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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

June 25th: Arraba to Cortina d'Ampezzo

 Bowen and Boen and I hit the breakfast room just as it opened, and even then there was already a ton of stuff that had already been raided. But the restaurant was huge so there was still plenty of food. Xiaoqin came by a few minutes later and remarked on how different the culture was just one valley over!

We packed everything and got the bikes loaded. There was already a bunch of cyclists in the parking lot, and but nobody was in a hurry to move. Those who were riding the bike day were unloaded, and and 4 hours to do the ride was plenty of time if you were a decent cyclist. Prior to the trip I'd contemplated doing the entire loop, but then the next day we'd have to ride to Cortina with nasty traffic, so I decided that discretion was the better part of valor.

The day started with a descent down to the intersection with Falzerago pass from Caprile. It was comforting to see the Italian police already having cordoned off the roads to car drivers. After the descent, we climbed a little bit before the kids, driven by hedonistic adaptation, decided to stop and wait for mommy so mommy could act as their sherpa, carrying their luggage up the mountain.

An Italian bike day is something to thoroughly enjoy. Cyclists are allowed to use the entire width of the road, both lanes, and the number of cyclists is incredible. Tunnels and galleries that would be normally scary are just a pleasant escape from the sun. The climb up Falzerago was easy, but even then, every 3rd cyclist over-taking us would offer encouragement in whatever language they had. Once again, the triplet got tons of attention and the kids had lots of encouragement, but Xiaoqin, being on an ebike didn't get anywhere near the approbation.
Lukas had encouraged us to ride the extra km up to Valpora to enjoy the view of the Mamolada glacier, but I wanted to use the extra time to descent to Cortina. As a point of fact, by the time we got to the intersection with the Cortina highway, nobody wanted to do the extra kilometer.
The descent was traffic free as expected, and without too many turns or corners, so the triplet could take the descent at full speed and not slow down at all! It was exhilarating, and we only stopped at intersections to make sure that Xiaoqin didn't take a wrong turn.
One of the most exciting things about the descent is that right after you pop through the tunnel there's a glorious panoramic view of Cortina d'Ampezzo right below you, and on a slow traffic day you could pull over to the benches and sit and enjoy the view. Even the kids were impressed by the view.

Unfortunately, after that, the traffic got busy, and we descended with a ton of traffic. Once in town, we circled around and eventually found the Hotel Bellevue. There was an ultra running race in town for the weekend, which made all the hotels exceedingly expensive. I'd picked the hotel on the basis of the food reviews on TripAdvisor, but we would discover that the half pension definitely didn't live up to the reviews, though the breakfast was excellent.

We left the bike at the hotel, and then walked out to eat lunch, which was punctuated from cheers or whistles whenever an ultra runner finished the course. I asked Xiaoqin if she was impressed by the bike day, but she wasn't. She thought that the bike paths were good enough as far as car free was concerned.

The cable car that Arturo and I took way back in 2014 (the Faloria) was closed, but the other cable car in town (Tofana) was open, and I hadn't tried it before, so we tried it. We were going to go all the way to the top, but the woman selling tickets discouraged us, as we were so late that we wouldn't have any time to look around at the top before we came down, so we took the cable car only to the first stop.

Of all the cable cars we'd taken on the trip, the Tofana was the least interesting. At the top there was a wine shop, but neither Xiaoqin nor I drank. There was a playground which had interesting views ,but no interesting hikes, lakes or much else!

On the other hand, it was warm enough down in the valley that we didn't feel like taking the cable car ride down too quickly either, so we just lazed around the area until around 5pm, whereupon we took the cable car back down and walked back to the hotel. I googled around and apparently there was no need to climb Tre Croci --- there was a bike path all the way to Dobbacio from Cortina, something I'd never tried before. I figured it was worth a try, and there might be a bus or taxi to Misurina from the intersection with the Dobbacio bike path.

Dinner wasn't very impressive, and was in fact disappointing, but our suite was spacious (and we had paid through the nose for it), though the hotel had nothing by the way of a swimming pool for us to spend any time otherwise. We hung out everything to dry, and went to bed early.

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