San Cassiano, Italy

     We checked off another country to visit this past week... ITALY! It's block leave time so my husband and I took 4 days and drove to Italy to go skiing in the Dolomites, the Italian Alps! It was absolutely breathtaking! Although we were in Italy it didn't really feel like it. Since we were so close to Austria the Italians also spoke German which came in handy for us!
      Lets back up a little... We decided to drive since it was just over 4 hours for us. We really like the convenience of driving places so we can stop along the way and get an awesome view of the country. We drove through Munich and into Austria. When you drive into Austria you have to get a Vignette, or a sticker for your car that allows you to drive on their Autobahn. There are not clear signs for this so you need to pay attention to when you're getting close to the boarder. We stopped at a gas station and bought ours for around 8 Euro and it's good for 10 days. We continued to drive and made a quick stop in Innsbruck to see their Christmas Market, which was not really worth it but I did get another mug to add to my collection!
      We were unsure about the Vignette in Italy, we kept our eyes open for any signs but never saw anything so we just drove right through. Turns out there is not a Vignette for Italy, you just have to pay tolls along the way so make sure you have Euro cash and coins on you! The drive through Italy was amazing!! The country side and mountains were so pretty! I'm glad I wasn't driving because I would have gotten distracted by the views! By the time we were almost to our location it was dark and I realized the heater in the car quit working... I was worried the heating unit had gone out and we were going to be freezing in the car all the way back home. Then my husband realized that the car was overheating!! This is not something we wanted to happen in a foreign country. We were so lucky that we happened to pass an auto workshop so we stopped and asked for some help. I was hoping the car was just out of coolant but it turns out the hose thing that puts the coolant into the engine was broken! Sooo now what?? We're about 20 minutes away from where we're staying but we can't get there. The car guy spoke Italian and very little English so it was difficult to communicate. He finally asked if we spoke German and we ended up communicating through a mixture of English and German. Thank goodness we now know enough German to be able to get by. We were still unsure of what to do. We knew we had to leave the car to get fixed but where do we go? We asked if there was a place to rent a car and this auto shop actually rents cars!! But guess what.... It's a manual and unfortunately my husband and I are not good with stick shifts. We had to turn that down and finally decided on calling a taxi. So after going through that ordeal we got a taxi and made it to our location. Now we just had to wait and pray that the fix didn't cost too much.
      We finally made it to the ski slopes and enjoyed a full day of skiing! I had only skied once in my life 2 years ago so when I go to the top of the mountain I freaked a little. I couldn't do it... Skiing in Italy is WAY different than skiing in North Carolina. I finally forced myself down the hill but still was not comfortable with how it was going. So we finally decided that I would take a ski lesson. So after a 2 hour Italian ski lesson I felt much more confident! We enjoyed 2 more days of skiing and it was time to go home. 
      We stayed at Apartments Taela which was a cute and quaint place. The owner was very nice and spoke great English. If we go back to this area to ski again we would definitely stay at the same place! They had great prices too! So, our first trip to Italy was a success! Oh and our car only had a minor fix and was ready to go the next day!! If you're an avid skier I would highly recommend this location! They are also known for having blue skies and sunshine almost everyday of the year!