The weather forecast for today hadn't promised great things, and it was a little bit damp when we stepped out of our hotel this morning.
It was also quite misty, and we couldn't see any of the higher mountains in the distance.
We walked up through the village, which looked pretty with its Christmas decorations.
We could see that there had been a reasonable amount of snow here in the not-so-distant past.
Our plan for today was to catch the Ritten train, which travels along the plateau towards a town called Klobenstein (Collalbo in Italian). The journey was free with the travel cards we bought yesterday, which was a bonus We had a pleasant journey in a train that was nearly empty, and it wasn't long before we were stepping off the train in Klobenstein. We had come here in search of earth pyramids, and it wasn't long before we saw a sign pointing towards them.
We walked past a house which had some enormous gnomes...
...and then down through the village.
One of the hotels had a rather unusual nativity scene outside
Signs led us to the the neighbouring village of Lengmoos/Longomoso, which looked like a really pretty little place.
From there we passed what looked like it was supposed to be a viewpoint, but there wasn't much of a view today.
Before long we caught sight of a little church in the distance.
It looked like it was in danger of being obscured by the clouds...
...and soon it actually was!
We were following the path that was supposed to lead us to the earth pyramids, but I was starting to get a bit worried that once we got there we wouldn't actually be able to see them with so much low cloud! We also passed a sign which said that the path was only open as far as the first viewing platform, so we weren't sure how much we were going to be able to see.
We reached the viewing platform and it was indeed rather misty!
It looked like this might be the best view I was getting of an earth pyramid
When we looked over the railing, we could just make out something which might be earth pyramids behind the clouds.
It was very atmospheric, but I had hoped to have a clearer view!
Luckily, once we'd been standing there a while, the cloud started to move
The church became visible again and we even got a glimpse of the higher mountains in the distance.
Now we could see the earth pyramids better too!
Once we could see them properly it became clear what unusual structures they are.
The info board explained that earth pyramids were formed by rainwater eroding soil which contains large rocks. The soil under the rocks is protected from the erosion and - over the course of thousands of years - a pyramid of earth is formed beneath the stone. The process requires a certain type of soil, as well as periods of heavy rains followed by drought in which the earth can solidify. All of this makes the earth pyramids which are found here quite rare.
Seeing the stones balancing on top of the pyramids is really cool - it doesn't look like it ought to be possible!
By the time we were leaving, the weather was an awful lot better than when we had arrived.
We walked back towards Klobenstein, to catch the train back to Oberbozen.
The return journey wasn't quite as peaceful, because the train was full of children on their way home from school! Once we got to Oberbozen, we caught the cable car down the mountain to Bolzano. It was so cloudy that we could barely see a thing!
It was around 2pm by this time and we were rather hungry, so we had come down to Bolzano with the aim of finding lunch. I expected there to be lots of restaurants in Bolzano, but somehow we struggled to find one. There was a restaurant near the main square (but the prices were quite expensive) and a couple of pizza places (but we had pizza last night, so were hoping for something different). There was the added complication that we'd missed the official lunch time, so not everywhere was still open and serving. We walked around for what felt like quite a while, before eventually finding a restaurant that seemed promising Tim had Wienerschnitzel with potato salad and cranberries.
...while I had a turkey schnitzel with fried potatoes
The food was really delicious While we were eating the rain in Bolzano seemed to become a bit heavier though.
We had a brief walk around, finding the cathedral with its colourful roof.
The centre of town was looking quite festive.
There was a little Christmas market in the main square...
...a beautiful Christmas tree...
...plus a ferris wheel in the distance.
As we walked back towards the cable car station, we passed some more lovely decorations.
There was a tree covered in red baubles beside an ice rink...
...plus these rather cool reindeer
The cable car back up to Oberbozen was very cloudy again and the rain seems to have got worse this evening. The forecast for tomorrow isn't very promising, but we've certainly made the most of the weather today and had some fun