Dolomites, Venice, Brussels, Bruge, Beer, Home

Trip Start Sep 07, 2007
Trip End Sep 23, 2007

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Its Saturday night in Brussels....I found an Internet cafe as the one in the hotel is crazy expensive.   The concierge pointed me to this place in a seedy part of town.  I think there is some sort of protest down the street and folks are getting arrested as lots of sirens around.

The last week as been great so much has gone on...

After Monday's canceled VF hike, i was quite sad as I only had 3 days of hiking in the Dolomites.  I was able to make up for this.  On Tuesday I went on a group hike up to Cinque Torre (5 points...although I'm told one of the points has fallen down) a good hike of about 8 miles from 6K feet up to about 8.5K.  I realized Monday why i was having such a hard time.  I had gone from sea level up to almost 1 mile ASL so my body did not acclimate very well.  It started as a nice day but turned into crud...rain, snow, sleet, yuck.  I realize how good the AMC is a group hiking engine...i mean,  when you stop the leader always asks if your ready to go...these brits just start up when you sitting there enjoying the views.  The hike was loaded with history...trenches and fortified artillery areas from WWI.   It was hard to believe that the Italians built this stuff up at 6K feet.   When i got down to the bottom we saw some other trenches that had not been restored.

Wed I decided the best hike i could do was one alone.  I did the Sas champac route which started at the gardina pass...i took a bus up there and the route was ideal as It ended right in the backyard of the hotel.  This was a similar hike as the day before but it was sunny and there was a good amount of snow up in the high ground.    It was so nice just chugging along at my own pace...i finished in about 4.5 hours....a but under the guides 6 hour rating.  The start of the hike was a long and hard climb but eventually it basically rolling up and down a little bit. I ran into a group from the Italian army who were doing a training hike.  i got a picture with my solider friend.   I decided to avoid going to the summit of sas champac as the paths were quite narrow and slippery.  if i only brought my crampons.   :)

Thursday started with an early transfer from Corvada to Venice.  When I got to Venice airport , i dumped my big bags and just took my day pack and mandolin....As it turned out this was the smartest move i ever made.   Rolling my city of luggage from on water taxis and over bridges would have been a pain.    When I got to Venice off the airport bus i has no idea how to navigate or use the system of gondolas or water taxi's.  I eventually got onto the water taxi and found my hotel.  This was the hotel my brother David stayed at in Venice a few years back. One of my new found loves was Italian mandolin strings.   I wanted to grab another few sets before I got home so the owner of the hotel pointed me to a store that had some.   I managed to make my way over there and got a small supply of strings and picks.   From there i got over to St. Marks square , climbed the church to see the square and admired the whole Venice scene from there for a while.   After making it back to the hotel, i met the owners wife who was so charming.  She asked if I could play my mandolin for her and her husband...i reciprocated with a little sample of music.   Since I'd seen museums and churches up the ying yang since i have been in Italy, i decided to visit the Jewish Ghetto of Venice.   The word getto is really a German pronunciation of the word Jetto which means metal foundry or something like that.  I took a tour of 3 old synagogues from the ghetto and got a taste of the life of the Jews of Venice.    As I had an early departure, i decided to try to sleep early.  Sadly,  a bachelor party decided to park itself at the bar across from my hotel room and i didn't get much sleep.  The guys were singing and rowdy for hours.  I got about 2 hours of sleep and woke up at 4:30am to walk over the the water taxi at 5:30.  

I arrived in Brussels later that morning...I'm staying on the edge of the old city.  I managed to walk the major spots, the grand palace, parks, squares.  Brussels is a nice compact city that can be walked in a day....after a long day i picked a local spot suggested by the concierge at the hotel and had a local delicacy, stromp which is sausage and potatoes.   It was good but not my cup of tea ... but I did have a lot of good beers ... really good beers.    Also, the hotel was the starting point for a famous road ralley from Brussels to Monaco with classic cars...Mike Cinnamon would have been in heaven :)   Old BMW's , Mercedes,  trumpets, sunbeams, mg's,  a few old mustang cobras.   I saw a 1968 MG-B like Jen's 1969 owned by a German man....there were lots of cool cars...i will upload them to my picture area when I get back.

Today , Saturday is the last full day of my trip....I decided to sleep in late...i needed to catch up on sleep and had my first breakfast of eggs in 2 weeks....the Italians don't eat omelets for breakfast :)    I took the train to bruges, a little medieval town about 60 minutes from Brussels....i took a quick tour of the city and managed to have Flemish beef stew (beef stew over Belgium fries) good....i also went to the zoot brewery, one of the oldest breweries around.   After 2 zoots i was happy and decided to take the train back home to Brussels.  

My plans for the final night will be to have some more of my favorite beer on the planet and go to sleep early...i have a 10am flight.

I have had a great trip, a very diverse and interesting trip, hiking , mandolins,  site seeing, great food and beer and great people and experiences.   its does not get better than this.  I'll be talking to you all when I get back home to the states. Peace Ira
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