Dolomites – Italy

I am rubbish at organising surprises, probably because I loathe them myself and I get far too excited when I am trying to plan something, so then I blurt it out. I need to know what’s going on – always!

But this year, I wanted to make Father’s Day special.

Lock isn’t hard to please – he is the kinda guy who loves to be simply thought of and receive a card and a cuddle. Thank goodness, because shopping for him in Japan is near impossible! We planned a getaway to share some daddy love. And he loves a good splurge on food – light bulb.

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After a brief layover in Copenhagen and a hotel recharge, we make it to Rome. We squish into our larger version of a Mini Cooper and head for the Dolomites, in northeastern Italy.

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The drive takes us across and through lush, green mountains. This area has weeks of fun to be had, with adventure-goers travelling to hike, ski, cycle and more with their outdoorsy families, and why not? It is spectacular! Even for me, a not so keen trekker.

We are heading to Merano before we climb the mountains to escape the world to our hideaway. We are staying in the luxe boutique hotel ‘Miramount’, which is nestled into the green forest. It is clearly a popular retreat for those looking to unwind, with many expectant mothers easing their swollen feet and achy joints in the very relaxing spa.

We enjoy a welcome prosecco and afternoon sweets, sitting beside the glowing fireplace and quickly falling into relax mode. Riley is happy to be free of the car – crawling along every surface, trying hard to burn through his built-up energy. We are thankfully not out of place, with other little ones floating about too.

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Our beautiful room showcases views of the Merano landscape, always a good opportunity for a wine.

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Before long we are off, splashing in the salted infinity pool. It isn’t one for swan inflatables and colourful cocktails: it oozes a modern scandi arthouse, detailed with a high pitch panelled ceiling, directing your gaze to the mountains. Aside from the splashing baby, the only sounds to be heard are those of birds and whistling trees.

Aromas of L’Occitane camomile incense and hot raspberry tea relax your senses throughout the spa room, while our not-so-relaxed baby charges around with his little fingers touching everything in sight.

Thanks to the warm swim and runabout, Riley is ready to snooze. While he is snuggled up in bed, Lock and I manage a balcony wine. We watch the sun fade behind the monstrous mountains as we rug up with the fresh night approaching. Dad is happily enjoying his Father’s Day thus far.

Baby wakes for dinner, and with sleep in his eyes we make a run for our table. We choose to dine in the Klassik, the fine dining degustation – brave I know, but the food here is a big deal and something we want to indulge in… it’s Father’s Day after all.

Riley falls asleep during the entrées, still jet lagged from the flight – perfect! This means we can enjoy each delicious bite, without scoffing and without table distractions.

The next morning, we wake early and take a walk among lush green fields. Gosh, it’s picture perfect, taking me back to scenes from the Sound of Music, and tourists pebble the area snapping pictures of the old church and forever views. Other guests are out walking their miniature dogs who are also welcome in the hotel.

With three tummies grumbling, we make our way to our lavish breakfast ‘à la carte’ and a luxe buffet offering a decadent carvery of cured meats, cheeses and breads, tiny bowls of dried fruits and seeds to layer our own granola, and a cascade of fruit.

We could stay all day eating our hearts out, but we need to get on the move to Pragser Wildsee in the Lago di Braies National Park. As this is a UNESCO heritage sight and historic area from WWII, hundreds of keen photographers swarm around the skirt of the water, capturing the glorious reflections of the mountains.

It is a one-and-a-half-hour drive, if you don’t get lost like we did and end up an hour in the wrong direction… oops!

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Once we arrive, we take a walk around one side of the lake before our sunset dinner. The area is super busy with lots of people returning from day hikes and some who are casually visiting, like us. Riley runs around the grounds of Hotel Pragser Wildsee (in Braies) while we chill out over a cold beer. We stay for the night in this grand hotel, located in the middle of the Fanes-Sennes-Prags nature reserve. Built in 1899, the double-door rooms at first feel airy, with so much history between the corridors, but we are soon very comfortable.

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The next morning, we are up at sunrise for a row in an authentic Italian rowing boat in which we glide along the still, emerald waters. Riley loved helping dad row with the oars. We spend half an hour peacefully rowing around the lake before the rain begins to appear. Missing out on our morning hike due to rain sends us to breakfast in the hotel.

Ending our Father’s Day weekend, Lock was a happy daddy and ready for our next stop – Morocco.

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