Tuesday, February 18, 2014

EuroMaidan Protest, Brussels

EuroMaiden is a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest that started in November of last year in Ukraine and is slowly spreading across Europe's larger cities.  Small groups of people gather together to peacefully but loudly protest against the Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, his government  Russian President Putin's influence and the European Union for standing around and not really doing anything.  This weekend, my foot tour of Brussels ended at the foot of one of the protest that was happening all over Europe on February 16th.  You can see the protest in the distance, towards the end of Mont Des Arts (hill of the arts).
 The crowd was about 50+ people large, people from the crowd were giving speeches.
 Many were holding signs against Yanukovich and Putin.
 The group of protesters was from all over the place.  This speaker was Canadian and confirmed that the people of Canada stood behind the people of Ukraine.
 Many signs were about freezing or stoping the flow of money, but the signs were not clear of to who's money to freeze and in what direction that freeze should take place.  I kind of got an idea that this was a request to the EU in terms of money flowing to the current government of the Ukraine... But I could have misinterpreted this one.  But that makes sense.
 This was a more serious demonstration during the protest.  I think it's a reenactment of an event that happen in Kiev.
 Keeping track of how many days since the start of civil unrest in Kiev, November 21, 2013.
 'Ukraine is feed up with deep concerns', deep concerns is a phrase commonly used by EU foreign minsters in reference to, what the foreign misters refer to as the 'situation in Kiev.'  Listen for this phrase on CNN.
EU flag.  The white and red flag is a little more difficult to explain.  It is the flag of the Belarusian People's Republic, which was a failed attempt to create a Belarusian state.  This attempt happen in 1918, I think they are trying to keep the memory of this action alive. But this government is also still active and in exile in Toronto, CA.
 This was one of the last speeches before the protest ended.
 Everyone disappeared quickly after this speech.

Friday, February 7, 2014


The closest airport to Cortina is Treviso, so regardless of rain, if time permits Treviso is a really nice place to visit.  If you set your TomTom to Treviso Piazza Doumo Parking lot, this is where you end up. Treviso is also near Venice, you can catch a bus to Venice from the airport or city.
 Probably one of the best deli's I have found in Italy.  But since I was flying Ryanair I was not able to purchase anything to take home.  Well, I could purchase anything but Ryanair would mark up the baggage check, so forget about it.
 Treviso has a river that runs around and through the city.
 The level of the river seems really high, I'm concern this area might have an issue as the snow in Cortina melts.
 Once it starts raining in this area, it just keeps raining.
 The main church in Treviso is okay with taking photos as long as you don't use a flash.
 A fresco in the crypt of the church.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snowboarding Cortina

This past weekend many lifts were closed due to an overload of snow, this of course made no sense.  Luckily a few were runs were open, no lines of people and the lift tickets were discounted.   First things first, got to figure out the parking lot situation.
Ask anyone in Northern Italy, this is the best 4X4 on the road today.  Ice, snow, rain, tsunami, it can drive circles around a Range-rover, Mercedes or any other four wheel expensive car.  
 Snow banks were well over my head.
 Snow plows were running low on diesel.  This thing rolled up like it was a normal car.
 It was almost a lost cause trying to clear the roads up to the mountain.
 Road signs were not helping much too.
 We actually drove past the ski mountain and had to turn around.
 Yes!  I'm there!  Found the trail head, the first day we snowboarded the mountain known as Socrepes.
 It was kind of amazing how few people were here.
 About 30 minutes after we arrived they opened up a second run with about a foot + of fresh powder.
On this snow, if you slow down, you just kind of sink.  It's really quite exhausting to get up and going again.  
 This lodge was towards the top of the second lift.
 Later in the day the clouds started to clear and it made it possible to see the town of Cortina in the distance.
 Next morning the clouds cleared again and mountains around the town of Cortina became visible.
 Looking at the current status, 5 lifts were open, plan was to snow board Ra Valles and Col Druscie (top two green checks).
Since so many runs were closed, we were able to get a 20 euro lift ticket... but needed to wait 30 minutes for the 1/2 lift ticket to start.
To get from the base of the mountain to the lift area you needed to take a cable car.  Some people walked up, but I did not join that group.
 The second lift to a higher mountain was closed, you can see how the cables disappear into the clouds.
 This was the location of the 1956 Winter Olympics Slalmon runs... I think this was the last time the mountain had this few skiers on it.
 Great trails through the forest.  On the second day I had to take a bunch of rest during my runs.

Cortina d'Ampezzo

Cortina d'Ampezzo is a small town located on the southern end of the Dolomitic Alps in Northern Italy, about 45km from Austria.  The town of Cortina d'Ampezzo sits in a valley that is surrounded by mountains and ski lifts, this town was also home to the 1956 Winter Olympics.   Bus service is not great, so you more or less need to drive here.
 The weekend and day I arrived in Cortina was the most snow that they had in 13 years.  And who would have thought, to much snow actually shuts down most of the ski lifts.
 But because of the crazy snow most people who know what's going on did not come up to Cortina this weekend and the few lifts that were open were mostly empty with untouched powder style snow. I will put up a post about snowboarding soon.
 The little town is wonderful, lots of German influence.  Sometimes its hard to tell if you are in Northern Italy or Southern Germany.
 Saturday night was kind of quiet but most restaurants were open.
 People were shocked at the amount of snow.  I think they were plowing all roads and sidewalks continuously throughout the day.  And the plows were super-indstural size.
 Boun Giorno... Good day!
 In the distance you can see the Cortina clock tower.  Most of the weekend was low clouds, I saw the mountains around the city only a couple of times.  It was difficult to see the mountains even when snowboarding.
 We drove a Fiat Panda 4X4.  To our surprise this is one of the best 4X4 vehicles.  It was able to out-drive a Toyota Land Cruiser up a slippery snow covered mountain.  We were able to park the car almost in the lobby, car on the left.  But maybe it was not so safe to park under that snow that built up on the roof.
 Got to shovel snow off the roof.
 Looking north towards Cortina Centre.