Slovenia
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MangyMarmot
June 15, 2004
Member since 12/25/2002 🔗
183 posts
This unbearable hot weather drove me to the movies, where I saw "The Day After Tomorrow."

The frigid scenes whet my appetite for the next big ski trip.

I'm eying Slovenia for late January. Kranska Gora (sp??) I think there were some recent big ski competitions there.

Anybody been there? Bad idea? Good idea?

PArt of the sell is that I think we could easily get to Greece afterward (unless my geography is way off).

So far, we've skied Andorra and Val Gardena, Italy in Europe.

Also, anybody know if it's possible to ski Mt.Ararat in Turkey?

mm
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
June 16, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,926 posts
MM:

Never been to Slovenia but I have done some research on it. The country lies at the far eastern end of the Alps--the so-called Julian Alps. These mountains are smaller than what you find in Austria, Switzerland, or France, but quite popular with hikers. The capital, Ljubijana, is supposed to be a real gem, as are some of the smaller towns like the university town of Maribor.

As for skiing, the country offers good value for the money, nice scenary, and good gentle slopes for beginners. It's a popular destination for British who are just learning to ski. The downside of the place is limited terrain, antiquated lifts, and limited snowmaking. Snowmaking is a real issue in the East because most snow in Europe falls in the Western Alps. The East gets far less snow so many ski centers in nearby Slovakia (often confused with Slovenia) are investing heavily in Snowmaking. However, it's kind of like the Mid-Atlantic, you can find decent snowmaking but it is usually at smaller, commuter mountains with less terrain to cover than the larger destination venues.

Greece is nowhere near Slovenia. The train through the Balkans will take forever and is not worth the effort, let alone the occasional danger. If you want to go to Greece, fly. Venice is close, as is the Croatian Coast. But the Croatian Coast will not be cold at this time of year. Other relatively nearby places to visit include Vienna and Budapest. I like Vienna a lot in the winter--great museums, pastries, and architecture. It's a lot more laid back than say, Paris or London, but it still has an impressive amount of culture: two major palaces, an incredible museum quarter, etc.

Turkey apparently has skiing as does Greece at Parnasos. I've been to Parnasos during the warmer months--it's near Delphi. It's a beautiful place--high mountains dropping right into the sea, but I can not imagine that the snow is any good. Turkey may be a better bet.

My choice for a skiing destination in Europe right now are the Austrian Alps in the Western part of that country. Those mountains have good ground links to Munich and Zurich and easy air links to just about any major city in Europe. They are also a better value than Switzerland and France right now. I'll wait until the dollar goes up a bit before I head back to Switzerland. France is supposed to be similar.
MangyMarmot
June 17, 2004
Member since 12/25/2002 🔗
183 posts
Hmmm, yeah. Guess I forgot about the whole Yugoslavia (Bosnia, Serbia, etc.) thing.

As part of any ski trip, I have to budget an equal amount of time in a "warm" area for the significant other. Hence the Greece idea. First trip was Andorra followed by south of Spain. Last year was Val Gardena Italy with Amalfi Coast near Naples.

I guess linking Slovenia and Greece may not be the right combo -- though if we fly it really doesn't matter because all the flights are short over there.

Thanks for the concerns about snow. It would stink to get all the way over there and have nothing to ski on.

Guess I'll hit the books some more.

ff
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
June 17, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,926 posts
MM:

If you go to Slovenia, you will end up having to fly to Greece through Vienna because that's the hub that services most of the Eastern European countries in the area.

Here's my suggestion. If money is not too big of a problem, take her to St. Moritz for skiing. The Corviglia side of St. Moritz is a dream for timid skiers--flatteringly easy slopes, low crowds, beautiful lifts, and awe inspiring views:

http://www.dcski.com/news/2004/02_17_2004/europe.php3

If you want some challenge one day, put her in a lesson and check out the terrain at Corvatsch, or my personal favorite, Diavolezza (the Devil's mountain). [Smile]

From there, hop the scenic Bernina Express train. It takes you from glaciers to palm trees and offers some incredible views of the Bernina Pass. Continue on regular trains to Milan, and from there, take short flight to Tunisia or the Red Sea Riviera (Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt). What you spend at St. Moritz, you will save at either of those beach areas--insider favorites these days amongst Europeans on a budget. The Egyptian Sinai also has some excellent scuba diving, and as far as terrorism is concerned, no major event has occurred in the country since Luxor in 1997. Egypt values tourism a lot and is doing everything it can to keep tourist areas safe. Last year, 4 million tourists visited Egypt--a nice vote of confidence for that country.

If Greece is still on your mind, however, I'd plan on flying and simply pick a resort near a major air hub such as Zurich. The Lech side of St. Anton (suitable for less experienced skiers and extremely snowsure), might be a good choice but it is expensive, although not quite as expensive as St. Moritz. A less expensive place suitable for beginners in Austria is Serfaus, and it is only 200K by car or train from Zurich. It's base is a little lower than Lech's but there's lots of terrain there above 2000 meters. If your friend does not mind downloading at the end of the day to avoid more difficult lower slopes, Ischgl is another good bet.

Well, enough rambling, if you want more suggestions, let me know.

PS I found this excellent web site on Austrian and Swiss resorts:

http://www.bergfex.com

The ratings are user based so they do not reflect conventional wisdom, which is good and bad. What I like about the site are the piste maps and stats that you can get quickly and easily.
MangyMarmot
June 18, 2004
Member since 12/25/2002 🔗
183 posts
John,

Awesome suggestions. As this trip is still in embryonic stage, I can do a lot of dream traveling checking out ski areas in Austria, Switzerland and possibly Italy.
I'll get the girlfriend fired up by having her look at Sharm el-Shaikh, Tunisia et al.

I was actually thinking of also checking out Crete, Malta or Cyprus. I recently read a couple novels about knights of a religious order based in Cyprus and another in Malta.

As far as the skiing in St. Moritz or St. Anton -- is the snow pretty reliable in early to mid-January? That's the easiest time for us to get 2-3 weeks off.

This is what gets me through the summer month... Planning for January!

mm
snowcone
June 18, 2004
Member since 09/27/2002 🔗
589 posts
Check out Greece while your're at it. If you fly into Athens on your Way to Slovenia, take a day or two locally. You can ski at Arachova, about 2.5 hrs north of Athens near Delphi. Its an experience!
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
June 18, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,926 posts
MM:

I'm actually starting to think about my European ski adventure as well--it definitely helps pass the summer away. For myself, I have to visit inlaws in Slovakia in February, so I am thinking about St. Anton for the last week of January-First week of February time frame. I've been there three times so part of me wants to try other places, but another part of me wants to go back to St. Anton. Why?

1. INCREDIBLE TERRAIN AND GREAT INFRASTRUCTURE. They've made some great lift improvements over on the Renndl and St. Christoph parts of the resort--less crowded areas with a lot of interesting terrain features. Rendl has it all: steep high altitude slopes and some neat and equally steep tree areas down towards the base. I've only spent two days at Rendl and could probably spend a week just exploring this side of STANTON. I'll probably spend 2 days at Rendl, 1 day on the main Galzig-Naserien slopes, 1 day at Zuers, and 1 day at Stuben (Albona).

2. TIME. Family committments mean that I may only have 5 days in Alps plus one ski day in Slovakia. Therefore, I will need to make the most of limited time. STANTON, with its international train station 500 meters from the lifts, rocks. I can buy a relatively cheap, three legged flight (Dulles-Zurich--Vienna) from United, and then train it to STANTON (just 2.5 hours from ZUR and there's a train station right in the airport). It's amazingly convenient to get from Zurich to STANTON. From STANTON, I'd save myself a night in a hotel and take a sleeper train to Vienna, and from there, rent a car to get to Central Slovakia. The night I leave, I will take a swim and shower at the Arlberg wellness center, grab a quick bite at my favorite Cafe, Amalis, and then sleep to the click clack sound of the train. Furthermore, I won't be awakened in the middle of the night by a surly boarder guard b/c there are no boarders to cross on this route.

3. RESTAURANTS. STANTON has the best restaurants in the Austrian Alps, including many excellent non-Austrian places. Comparing STANTON to the rest of the Austrian Alps in terms of food is like comparing Stowe to the rest of VT.

4. VERY SNOWSURE -- especially in January. The Arlberg gets the most snow in Austria. Need I say more. Within the Arlberg, Lech is the snowiest base village.

For your girlfriend, however, St. Anton is not the place to go. It's the domain of the advanced skier--the steep and the neat. I'd suggest staying at Lech, and if you can afford it, Oberlech. Oberlech offers the best access to the easy high elevation blue terrain at Lech. Furthermore, by staying there, she will not have to bother skiing steepish lower slopes of Lech--slopes I enjoy but she might not. These lower slopes are blue but should be rated red in terms of difficulty.

Another place I am looking into for myself is Serfaus in Austria--a quieter, less well-known place that apparently is a lot of fun, especially for intermediates. I'm also looking into doing Saas Fee and Zermatt in Switzerland. Zermatt, however, scares me a bit because it is reported to be as pricey as St. Moritz--a place you can easily drop $100 for a meal for two in a mountain restaurant. Saas Fe is supposed to be cheaper but more limited in terms of terrain--a place good for 3 days but maybe not so great for a longer stretch. However, for someone who skis Timberline 14 days a year, 5 days at Saas Fee would probably work.

Here's some stats:

Saas Fee:

easy 40 km
interm. 40 km
difficult 20 km

Zermatt:

easy 17 km
interm. 106 km
difficult 71 km

Serfaus:

easy 37 km
interm. 99 km
difficult 24 km

St. Anton:

easy 65 km
interm. 130 km
difficult 65 km

Lech-Zuers:

easy 44 km
interm. 44 km
difficult 22 km
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