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Published: June 10th 2016
We are sad to be leaving Italy behind today because we have had some great accommodations and places to visit and hike in making it a very memorable time.
However Germany calls and it is time to move north. The weather there over the past couple of weeks hasn’t been good with a lot of rain and floods whereas we have avoided all that to date even if it hasn’t always been summery.
Our apartment in San Cassiano has been very comfortable and well located for everything that we wanted to do. We had an interesting conversation with the lady who owns it when she came to collect payment for our 4 nights.
We had noticed that people spoke a dialect that was neither Italian or German which we thought would be prominent in this area being Italy and close to the Austrian border.
Although she spoke quite good broken English there was a definite accent there and we questioned her on what the local language was.
She and her family including her 90 year old father who lived up the road have lived all their lives in the San Cassiano valley. The local language was
Ladin which was an ancient mix which is basically only spoken in the Badia-Alto area. Sometimes you could pick up Italian and German in the mix of the spoken word so perhaps the language has picked some of those languages over the years.
Gretchen had worked out in her mind that we were going to leave the Badia-Alto area over a road that turned out to be a dead end road finishing up a mountain. Seems her compass is broken.
Her excuse was that the map we have been using and she had looked at for the exit road was upside down to the way she expected to read it. Thank goodness she hadn’t noticed that when we were hiking in the forests or heaven knows where we might have ended up!
Anyway we left Badia on the SS244 and just before Brunico switched to the N49 and headed west following the river floor between the mountains on a gloriously fine day with the late morning temperature at 19C.
Before long we moved onto the SS12, the non tolled road and headed up the Brenner Pass towards the Austrian border. We have been this way before
but from the Austrian side and into Italy.
The Brenner Pass is an easy gradient and hardly a mountain pass at all which is probably why it is popular and there was plenty of traffic around on this Sunday.
Driving through the couple of small towns on the road up to the summit we noticed that Austrian banners/flags were draped over the terraces and balconies of many buildings and houses yet this was still Italian territory we were in. We haven’t been able to find out the official reason for this sign of Austrian nationalism in Italy but we assume that many of the locals would like to be part of Austria rather than of Italy. Of course there are other areas of Europe where you come across this split nationalism and this border is a long way from Rome so perhaps the locals feel like they may get more out of Vienna than Rome.
Pretty quickly we reached the summit of the Brenner Pass at 1375 metres where the place was abuzz with people around the huge shopping outlet centre that only just opened when we passed through here in 2013.
We stopped for lunch
and remembering our past visit set out to locate the Nike shop where I had got myself a real bargain shirt previously.
Oddly enough we didn’t find Nike until after I had already got myself two new shirts, one an early birthday present from Gretchen. Nike didn’t have much to offer anyway.
On the way down the Austrian side of the pass we took a passed the constructions works site for the Brenner Base Tunnel. This is another massive project for a rail line from Munich, Germany to Verona, Italy with the tunnel being a distance 64km from Innsbruck in Austria to Forteza in Italy under the Alps. The project started in 2007 and is due for completion before 2025.
As we got closer to Innsbruck we hoped that there might have bungi action on the tall bridge that crossed the ravine just out of the city. We had seen bungi jumping here in 2009 but today the platforms were devoid of people and there was no action to be seen.
Heading west from Innsbruck we then switched to the D177 which took us over the border and into Germany.
Into Germany and the road became the D11 and was quite scenic as it wandered around some low alpine lakes and then came out of the forest and onto the plain that stretched off into the distance.
We stopped at a ‘strawberry hut’, a booth from which locally grown strawberries are sold and we got the freshest looking strawberries in a 1/2kg container.
The standard of the road construction and its width made driving at above 80kph easier than in say Italy and we cut out the remaining distance to our Air BnB accommodation in Geretsried very quickly. One moment we are driving along the road with dense forest off to our right and then the road to the town of 25,000 people was there. We would never have guessed that a sizable town lay completely hidden behind the trees.
Our host was on hand to give us a warm greeting and showed us the studio apartment that we will have for the next 3 nights and 2 full days.
The weather prospects look good for sightseeing in Munich one day and the other we will probably visit the memorial site of the work camp at Dachau.
PS:we have gone very nationalistic with today's Youtube to get the flavour of Bavaria.
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