We were ready for skiing in Val Gardena after spending a few days in Milano.

Despite the exhaustion of the night, we woke up early in the morning, packed up our things and got on the train from Milano Centrale at 1 p.m. We stopped off in Bergamo station, and headed to Milano Bergamo Airport (Aeroporto di Orio al Serio il Caravaggio). I have to admit that the journey turned into a daunting mission due to the board bags in our hands. Then we took the Terravision bus (a return ticket cost €60) that would eventually take us to Val Gardena in three and a half hours. On the way there, I watched the mountains covered in snow, while listening to music. When the battery of my iPhone died, I felt like fish out of water, beginning to wish silly things.

– God, bestow upon me an iPhone!

– OK, I shut up.

Towards 18:30, we arrived at Elvis Apartments (costing weekly 300€ for each of us in a group of six) located in Wolkenstein in Val Gardena.

Val Gardena, Gröden is a valley in the Dolomites of northern Italy. Now within the territories of Italy, the region in south Tyrol used to belong to Austria until Second World War. That’s why almost all the signs and boards were in German. German is the native language of the majority of the locals who also speak Italian. German and Italian restaurants equally spread throughout the region. With the native language being German, I felt like home, after being exposed to confusing Italian, which I understood thanks to my Spanish, but was unable to speak in Milan. Thank God, German saved me.

We were eventually a group of 12 at night, when our friends from Austria and Istanbul finally arrived. In groups of six, we would stay in two flats, one in downstairs and the other upstairs. Since we were wearied by traveling and unaware of what to do in the village (and also because we could not find a place for 12 people without reservation at the recommended restaurant), we had something in a nearby pizza shop. Although some of us went out to explore surrounding bars, we all went to bed quite early. We would wake up early the next day, receive our ski passes and ski all day long!

Day 1:

We woke up early, but there was nothing at home for breakfast. Without breakfast, we went out to receive ski passes (a six-day ski pass is €241 per person. It sounds scary, but compared to the prices of Turkish T-bars, it makes sense because it is valid for the entire mountain, 83 lifts and a total of 175 km tracks).

Some of us rented ski equipment, and our group of 12 people, ten of them male and 2 of them female, 10 of them skiers and 2 snowboarders (I was one of them) made our way to the track. The mountain is huge, offering lots of tracks. We skied in groups of three, with a map in our hands. In the afternoon, we lunched at Café Val D’Anna, which was in the middle of a 10.5 km track.

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Skiing after a one-year interval and getting used to the snow exhausted me on the first day. I got home to have shower and a proper rest until dinner. I woke up, and found out that someone did shopping and everyone was ready to leave. Our destination the first night was Sun Valley, the restaurant we read on Trip Advisor. We were recommended to order Hauswein wherever we went in Italy. Therefore, I had already started rating the restaurants according to their wine quality. Sun Valley’s wine gained my appreciation. Pizzas and desserts were superb, as well. On full stomachs, we had a look at nearby pubs. It was a Sunday night, and the only sign of life was in Luiskeller, where the female/male rate was 1/20 (even lower than our group). The guys didn’t like the idea, so we went back home. In front of the apartment, I saw this lovely gesture by my friends who walked in front of me: They wrote cizenbayan on the car’s window 

Day 2:

We headed to the tracks following the breakfast Tunç, a must for every household, prepared. It was a pleasurable day, ornamented by picturesque sceneries. On the chairlifts and gondolas, which we hopped on after long tracks, we sipped whiskey from our hip flasks. (I am not good at drinking whiskey, so I developed my own style of whiskey drinking: Just like the way one would drink tea with a lump of sugar in his mouth, I was swallowing whiskey with a bite of chocolate in my mouth).

Carried away by skiing, we steered a long distance away from our apartment. The closing hour of the tracks, and the darkening sky revealed that we would be unable to ski back to our flats. We started rushing to reach the closest village. Having always been behind the skiers, even we, as snowboarders, skied at full speed. Tracks surrounded a giant rock, and we were on the side furthest from the apartment. It was clear that we would be unable to ski home. Imagine a group of twelve, some of which was in panic, while the rest was still having fun. We divided the group in two: Those who wanted to take a taxi and those who would take busses.

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Since it heralded adventure, I was in the group opting for the bus. Sera, Serhan, Doğan, Berkin, Tunç and I arrived home one hour later than the others, but we had the chance to see the nearby villages and have quick strolls while changing buses. Çağrı, Okan, Güney, Şefi, Pakkan and Ozan, who took a taxi, mocked us for being mean, and they, we found out that, paid €12 per person, which was quite reasonable. We each paid €2 for bus. It was an adventure, anyway. From then on, we would watch the closing hours and carefully check our maps.

We had a great meal, again prepared by Tunç, at home, accompanied by wine. At some point, I was asked to be a proper lady and do some house cleaning, and I asked them what house cleaning actually meant, and if they could show me some. By the way, why would I clean just because I am a female? We had a poker party and chatted a bit before going to bed. Those upstairs, however, drank and got smashed by alcohol.

Day 3:

Those who overdrank the night before were unable to wake up, so we, as the group of upstairs, rushed to ski on the tracks. Our group was small and the weather was a bit overcast. My goggles constantly fogged up. It was snowing and skiing without goggles was impossible. I left my friends, and had a break of hot chocolate, waiting for the fog to disperse.  It helped my goggles, so I kept on skiing till the evening. When the tracks closed, we met at the ice bar called Bait Vallongia, with the other hung-over group joining us. Served as a treat by the bartender, who loved us to bits, shots and glühweins really cheered us up. We were in high spirits when we got home.

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The night would be a stage for a larger poker party. However, I and Güney opted for going out to have some drinks. Having a Smirnoff ice at Luiskeller, we busted the flat’s party at midnight to celebrate Çağrı’s birthday. Confetti and applauses summarized the night: Happy birthday Çağrı!

Day 4:

The weather was great. We would head to Sellaronda, touring the entire mountain by taking every lift maximum once. The route consisted of charming views and long tracks. Even though flat surfaces challenged snowboarders, Berkin and me, we enjoyed the nice weather the company of our friends. We lunched at a fishery, Emilio Comici, in the middle of Sellaronda.

Even during the lunchtime, we were flying up above the sky, thanks to the wine we had, Schnapps the venue served, and the Champaign we ordered for Çağrı’s birthday. We encouraged each other to go to the Snowpark. A quite enjoyable time in Snowpark was followed by the ice bar!

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I don’t even remember what I drank, but we danced on the snow at the ice bar. The following activity was Simple Pleasure, which meant that we would enjoy the whiskey & chocolate duo, while resting in a spot secluded from the tracks. It was a comfort to ski back home and leave the boards in the ski room before going up our flat through the stairs.

Of course, we didn’t have a reservation for dinner, and we were unable to find a place for 12 people. We dined in small groups. Later we met at Goalies Pub, and headed to Luislkeller to dance.

Day 5:

No matter how much we drank the night before, we woke up to a fresh day, probably thanks to the mountain weather. We would go to the glacier on the Sellaronda route. We started skiing together. Marmoloda, the highest mountain of the Dolomites, offers you the view of Venice in open weather. The gondola was performing nearly a 90-degree vertical climb to Marmolada, making us feel like we were in an elevator. It had three stops. The first one for picking up the people. The second for the restaurant and museum, and the third, at 3265 meters, that offered an observation terrace and featured sloping tracks.

The area is called a Glacier because it is snowy every season. Signs warned us that the top track was covered in ice; the rocks and stones had to be watched, and cliffs should be avoided, which all scared me before taking the gondola. Snowboarding on the ice was not even possible. Neither Güney nor I was interested in snowboarding on the ice, so we decided to have lunch at the second stop in the restaurant and wait for the others to ski down to us. We thought we could join them at a track without ice. We finished our lunch and had a dessert with a cup of espresso.

But, our plan got shredded, because we later found out the second stop was not accessible through skiing. The rest of the team was unable to come! We were thinking what to do. Going up and following them meant they would have to wait for us for long. We decided to go down and wait for them instead. Reality bit us when we got down. The track, which started from a 3265 meter height, ran down to the other side of the mountain, not down where we were waiting. It was our mistake: We hadn’t seen any tracks while climbing on the gondola anyway. It was absurd to wait for them to get down there. Going up again and following them would take minimum 2 hours. In the end, Güney and I would spend the day together.

On the phone we let them know that they shouldn’t wait for us. We would ski together during the rest of the day. But, none of us, had read a map in Val Gardena. We had no idea where to ski or what to do. There were no tracks on that side of the mountain, either. We took off our boards, found a lift and started skiing towards home. First, we felt like we could read the map, not losing our hope. Looking at the time, we were crashed to understand that skiing back home would be impossible.

Then it started getting darker, with tracks being covered with ice and lifts closing one after another. By the time we arrived in the closest village, thanks to the first gondola we saw, all the tracks had already been closed. We asked people how we could get back to Wolkenstein. The only way was taking a taxi which would cost €80. We finally admitted that we had to pay the price. Of course, paying this much offended us. However, we were so far away from home that the taxi ride lasted 45 minutes. The driver really had deserved the money.

When we eventually got back home, everyone started mocking us. Güney and I had agreed to make up a different story each time we would be asked what we did, but finally we had to disclose the astronomic figure we paid for the taxi. Then we tried to protect ourselves against all the mocking with the fact that we were loaded with money. Still today, our friends invent jokes, sometimes creative and sometimes harsh, about us. This had been another adventure, anyway.

Day 6:

Some of us from the group would go back to Milano. We were a group of seven on our last day on the mountain. Skiing in a small group was a lot easier. The weather was nice. Berkin and I snowboarded, while Tunç, Ozan, Çağrı, Şefi and Pakkan skied until the afternoon. On our last day there, we bumped into Turks during lunch, after which we discovered a great après-ski bar. Alcoholic hot chocolate, shots and dancing at a 2064 meter height in Piz-Seteur was indelible. DJ played whatever we asked. After that, we kept on enjoying in the Snowpark. Simple Pleasure on the last day was inevitable. And from this moment on, the real adventure started for me.

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While having whiskey and chocolate and enjoying lovely conversations, I was freezing to death. We were so close to our apartment. Thus, I wanted to leave. I was told to ski until the T-Bar. and get on the T-Bar if it was still open. I was also told to ski to my left until I got home. Being tipsy as all hell, I nearly missed the T-Bar. When I was up the hill, I started, God knows why, skiing to the right. Of course, I didn’t end up in our village. Congratulations! I was in another village.

Firstly, I began to walk towards the left. No signs of our village appeared. The village ended when I found myself on a highway. The tracks were closed on my left, giant rocks surrounded me from my right; behind and ahead of me were endless paths. I was slightly scared. I watched the cars passing by, not having the courage to hitchhike. Then I saw on the left a tiny board on a tree behind the barriers that showed our village. I jumped over the barrier, and saw that it was a path sloping down in a width of a board.

I had nothing to do but go down the path. I walked with my board in my hand. And I let my board glide down to see where it would go. It rapidly slid down, and I rushed to catch it on a round. I made my mind. I would use it as a skid to go down the path. I put my board on the ground, sitting on it, and holding the bindings. I started gliding down, and even shot a video.

In the end, I made way to the village and got back home, being the only one who went through such adventures. We would head to a neighboring village Ortisei in the evening. We had a great dinner at Mar Dolomiti, which was recommended by the bartender at the ice bar, before starting to explore the bars there. Siglo, alleged to boast the most famous venues in the region, didn’t offer anything. We went back to our village and headed to Luislkeller. We had to wake up early and go back to Milano, so I didn’t stay there long. However, one group, who went to the nightclub at Sun Valley told us we had missed a lot of things.

We woke up the next day and hit for the roads for a second round in Milano. This is how our lovely getaway in Val Gardena ended.




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