I am now entering into my final week in Dublin 😦 I am sad to leave, but I’ve met so many wonderful people and experienced so many new things. I’ve grown so much from this experience, both as a person and a traveller.
However It’s hard to remain too sad, because I’m spending Christmas and New Years with my adopted family in Italy!
The story is long, but I’ll try to summarize it. 4 years ago (July 2008) I went on a group tour with a travel organization for high school students. The trip was a disaster for several reasons, but part of the program was that we got to stay with a host family for a few days and the rest is history 🙂 I kept in contact with them over the course of the 4 years and when I found out I was going to Dublin in August I asked if I could stay with them for a few days, and they said YES! So the week before I was meant to be in Dublin I spent in Italy reuniting with them. Now I get to go back to spend the holidays with them as well. I’m so fortunate to have such amazing people in my life, who treat me like a member of their family.
Well when I was there this summer (8/27) we went on an interesting little trip to the Italian Alps! The area we visited was called the Dolomites. It is a mountain range that borders Austria and Switzerland, and is also a location of a battle between the Italians and Austrians in WWI. I love historical sites so I was really excited to see it.
The area where the battle took place is an open air museum, so you can walk around the grounds through the trenches and shelters that remain and the sites are marked with info about the events that took place. My brochure tells me that roughly 14,000 people died during the battles here. To get there you either have to walk about 5 km uphill (O_O) or take a jeep shuttle, which is what we did :). However it was a little horrific. 11-12 people squeezed into a now top-heavy jeep winding up the side of a hill. It was a one car road and the turns were extremely tight and there was nothing other than the driver’s expertise to keep us from tumbling down the side of this mountain (Railings are for sissies apparently) ;).
We made it to the top of the mountain and the view was incredibly breathtaking.
The area at the top of the mountain was enormous! There were no trees or any obstructions so you could really get a 360 view of the Dolomites. It looked almost like something out of Tolkien. We hiked up to the central area where most of the trenches and memorials were located.
I was really glad that I got to see this part of Italy, because it’s not your typical Italian tourism location. After we traversed back down the mountain we took a detour to this little alpine town called Cortina. It’s a ski and winter resort town for people with $$$$$. It was a really cute area with Chalet style buildings and houses. There was also an Olympic ski jump practice area, which was cool looking not covered in snow.
Stay tuned for My Christmas and New Years post, which I’ll probably be doing during my 23 hours of flight time home! 😀