Skiing

A little Soll Music

When I took off my dancing ski boots earlier this year it was only for a rest to pick up again next year for a little Soll Music.

Skiers with more snow on their boots than this Bambi on Ice will tell you the Austrian resort is right up there for apres-ski.

And at the centre of that when I put down skis on the Austrian Alps is Alex Johnson.

Alex would outpace the Duracell Bunny with his stamina, eating up the powder by day and belting out the tunes at night.

Your moolah at the Muhle

Tail of the tape deck: Alex Johnson

 

All at the place to be seen and sing in Soll, the Whiskey Muhle.

The Whiskey Muhle, as you’ll probably have figured by its spelling is an Irish hangout.

And it’ll be bouncing for Soll Ski and Rock over two split weeks next year, January 7-14 and March 11-18.

Soll is at the heart of the Ski Welt, one of Austria’s largest interconnected ski areas.

As well as winter hiking trails, tobogann runs, sleigh rides, cross country skiing, night skiing, and many other winter activities.

The Kaiser of the slopes

The only way is down: On the slopes

The SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental has been running for 45 years.

With nine valley resorts including Soll, 83 modern lifts, 270km of pistes and more than 80 mountain huts.

Soll prides itself too with its proximity to another musical Austria.

An Austria of Mozart and the Von Trapps in Salzburg.

Gigs will take place in Soll, on and off the mountain with international and local bands.

Some of whom who perform in Soll all season long.

You’re having a giraffe

Change the shoes: The Irish are here

We’re intrigued too here by the Ski Safari in both January and March.

So we’ll expect plenty of giraffes and monkeys on the slopes!

And leprechauns on St.Patrick’s Day Parade, of course, like we saw when we visited in March!

Greene for go

Spinnin’ Jenny: Jenny Greene

Irish radio station 2FM will be there to keep the party going.

With DJ Jenny Greene doing an Apres Ski on the slopes on January 9.

Fly to Munich daily with Aer Lingus, with easy access to Soll, by shared transfer, private transfer,train/bus/taxi or car hire.

 

Countries, Europe, Skiing, Sport

Garmisch and G7 garnish

As Messers Biden, Johnson, Trudeau, Macron, Scholz, Dragi and Kishida gather in Bavaria, let’s look at Garmisch and G7 garnish.

Schloss Elmau is the fancy (of course it is) five-star pad where our leaders are staying while we struggle to pay our bills.

And you can check it out for yourself on their site.

Fancy specs

Schloss boss: The G7 leaders’ hangout

The specs have Schloss Elmau as boasting rushing streams in Elmau Valley, an Alpine nature reserve, 100 km south of Munich.

They flag up a casual Luxury Resort, Spa Retreat & Cultural Hideaway.

And recommend their yoga, tajiquan (no, me neither) and sports.

Writing’s on the wall: In Garmisch

While foodies are naturally more than catered for, readers with a phenomenal bookstores and classicos with the best concerts.

We checked out Schloss Elmau.

And whether because of our reputation or high heid-yins are staying there, it was booked out long-term.

Olympic champions

Skate away: Garmisch champions

And so we looked at the charming village of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, 15km west, instead.

Garmisch you probably identify with skiing and you would be right.

And it was Garmisch where the Germans went in 1936 to hold the Winter Olympics.

Ski royalty: The 1936 Games

You’ll see too the winners from those Games adorning walls in bar/restaurants.

And wonder too about whether you could leap off ski jumps as you pass by the village jump.

Gorge on the Gorge

Watch your step: The Gorge

For those who like the depths as well as the heights then Garmisch-Partenchirken has the Garganta de Partnach.

A natural monument for 110 years, the gorge i2,303 ft long and, in places, over 260 ft deep and there is constant running water.

So go before you enter… and I’m talking to you President Biden.

Better than the bike: Joe Biden

Partnach Gorge advise though not to visit until after Tuesday because of the G7.

While the G7 leaders live it up in Schloss Elmau you can economise.

By staying in a small double room at the Olympiahaus for £84, say overnight on October 3.

 

 

Countries, Deals, Europe, Skiing

Chalet La France et WFH

Only the War Room pin map transports me from my home office… and to think I could be enjoying Chalet La France et WFH instead.

It’s a thing, of course, and one which more of us have been availing of since Covid.

It first came to my attention when the Bajans started offering year-long working visas to Barbados.

Pierre perfect

Just Gîtes: And enjoy your kitchen

And now tour operators around the world have their versions too with Pierre & Vacances leading the way in WFH vacances.

P&V specialise in self-catering accommodation across the Alps, with reliable WiFi.

And there’s a discount too on mobile WiFi, so even logging in from the chairlift is a possibility.

Deal us in

Lap it up: Work from home

So what’s the deal?

P&V are promising up to 30% off bookings, free WiFi and a special discount of 50% on Gobox (€62 a month instead of €124).

FamilEat is P&V’s 10% discount on a range of healthy, nutritional, seasonal dishes delivered direct to your apartment door.

And having dipped my ski boot in the snow, if you will, with home deliveries in Val D’Isere earlier this year I’d recommend this Just Gîtes way of holidaying.

Lodge bravo

Home in in this: And a working lunch

So without further adieu here’s where you could be working… magnifique France.

Avoriaz – Saskia Falaise, L’Amara, Électra, Atria-Crozats, Arc 1950 – Arc 1950 Le Village, Tignes Val Claret – L’Ecrin des Neiges, Flaine – La Forêt, Arc 1800 – Le Belmont, Les Alpages de Chantel.

And let’s breathe!

Et aussi…. Méribel – Les Crêts, Les Fermes de Méribel, Les Ravines, Chamonix – La Ginabelle, Les Menuires – Les Combes, Les Carroz-d’Arâches – Les Fermes du Soleil

Now skirting through the specs you’ll find ski in, ski out and also the best in spa, sauna, hamam (mais oui), pools and wellbeing.

Mais oui, c’est Chalet La France et WFH.

 

Countries, Europe, Skiing

Aussie beer games and Tirol

It’s probably a more restrained affair than the carnage of Aussie beer games and Tirol that I got caught up in back in the day.

But heck, Kitzbuhel in Austria has it all.

Our friends in Tirol have alerted us to the news that they have made it easier for English-speakers to learn about their picture-postcard resort.

Through the Museum Kitzbühel and its free audio guide.

In 33 chapters, it takes you through the areas of town history, winter sports and Alfongs Walde.

And from now on, English is also available to our visitors in addition to German.

All you need is a smartphone and the Hearonymus app, which can be downloaded free of charge from the App Store and Google Play Store.

Whether the Topdeck passengers of circa 1985 and 1986 make it into the annals (more likely anals) of Kitzbuhel, or its neighbour, Kirchberg history is another matter.

Das boot

Boot-iful: The Glass Boot. http://www.hopculture.com

Centred around the festivity in the party chalet was a beer game.

It involved a glass boot filled with best Austrian beer.

Among the rules was to keep the toe centred, pass in the correct direction.

And, of course, not to regurgitate when you turn the heel and hit the bubble.

Of course just to keep you lubricated between shots was the Hexengeist schnapps which you set fire to to before downing.

Schnapps to it

Name on the frame: Schnapps in Ehrwald

A strong chocolatey taste from what I can remember it was known among our circles as an F*** because that’s what you do when you drink it.

Search for ”Museum Kitzbühel” in the app and the voices of Wido Sieberer, museum director, Michael Berger-Walde, actor and grandson of Alfongs Walde, Melanie Preston and Nevena Lukic will accompany you.

Through all the exhibition areas and onto the spectacular roof terrace.

Visitors simply listen to the background, stories and anecdotes via the smartphone speakers or the headphones they have brought along.

The  Museum Kitzbühel

For Arts’ sake: The museum

The museum is situated in the Hinterstadt of Kitzbühel and it was first mentioned by name in the 16th century.

Only the southwest tower dates from the time of the town’s founding around 1271.

Now, of course, when you’re in Kitzbuhel and Kirchberg you need to take part in the outdoorsy activities too.

We did, even though it was the autumn and we were moving on from the Oktoberfest.

Slip slidin’ away

Heart and Soll: With The Scary One in Soll

And that meant the tobogganing which, of course, I took an alternative way of negotiating…

On my back, sans my board…

And, yes, once the beer and schnapps and whisky wore off, it hurt like hell.

Particularly writhing around the bunk bend of the booze bus which also accommodated a kitchen downstairs.

I have, of course, been back since those days of Aussie beer games and Tirol.

With the Scary One skiing and sliding in Soll in the wintertime.

And on a walking trek in Ehrwald with the speedy superannuated.

And still on my back

Slippery slope: Above Ehrwald

With Top Flight for Schools where tobogganing was again on the schedule.

And despite the roll-on of years, yes, you guessed it.

I went down on my back and side, and went back again for more.

 

Countries, Europe, Skiing

Aprés days are here again

Aprés days are here again, back in Val d’Isere again, Aperol and Cabaret again, aprés days are here again.

We’re swaying with a gallery of foam fun characters on the dance floor of the world’s highest cabaret, La Folie Douce.

You got the bottle: La Folie Douce

All in ski boots and some on the tables.

Where not half an hour ago our Ski France party had been feasting on ink black squid, lobster and Prosecco.

Uncorked

The cork is truly out of the bottle with Covid restrictions lifted in France and aprés rules now taking precedence.

And in La Folie Douce that means throwing some shapes with giant bananas and oversized babies.

All of whom have skied to the biggest aprés party on the exclusive French resort.

Well most, with those of us who are just reacquainting themselves with the slopes after six years away, taking the gondola.

Life is a Cabaret

Dancing on the world ceiling: And in ski boots

We’re bouncing to the house beat of the top-hatted MC, the burlesque dancers and a hip-hop Cardinal Richelieu belting out Rhythm Is A Dancer (don’t ask).

Just reward after negotiating the tour of the complex, up and down and through corridors in ski boots.

All to rightly glamour at the choice of restaurant experiences, the Classical Roman sculptures and the panoramic views.

We have after all just met the challenge of that Italian-themed feast at the open-deck La Cucucina (Crazy Kitchen).

Where waiters in smocks serve up the best fare.

Grazie mille

Mona pizza: La Cucucina

And perché Italiano? Why, because Italy is just over the top of the Alps to the left.

For some though (and not guilty here) just getting back to base camp will be a task enough.

No, not our party of black run skiers, but some of our foam-costumed friends, one of whom is stopped at the pass.

By our pocket rocket host Jerrine (doubly blessed with Irish and Scottish blood) who tells him he cannot take his bottle of rosé down on the gondola.

Jerrine is un force de la nature, herding packs of overlubricated boys and girl parties away from the slopes for their own safety.

And down the gondolas.

Sway to go

Gods and men: Neptune and Bandanaman

I bodyswerve one at the foot, a snowboarder who has perfected the act of falling while staying upright.

And wait for our connecting coach to take us back to our contactless chalet, Chalet Davos.

Where a meal has been prepared for later and delivered.

And a jacuzzi awaits.

Aprés days are here again in Val d’Isere.

MEET YOU ON THE SLOPES

 

Countries, Europe, Skiing

Pardon, allé skier en France

Mai oui, I know you’ve not heard from me for a couple of days. Pardon, allé skier or gone skiing en France.

Or falling off the magic carpet (more of that later) and snow ploughing down the green slopes.

All under the guidance of Ski France, our host for these days in plush Val D’Isere and my patient and impossibly handsome instructor Antoine.

Summit else

Have boots will travel: Chalet Davos boot room

It is, of course, a job to get me out of my four-poster bed in my chalet Davos with breathtaking views of those mountains I’ll be tackling later.

And Rosie, our woman of all talents knows my form.

From when she had to wake me in Interlaken in Switzerland and I left the shower running through the breakfast room ceiling.

Chalet La France

House about that? Val D’Isere

Our chalet, Davos, you may associate with that economic summit when our leaders discuss how they can squeeze more money out of us.

For our party in our summit of chalets next to the Val d’Isere it is all about the giving.

They give you Champagne, wine, beer, daily breakfasts, lunches and evening meals.

All delivered with a smile to your door every day… and you do not even have to get out of your jacuzzi or sauna to collect it.

Belt up

Way to go, Jo: With Queen of Ski France Jo

But those frosted mountains compel you to get out there to play on their slopes.

Although the most fun fellow skiers can have is at the expense of a snow white-bearded falling face first onto the slope.

In my defence the conveyor belt taking you through the tunnel up the incline to start comes to a juddering halt.

Before you can take your snow plough position.

No enfants were injured in the making of this post.

Only the pride of an oul fella who should know better.

Aprés ski

Dancing on the ceiling: At La Folie Douce

Mind you, I did hold my own when it came to the apres and if you let me catch my breath I’ll gather my thoughts and share that in my next post.

From the highest cabaret in the world, La Folie Douce.

For now apols again for my tardiness et Pardon, allé skier en France.

 

Asia, Countries, Europe, Skiing, UK

Holiskis and don’ts… and the frozen penis

Now I’m getting my Alpine gear together for my trip next month so a quick recap. Holiskis and don’ts and the frozen penis.

Yes frostbite can get you just when, and where, you don’t expect.

And that for Olympic 50km cross country skier Remi Lindholm, in the -26C chills of Beijing, means in the nether regions.

Once frostbitten

A pain in the groin: Remi Lindholm

For Finland’s Remi it was rather surprisingly and fortunately not the first time.

He had suffered the same inconvenience in Ruka in his homeland last year.

Remi said: ‘When the body parts started to warm up after the finish the pain was unbearable.’

Remi had come prepared though with a heat pack but it seems that that’s not enough to combat those temperatures or exertions.

So the best piece of advice would be not to ski a 50km Olympic race in -26C temperatures.

Blue run, run, run

Chalet La France: Val D’Isere

Just as well then that I’ll be sticking to the Blue Run in Val D’Isere.

And Ski France’s guides for what to take with you… to keep warm and safe.

Beginner’s pluck

Home and dry: Hillend, near Edinburgh

Firstly if you’ve not skied before try getting down to your local dry ski slope.

And mine is in Scotland and Ireland like me then they’re at Hillend, near Edinburgh and Kilternan, near Dublin.

If you’re lucky enough to live in The Scottish Highlands (and then you are lucky) and you have a snowy slope nearby.

You can always learn to ski when you can get there.

I’d guard though against learning with your partner after my first experiences on the snow.

Ploughing the depths

Snow business: I’ll work my way up to boarding

When I went careening into Claire in Aviemore.

And didn’t snow plough in time and left her with a multicoloured bruise.

Which was there for all to see when we assembled in the swimming pool later.

All of which tells you that your ski pants aren’t guaranteed protection against out-of-control skiers.

So yes, helmet and goggle up and get a padded ski jacket, pants and gloves.

Pride comes before a fall

Marching orders: My skiing holidays memories

Master too your fall and how to get back up.

And get on and off your gondola.

And the answer to your question: what happened to me after I’d taken Claire out of the game.

Yes, she emasculated me… giving me the Let’s Be Friends speech before the night was out.

And only a week left of our holiday too.

The worst break

And let me tell you the worst ski injury you can endure is a broken heart.

Maybe just in case though follow this. Holiskis and Don’ts and the frozen penis.

 

 

America, Countries, Europe, Skiing, Sport

A broom to sweep the Alpine bar

You trudge the peaks to the top of Europe only to be handed a broom to sweep the Alpine bar.

This broom though is a curling accessory, you have a stone in hand and a circle on the ice rink to target.

It’s not what you’d expect when you are escorted through the curtain of the Ice Bar.

At the top of the Jungfraujoch in Switzerland.

But you’ve got a Swiss dram (yes, really) at the bar.

To warm and energise you for your initiation in the ancient Scottish game.

Ice bowls

Sweep crack away: The Curling

Aye, ice bowls, as it is sometimes dismissively referred, was invented (as everything is) in Scotland.

When an ice skating religious minister glided across Duddingston Loch…

Well, that can’t be proved definitively.

Scottish style: The Skating Minister

But do check out the Henry Raeburn painting at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh.

Curling has us in our grip every four years when Scots Olympians take over Britain and our curlers swap their Saltires for Union Jacks.

Alas, just like golf which we also gave to the world, the world learned to do it better.

As evidenced in Beijing just now.

A Scottish gift to America

Stone me: And a bullseye

And we’ve struggled recently to replicate the success of Golden Girl Rhona Martin from the Salt Lake City Games in 2002.

Unsurprisingly as the Scottish footprint is all over the States the Americans are among the world’s leading curling nations.

And news comes to us from winter sports centre Lake Tahoe of how much more they put into the game and all winter sports.

With 17 of the US team calling the base in the Nevada/California border calling Lake Tahoe its home.

Learn to curl

Dark Destroyer: Curltime Jimmy in Switzerland

Helpfully the good folk of Lake Tahoe are offering help to curl and saying you’ll be able to show off on the next Zoom meet.

The rest (to get out there) you’ll have to ask your friendly neighbouring travel agents about.

Drams are made of this: Whisky in the Alps

Now, if you’re lucky enough to live in Scotland then you will be able to take your first baby steps in winter sports.

I’ve done it myself and yes with my old friends in Ireland Topflight for Schools, it has led me to the Winter Olympics.

Bavarian Games

Get your skis on: Channeling the 1936 Games

Albeit Hitler’s 1936 Games at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria.

Where pictures of the winners adorn the walls of the showpiece restaurant in the town.

A page in history: German Olympic winner

And the centrepiece is the ski jump.

Maybe better sticking on firm ground (or ice).

Hand me a broom to sweep the Alpine bar.

 

 

Asia, Countries, Europe, Skiing

The Swissglais verb to ski is Verbier

OK I’ve made that up that the Swissglais verb to ski is Verbier but it is only to give the resort the prominence it deserves.

Verbier is celebrating and not just because at last we’re getting a ski season (my delayed start on the run will start in March, Dieu s’il vous plait).

The Swiss village in the Valais Canton,  the gateway to the 4 Vallées region, has been named World’s Best Ski Resort 2021 at the World Ski Awards.

It was a double celebration for the village with W Verbier collecting World’s Best Ski Hotel.

Chalet, allez, allez, allez

Chalet Zermatt Peak, sitting in the shadow of the Matterhorn, claimed World’s Best Ski Chalet.

Whilst Austria’s exquisite Aurelio Lech won World’s Best Ski Boutique Hotel.

Now proper skiers (moi? aspiring) will tell you rightly about the world beyond Switzerland and the Alps

And that is recognised in the awards.

With the latest arrival on Japan’s luxury ski hospitality scene, The Vale Rusutsu, taking World’s Best New Ski Hotel.

Dubai high

Ski Dubai, served by our old friends Attraction Tickets, boasts an impressive array of snow-based activities.

And that’s why it picked up World’s Best Indoor Ski Resort.

Meanwhile the understated opulence of Chalet Face à Face in Val d’Isère, was acknowledged.

With the newcomer accolade for World’s Best New Ski Chalet.

Murphski and I

Now if only I had a chalet trip to Val D’Isere set up for March.

And better still I only have an old friend and champion skier there with me.

The multi award-winning Catherine ‘Murphski’ Murphy on the party to pick me up when I’m down.

And I mean that quite literally.

Bravo

Bravo to all the winners and as they say in these quarters, a word from the sponsors.

Sion Rapson, Managing Director, World Ski Awards, said: ‘Our winners represent the very best of the global ski tourism sector and my congratulations to each of them.

‘The 9th annual World Ski Awards programme received a record number of votes from ski consumers across the world.

‘This shows that the appetite for ski tourism has never been stronger and bodes well as the global recovery gathers momentum.’

If I’d been there, of course, I’d have fed Sion the line The Swissglais verb to ski is Verbier.

 

Deals, Europe, Skiing

Enfin la fin de ban

Enfin la fin de ban but there’s nothing fun or sing-song about the announcement of the reopening of French borders (when/if it comes) I should have been skiing en France but won’t be.

Thankfully due to travel providers par excellence Ski France it’s been rescheduled for March and I may still get on the white powder (steady) then.

Never one to look un cheval cadeau in the mouth but is there not a whiff of opportunism about the timing with the February mid-term holiday market there to be milked.

Follow our lead

Sign of the times: En route to Val d’Isere

The current regulations are for those enter France from the UK required to show evidence of a negative coronavirus test taken within 24 hours before departure.

They must also self-isolate for 48 hours after they arrive and then take another test.

With the UK easing its own travel restrictions last week it doesn’t just mean easier access but also saves families money.

People who are fully vaccinated no longer need to take a coronavirus test before they arrive in the UK.

And they can take a cheaper and quicker lateral flow test rather than a PCR after they arrive.

The changes save a family of four around £300.

Off-piste? On an adventure

We will, of course, wait to see what the French have up leurs manches…

Saturday is the projected day for the doors to reopen.

But in the meantime we share the sentiments of Kuoni CEO Derek Jones who tweeted…

‘Holidays saved as France set to reopen borders for British visitors. Finally its time to dig out your ski gear ⛷.’

Crystal clear

Bobbling along: And I’ll stick to the blue runs

With all things skiing the tried and trusted Travel provider is the one we tend to go back to.

As it’s Val d’Isere that’s on my ticket I checked it out with Crystal Holidays

Now we all draw the conclusions we want so I skimmed over the boast of challenging slopes (they all are to me).

And I zeroed in on their claim of the best apres (I’m better at that).

For the uninitiated, Val d’Isere is a 300km area, shared with neighbouring Tignes.

It is well served for long blues (mais oui) and reds.

And not-so-confident skiers can stick to the greens (phew).

Or head over to Tignes to find some easier blues to practise on.

Apres ever after

Apres days: I can rock them with the rest

I need few lessons in the post-ski party, having learned my trade at the Whisky Muhle in Soll with Topflight.

And I’m glad to see that in Val d’Isere it’s recommended to hit up La Folie Douce in your ski boots to apres-midi live entertainment.

So we’re advised to follow the après vibes to Cocorico at the bottom of the lifts.

And end the night with DJs and dancing in Dick’s Tea Bar.

Deal us in

Have skis will travel: I’ll be back

Crystal have seven nights from Saturday 29 January self-catering at the Residence La Daille, departing from London Stansted and going to Chambéry.

It comes in at £494pp which comes in at £988 which is a discount of £302pp.

You’ll be two minutes’ walk to the lift, have a mini-market and bakery nearby.

And you can treat yourself to some spa time at the neighbouring Hotel Samovar.

Now I’m all about the indulgence and when I do get out there in March, it’ll be the high-end chalet life for me.

So bravo as we say enfin la fin de ban.

But as I’ve been here before from Africa, to Europe, to America all in the last 18 months.

I’m fervently praying to Le Dieu.