Europe 2010 - 2011 Trip Plans/Thoughts/Reviews Thread

Born2ski

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skidown said:
You are both to blame for me changing to Europe
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My mind is 100% set on Europe now

Would love to pay for everything with the current state of the Euro!

There is a way to lock in todays exchange rate to use later for your trip. Purchase a Visa Travel Card, ANZ have one and I think a few other banks may have them.

http://www.anz.com.au/personal/travel-foreign-exchange/travel-money/travel-card/

You load the card up at "todays" exchange rate and then just use the Euros later, a little like having a Euro bank account.
 
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CarveMan

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skidown said:
WOW

What are the orange things on the Funicular? do you stand behind them and hang on ?

Orange things are ski racks, you sit under the windows, also standing room when it's full.

skidown said:
Here is another complete beginners question...

Is English widely spoken in most restaurants and shops ?

It's very widely spoken at the major resorts. British tourists comprise huge business and they cater for them well.

However, you will always get a better experience by showing some courtesy and learning the basic please & thank you etc in the language spoken in that country.

I speak pretty reasonable French as I did it all the way through year 12 and have spent about 3 months there in total, and that completely transforms the experience.
 
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gortonator

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Folks - lots of good Euro ski stuff on snowheads.com. I just got back from Austria, and below is my snowheads Trip Report. from http://www.snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=63044&sid=07446b6c00d666f1a0fe85cbdc7c44ea if you want to see replies/etc

Date: February 18-27, 2010

Our mob: 3 couples

Video : on YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_SjHZX2c4c

Website : http://www.lech-zuers.at/xxl/_lang/en/_season/at2/_area/585621/_subArea/585780/_skip/5/index.html

Basics : Lech is part of the massive Arlberg ski region, in Western Austria, lift linked with Zuers and a short free bus ride from St Anton and Stuben. It’s an upmarket joint, where you can spend a fortune with the rich and famous if you want. But you don’t have to …

The skiing: Extensive and varied, with much more than you can ever ski in a week. The lift system is absolutely superb, especially in Lech and Zuers where virtually every chair is a covered 4/6/8-pack, many with heated seats! Lift lines are very rare indeed. St Anton is busier, but apart from a couple of avoidable bottlenecks, you rarely wait for more than a couple of minutes.

While St Anton has the deservedly gnarly reputation, it also gets less snow, has more folks and much of the terrain gets plenty of sun. There’s pistes and ski routes to keep all standards happy, but the sun and traffic mean that especially the lower runs get pretty firm. The Rendl area across the valley is comparably quiet and seems to hold better snow. We skied 3 days in St Anton, and apart from the odd short ‘glacial’ pitch above the village, the snow was excellent. It’s a truly great ski area.

While the on-piste skiing is tamer, we stay in Lech for three basic reasons. It gets more snow (especially at Zuers – a lot more snow), crowds are virtually unheard of, and snowy weather means the affluent, well-dressed clientele stay in bed. This leads to some magnificent powder days. On this trip, we had two 30-40cm storms, where I was scoring first tracks down ski routes at 11am, and timed a Madloch run (by sheer chance) perfectly for 2nd chair over the ridge and about 20cm of untracked groomer freshies! It was simply powtastic Wink

Venture a little in between pistes, and there’s so much terrain to choose from, its unreal, meaning there’s still heaps of powder left to be mopped up the next day. At St Anton, pow gets eaten in minutes by the huckster crowd, and the best snow requires a guide and avi gear.

In between the storms that bookended our week, we had unseasonably warm weather, more spring than winter. The sun-drenched areas got firm and scraped later in the day, and a lot of the off-piste was baked, crunchy and loaded with death cookies. A real bonus though was the wind, which on 2 or 3 days transported in light blower pow to refresh areas and create some great off-piste lines.


Off-piste : We didn’t venture too far off piste, but you really don’t have to in order to find really fine skiing. Some of the marked ski routes are fun, ungroomed things especially on a snowy day. But if you look around, there’s ‘just-off-piste’ options everywhere.

The resort : A picture-postcard pretty Austrian village. The après is more restrained and cultured than most Austrian places, but still fun, and with highly amusing people-watching. See the video above for examples Wink

Food : We ate in several of the restaurants in town, most of which serve good hearty Austrian fare at not-too-bad prices, ie 12-20€ for a really good dinner. We managed to get a table at Haus Nr 8, which was very good, and enjoyed the food at Schindlers, Cafe Olympia and Ilga’s up in Oberlech. Fux is a very fine restaurant. Expensive, but IMHO worth it. We went twice.

Hotel: Lech is a pretty upmarket joint, with half board hotels that cost an arm and leg. We avoid that scene and stay in reasonable priced B&B 3 star places, at around 130€ a night for two. I’d highly recommend Laerchenhof, excellent rooms, killer breakfast, spacious well-equipped spa area. Only downside is approx. 500m walk to lifts. You can ski some of this, and can ski back to the hotel from Zuers on the Madloch run. On this trip we also stayed in Kristall. A great location 250m from lifts and middle of town, good bedrooms and a pretty decent breakfast. Downside is the cramped spa area – not exactly relaxing. Kristall’s slightly cheaper and more convenient than the Laerchenhof, but I’d lean towards the latter. It’s worth the extra exercise Wink

Costs: Beer €4-5 fro 0.5L wheat beer, €3-4 for a house wine, food €12-whatever you can afford. 9 day lift pass was about €280. Overall, more expensive than your average Austrian resort, but very comparable with Colorado and mainstream North American destination resorts. The rest of Europe, I know not Wink

Conclusion: 3rd visit, and it only cemented my thoughts that the Arlberg is the best place I’ve ever skied. So far anyway ....

Skiing stats:

9 days (vertical metres): 8100, 8300, 8200, 8700, 7800, 9100, 8200, 9400, 8200 (total 76000)
 
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Julia Gillard

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Hmmm

Getting between Lech and the French resorts appears to be a PITA

6 hour train ride to Geneva +
4 hour bus ride to Val or 3V.

Other ideas?

Priced out a rental car, and Hertz/Avis want $5000++ for 3 weeks for a small/mid sized vehicle!!
That is out of the question, as I can rent a nice big luxury 4WD in the USA for 3 weeks for 1/2 that price.

 

Born2ski

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Julia Gillard said:
Hmmm

Getting between Lech and the French resorts appears to be a PITA

6 hour train ride to Geneva +
4 hour bus ride to Val or 3V.

Other ideas?

Priced out a rental car, and Hertz/Avis want $5000++ for 3 weeks for a small/mid sized vehicle!!
That is out of the question, as I can rent a nice big luxury 4WD in the USA for 3 weeks for 1/2 that price.
Ahhh you have a lot to learn about Europe my young apprentice.
tongue.gif


We went from Siviez Switzerland(near Verbier) to 3 Vallees France and yes it took all day. Bus from Siviez to Sion, then train to Geneva airport, bus to Moutiers, then fight to get on the next bus to Les Menuires(3 Vallees) and then bus to our accommodation. AND we did all this with our then 20 month old girl !!
Becuase most apartments in France have a Saturday change over it means EVERYBODY is trying to get somewhere on Saturdays which can make traffic a killer.
Don't really see you as a bus/train man Skidown, so for you let me impart some wisdom - LEASE. Europe has a number of short term lease schemes - Renault, Fiat, Peugeot and Citroen.

http://www.renault-eurodrive.com/cms/australie/
http://www.eurolease.com.au/

You can "lease" a small car for 3-4 weeks for about $AU1499.
smile.gif
 
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Heinz

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Julia Gillard said:
Hmmm

Getting between Lech and the French resorts appears to be a PITA

6 hour train ride to Geneva +
4 hour bus ride to Val or 3V.

Other ideas?

Priced out a rental car, and Hertz/Avis want $5000++ for 3 weeks for a small/mid sized vehicle!!
That is out of the question, as I can rent a nice big luxury 4WD in the USA for 3 weeks for 1/2 that price.

So whats the problem with the train? Scenery through Switzerland will be fantastic. They go regularly, so you can pick the time. You don't have to do it one hit. You could stop for a day on the way in Zürich, Geneve or stop for a ski say at Verbier.
 
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Ulmerhutte

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PG said:
Lech is awesome.

We finally agree on something!
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Was there from 5 Feb to 5 March. First 10 days were really cold, but then it got more spring like. Last 2 days were also cold. No big dumps this year, but a few 10cm top-ups.

Great write-up above on the Arlberg.
 
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skiflat

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gortonator: Thanks
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Born2ski: Yes not quite like renting a car from Hertz and driving along the I70 to another resort
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I am a beginner for Europe, but VERY much looking forward to something different!
The car leases looks great, I just received an email back from my Travel Agent and she has also recommended a lease as well.
She quoted about $1500 for 2 weeks as well
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Just will have to check their insurance polices as even Hertz with all coverage in Europe had a $1600 excess!!!
Yes - Not really a train person
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smartarse
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Flying is another option and will have a look at that!

Heinz: Train could be ok, but not a fan of the bus + train combination of 10hours++++.

Had a few mates who have been to Zurich and they said "Don't bother" going there... Again still working this out and exactly how long it will be.

Great part is that the +1 thinks I have booked tickets to the USA again, well technically I had, but V Australia stuffed up my credit card payment when the website crashed and didn't send through all the information on "their side". Not sure when I'll tell her we are going to Europe, maybe I'll wait until we check-in at the airport LOL....

Other factor is working out how long to go for. The +1 wants Europe in Summer, not Winter. But since we are there will probably fit in at least 7-10 days of sightseeing and non-ski related stuff. Probably be a 3-4 week trip all up.

Exciting times!!!
 
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skiflat

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CarveMan said:
Back when I did it, the lease included full comprehensive insurance with roadside assist.

Train isn't that bad though. First class is pretty nice.

You have me interested
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Travel agent is working out the costings of transfers vs the car lease pricing!

smile.gif


Very happy that I have picked Europe now!

biggrin.gif


Will mean this thread will have lots of random posts over the next 300 days!!

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Zeroz

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Julia Gillard said:
Hmmm
Getting between Lech and the French resorts appears to be a PITA

6 hour train ride to Geneva +
4 hour bus ride to Val or 3V.

Other ideas?

Priced out a rental car, and Hertz/Avis want $5000++ for 3 weeks for a small/mid sized vehicle!!
That is out of the question, as I can rent a nice big luxury 4WD in the USA for 3 weeks for 1/2 that price.
Your priority is to figure out which resorts you want to ski, and which cities you really want to see.
Then flights, transport and hotels, in that order.

Resorts - I would pick two areas only. Preferably not a big distance apart. Cars can be convenient in Europe, but petrol and tolls are expensive, parking is a pita and you miss the spectacular views and experience of Euro trains. Combine them instead.

Your "shortlist" of Euro resorts seems Zermatt, 3V, St.Anton, Val D'Isere, Chamonix, Verbier. Plus some cities. Too many.

I listed them in the order probably closest to your prefs (and in reverse order of my favorites) but you need to narrow it down, otherwise all the potential alternatives are just too numerous.
 
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tbnext

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skidown said:
rangerider said:
Have you been on the A380 CM? I've heard they are very slow to load and unload.

I have been on Qantas twice.

No different to any other plane but i was getting off the upper deck so not sure what was happening in cattle class down below!

A-380 experience

Well my bags were checked First from LA and it took around 1 HR to get the ski bag off, two incoming Japan planes pre us did not help. Oh and I got my non-oversized bag back 45 minutes earlier. This is one of the many reasons that Sydney is far and away the worst airport I have EVER encountered. Then I declared.

I'm over this close to two hours from landing to exit-I kid you not!!!- and with an APEC card. My experience, Immigration-fine. Normal baggage-generally fine. Oversize-Get some more workers. Quarantine-who put these wankers in charge of anything??? They couldn't stop a horse virus, swine flu or anything else-I am suppossed to see them as the front line??? Laughable.
 
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tbnext

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I'm again thinking about Europe. I have had a plan for St Anton and surrounds plus Ischgl for last year but that US dollar rate has kept deflecting me. So Utah/Telluride it was.

I have skied Val d'isere and loved it, totally awesome, huge, never do it justice place-exxy but.

I have just read a cool book "the edge of never" which makes me think I must rush to Chamonix immediately.

So the plan is maybe Europe, if the FX rate makes sense, if not Nth America here I come-again.
 
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skiflat

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Zeroz said:
skidown.... said:
Hmmm
Getting between Lech and the French resorts appears to be a PITA

6 hour train ride to Geneva +
4 hour bus ride to Val or 3V.

Other ideas?

Priced out a rental car, and Hertz/Avis want $5000++ for 3 weeks for a small/mid sized vehicle!!
That is out of the question, as I can rent a nice big luxury 4WD in the USA for 3 weeks for 1/2 that price.
Your priority is to figure out which resorts you want to ski, and which cities you really want to see.
Then flights, transport and hotels, in that order.

Resorts - I would pick two areas only. Preferably not a big distance apart. Cars can be convenient in Europe, but petrol and tolls are expensive, parking is a pita and you miss the spectacular views and experience of Euro trains. Combine them instead.

Your "shortlist" of Euro resorts seems Zermatt, 3V, St.Anton, Val D'Isere, Chamonix, Verbier. Plus some cities. Too many.

I listed them in the order probably closest to your prefs (and in reverse to my favorites) but you need to narrow it down, otherwise all the potential alternatives are just too numerous.

Thank you!!
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My TA also advised me this morning to make it two ski resorts, probably Val D and 3V.

Resorts - Nearly 100% set on them, but depends how much time I dedicate to this trip, in a perfect world 6 weeks would be great, but the +1 wants a European Summer... So I think we have to go back to Europe in July or something... Dunno about that idea though....

tbnext said:
So the plan is maybe Europe, if the FX rate makes sense, if not Nth America here I come-again.

The exchange rate for me in the USA hovered around 0.89 to 0.915 when we were there. 12 months earlier we got around 0.63-0.65 EEEKKKKKK

Aussie/US Dollar - Over the past 5 years http://au.finance.yahoo.com/currency/convert?from=AUD&to=USD&amt=1&t=5y but it's been higher before...

Euro is pumping at the moment - Record high http://au.finance.yahoo.com/currency/convert?from=AUD&to=EUR&amt=1&t=5y

Such hard decisions for you as well tbnext
laugh.gif


To ski in the USA or Europe
laugh.gif
 
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CarveMan

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skidown said:
My TA also advised me this morning to make it two ski resorts, probably Val D and 3V.

I reckon they're too similar.

For most of us Europe needs to be a big adventure as due to distance/cost Aussies will tend to go to Nth America/Japan more often, that being the case it would be worth seeing a couple of different cultures and regions.

I'd still consider Lech or Zermatt, and just deal with a big travel day.
 
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Heinz

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skidown said:
Resorts - Nearly 100% set on them, but depends how much time I dedicate to this trip, in a perfect world 6 weeks would be great, but the +1 wants a European Summer... So I think we have to go back to Europe in July or something... Dunno about that idea though....

You could consider a March/April timeframe. Can still get powder in March though probably less often, resorts only start closing mid-late April. You miss the main holiday periods (except Easter) so booking stuff shouldn't be a problem. April is a good time to travel in Europe - weather fining up but no crowds.

So if you did 6 weeks say, you could so 3 or 4 resorts for about a week each in March than have a couple of weeks sightseeing. You would want to stick to resorts with terrain above 2000m to be sure though.
 
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Apresski

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Sight seeing in a European summer can be a pain, heat, crowds, packed roads. The coastal resorts are groaning with people, while the major cities, particularly Paris, often have a lot of closed restaurants.

With regard to skiing in Europe, I think it's hard to go passed Zermatt, the classic beautiful Swiss town, with magnificent scenery and not half bad skiing!!
The classic duo, would be to take the Glacier Express to St Moritz. However it is only 4 hours by train to Geneva, which makes the French resorts of Haute Savoie very accessible.
 

skiflat

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Similar resorts - Yes my TA just said the same thing...... advised to mix it up a little. Yeh I can handle one day of travel for such a different experience. Not like it's a 12 hours of travel to get from HotHam to Falls Creek....

Heinz
That is an option as well
smile.gif


Apresski
Zermatt and St Moritz - More options... Always good to look at....:D
Talking to the +1 a few months back I said all those things to her about Europe being a pain in the [auto-censor] during Summer and Winter would be good. She wasn't really interested though. I think she is set on Europe in Summer.. May just take her to the Maldives or something to get her a Summer fix and spend longer in Europe in Winter.
 
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Heinz

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Apresski said:
A stopover in asia on the way back may be the answer.

If you can stand the humidity!
 
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Heinz

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How about something like this then...

1 week Austria - say Lech, Ischgl or Soelden .... maybe a day or two in Innsbruck
1 week Switzerland - Zermatt is an obvious one or maybe Davos, Laax, Grindelwald ...
1 week France - Trois Vallees, Val d'Isere, Porties du Soliel ...

Give you contrasting scenery, food, experiences, languages, but still with english reasonably widely spoken.

then if available extra time sightseeing. eg. Interlaken & surrounds - very touristy but for good reason it is spectacularly beautiful. The boat trips should be starting in April. Maybe a couple of cities, Luzern.

Fly into and out of Zurich or maybe into Innsbruck or Munich and out of Geneve?
 

'H' Jones

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And koh samui for a week on the way home
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Born2ski

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Skidown if the +1 wants warmth, luxury resorts, nice pools and lots of shopping I can highly recommend Abu Dhabi as a stopover. We stayed at the Beach Rotana, the best breakfast buffet I've ever seen, I even had camels milk !
http://www.rotana.com/property-4.htm
We flew there with Etihad Airways on the way back from Europe.
 
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Heinz

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or a side trip into Milan for some expensive shopping if that's your thing (certainly not mine).
 

hpsauce

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CarveMan said:
A mate of mine did a season in St Moritz and didn't rave about the skiing. Very schmancy place though.
+1. I found St Moritz just .....meh!
bottleneck furnicular = throwing elbows with Italians
Expensive ....even a street hot dog.
Bald, exposed and prone to blue ice.
 
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hpsauce

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CM
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Similar resorts - Yes my TA just said the same thing...... advised to mix it up a little. Yeh I can handle one day of travel for such a different experience. Not like it's a 12 hours of travel to get from HotHam to Falls Creek....

Heinz
That is an option as well
smile.gif


Apresski
Zermatt and St Moritz - More options... Always good to look at....:D
Talking to the +1 a few months back I said all those things to her about Europe being a pain in the [auto-censor] during Summer and Winter would be good. She wasn't really interested though. I think she is set on Europe in Summer.. May just take her to the Maldives or something to get her a Summer fix and spend longer in Europe in Winter.
Yes, I think if someone gave me a choice of just 2 resorts I'd go something like Lech and Zermatt as well.
If I had a car, then basing myself in an area with a lovely little jumble of hills would be superb aslo.....like Portes du Soleil or Innsbruck (especially if the +1 was a bit of a euro city holiday as well). you could stay in a guest house and have a different adventure each day.....versus "do" a bigger resort.
VD and 3V?????? If you love blue piste super highways....then these are the ticket
 
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Apresski

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If you do go to St Moritz just make sure you pop into Geneva or Zurich on the way, to pick up a fur coat for your +1
grin.gif
 
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skiflat

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Thanks for all the additional advice so far.

Before I make a final decision on resorts, I am working out what "non skiing" places I want to visit, along with how long I want to spend in Europe.

Tending towards 4.5 weeks at the moment

smile.gif
 
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Zeroz

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hpfred said:
VD and 3V?????? If you love blue piste super highways....then these are the ticket
These keep getting suggested as that's the sort of skiing that Prof. Skidown likes (same for Zermatt etc).

I agree that 3V is blue highway heaven, but Val d'Isere is a cut above with tons of serious off-piste.
 
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skiflat

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My TA has a sensational airfare for me giving me the option to go to Dubai and/or come back via the USA.... so will work on that...

As for resorts...

Anywhere else I should look at based on

Blue/Black groomers
Some off-piste to play in
Moguls to play in
No guided stuff like you like though, not good enough for that yet
frown.gif

Budget - Whatever
 
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skiflat

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trappers said:
skidown said:
My TA has a sensational airfare for me giving me the option to go to Dubai and/or come back via the USA.... so will work on that...
...
I thought you never used TAs?

Nope always use them for ski holidays as they consistently have had cheaper accommodation/ski lift ticket packages.

I always price them against what I can book myself though, but all except one time they ended up cheaper for accommodation, and that was that the hotel in Park City had a last minute special with free lift tickets and two nights free.
 
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tbnext

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I flew (to Val) via frankfurt then went back there, got car and spent a week driving Czech republic, via Bamberg. Awesome but cold,

Prague sans crowds-priceless. Karlovy, Plezn, Csesky Krumlov, Salonika, Nuremberg etc-Did heaps.
 

markopolo

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Experts ! What is the last week of January, first week of February like for crowds ? 3V or Pyrenees ?
 
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