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Timeout 2005 Skiing and Snowboarding in Europe (page 1)

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I still have a magazine I bought in 2005 in which I ticked off a load of resorts I visited, most of which I skied (but some I did not due to weather). The magazine did not contain all the resorts I visited, but most of the main resorts were listed.

Most of the resorts I visited were in the period 2003 to 2006 when I had the van and it was still functional. I have been skiing since March 1995 when I had a full week of lessons in Val Thorens with ESF. Since January 2006 I have only skied on the local hill or in Scottish ski stations. My comments are the view of a single male travelling around in a second hand converted Peugeot Boxer van (not a turbo diesel and only a 1.9!), mostly sleeping in the back of the van in car parks or campervan parks.

In the order of the magazine the first resort ticked off was

Andorra

I arrived at Pas de la Casa, and skied there several times on a couple of visits. (after being at the beach near Barcelona) I drove through Andorra to Andorra la Vella, but turned around and went back the way I came. There were other resorts in Andorra, but I never skied them just because they did not get a much better write up than Pas de la Casa.

Pas de la Casa - Grau Roig

Parking

There was a large car park behind the sports centre there which was flat, and full of campervans. No toilet facilities, water, or electricity, but none was required. Obviously there were toilets in the sports centre, and a swimming pool, and gym.

Skiing

The terrain was fairly limited for me by the time I got to this resort. There were limited challenges, and lots of queues. The black runs were short, lifts up to the top of black runs were slow button lifts, and the rest of the runs were done in a day. There is an extension now into the neighbouring ski area of Soldeu, but you have to buy a ticket for that area prior to skiing there. This was fairly irritating, as I did not know this until I had side stepped up to the lift queue and subsequently had to side step back again to the Pas de la Casa area

Nightlife

Alcohol is very cheap in Pas de la Casa as it is in Spain. For example I could buy 1 litre of pastis 51 for about 5 Euros. The nightlife reflects this, and there seemed to be a lot of pub crawls organised by tour operators. It is probably like the Costa del sol of ski resorts in Europe. Kind of cheap, but I quite like the paella in the large supermarket cafeterias. There was KFC, McDonalds, and all sorts of cheap places to eat there unlike the French resorts.

Eating in

I mostly ate in the van, however the cheap and tasty offerings in Pas de la Casa would often tempt me out of the van.


Other noteable points

It is a tax free haven in Europe, and so tobacco and diesel/fuel is very very cheap. People go shopping in Pas de la Casa because it is so cheap, even compared to Spain!


Austria

I only visited one small corner of Austria in late 2005, so have not explored there much.

Obergugl

I drove up there, and had a look around. There was skiing when I was there, but I was more interested in Solden which was further down the hill. I should really have skied there!

Solden

Parking

It was early season when I skied in Solden. The weather was great, and the car parks were mostly empty in the evenings. There was a campsite in resort for campervans, but it was not really appropriate for my van. The parking was free in the car park, although there was a charge later in the season. I do not think I was supposed to park where I did overnight, but as it was early season and I only stayed one night, I do not think anyone minded.

Skiing

I remember that the skiing was superb. Plenty of snow, lots of challenging areas, and lots of sunshine. The lift system was pretty good too once you got out of the resort and on piste. (it is a bit of a hassle getting out of resort, I recall having to get a bus up some narrow road)

Nightlife

Perhaps the one thing which stuck in my mind was the lap dancing bar in Solden. I did not go in, but I was tempted as it was pretty dead in town on 5 December. I think most of the skiers were day trippers who arrived by car. There were plenty skiers there. I do not think I even bothered to sample the nightlife in Solden, other than to have a look around.

Eating in

I do not recall eating out or in in Solden. I think I opened a tin of Marks and Spencer chicken curry, heated it up, and ate it with some dried toast.

Anything else

My German is not very good, and so I always feel a little bit out of place in Germanic places. I cannot understand what is being said, and it just makes me feel excluded. Sad The skiing was very good though!

St Anton

Parking

I was in St Anton for a weekend between 8 December 2005 - 11 December 2005. I parked on the main street about 400 yards away from the centre. There were no other cars parking near me at this time of year. There are probably better places to park, like behind the police station.

Skiing

The skiing was ample, challenging, plenty of snow, lots of sun (there is a common theme here as I would check the weather before I bought a ticket), and the apres ski started before I got off piste.

Nightlife

I noticed at the end of the day, that there was some life at the Mooserwirt bar about 100 yards from the bottom of the piste. A band, and large crowds were gathering. The crowds were so large that it looked almost impossible to get to the toilet. I went back into town, got a small bottle of schnapps, and a box of pringles, and skied back to the slope side of the Mooserwirst bar.

Darkness descended, the music volume went up, singing erupted, and there was much drinking done. I was sitting on the piste with a great view of the spectacle, drinking my schnapps and pringles for about 4 euros.

I went out in the evening to a few bars, but it was not that busy compared to the Mooserwirt bar in early evening, Perhaps I was too early in the evening?

Eating in

I found nothing much to temp me in town, so I probably had some spaghetti with pesto and bread. I was there a few days, and do not remember eating out. I did go to a few supermarkets though.

Anything else

I went to the local swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi etc as I stayed for the weekend due to having to retrieve my card from a bank. (I put my card in a machine on Friday night, and the machine gobbled it. The bank did not open until Monday, so I stayed and got my card back on Monday)

The swimming pool was expensive at about 12 euros, but it was superb and worth it. The sauna was mixed and no swimming costumes were allowed (included in 12 euros cost)! It was a naked sauna, turkish bath, and showers. This took me a little by surprise, and although I am used to showering with naked men, I did find it initially odd when naked women were standing next to me in the showers.

The turkish bath was the most extravagant thing I have ever been in. Lights come on in the ceiling, like stars in the sky, and there is marbling on the floor and in the centre there is steam. The swimming pool has an outside section, which sort of whips you around in a circuit. You do not have to swim, the current will take you around.

I will leave France for another day, as it will probably take a whole page or more on its own.
ski holidays
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/snowheads-personal-galleries/p24185-van-in-st-anton.html

Above is a link to a photo of the van parked in St Anton.

Below is the apres ski slope side....

latest report
 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?


picture taken from top of Solden ski area on 5/12/2005.
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