Help with long term planning.

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Sbooker, May 7, 2017.

  1. Sbooker

    Sbooker Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    12
    Hi all.
    I'm planning a trip to Europe in March 2019 (yes I know it's quite a while away) for my 20th wedding anniversary and was hoping for some assistance in selecting a location.

    I would hope to find somewhere with the following attributes.
    - Snow sure.
    - Preferably winter conditions (minimal slush).
    - A European feel (we've never been to Europe).
    - Ski in/ski out accommodation.
    - Great scenery.
    - Decent food experience without being 'big plate/small food'.
    - Easy access from a city that would be interesting to tour for a few days before or after.

    We are advanced intermediate skiers and don't need expert terrain. We don't need great nightlife but a few beers at the end of the day is important. We'd like an area with multiple villages that can be accessed by skiing.
    I like the sound of skiing in Italy but don't know if there's an area there that will be snow sure in late March.
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. WaitAwhile

    WaitAwhile Dedicated Member
    Season Pass Silver

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2012
    Messages:
    2,572
    Likes Received:
    942
    If you are looking at late March its probably a good idea to book last minute, dependent on conditions, many resorts may have even closed their lower runs and you would be catching a lift up to a midstation, depends really if it is a bad,average or a really good season.
    You could even wait until just before your departure from Australia then make a booking somewhere.
    Places with good altitude like Tignes, Val Thorens and Les Menuires should still have skiing straight to the accommodation, but they are not your nice pretty villages , and are more purpose built resorts.
    At that time of the year you may be skiing in slush piles the size of big mogul fields by the afternoon, if they have not had fresh snow for a while with lots of warm sunny days.
    Or you may have the resort all to yourself midweek with lots and lots of fresh snow. Just really depends on mother nature in the week or so prior to your trip, especially good if you have a pretty reasonable base.
    Try and get there in early March ,if its possible.
    And dont forget the sunscreen , at high altitude with the sun reflecting of the snow it can make for a good dose of sunburn.
     
    #2 WaitAwhile, May 7, 2017
    Last edited: May 7, 2017
  3. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Part of the Furniture
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2014
    Messages:
    17,302
    Likes Received:
    10,518
    Trains in Europe are fast and efficient, so your touristing can be almost anywhere. Paris to Bourg St Maurice (rail hub for Val d'Isere, Les Arcs etc) is about 6 hours by train for example.
     
  4. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    22,808
    Likes Received:
    4,702
    First thing I guess is to narrow down the countries. France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy would be the main options all providing a somewhat different "European feel". You will find options for what you want in any one of those - good food (though quite different country to country), accommodation scenery.

    How long were you looking at? A couple of weeks?

    Late March can be a little for reliable natural snow, especially if the season is anything like the past one, but snowmaking in the alpine regions is excellent so you can still be skiing long groomed runs. What type of skiing are you after - is powder and offpiste a proirity? If so try going earlier. But if you are happy skiing long wide groomed runs, then March and even April will be very good. Fine weather, less crowded, more relaxed.
     
    Mike Pow likes this.
  5. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    22,808
    Likes Received:
    4,702
    Late March will be good skiing, I really enjoy the relaxed feel. But is definitely spring conditions (though can still get winter conditions at times), so you do have to time your runs according to slope aspects to minimise the slush. Or have access to a glacier for later in the day.
     
  6. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    22,808
    Likes Received:
    4,702
    For Italy somewhere in the Dolomiti region with a few days in Milan at the end before flying out could fit the bill. Plenty of options in the other countries also.

    edit. A few other thoughts.

    As mentioned above places like Val d'Isere, Val Thorens in France will provide reliable snow with the altitude but don't have much of a village feel. Porties du Soliel is an excellent area to explore multiple villages in France & Switerland but is lower so probably not a good choice for late March. Fly into Geneve or Lyon.

    In Switzerland Zermatt would certainly deliver especially on scenery but you do need to be prepared to pay quite a bit more. Fly into Zürich, take a train via Luzern, maybe Interlaken for some stunning scenery.

    Good choices in Austria would be the Arlberg region, Saalbach-Hinterglemm, the Ötztal or maybe in the Zillertal. Fly into Munich and visit Innsbruck and/or Salzburg.
     
    #6 Heinz, May 7, 2017
    Last edited: May 7, 2017
    Mike Pow and RTL like this.
  7. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    22,808
    Likes Received:
    4,702
    I'd suggest browsing through some of the other threads in the Europe forum where several similar questions have been asked.

    Also establish the parameters eg. will it definitely be March or could it be earlier? I'm guessing anniversary itself is in March? How long are you thinking 2,3,4 weeks or more? How much travelling do you want to do? How much skiing vs sightseeing? How many countries do you want to visit? There can be a bit of a trap for first time Europe visitors to go everywhere, but you can spend a lot of time travelling doing that and bypassing so much other stuff. Better to stick to 1 or 2 maybe 3 countries and explore the local regions.
     
  8. Seth

    Seth Old And Crusty
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2000
    Messages:
    35,561
    Likes Received:
    12,817
    this far out I'd just be looking at where to fly into that is convenient to get some deals on flights.
     
  9. Sbooker

    Sbooker Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    12
    I've been doing a bit more research and think skiing in Italy would suit us. Any recommendations for a town in the Dolomites that has a nice village feel with plenty of dining options. Walk to lifts would be great. On the Sella Ronda would be a bonus.
    Is driving to the ski areas easy in the Dolomites? For example if we stayed in Arabba is driving to Selva simple to do?
    Thanks.
     
  10. Jacko4650

    Jacko4650 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2014
    Messages:
    431
    Likes Received:
    495
    Dolomites is a good choice. Snow making ensures snow covered runs around the Sella Ronda. Due to the history of accommodation houses, most still cook evening meals (and breakfasts of course), meaning the choice of restaurants & cafes as we know it isn't really there (as most people dine-in). You can ski for days and weeks on end so if you want to try a different area you can ski there rather than drive (just as quick in some cases anyway). I have stayed in a few towns and Selva di Gardena or Corvara seem to fit the bill for you. Down a bit from Selva is Santa Christina but as you move further down the valley the snow will dissipate. Places like Arabba are surprisingly small and might get a little boring after a while. Try google Street view and "drive" yourself up the main streets of a few places to get a feel. If you like a traditional snow village (fur coats and all), Cortina d'Ampezzo ticks a lot of boxes. Personally, I found the town living in the past and poorly planned in terms of getting skiers around the different areas.
     
    Research101 likes this.
  11. Research101

    Research101 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2014
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    35
    Can second Corvara as a good central point and nice town to stay on the sella ronda, we stayed just outside Arabba in a small family run hotel ( we had a car ), half board is good value at most places but locks you in for evening meals so you don't get to try the local restaurants, but there a many on mountain ones to try for lunch. Snow making all around is sensational, we got there with low snow and were worried about cover, but there was plenty to ski and topped up with natural whilst we were there so it was fantastic
     
  12. Apresski

    Apresski Pool Room
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2007
    Messages:
    43,452
    Likes Received:
    6,424
    If you haven't been to Europe before and intend skiing the Dolomites, can I suggest flying in or out of Venice, worth seeing such a beautiful city.
     
  13. Sbooker

    Sbooker Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    12
    Yes we intend to go to Venice. I've never flown to Europe. What cities out of Venice, Milan, Innsbruck or Munich are only two flights from Oz (Brisbane). How do I find this out?
     
  14. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Part of the Furniture
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2014
    Messages:
    17,302
    Likes Received:
    10,518
    If you fly Qantas/Emirates almost all those cities are a single stop from Australia. Emirate's hub is Dubai, and they fly direct to most major European cities from there. Have a look here. If there are no direct flights there will be fast trains.
     
  15. Apresski

    Apresski Pool Room
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2007
    Messages:
    43,452
    Likes Received:
    6,424
  16. Sbooker

    Sbooker Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    12
    Research is getting a bit more focused. Best Austrian ski area that is easily accessible when traveling by train from Munich? Preferably north of Innsbruck if possible as I'd like to have a couple of non ski days there and then head south to Italy.
    Thinking Skiwelt, Zillertal etc?
     
  17. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    22,808
    Likes Received:
    4,702
    Plenty of good Austrian resorts are easily accessible from Munich with an easy back track to Innsbruck for journey south. Train & bus services are very good. Could go Zillertal (Hochzillertal-Hochfügen, Zell am Ziller, Mayrhofen), Ötztal (Sölden, Obergurgl), Innsbruck itself, or even St Anton or Saalbach-Hinterglemm a little further afield. Not familiar with SkiWelt but location wise would be ok also. All good, how you define which is best I can't say.

    edit: maybe suggest following:
    Zillertal is reachable by train and probably the closest to Innsbruck outside of Innsbruck itself. Some of the others areas will need train then bus to reach.
    You can also use the Zillertal train for various ski areas in the valley (covered in the one pass). Linked area of Hochzillertal-Hochfügen gives you a good combo of wide groomed pistes (Hochzillertal) and great ungroomed terrain for powder (Hochfügen).

    Can then have a few days in Innsbruck and ski the local areas (Nordkette, Igls, Axamer Lizum) as well as time in the city itself.
     
    #17 Heinz, Jul 23, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2017
  18. Research101

    Research101 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2014
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    35
    Zillertal valley is great, plenty of options, you would need a few weeks to cover it well.
    We stayed at Mayrhofen which is a nice town and mainly skied there and the Hintertux glacier.
    Lots of small pensions and farmstays all along the valley. We stayed one night at one and enjoyed it.
    Had a great night on a rodel course, at gerlosstein ( toboggan ) one night, laughed so much and kids loved it.
     
  19. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Part of the Furniture
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2014
    Messages:
    17,302
    Likes Received:
    10,518
    It's German, not Austrian, but the daughter had a good time in Garmisch-Partenkirchen a few years ago. Not far from Munich.
     
  20. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    22,808
    Likes Received:
    4,702
    Mayrhofen is the biggest town in the valley and apparently very popular with the Poms. Decide for yourself whether that is a good or bad thing. I preferred to stay in the quieter area of Kaltenbach / Ried with access to Hochzillertal/Hochfügen. Stayed at a pension with dinners included. Caught the train on one day to Zell am Ziller and Mayrhofen on another. Stayed local on the other days.
     
    Research101 likes this.
  21. Research101

    Research101 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2014
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    35
    We stayed at the farmstay in Ried, remember it well as on arrival we got a welcome nip of some super strong spirit, nearly blew my head of, certainly warmed me up.
    Still don't know what it was, perhaps rocket fuel !!
    http://stadlpoint.at/
    We didn't notice a lot Poms around Mayrhofen but then again we wern't around town much as we had a half board deal.
     
  22. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    22,808
    Likes Received:
    4,702
    Schnapps?
     
  23. Research101

    Research101 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2014
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    35
    I have had schnapps before but nothing like this stuff, would it have been home made ??
     
    Whiteman likes this.
  24. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Messages:
    22,808
    Likes Received:
    4,702
    Schnapps can be made from many different things. In Austria they are normally Obstlers ie. from fruit ( apples, pears, apricots, plums, cherries). Could also be a Zirbenschnapps which is from pine cones or a Kräuterliquor (from herbs).

    Home made also quite common. My uncle often brings out some of his Zirbenschnapps when I visit him.
     
    #24 Heinz, Jul 24, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
  25. Research101

    Research101 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2014
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    35
    cheers
     
  26. Mike Pow

    Mike Pow Dedicated Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2014
    Messages:
    545
    Likes Received:
    612
    Thirded.

    Great dining, lovely village feel.

    Super local skiing, and entrance to wider area.
     
  27. Sbooker

    Sbooker Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    12
    Can anyone point me in the right direction for car hire in Europe please?
    I would want to pick up and return in the same spot more than likely but would want to be able to take the car over the border. Winter tyres would also be needed. Can a 4wd SUV be had for reasonable prices? Or are we best with a front wheel drive 'estate' and accept that we may have to use chains?
     
  28. Jacko4650

    Jacko4650 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2014
    Messages:
    431
    Likes Received:
    495
    I've pursued the hire car thing numerous times but always came up empty. Trains, buses and taxis are so good for inter-city travel it was never economical. On ski days, a hire car is a very expensive way to travel a short distance to a ski field, particularly when ski buses are passing by the front door all the time. Quite a few accommodation owners will even take you up to the snow fields. In Innsbruck even, special buses pick you up from hotels and take you to a 'ski hub' where coaches then take you to various ski resorts (ie: so you get a choice).
     
  29. WaitAwhile

    WaitAwhile Dedicated Member
    Season Pass Silver

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2012
    Messages:
    2,572
    Likes Received:
    942
    One thing I found out from living in Europe for 3 years , is that is quite easy to get around using public transport , and thats including getting to the ski resorts, If you want to constantly move from one resort to the next , it maybe less than ideal , but many resorts have great transport links ,but saying that some dont, but with hundreds and hundres of ski resorts to pick from ,just concentrate on the ones with good access .
    And instead of trying to ski lots of different resorts just concentrate on a few for eack trip.
     
  30. driz

    driz Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2012
    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    38
    In Austria and Germany I think you'll get winter tyres by default from most operators. From Munich airport I've tended to go with Hertz + join their free Gold club thing for quicker service. In Italy I've only looked from Turin but couldn't find a good guaranteed winter tyre option, it seems very hit and miss. In France they're pretty easy to get from Lyon, maybe with a surcharge, dunno about Geneva as I have always booked from the Swiss side, where again you'll get winter tyres by default.

    I've never needed to use chains in a car with winter tyres, and have only ever rented small front wheel drives. I think laws vary by country though, so it would depend on where you're going. I've tended to preference lower areas with trees (eg eastern Austrian alps / Salzburgerland) where most driving is along motorways or the valley floor, and while snow does fall to road level they're pretty flat / easy to drive on. I don't think chains are required to be carried here except for some of the higher mountain passes. eg. road from Radstadt to Obertauern. Although I've only just learnt this now... oops ;)

    If you end up going to the Zillertal valley, much of which is at 500-600m, I am 99.9% certain you are not required to have chains and will never need them.

    Taking cars over borders is not usually a problem unless you want to go outside EEA (eg into the balkans).
     
  31. Sbooker

    Sbooker Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    12
    Thanks for that info.
    Whilst I'm a fan of train travel I think a car might offer some flexibility. Do you think it wise to leave booking accommodation (for mid January) until just before so I know that snow conditions will be ok? Ideally I would like to ski in the Dolomites but I understand natural snow cover may be thin in that notoriously dry area in mid January and I would then change plans to ski somewhere further north that is a little more snow sure - Arlberg, Zillertal etc.
    If accommodation is hard to get I may be forced to get somewhere to stay a bit further out of the ski resorts and drive each day. I guess that way we could try a few different hills too.

    **Note that plans are now to take the kids so travel will be January. I understand it is quieter than Christmas/New Year and out of most of Europe school holidays which are in February?
     
  32. Research101

    Research101 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2014
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    35
    We have had a Mercedes 8 seater van last time we went and it worked great, if you book it out of Switzerland, Germany or Austria they will have to include winter tyres by law in winter, Italy and France are added options usually.
    Be careful when booking and make sure you have insurance to cover damages as there are plenty of horror stories about scam repairs for minor damages to vehicles, make sure you take dated photos of the vehicle before you leave and check all previous damage. Some credit cards will cover you for the excess, so try to use these ones and also more use reputable companies like Hertz or Europecar.
    We have booked Hertz this year as we are 7 travelling together and it works out cheaper than trains etc and we have the most flexability. We will have winter tyres out of Munich but will also take chains just in case it dumps somewhere. we had to fit them last time in Lech.
     
  33. Research101

    Research101 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2014
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    35
    After 6/7 jan things will open up booking wise and become a lot cheaper, send out some emails if your set on places and see what they offer, you can also wait and see and book last minute might save you a few bucks and you also see where the snow is the best, its always a bit of a gamble either way.
    We went to the Dolmites 2 years ago early January and yes snow was thin but the snow making was awesome and the runs were well covered and plentiful, we had a good dump just after we arrived as well so were very happy, the views are magic
     
  34. rambotrader

    rambotrader Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2015
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0

    Here's an offer which might interest you, 2018 though.
    My wife and I are skiing Cervinia in 2018. Be there for 2 months and have rented a very nice apartment a short bus trip from the ski resorts.
    We have never been here before but it all looks great on paper. Highest of the European ski resorts so probability of having snow better than all the rest. Cervinia butts on to Zermatt but much cheaper. Ski runs are predominantly blue and season passes cheap. The International Pass also allows you to ski over to Zermatt where there are some pretty challenging black runs.
    We are happy to rent out the second bedroom to suitable folk. A couple max though. Let me know if any of the above works. If so happy to discuss further. Cheers.
     
  35. doddles

    doddles Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2001
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    16
    I've stayed in Selva and loved it. Bottom of the valley might be iffy for snow in March, but it's beautiful, great skiing, wonderful scenery and good accommodation and food options. Easy to drive to. In fact, we flew into Innsbruck and drove from there - it was a breeze. Innsbruck's worth a visit too - real Austrian alpine city.
     
  36. XTREMO

    XTREMO Old And Crusty
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2000
    Messages:
    20,864
    Likes Received:
    866
    Great to hear some good raps for Selva. I've semi committed to a week there at start of Feb. Far from snow sure, but fingers crossed that time of year will be good to us.
     
    doddles likes this.