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This morning, I was surprised to see a thick, fog rolling over the mountains of Aosta Valley. The scene reminded me of something straight out of a Led Zepplin song or one of my favorite childhood books, The Hobbit. At any moment, I half expected to see elves dancing on the mountainside. Last night, the sound of a river was calling my name and so after a quick breakfast, I headed out to find it. I was also able to locate the source of the sweet perfume I smelled immediately after departing the bus; a bright red flower that gives off an intoxicating scent that I wish I could bottle up and bring home as a souvenir. Pictures will have to do.

Grand Hotel Billia was a castle like silhouette in the dark when we arrived late last night, but today it can be seen in full color – a beautiful, golden yellow structure with hand painted trim.

“Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.

The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,
While hammers fell like ringing bells
In places deep, where dark things sleep,
In hollow halls beneath the fells.

For ancient king and elvish lord
There many a gleaming golden hoard
They shaped and wrought, and light they caught
To hide in gems on hilt of sword.

On silver necklaces they strung
The flowering stars, on crowns they hung
The dragon-fire, in twisted wire
They meshed the light of moon and sun.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Grand Hotel Billia Saint Vincent Italy September 2014-DSC00935Grand Hotel Billia Saint Vincent Italy September 2014-DSC00983Flowers Saint Vincent Italy_20140919_153700Grand Hotel Billia-DSC00940 Grand Hotel Billia-DSC00943Grand Hotel Billia Saint Vincent Italy September 2014-DSC00965aGrand Hotel Billia Saint Vincent Italy September 2014-DSC00964 Grand Hotel Billia-DSC00944 Grand Hotel Billia Saint Vincent Italy September 2014-DSC00985 Grand Hotel Billia Saint Vincent Italy September 2014-DSC00989Grand Hotel Billia Saint Vincent Italy September 2014-DSC00987 Grand Hotel Billia Saint Vincent Italy September 2014-DSC00996 Grand Hotel Billia Saint Vincent Italy September 2014-DSC00997 Grand Hotel Billia Saint Vincent Italy September 2014-DSC00999 Grand Hotel Billia Saint Vincent Italy September 2014-DSC01000 Grand Hotel Billia Saint Vincent Italy September 2014-DSC01003