(Dora Baltea River)
In October of 1993 I together with my twelve-year-old son Victor have visited Italy, where we have rafted on the Dora Baltea River, running down Mont Blanc (4,807 m) - the highest mountain of Western Europe. The half of required money (200 dollars) Ron Andersen sponsored me during my stay in Alaska, moreover he made it under his initiative - he has sheer liked my travellings.
To Italy we have come (also, as then have gone away from it) in the bus of tourist firm "Sputnik" from Minsk together with the usual tourist group. From Belorussia our way laid through Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia. The most remembered event on this way there was visiting Budapest, beautiful town with the large number of ancient buildings.
And though the tourist group was examined most carefully by customers in Brest (on Belorussian side), we have lost the most of all time on the Italian border, where one of the local customers would like to purchase from anybody from our group the "Komandirskiye" watch (naturally, cheaply). But its owner was not found, and we for a long time were "forgotten" (we have lost here about five hours).
In Bolonia I and Vitya were disconnected from group and further have continued travelling independently. As well as assumed, the ignorance of the Italian language was a rather large problem, however soluble (as distinct from Peru, where for all time of my stay there I have met one English-speaking person (woman) only, in Italy each fifth or sixth speaks English). So, in the local bus (large, any problems with accommodation of luggage; however, it is characteristic for the basic part of Italian transport, including trains) we have reached the railway station. We have purchased the second-class tickets to Aosta on the route Bolonia - Milan - Kivasso - Aosta (it was necessary for us to change three trains, as the direct one to Aosta was not).
The ticket from Bolonia to Aosta cost about 60 thousand lire (at the moment of our arrival to Italy the rate of local lira was such: 1,550 lire for 1 dollar). In the Italian railway tickets the numbers neither of trains, nor of seats, are not specified (it is possible to sit on any seat of any train, going to the necessary point, but only in the carriage of the class specified in the ticket - the second or the first). The truth is, there are yet the trains-expresses, at use of which it is necessary to pay additionally for "speed". In Milan we have changed trains and have reached Kivasso (this station is on the branch Milan-Turin), from which the trains to Aosta go. We have arrived to Kivasso in the midnight, and the next train to Aosta set off in the morning at 7 o'clock only, therefore we had to spent the night in the waiting-room.
In the morning we have arrived to Aosta. I have rung my acquaintance Piersandro Pignataro up, which I met in Argentina after his ascent of Mt.Aconcagua (before my rafting on the rivers, flowing down from this peak). Piersandro has arrived to the station for us, has taken us to his home, have introduced to the wife Julianna and children Valentina and Luka. We were fed the perfect dinner. And then Piersandro in the car has driven us along the Dora Baltea River (on which we are going to raft) from Aosta to Kurnaye (this settlement is directly at the foot of Mont Blanc) and back. Below Aosta the river is not possible for rafting, on it there is a lot of dams and drainage canals. Therefore the site Kurnaye-Aosta of 35-40 km extension is standard for the rafting, as Piersandro has told. However, as I have found out later, there is the sense to finish the route a little above (with stream) Aosta near settlement Sar, before the dam. Then on the route it remains only one dam (on the upper waters before a gorge), over which still the boat should be carried. However, in the autumn because of the small level of water, the site higher this dam was impassable perfectly for our raft, and to begin the rafting it was possible below it only. Therefore our rafting was without carryings.
In the evening we walked through Aosta and have spent the night in the smart house of Piersandro. Next day the owner of the house with family left to Turin, therefore hereinafter we again were given to self.
In the morning we have gone away for the route. The half of day has left for the preparation of our raft "carabuber" for rafting. We have decided already to don't raft this day.
The next day was fighting, with the rafting on the Dora Baltea River. We (I together with the son) passed through the obstacles up to the third-fourth severity grade, but through the rapid of the fourth-fifth grade I have rafted alone, and Vitya has photographed me here. We have finished the rafting in the evening before the dam near settlement Sar.
For the next day we made a trip to Kurnaye, have looked Mont Blanc close. We stayed the night at the hotel of our new familiar Danilo Barmaz, too rafter.
And yet in a day the returning from the Alps to Russia began. At first by train we have reached up to Milan, have examined it. As far as it has surprised with it's modest aspect the world-known "La Skala", so the cathedral on the square Duoma has been liked.
In the evening, also by train, we have arrived to Venice. We were going to spend one day in this legendary town (the meeting with our tourist group was planned for the next day at 14 o'clock, and in the evening, at 19 o'clock, the common departure from Venice was planned). In Venice there are no motor-roads, and there are only the streets for pedestrians and water channels.
Because of the insufficiency of our financial opportunities we had during all night to rove through the town (from the waiting room of the railway station we have been expelled, as we already had used all railway tickets). Venice, certainly, is the town of high class! Very beautiful. At night Venice lives by quite other life, than in the afternoon - there cafe open only, and in motor-boats and gondolas the having fun companies and loving couples float.
In the morning we have seen other Venice - more beautiful even. We literally have gone all over this town. The region near St.Mark Square was remembered especially. To the point, in the midday this square was under water (there has come the rising tide). But in the evening, when we have got here together with the tourist group, the square was already dry (owing to the falling tide of the waters of Adriatic Sea).
We have met our tourist group at 18 o'clock (for four hours later, than it was planned) because of its late arrival. The tourists during two hours got acquainted with Venice (however, the majority of them visited town shops only). And late at evening we were set off for the return way. This time we went through Slovenia, Hungary and Ukraine (through Chop). After that as we had to "huddle up" (to stint ourself of finances because of a lack of money) in Europe, we were amazed with the prices in Ukraine - here the normal dinner costs 100 Russian roubles (previously converted into Ukrainian kupons) per each. Such dinner in Novosibirsk before the trip came to me for 700-800 roubles. It evidently confirmed, that the economic situation in Ukraine is more worse, than in Russia even. Then we have arrived to Minsk and, at last, through Moscow, we have come back to Novosibirsk.