• Justen Crawford

Winding Roads and Lots of Snow

Updated: Aug 17, 2019

This is my first blog post on my new website! This post is talking about one of my favorite trips in the Italian Dolomites, which is the Alps of Italy. I drove to the Dolomites on a roadtrip as my last trip during my time studying abroad.

The Dolomites: Alpe di Siusi

First off, welcome to my blog. I wanted to start a blog within my photography website to keep myself accountable for my journeys, and to share a little bit more about my life. I don't really know what I am doing, and I don't really know if I will have a large audience, but I know my future self will thank me for documenting my life through my website.

Words can be communicative only between those who share similar experiences. - Alan Watts, Philosopher.

I think I am going to start most of my blogs with an Alan Watts quote. I find it appropriate as he is my favorite philosopher and his words really speak to me. I used this one because while I am going to write down all that I have experienced during my life, and especially during my time in the Dolomites, my words will speak louder to those who have shared my experiences, to those who understand my words, and to those who wish to seek the same thrills that I seek.

The Dolomites

I spent a lot of time before going abroad planning out what I wanted to do when I got to Italy. I felt as though I had to spend so much time planning because the whole semester would fly by and I would have forgotten to take advantage of certain opportunities. The Dolomites was something that I eyed more than most anything else. You see, I love the outdoors. While I do like cities, I prefer to explore the wonders of the natural world, and the Dolomites seemed like the best opportunity.

I talked about this trip for awhile with Augi and Rachel, especially since they were the other students from Virginia Tech that went with me. I even went out and got my International drivers license so that I would be prepared to be able to drive while I was in Europe.

You see, I didn't really think it through that the Dolomites would still be full of snow by mid-April when I originally booked the trip. I had to move it to mid-May and even then, it was the end of the winter season and I didn't know if the most popular spots would be ready for the spring bloom.

When we picked the car up from the airport, it took longer than normal because they had a hard time locating a automatic. Italians pretty much only drive manuals so I made their lives a little hard when it was time to leave.

When we finally got on the road, our first stop was Lago di Braies. This is the most famous lake in all of the Dolomites, and I spent the days before checking instagram hashtags for posts that would hint what the weather and the lake would be like once we got there. Only days before was the water completely frozen, and because of a few warmer days, we were able to see the end of the winter season and I was able to get the most iconic shot at this lake. Since it was still in between seasons, we had to wear our jackets, but there was less people than normal which made it really nice. We spent a few hours here, and were able to walk around the entire lake.

Lago di Braies, May 2019

After this, we drove to a famous valley in the Dolomites, Val di Funes. This was the only day that we had a nice sunset. We were able to spend the end of the day in the valley with no one around in front of the most beautiful and quaint church I have ever seen. It was such a nice opportunity to be able to be completely alone for the first and last time in nature while abroad. As you can see in the picture below, there was still a lot of snow on the mountains which made this shot even more amazing.

Val di Funes, May 2019

We spent two more days in the Dolomites, spending most of our time on the road. Our hostel was in the middle of nowhere and we were the only people staying since it was in between seasons and the town was in the middle of the mountains. I thought it was really cool to have such a big place completely to ourselves to end the day. Something about the quiet was calming. As I said, we spent the next two days on the road, mostly looking for hikes, spending time in the Alpe di Suisi, and driving many hours to southern Germany to see the Neuschwanstein Castle, one of the most famous castles in all of Europe. While we did do a lot over the next two days, there wasn't a lot of substance to put into this blog so I will just share some pictures.

Neuschwanstein Castle

I really wanted to highlight this castle a little bit before I sign off. I am so glad that Augi and Rachel agreed to take the 3 and a half hour drive north through Italy and Austria to see this castle. On the entire drive, it rained and even snowed a bit, but for some reason, it stopped during our entire visit to the castle. It was definitely a really cool place because we hiked up and were able to stand on a suspension bridge that stood over a ravine that overlooked the castle. This was probably one of my favorite shots in my entire time studying abroad.

Neuschwanstein Castle, May 2019

Outside of this drive to Germany, our other day was spent driving around the Dolomites. Take this statement a little lightly because the Dolomites are as big as some small US states. Alpe di Suisi was probably the highlight of the last day, even if we were on the less famous side of the mountain range. It was pretty hard to figure it out on Google because all the descriptions of the area were vague and provided no real locations. Apparently the more famous side is really hard to get to and is only able to be accessed by foot so I guess we lucked out because I was able to park my car really close to a lot of good photo opportunities.

Alpe di Suisi, May 2019

This was such a great trip to end my study abroad because I was able to take what I love about living in Virginia, the freedom of the road and the mountains, and translate them to the Italian Dolomites.

Thats all for now I guess. Again, I really have no idea how this works.


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