Gruße aus Italy! (Greetings!)

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After a long travel day we’re finally in Italy and had a great first day exploring. We flew from Montreal, connecting in Nice, France, before landing in Zurich, Switzerland, where our hosts picked us up. Nice looks amazing and I think a few of us wouldn’t have minded a long enough layover to leave the airport and explore the shores of the Mediterranean for a few hours.

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Flying over the Mediterranean coast on our way into Nice.

When we arrived in Zurich we discovered pretty quickly that there was a miscommunication during some point in trip planning, as our hosts weren’t there to pick us up! For some reason they thought we were arriving at midnight, not noon. That left us with a few hours to burn exploring the airport which, lucky for us, has a shopping mall in it!

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The ladies found traditional Süd Tyrolean attire in the mall!

When the vans from Mals arrived we piled in and began the trek toward Italy. The weather was gorgeous when we arrived but quickly deteriorated during the drive. We stopped briefly for a late dinner on the road before venturing into the mountains after dark amid thunderstorms. We finally rolled into Mals around 10pm and found our accommodations. We are staying at a dormitory near the soccer field/track and will be eating breakfasts in our building while we have a short walk up the hill for lunch and dinner each day.

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Our building has a bridge over the road to a small parking lot where the vans we’re using  are kept. This is a morning view from the bridge. Not too shabby!

Today we woke up early for a 7:30 breakfast before driving up the Martell Valley to watch Lisa, a local Italian athlete who stayed with us for a month last fall, compete in the Italian Biathlon Rollerski Championships. It was fun to see her in action and exciting to also watch some of the Italian National Team members race around.

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Walker brought Lisa some Vermont Maple Syrup….she was pretty psyched about it!

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A view from the biathlon race course. There aren’t too many places around here where you can’t see big mountains in at least one direction!

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The crew on the spectator bridge cheering for Lisa.

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Dorothea Weirer, the top female biathlete from Italy. She’s consistently one of the top finishers on the World Cup so she gave us a solid demonstration of strong skiing and incredibly fast and accurate shooting.

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Weinerschnitzel for lunch!

After lunch back in Mals we made a quick turnaround and went for a hike just above town. The goal was an easy hike with poles to get our bodies moving after a long travel day. The mountainsides are steep here so we got some pretty amazing views throughout. There was some bushwhacking both on the way up and down, and a few of us got quite wet when a rainstorm passed through.

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A view on our way off the mountain. If you click on the photo to enlarge it you might be able to find Walker on the nearest ridge (look for his red shirt).

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Sam, Walker and Colin on our way off the mountain with a fantastic backdrop. This was shortly before the rain!

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One of the many cows we met today. Süd Tyrolean cows have it pretty good!

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A herdsman’s cabin that we came across on our way up the mountain.

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More mountainside friends, except these two were a little more friendly (and curious) than any of the cows!

After another great meal for dinner we’ve begun the task of staying up until nine to help our bodies adjust to the time change. There will be some homework, a quick meeting on tomorrow’s plans, and then a solid night of sleeping!

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Waffles for dessert….the kitchen has yet to disappoint! 

That’s all for now folks! Tomorrow we’re going to classic rollerski up Reschen Pass on the amazing bike paths and then go for a short hike in the afternoon.

Stay tuned!

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