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A snowHead
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Location: snowHeadLand
Resort: Arinsal
Country: Andorra
Domain: Vallnord - covering Arinsal, Pal & Arcalis
Author: snowsteve
Date: 2005 - 2009
Our holiday: I've worked there for 4 seasons and love it there! The ski area isn't massive but the resort atmosphere makes up for it.
Website : www.vallnord.com www.arinsal.co.uk
Basics : Andorra is a tiny country on the border between France & Spain. Driving time is around 12 hours from Calais, and transfer times are quite long - Toulouse 3.5hrs, Barcelona 3hrs, Girona 3.5hrs, Reus 3.5hrs
Lift system : There have been two new lifts added in the last couple of years which have improved access a lot, plus new lifts added in Pal which is linked by a cable car to Arinsal. Arcalis is also included on the lift pass, but this is a 30 minute bus ride away.
The terrain : The beginners area gets quite crowded at the start of the week, so if you've skiied before take La Tossa higher up the mountain where there are still blue runs to warm up on. The terrain park in Arinsal changes shape regularly throughout the season but usually has a half pipe and kickers of varying sizes plus a boader cross along the side of the park. Higher up are some excellent off piste runs, and when it snows heavily the runs down the lift lines are superb.
The snow : It's been a bit up and down the last few years, 05-06 was superb for snow, followed by a couple of off years however Vallnord have invested heavily in snow making which meant the mountain had good on-piste snow throughout the seasons. This year (08-09) was another great season for snow, even opening the resort 2 weeks early!
Off-piste : There is a decent selection of bars who offer a good variety of entertainment ranging from kareoke nights to ladies nights, to a 70s party, a salsa night, and a beach party!
The resort : Although only made up of one main street, the resort has enough shops, supermarkets, bars & restaurants to cater for holiday needs, with a bus service into the capital should you want more shopping opportunities.
Food : The food of the mountain can be quite limited, but restaurants in the village are starting to catch on and offer lunchtime special offers to attract people off the mountain for lunch. There is a wide selection of resturants to choose from, but the ones with the best reputations are Restaurant 360 (Catalan and various international dishes), Ciscos & The Micolau (both Mexican), and El Moli (Thai & Italian).
Accommodation : Arinsal has accommodation from hostel to 5* and everything in between!
Costs: Pint of lager from €2.50, spirit & mixer from €4.00, dinner out from €8.00 for a main course
Conclusion: A really friendly village with a great atmosphere. The skiing is average, but the whole package easily makes up for it, and it's definately worth heading over to Arcalis where there is a lot more skiing for good interediate and advanced skiiers.

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