Alpine road trip, day 8

Ponte di Legno to Lienz

Mendel > Bolzano > Karer > Fedeira > Cortina > Lienz

Distance traveled on this day: 298km

Mendel pass

Mendel pass

Passo del Tonale (1883m) was hiding it’s peaks in the clouds, so for us it was just a run up a small hill and through the ski resort. We stopped in Romalo, in the wine country, for a drink and sunbathe. The Mendel pass (1363m) is fantastic and the views hold the promise of the glories to come in the Dolomites. Down in the broad valley, Bolzano is an ugly industrial hell-hole which needs to be remodeled with atomic weapons. I got lost several times before finding the road to the Karer, hot and frustrated. Just relieved to be out of Bolzano and on the open road we stopped at a quaint old hotel for a cheese platter with twenty-odd Italian veteran bike racers, there to guzzle wine and chat up the woman who runs the restaurant (she must have been about sixty).

We stopped for the photos on the Karer (1745m), which looks like a great place to fly paragliders. Although we had been lucky this far, after the Karer we started to see more and more trailers and campers on the road which slowed us down a lot, and was a reminder that we had no room booked for the night. Marylyn was already complaining she was tired and didn’t want to run any more passes. I had planned to do both the Pordoi and Giau, but chose instead to run by Lago di Fedaia (2057m) and the Passo di Falzarego (2105m) instead. That route was be a little shorter, less hairpins and less tiring. She loved the lake, and we stopped for a drink and sunbathe again on the pass. The pass itself is also quite fantastic, as are the Dolomites in general.

We decided not to waste our time looking for accommodation when it seemed that all Europe was here on vacation. We’d push on to Austria. We rode down to Cortina which has to be one of the most heavily touristed places on earth, and onto the very fast SS51 to Dobbiaco. Well, it was fast for us. The traffic heading toward Cortina was horrific and I knew we’d made the right decision.
We messed around a bit in Sillian trying to find a room with no luck, and pushed on toward Lienz. It was cold and already getting dark when we arrived in Lienz, which seemed to be another ugly industrial city. We asked at one hotel for a room but it was full. The next one had a room so we took it. The hotel was a bit sub-par to look at but friendly. We decided to have dinner in the hotel because there didn’t look to be too much going on around there. After dinner we walked a little to find a cash machine and stumbled into the town center which is old and very beautiful. They have managed to hide the town from passers-by amazingly well since you wouldn’t see anything at all of it from the main road. Unfortunately a front arrived during the night.

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