Italy Day 3) – Panda fails and Mountain antics

As the Ski Jumping was finally over, it left us with a full day and we were definitely wanting to do something fun. I’d read about some sort of snow theme park called Latemar Montagnanima which looked awesome!

We set off in the Panda and wasn’t long before the plastic fantastic was struggling. The sat nav said we needed to take a left at Predazzo – it wasn’t far away, probably 2 miles. The little road started becoming a single track road, which then turned into a snowy single track road going uphill. Sure enough the lazy Panda had enough and conked out. Great! After letting the thing roll back down the hill we found another way to this fun place. In fact, the fun place needed a cable car to get there. It transpires we were attempting the private access road 🙂

We parked up and jumped aboard the cable car which took 10mins to go up, down, and up again the side of a mountain. However once the cable car got to the top it was epic! I’d not been up a mountain full of snow etc. After taking a bit of the scenery in, we headed to the first attraction ALPINE COASTER GARDONÈ. Basically a sled on rails crossed with a rollercoaster. Daws didn’t really have a choice, we were going on it!

We buckled up in our sleds and off they set. The pulley system takes you up and then at the top, you free slide all the way down to the bottom. It was bloody brilliant! I could hear Daws shrieking about 20m in front of me. And to top it off they take a photo as you whiz on by. I think I could have gone on this all day. However, I knew there was another attraction to attempt.

After a quick drink and chill, we headed to the sledging area. We took the next chair lift to go up further and wasn’t log before we reached the next station with our plastic sledges.

We got a couple more pictures being further up the mountain and got ourselves gloved up and ready for the Men’s downhill sledging event. It felt like a poor man’s Cool Running audition was about to be had minus any kind of lucky egg.

3-2-1….Go! Off we started Daws gathering speed and it wasn’t long before these tea trays were bopping along at a fair lick.

Now, it’s at this point I was all very excited. Amazing white packed snow, blue skies and the wind whistling by and adrenaline pumping like a Fiat Pandas 1 litre engine.
People who will remember Ski Sunday In the 80’s will remember Zurbriggen gliding without effort going downhill at a squillion miles an hour. And you, like me, may have noticed those bright orange safety fences?!!!?

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to hit those? Or the poles that keep them nicely lined up? No, me neither….but giving 2mins into my sledging things were going ok. We’ll sort of.

Speed – very good.
Control – so so.
Racing line – slightly going right……

Cue that orange safety net I was on about. It was coming closer quite quickly. It was at this point I thought it might be ok and I won’t need the brakes.

Hellooooooo safety netting and pole! Whack straight into the bloody thing. Which is like a go kart hitting a barrier except for my feet went into the netting, flung me around and spat me out into the middle of the sledging run. Whilst this was happening in slow motion, I was conscious that a certain buddy who is larger than me (equals faster!) was thundering down the slope behind me. I dared to peek over the upturned sledge to see Daws……who had met a similar fate 10 metres behind me with his legs in the air laughing his belly off!
So there we were …both covered in snow, legs and arms everywhere and sledges upside down, smack bang in the middle of the slope.
With snow down my arse, up my trousers, we finally dribbled through the finishing line to ditch the sledges. It was clear we were going to end up with broken limbs if we carried on hahahaha.

After recovering, we weren’t quite finished with the mighty Dolomites so we had another crack on the Alpine coaster. This time, knowing the track, I was keen not see how fast this sled could go. There were braking “advice” signs but as they were in Italian I couldn’t read them 😉 By hell, the this run was way quicker. They’ve got a 360° spiral corner which made you feel like your head wasn’t going to fly off in the other direction. It was mega fun!

100% recommend the little theme park especially with kids. Everyone seemed to be enjoying it. We headed back down the mountain and in search for food back in little Predazzo. It wasn’t long before we found a little Italian cafe. Inside there were a couple of guys reading the papers and having coffee. This looked like the true experience we were after. I noticed a little side room which I though could be extra seating. I was right!
The problem was, after slowing panning my eyes across the room, next to me was a small table with 5 very old Italian men playing cards.
In my true British accent I said hello and smiled. One of the old boys, looked the ring leader….just pointed me back through the door where I was standing hahahaha. I could see these guys weren’t up for a couple of Brits abroad wanting to gate crash their game.
I took the hint and turned 180° and went scurrying back to the counter hahahaha. It was typical shot out of a film, old timers playing cards in a local cafe. Fair play to them, they weren’t hostile or anything, just wanted their place/time.

After the fun day we headed back to Cavalese but en route we stopped off at a ski shop. After 2 minutes we realised this shop was the top end. All the super expensive makes etc. For example, a ski jacket in THE SALE was €1800 – yep. As Daws says ‘The Milan of sports shops’. So we said thanks and plodded back to the Panda. I needed to do a three point turn to get out of the last space in the car park. It true epic Panda fashion, I could drive a bit forward but finding reverse was like trying to find the Holy Grail. The gearbox wasn’t playing ball and you could hear the crunching in South Africa. Anyway, I got it turned around and headed out of the car park.
I’m not sure what it was, but I looked at the shop window as we drive past to see two assistants looking pained. They must have heard the crunching and went to the window to see what it was. I didn’t really know what to do, so I did a wave that was exactly the same wave Tom Hanks did here.

Onwards my Panda…Onwards.

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