Countries, Europe, Skiing

Winter fjun in the fjords

You’ve heard ski-are stories of little snow in the Alps (don’t believe it all) but if you want to look further afield there is winter fjun in the fjords to be fjhad.

It is in fact the Norwegian fjords which drew the first British tourists largely on the back of the landscape paintings of JC Dahl.

And we are signed-up converts after being introduced to his artwork alongside an exhibition of Munch’s life.

Fjord fiesta: Viking and Viqueen on MSC

In Kode in Bergen on our MSC cruise of the jaggedy Norwegian inlets.

So for that reason, not that we need one, we’re focusing on the coast of Norge.

And exploring a Norwegian town we’re still to enjoy, the adventure hub of Stavanger.

Just two hours from Norway’s fourth largest city you’ll reach winter wonderland Sirdal .

Cross country natural

Dive in: Winter thrill-seekers

Around 200 kilometres of prepped cross-country pistes for all different levels are scattered all over Sirdal, suitable for both long and short ski expeditions.

Better still trek like a Norwegian.

And load your backpack with oranges and Kvikklunsj chocolate (similar to KitKat) and go cross-country skiing.

And seeing that I missed out on the opportunity to join my party for cross-country skiing this time last year in Val D’Isere sign me up.

Snow business

The real Dahl: How JC saw it

As a national cross-country winner it must be easy to cross over!

There are four ski centres from north to south in the Sirdal valley.

So just in case you prefer slalom or snowboarding…

Both Sirdal Ski Centre and Ådneram ski centre have dedicated areas for kids.

And heated areas for breaks. As you might expect, you can rent skis and equipment on-site.

So I think we’ve established there’s winter fjun in the fjords.

And with our old friends KLM offering return flights from £150 then it’s time to get your skis on and book now.

America, Europe, Skiing

The US, the Land of the Ski

You worried your Alpine holiday will turn to slush (we reckon the snow machines will save the day) then why not try the US, the Land of the Ski?

This time last year we were digging out our ski gear and readying ourselves for our Covid-delayed ski trip to Val D’Isere.

Eyes on the prize: Val D’Isere

So we have our fingers crossed for all those who want to get on the slopes around Europe this winter.

While knowing too from our tour of Soll in Austria how much work goes into legislating for a lack of snow with the major operations that are the snow-making projects.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow: Lake Tahoe

The best snow is, of course, that which falls from the skies and as we’ve been seeing over these weeks there is plenty of that.

The ski resorts around Lake Tahoe have brought another two feet of fresh powder.

Holidaymakers can get return flights from London to San Francisco from just £351 with Virgin Atlantic.

So why not kickstart 2023 with a magical getaway in the snow-capped mountains of Tahoe?

And here’s what lies in store

Heaven sent

Slip slidin’ away: At Heavenly Resort

Heavenly Mountain Resort: In South Lake Tahoe, Heavenly Mountain Resort is increasing uphill capacity at its North Bowl lift by 40 per cent.

The Vail Resorts operated mountain will replace its three-person lift with a new high-speed, four-person chair.

The North Bowl upgrade will reduce rider time on the Boulder lift, along with an expected reduction in wait times at the Stagecoach and Olympic lifts, according to resort officials.

New Year Desolation

Live it up: At the Desolation Hotel

The Desolation Hotel: The latest addition to the destination, the sustainability-centric Desolation Hotel, will welcome its first guests on 30th July.

The name refers to the Desolation Wilderness to the east.

Maggie’s, the third-floor restaurant, is named for Maggie’s Peak, actually two peaks within the Desolation Wilderness.

The pool bar (located next to the saltwater pool and 14-person spa) is Velma’s, for a lake also within that wilderness area.

The all-new, 21-unit hotel stands on the site of the former Tahoe Villa and the few trees that were removed can be seen in the structural supports.

Ten of the units are three-story townhouses with a private garage, EV charging capabilities, washing machine and dryer, and Japanese-style soaking tub on the third-floor balcony.

All of which points to America for your winter sports break… after all, it is the Land of the Ski.


Countries, Deals, Europe, Skiing

Suddenly I ski in Val D’Isere

Super Mario is propping Asterix up, and that’s Ali G (innit?), and he’s jollying Spongebob Ski Pants, Sully and Bungle along. Suddenly I ski  in Val D’Isere.

Mais oui, ápres days are here again.

If it all feels a little surreal then it’s just because that’s how Val D’Isere’s party people roll.

And they have been waiting two long years to dance again on the ceiling, in the world’s highest cabaret, La Folie Douce. 

Dancing on the ceiling

Party time: Apres ski

The season is drawing to a close in the French Alps when we visit in the spring.

But from the scenes at the 2400m high entertainment complex it looks like they have only just begun.

Super Mario certainly has as he whoops up the excitement among his pals.

Spongeboob Skipants, to be fair, needs the Ali gee-up.

Looking at his wobbly legs I’m surprised that he managed the ski down at all. It beat me!

But then I know my levels and rode the gondola.

Blue for you

Pole star: Jimmy on the slopes

My colour of choice on the slopes this week is a challenging blue run, equivalent to a red at most other resorts.

And my shade of vin a grande glass of blanc at lunch and a couple of orange Aperol Spritzes.

All to soak up the ink squid risotto and tiramisu at our Italian-themed al fresco restaurant La Cucùcina. 

It wouldn’t do to topple over on my brick ski boots when boogying to the burlesque troupe on the balcony.

And I want to hold something back because I’ve got a feelin’ that tonight’s gonna be a good, good night.

Chalet La France

I might be needed too to help out with the cooking back at the new skiing style of accommodation, our Ski France Contactless Catered Chalet.

Born out of the appetite for social distancing during Covid the tour providers prep breakfast and your food for you.

To cook when you get back from the slopes.

Just Gîtes, if you will.

Davos summit

Lounging: In the lap of luxury

I let my party at Chalet Davos decide among themselves the rota for who gets to use the jacuzzi and sauna (moi) and who sets le dîner.

And there’s my social media to update (yes, keeping up with the kids) and excellent wifi like this isn’t always a given in the mountains.

Val D’Isere village is more relaxed and less rowdy than some resorts and, in truth, it doesn’t really liven up until later into the evening.

And that gives you plenty of time for a long, lazy dinner and slouch on the sofa in the lounge… or even take in a film in your own private cinema.

If you can drag yourself out then there are delicious dining and drinking options.

And your Contactless Chalet package factors in that you’ll want a night out on the town on one of your evenings.

Say fromage

Ski buddies: With my pal Murphski

We dined at the intimate Restaurant 1789 where the specialty is the fromage fondue.

And a little local knowledge here… don’t sit between the table and the wall because you’ll never get out after a trayful of that.

But now you can lift your legs again you’ll want to bust your moves where we’re on the same level, the La Baraque dance floor.

Back to school

Way to go Jo: And ski school

Maybe even pop the champagne (you are in France after all) so go ahead, eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow you ski.. it off.

Now if you’ve been off the slopes for a couple of years because of Covid, or longer in my case since Soll with The Scary One.

Then you can always get a refresher course or enrol in a school.

And trust me, my personal instructor Jo helped me save face, and my face, by ensuring I stayed on my feet over two days on Val D’Isere’s slopes.

In fact, and no one was more surprised than me, I was never on my back once.

At least not on the snow, with Val D’Isere specialising in the sort of wacky New Age fashion you might have seen on reality TV, ice floating.

Take a dip

Ice one: The ice dip

And so we were all marched right up to don Teletubby thermal suits before climbing into an ice pool.

Now bobbing in a fatsuit in a bracing hole in the snow with your new ski party is an ice breaker all right.

Although remember you’ve probably got another couple of days on the slopes or La Folie Douce to live down the new nickname you’ve earned yourself.

As ‘The Seal’ for your kack-handed efforts at getting out.

Winter sports fans looking to extend themselves might like to try out tobogganing (I still have the scars from other slopes) or moonbiking.

The last word

Window to the world: From your bedroom

While my tour providers snuck in cross-country skiing and shooting for the morning.

I was leaving on my three-hour minibus lift for my air transfer from Geneva to Edinburgh.

Jo had obviously told them that she’d seen my ski stick work and I couldn’t be trusted with firearms.

Or indeed looking after anything in my possession, and she ensured that the sticks always followed the rest of me onto the gondola.

It wouldn’t do, you see, if a real skier was zig-zagging expertly down the mountain only to be clunked by a descending pole.

For us amateur skiers it’s all we can do to keep it together.

Mona pizza: High up in the Alps

The helmet, hat, goggles, mask (for Covid then when not on the slopes but thankfully not now) and gloves.

Then there are the others who can somehow descend a mountain in a Super Mario or Ali G suit.

I console myself that I am still in one piece after two days skiing in Val D’Isere and I didn’t bungle it.

I unbuckle my boots, ready to boogie. I hear the music beckoning me on one last time.. it’s KT Tunstall.

Suddenly I ski.


Dine on the slopes: Val D’Isere

Chalet Davos

At Christmas :  £12,219 for 8 people, including the chalet, contactless catered meals and concierge service

And mid-March (18/3) : £9,298 for 8 people.

Chalet Inuit

Mid December (11/12) : £12,999 for 10 people, including the chalet, contactless catered meals and concierge service

And at Easter :  £18,998 10.

Jim flew Jet2 and EasyJet Edinburgh to Geneva round-trip.




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.

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.


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.



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.