Intermission Road Trip
After World Cups in Oslo, I had to figure out a way to get to Valdidentro Italy. I was going to take a few trains, but that would have taken multiple days, multiple dollars, and I have multiple bags. The OPA crew was driving a nice 10 hours from their last venue to the new one, and I was going to try to meet them half way somewhere, but with logistics that grew more complicated. Liz was helping me to try to get a ride with the Italians who were traveling from Oslo to OPA finals as well, but they all went home first. I almost went to Toblach for a few days so that I could ride down with them, but there was no room. They were SO awesome in trying to help me out though. I was given instruction to fly into Munich from Oslo, and from there it was about a 6 hour drive to the venue. Finally, I realized it would be more convenient and even cheaper to rent a car. Whoa. Like a real adult. As I contemplated this, my possibility for adventure started to bubble. I have never had my own wheels before in Europe. Usually we are at the mercy of a van of athletes, and go directly from the airport, to the hotel, to the venue.
My factors: It was a Monday (day off). I was still kinda sick, so needed to chill out anyway. I didn’t have to meet up with the team until the next day. I was told to spend the night in Munich to figure out my train schedule. Nahhhhh. Boring! Plus I kinda like solo adventures.
My mission: Go somewhere sweet that I wouldn’t normally go, but that wouldn’t be a money dump/energy sapper. Decided to drive to Milan and stay the night before meeting up with the team. (I was going to change my ticket to there, but that cost WAY too much.)
Step one: Summon up the ____ to drive manual alone in Europe. Step two: Play Jenga with a tiny car. I’ve gotten real good at reality Jenga. I usually don’t have a boot bag, but since I’ve been on the road for so long, and started with two ski bags, yes thank you I will take advantage of flying with my free alpine boot bag option.
Step three: Cover my bases, and take photos of google map directions, plus splurge for a map, AND a rental car gps. I can’t speak Norwegian, German, or Italian, but this b#tch ain’t gettin lost. Step four: Be really thankful that I have enough Euro on me to pay for toll amounts that I was not expecting. I decided to take the highway, because I wasn’t sure what sort of conditions the most direct route was going to be, and I knew I would be driving a bit in the dark alone. I got a little turned around in Innsbruck, but other than that my navigation did me well. I’m going to compare cities to….guys. Some, you are in awe instantly with their grandeur, but spend 30 minutes with them and you’re instantly bored. Others are confusing, smelly, noisy, and you don’t know how you ended up there in the first place. But this one, this city is a fiery, sophisticated, wealthy, fashionable, entertaining, awe-inspiring hunk named Milan who you want to spend time with and stare at forever. He’ll feed you croissants, teach you things, drive you around on a motorcycle, and serve you dinner under the stars. …..
What were we talking about?
Oh yeah. So Milan is sweet. It’s filled with Leonardo Da Vinci originals, along side the wealthiest shopping area in the world. (Read about it HERE ) You have history dating back 5-6 centuries ago, alone side a Prada store. I saw many women casually biking in heels. Right, I totally do that.
Step five: find a close hotel that I can leave my stuff in while I adventure the next morning. I knew I would want to walk to everything, because parking/driving is impossible. I was told the city is pretty safe, but there are many pickpocketers and purse stealers, so I proceeded accordingly. Mopeds are the way to go. They even have special moped parking only streets. Even if you don’t have one, the cars here are SO much smaller than in the US, which is actually really nice. Driving is crazier, but more maneuverable. Step six: find and drink a fancy coffee in Italy – Check Step seven: find the Duomo. The Duomo is the fifth largest church in the world, and a masterpiece. One of the bigger tourist attractions in the area, it sits AS the center of the city. It took about six centuries to complete, and its construction started in 1386. It has had alot of alterations, and is going through a bunch of restoration currently, but it still looks magnificent. Learn a bit more HERE!
As I walked into one of the art galleries, the receptionist looks at me and says something fast in Italian. My blank stare prompts her to reply “German?…Russian…?French?…English?” Yes English I want that one! Yet again, I became impressed with how many languages people speak in various European areas. I do my best to throw out words I know in other languages when applicable, but usually it turns into a mutter. A few Russian, a couple Italian (many times mixed with various Spanish words by accident), and a little French. Not enough, keep in mind, to converse in any of these. Probably sounds like this http://youtu.be/QUfb6lWdhho .
Milan is the home of the famous painting, “The Last Supper” by Da Vinci, and although the tickets are only in the 8-12 Euro range, you have to get them two months in advance.
If you ask how much, you can’t afford them. You know it’s pricy when each shoe has its own shelf. Fun fact – Gluten intolerance isn’t really a thing in Europe. They love bread. Who doesn’t? In the US, I’ve been eating less bread, but here, here bread is a new world of excitement in your mouth. (twss) The most delicious calzone… Part two of this adventure, was driving up through the mountains to Valdidentro. I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Step eight: Freak out. Once I started getting into the mountains, I was so pumped. “THIS IS SO PRETTY! THIS IS SO PRETTY!” It’s really like a fairy tale. There are castles on hills, big beautiful churches, huge mountains with lakes, hills covered for miles with grape vines ready for summer growth, cobble stone side roads, people sitting on their porch in the sun, towns nestled in the hills, with more houses in the mountains, and even the little old Italian men hobbling down a narrow one way street. My face for two hours straight.
The race venue is small and fairly compact, but definitely hilly. Below is the main lodge. Although I wish I hadn’t gotten a cold, of which I seem to be battling the remnants of in my racing, it’s a good life. This little side trip made me appreciate it even more. Lots of hard work put in throughout the year, with various personal agony and defeat, but it’s all for the reward of 2 min races and 48hr adventures.