Friday, July 10, 2009

Italy - Cogne

As I alluded to before, getting to Cogne from Milan required a subway ride followed by two bus rides up into the mountains. Before I left Germany, I was very worried about the possibility of getting motion sick while riding a bus through mountain switchbacks. So I went to the pharmacy and, after some confusion on the difference between 'motion' and 'emotion,' the lady there gave me antiemetic gum. Her instructions were to start chewing up to 30 minutes between getting on the bus and to chew no more than 3 pieces at a time. Here's a picture I took out the window of the bus, but, believe me, the gum story gets better after the jump.

The first leg of the bus trip was from Milan to Aosta, the main city in the Valle d'Aosta. I popped in a piece of gum when the bus started moving. Within 4 minutes, my entire mouth from my lips to my throat was numb. That, understandably, totally freaked me out. I spit out the gum, then spent several long moments trying to decide whether my throat was swelling closed and whether it was overly silly to 1.) do nothing or 2.) to raise some sort of alarm. I did decide that my tongue wasn't swollen at least, then promptly passed out. 20 minutes later, I woke up, feeling totally normal and undrugged. I put the package of gum away. Here are a couple more pictures from the bus.

Cogne, itself, is a very small town. And I suppose that summer is the low season, as I saw lots of nearly empty, mostly shuttered vacation rentals. Here's the view out my hotel window.

And the view back to the hotel (the main part of town was more densely populated with buildings.

The conference excursion was to Forte di Bard -- a 19th century fortress.

An aside: did you notice that gorgeous field outside my hotel window? There were ones like it all over -- full of wildflowers -- but I noticed on the bus ride that many were watered by sprinkler (I guess to keep them tourist-ready!).

Here's the outside of Forte di Bard:

The tour of the fort was fairly underwhelming, but the view was nice:

And I got a photo of the stone roofs you see in this area:

Here's a random picture I took on the way to the dinner:

On the last full day, some of us went on a short hike to Lillaz (a nearby village) to see the waterfall there. On the way:

Look at all those gorgeous fields and wildflowers. Unfortunately, for all my worries about motion sickness, it never occurred to me that I might be allergic to the Alps. I sneezed constantly. The waterfall:

On the way back:

I like how the tree sprouts horizontally from the slope:
There's water running everywhere in the Alps. Here is a stream running down the mountain. Right next to where I took this photo was a small wall with a spout and water running out. The sign -- in Italian -- said it was okay to drink. I tried it: it was very cold.

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