Hello! I'm back for a new post after more than a month of absence again, probably because of different priorities, or I'm just plain lazy :)
Last month I finally managed to get some time off from work. Since it's the final month of my placement contract and I'll need to make use of my remaining annual leaves, I decided to take a week off and go for a Summer trip. I was planning to have a trip somewhere around April - May which is Spring, but a sudden incident causing the lost of my passport meant I'll need to delay the whole plan until Summer.
My original plan was a trip to Austria, mainly for Hallstatt. However I somehow decided that Hallstatt can wait for another day, and planned a hiking trip to The Dolomites instead. Reason being I have a few picture ideas to shoot, and this consist mainly of landscapes with mountains in the background. Going as far away to the outskirts as possible is also a good chance for me to hunt for the Milky Way, but in the end I still failed thanks to that tiny bit of light pollution.
This won't be a complete travel report as those from previous trips, instead it will be more of a photo journal/album but with some added details of my travel plan. I was going to write a more complete travel post but realised that I don't have the relevant pictures to illustrate my words for example my hotel room, the train journey and many more. Still I will include the details but I'll go through them rather quickly and skip right to the pictures.
I have another trip coming up this weekend, and for this trip I promise to write a better, more detailed post. Stay tuned!
The Dolomites seems like a hard place to reach on first look, but after some research it was pretty straight forward. Public transportation was readily available, with buses to take you straight into the towns located in the mountain valleys. However your activity and plan will be limited depending on the number of days you intend to spend. A rented car is much more desirable, to fully maximise your time in the valleys.
I took a flight to Verona, and from there a train to a town called Bolzano. The journey will take approximately 1 and a half hour to 2 hours depending on the type of train service (high speed or regional which stops at every station).
Once at Bolzano, I'll need to catch a bus to Santa Cristina Val Gardena, the town I'll be staying for the next 4 days in The Dolomites. When it comes to staying there, you have a choice of three main towns - Ortisei Sankt Ulrich, Santa Cristina Val Gardena and Selva di Val Gardena. I chose Santa Cristina because it's located in the middle, but you won't go wrong with either three if you're wondering which is the best.
Buses come and go at approximately every 1 hour so it's best to take note of the timetable, readily available online at http://www.sii.bz.it/en/siitimetablesquery or provided by your hostel/hotel. Bus number 350 goes from Bolzano straight into Santa Cristina, the journey takes around 1 hour.
The hotel I'll be staying is Hotel Uridl, 3 star rated :) . Must be expensive you thought? Well I paid 180 Euros for 4 nights, that's 45 Euros per night for a single bedroom, with your own toilet, breakfast included everyday. That's a pretty fair price for me, considering such a touristic place. In fact Summer is one of the cheapest time to visit Val Gardena in The Dolomites, since the whole area will be turned into a ski resort during Winter. I got no complaints about the hotel. The staffs are friendly and helpful, rooms are cleaned EVERY single day when you're out, and the breakfast is nice as well. Only minor complaint would be the location, the hotel is located on a VERY STEEP incline and trust me it's hell getting back after a whole day of hiking.
At this point I should mention The Dolomites is a very, very huge area. It comprises several mountains and national parks, and was split into different district/areas. To fully explore the whole Dolomites I estimate it would take probably 2 weeks to a month. For this trip I'll be covering Val Gardena, an area that comprises of the 3 towns I mentioned earlier.
Remember that this is a very touristic place, so expect to pay tourist prices for services such as guides and food. You probably won't need a guide as most hiking paths are well noted in maps, and there's signs everywhere showing the direction of hiking trails. Guides are probably required for more secluded areas, challenging hikes or special tours. Food prices won't be cheap and there's not much choices, expect standard prices of minimum 5 Euros for the cheapest pizza.
4 days is a fair amount of time for hikes but I do feel a bit boring on the last day as it's the same place all over again. As I said, having a car here is desirable. If you're staying at Santa Cristina or Selva I would recommend taking the cable car called Col Raiser, which will take you up to around 2000+m of the Puez Odle Nature Park then you can continue the hike by foot up until 3000m+.
Overall I'm satisfied with this trip given the time constraints and limitation in mobility. I always consider every first trip to a place as a "survey" or first hand experience, then decide whether to return in the future with a better plan. I've repeated this 3 times here, A CAR IS REALLY ESSENTIAL. No seriously, get a few hiking buddies, rent a car and stay in an apartment or hostel that you can cook. Spend a few days driving off into different parts of the valley to hike instead of staying in the same town and hiking the same mountain every single day.
For me, if I'm returning here in the future (which I will) I would preferably do an overnight hiking trip instead. That is, hiking from one mountain/valley to another while staying overnight in hikers lodge located on the mountains (wooden houses that you will see in some of the pictures later). This for me, will be the perfect way to fully experience The Dolomites.
Enjoy the pictures :) Hope you enjoy the read as well and take care!
Gear - Sony a7 + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f4 ZA OSS
Post processing - Capture One Pro 9