I'm heading over in mid-February. We'll likely stay in Ortisei in Val Gardena.
Any advice? (on food, lodging, points of interest, etc)
Also, after skiing on limp noodles for most of a trip to Andorra last year, I am now taking MY own skis.
Has anyone ever checked ski gear at a train station? Or anybody have other ideas where to stash the bulky stuff while we're traveling southern Italy for a week after skiing??
In the Dolomiti Superski Region, which includes Ortisei, the most beautiful village is Cortina. It's also the most expensive. Selva is the most convenient base for people like myself who are coming from Austria--it's only 2.5 hours from Innsbruck on an autobahn (Brenner Pass).
In researching thia area, the pluses were as follows:
1. Beautiful views of the Dolomites--some of the most unique and beautiful mountains in the Alps.
2. Food and culture.
3. One of the most famous ski safaris in Europe--the Sella Ronda: a 360 degree rotation around the Gruppo Sella massif.
4. Great views of the Dolomites.
The negatives are:
1. A poor snow record in recent years.
2. Lots of south facing slopes.
3. Lots of slopes with 500-800 foot verticals.
4. A lot of lower intermediate slopes with little challenge.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 01-05-2004).]
Anyway apart from limp noodles, whatever that is, how were the conditions? I understand there is some new terrain added, did you find it challenging or just average?
I usually check bulky items at my departure airport and then pick them up just before boarding my return flight. The cost is about 4-7 euros a day--not cheap but convenient. I suspect luggage checks at train stations are cheaper. That may be a better bet.
Also, SportsTubes are impractical for train travel. I learned that one the hard way. A Dakine soft bag is a much better deal--they fit on the overhead bins. A lot of Europeans travel on the train with skis but no one uses the SportsTube--it's too big and bulky.
I forgot to mention in my first post that other Italian resorts like Sestriere, Bormio, Cervinia, and Courmayeur have better snow and longer runs than the Dolomiti places. However, they apparently are not as charming for whatever reason.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 01-06-2004).]
In other words, NO I don't actually know myself! :-)
It was REALLY cheap. Lift $25-30 a day.
Girlfriend a beginner boarder so fairly tame most of trip.
Did Soldeu-El Tarter and Pal Arinsal. I preferred Soldeu -- lots of terrain. not much trees - but lots of snow last January - looked like decent snomaking capability.
I really wanted to ski over to Grau Roig - it's connected to Soldeu.
Lodging -- don't stay in Andorra la Vella. If u miss bus (and they never leave at right time) you'll miss whole day on slope... though it may be easy to get to Grau Roig gondola and get to more terrain that way.
DUDE!!! you have to hit the hot spring spa thingie in Andorra la Vella. It's this insane water park with all kinds of jacuzzis, saunas, etc. Best steam room ever -- eucalyptus scented steam. Makes the fried muscles feel like jello.
It was my first Europe ski experience. I was amazed by beautiful ranges (and women -- though girlfriend my kill me), balmy weather, decent food slopeside and multi-culti feel. I sat on a lift and spoke Russian to folks on my right and Spanish to guy on my left.
Whatever you do, don't order Pies de Cerdo (PEE'-ehss day SEHR'-doh). I wasn't paying attention to waiter and judt heard the cerdo part and thought it was some pork dish. Turned out to be pig's feet. Forced them down and was really sick the next day.
Enjoy if you go.
Ooops, didn't answer all questions.
Limp noodles - flaccid skis. I like 'em really rigid for hi-speed carving runs. Took several days to find pair of decent rental Volkls. The demo situation not like out West!
As far as challenging terrain -- there were a couple pretty freaky ridges and huge bowls -- the ridges were center of Soldeu and big bowls to far left (looking up slope).Apparently there is some off-piste (but I've had 2 back surgeries so don't really mess with REAL scary stuff).
I think there's a terrain park at El Tarter too, though I don't do that. Didn't notice any bump runs (also avoid due to back).
If you have any specific questions you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I checked bags at Vienna Airport in September and February of 2003. They x-ray your bag before they will agree to check it but that's it. It's no big deal. For some reason, they charge extra for skis because that's considered an over-size item, but the convenience is so wonderful that I didn't care.
Regarding Sella Ronda, I've never done it but I've talked to several people who have. Basically, most of it is lower intermediate with smallish verticals (500-800 feet of vert.). From what people tell me, it's kind of like skiing from one end of 7 Springs to the other and back. No trail is much more difficult than the North Face Slope.
The only challenge for your friend might be POMA lifts. If she's not comfortable with them, she shouldn't do it. Also, snow conditions will make a big difference, and could potentially limit your piste offerings. I hear it takes about 6 hours to do, depending on stops.
Your friend could always bail part way through the circut and take a bus back to home base. Public transportation, I suspect, is as good as any place in Europe.
Big DISCLAIMER: This is all based on hear say and reading the Reuter's Guide.
I've seen some gorgeous photos of this terrain, but read various accounts of the day long safari that range from glorious, incredibly photogenic intermediate adventure to lame, crowded, logistically awkward waste of time.
If you make your trip to the Dolomites I hope you have a great time and share your impressions with us.
Have you done the Sella Ronda??
I figured girlfriend could sit out a day (shopping girl type stuff) while i do it -- that is, unless a beginner/intermediate could handle it.
Part of the reason we're going to the Dolomiti region is so she won't be too freaked out by slopes - which apparently are mellow there. She's starting to get the bug and I don't want to spoil it.
Also, as far as checking skis at airport -- has anyone done that since all this attacks/security/travel restrictions stuff?
Thanks for all the replies so far!!!
Intermediate skiiers can definately do the Sella Ronda. On a clear day, the views are amazing.
Tips for apres - ask the bartender to make a "Bombardino" It's an amazing hot toddy!!!
Where in Southern Italy are you travelling to?
Then, we'll train down to Rome. Plans a bit vague. I've never been to Rome and don't want to rush. I'm thinking Naples as well.
I hear mixed bag about Pompeii. It sounds great in theory, but several folks say it's grimy and a major letdown for history buffs.
Just learned the Iceman Uetzi (sp??) is in Bolzano -- so we'll say hi on our way to skiing. I'm hoping I don't follow his footsteps and become a frozen ice man to be found in 10,000 years. If so, I'll make sure to have some oddities in pockets to confuse archaeologists.
I'm really psyched for Sella Ronda. Is there a way to dump out if the girlfriend freaks out or gets tired?