Etsch Tour: Day 3, Prad to Algund

Pink Sky in the Morning

Monday September 27

A pink sky in the morning isn’t just a bad omen for sailors. I caught a glimpse of a lovely, pink sunrise out of our hotel room window. Cyclists take warning!

I don’t have to waste too many words on today. We started out in a tolerable drizzle, my definition of tolerable being that I could still take my camera out without it getting wet beyond repair.  After not too many kilometers, I decided it would be better to leave my camera in the waterproof handlebar bag. Protected by my rain jacket and hood, rain pants and rain booties, I got through the day fairly well but in my opinion the sensational scenery deserved sun and blue skies.

The cycling itself, mostly downhill, was fairly effortless and while losing altitude I could let my mind wander back to our dinner last night and our friendly waiter who was native to Prad. Cyclists are known for their tremendous appetites and we are no exceptions. After a good meal, we thought maybe apfelstrudel for dessert?  But they were out which was probably just as well. Instead our young and charming waiter offered us apples in liquid form. He brought a bottle of apple schnaps to the table and joined us for a round. This was not any old apple schnaps, he  explained, it was braeburn apple schnaps. We had seen many varieties of apples on our ride through endless apple orchards today and braeburn was one of them.

Our waiter’s German was fluent but it still didn’t sound like his native language. I asked him what language was the primary language when he went to school, German or Italian. “German,”  he answered, “and when I finished school I could speak English better than Italian. Now I’ve improved my Italian for the tourists who come through.”

We are in Italy, mind you, and this young man was born and grew up in Italy – or to be more exact South Tyrol, and that was obviously his identity. “With my friends and companions at work I only speak German”, he informed us. “But you wouldn’t understand us. It’s a South Tyrolean dialect.”  We also learned that each village has its own distinct pronunciation.

In spite of the rain, we made progress, probably because we didn’t stop so often to take pictures. As we approached Meran, the Etsch cascaded over boulders and the bike path descended steeply on a series of seven hairpin curves. In Allgund, a few kilometers outside of  Meran, we decided we had had enough rain for one day and took a room in Hotel Zum Hirsch.

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