side.
We passed a group of hikers along the way, as well as other walkers that were on their own.
Just before we got to the next village we crossed the road again and found our way to the path I’d ridden on a few days ago to make our way back home.
There are a couple of benches along the way that have a metal cutout naming the places that were involved in the Winter Olympics when they were in Innsbruck – 1976, I think.
There’s also a nice map and display of the local Camino trail – or Jakobsweg, as it’s called here. I must have ridden right past it the other day and didn’t even notice it.
Back ‘home’ for lunch, then we met the dog that’s staying in the next apartment – her name is Sally and she’s very friendly and has a lot of energy. We opened up the gate between our two balconies and Mo and Sally had a great time scampering back and forth between our two apartments.
We watched the Elite Women’s road race on tv – we actually had gone out yesterday morning and scouted out the part of the course that they’re doing loops of – there’s a really long, hard hill and the women today are doing 3 loops and the men tomorrow are doing six so we scoped out where we might want to park ourselves for the men’s race.

A Dutch woman ended up winning, and a Cdn came sixth – not too bad!

Another beautiful walk in the Tirol

We took a little trip down into Telf to go to the store, then when we got back we drove into Gasse (which is very close) and parked the car so we could go for a walk further north. We cut across a field to get to the path, and started walking.
We passed a very nice hand-made fence, and some of the boards had the name of the kind of tree it came from burned into it, or burned into a small board nailed to it.
We went by some very nice small farms, and a house that had a very old pair of skies next to the front door, and a black cat that didn’t seem at all bothered by Mo.

We walked until we came to a large gate at the end of the last farm – we could have continued further, probably all the way to Germany, but decided to turn back.
It was a beautiful day and all of the animals were out enjoying the still-green grass, even a deer.
We’ve noticed that the whole area and everywhere we’ve been around here is very neat – the yards are well kept, houses and buildings are well maintained, roadsides are neat and trimmed, and there’s very little garbage visible anywhere.

And we assume it gets pretty cold in the winter – most of the houses have massive stores of wood piled up in sheds, etc.
Most of the houses are chalet-style, with balconies covered in hanging baskets of flowers – it’s just beautiful.
Back at the apartment we had stew for lunch and watched the Under 23 Men’s Road Race – won by a Swiss rider who didn’t do much work in a 3-man breakaway but was able to get away from the other 2 with about 10 km remaining. Good tactics, I guess, but I felt sorry for the young Belgian that came second.

Camino walking in Austria

Got up at a decent time and spent the morning watching the junior women’s road race on tv. A young Dutch girl won – it was only her second road race ever, and she’d won the world title in mountain biking very recently as well. A Cdn girl came third!
After lunch we went out for a really nice walk – starting along the trail I’d ridden on my bike the other day, then turning up and back along the Camino trail. The Camino in this area seems to be called Jakobsweg, and I don’t think it’s as old as some of the other ‘ways’.
We passed some very interesting looking mushrooms, but I wasn’t at all tempted to pick any and try them for a snack.

It was a beautiful walk that went up a bit, but not too steep, and at one point opened up into the nice wide valley that we drive by on the way to and from Telfs.

FB38ABEF-9276-4CA8-B782-58B46661FB89We passed a house that was made of logs, some with the ‘burrs’ still on them. There were a couple of hang-gliders floating around near the top of one of the mountains to the north.
The village was beautiful – both the houses as well as the little shops.


Rather than turning around and going back on the trail we kept going and in a short while were back on the road towards our apartment. We were only on the road for a bit, then encountered the bike path that we then followed home.
Before actually going home I crossed the road to the metalworking place that has sculptures of animals setup all around.
Right next door were some goats – three adults and two very little kids – so cute, but I wonder why there are so many babies being born so late in the season (we’ve seen a lot of very young calves also).
Relaxed for the afternoon watching the junior men’s road race – very exciting and won by a young Belgian fellow by a fair margin – I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of him in the coming years.

Made a nice beef stew, but it was a little late and neither of us was hungry enough to eat – but that’s ok since stew is almost always better the next day anyway.

Men’s ITT

0DA656E3-2263-4CC4-B4C8-9A87E45A4AC7We got up and were out of the apartment by about 8:15 to get to the climb we wanted to park it on for the ITT, but plans didn’t work out quite as expected. Many more roads were now blocked in Innsbruck as the junior men were practicing on what will be their road race course tomorrow.

626DD13A-C67A-439D-88ED-0527DB26BE81As a result we were blocked at almost every turn and then backtracked quite a ways – we eventually got onto the motorway to bypass the city so we could get to the east. We turned north at Hall-in-Tirol and up to Absam where we stopped at the same supermarket as yesterday, then continued on to Gnandenwald and drove down the hill all the way into Fritzens, which will be the start of the climb.

82F840E1-4108-4C25-864F-57AA9AEBAF8BWe turned around and drove a little way back and pulled over to a nice wide spot we’d seen on the way down. We setup the table and chairs, then got the flags up – maple leaf in spot of honour on top of one – although it wasn’t very breezy so they didn’t furl out as nicely as they usually do. Two men walking up past us jokingly asked why so many flags? couldn’t we decide? We responded about Colin being British and living in France, me being Cdn, Italy and Spain for the other two Grand Tours, both of us liking the Netherlands, and the Celtic countries because it’s so interesting. They liked that answer, then asked who our favourite for today’s race was and I piped up that I liked Domoulin – they loved that answer as they told us they were Dutch.

E7D1FC8F-91C3-49E6-968D-897267077CFFWe then settled in to wait a few hours for the first racer to come by – had a bite to eat and took a walk or two up and down the road to check out the other fans. By the time the race started our side of the road was one long un-ending line of cars all the way down to Fritzens. The day had started out beautiful but very cold – almost zero overnight again, but slowly warmed up to the point that I was able to change into my rah-rah skirt.

CF90AA94-73E1-40C2-B0F6-EC53D587C007The arrival of the first racer was telegraphed as usual by motos and the helicopter. There was only one Cdn in this race – the other must have pulled out for some reason.

5AC1B1B1-CC00-46C7-AFB9-B0F126D8A331The final rider to pass was last year’s winner Tom Domoulin, although he was not the favourite to win again this year – we found out later that Australian Rohain Dennis won, and by quite a handy margin too.

72DE2F3F-9FF9-4E81-B208-126C32C32CA5The wind finally picked up a bit shortly before we took the flags down, packed up and left.

BC3D339C-A23E-4DDE-8B59-EBE70C7E7D9BAs we drove down thru the town of Fritzens we encountered hundreds of people all over the roads and crowding the sidewalks – there were beergardens open and folks were indulging.

37CF0073-5BBE-4C9D-86A6-85F9DBCD22A7Oh – we also found out that yesterday’s women’s ITT was won by the favourite from the Netherlands, one of the Cdns missed the podium by only 2 seconds, and the other Cdn came 8th – not bad! The goats on the hillside on the way home weren’t impressed, however.51C915A3-8BD8-40DD-9CCC-2F706E2B1FCD