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Madonna di Campiglio

IMG_7286Being on my way from gorgeous Hong Kong, I am trying my best to conquer the childish excitement and I-still-dont-believe-I-have-experienced-that to catch up with my trips.

Today (or tonight, hard to say while switching between 7 time zones) I am also remembering a totally different but nevertheless incredible place in my favorite country of Italy. Madonna do Campiglio. A beautiful landscape hidden among the Dolomites. My fourth and final spot for snowboarding this winter season.
Getting there is not as easy as to previous Bad Hofgastein but also not as expensive as was to Courmayeur or Crans Montana. There is a choice between airports of Milano, Verona or Bolzano, then a transfer has to be pre-arranged as there is no railway. Buses go from Trento, so I made a train connection there from Vienna and then switched to the bus. Wasn’t that bad; remembering getting to Zermatt still gives me chills, for example. And I also got to see classical dull and full of students and other drunk people city of Trento.
March associates with spring already in my head. So, obviously, I arrived wearing sneakers and ripped jeans. Parents met me and immediately made fun as there was real winter around. Hell yes! Spring doesn’t dare to touch those regions until the most desperate skiers and snowboarders officially claim they are done with the season. Loads of powder! Not only on the slopes as was in my previous trips this year when the town itself was dry. Oh no! Here snow was everywhere! From every porch and sidewalk to my naked knees. On my way back I got stuck for a whole day because the buses couldn’t make it through and I skipped my train and lost a connection. That’s what I call winter vacation!
The town itself is adorable. Typical Italian, cute and light. People greeting each other; smelly prosciutto and cheese laying outside small shops with local specialities; aperitifs starting from the very morning. Like.
The slopes area is huuuuge! I think this was the second biggest resorts chain after neighboring Sella Ronda! I thought of Madonna as of a small town and don’t even expect to be able to snowboard in so many directions with so many impressive views changing. I was lucky, parents had a;ready explored everything by the time I arrived, so I just followed them and indeed enjoyed the real pure perfect snowboarding to its fullest to later enjoy local food and wines. A very very nice short break and the best way to complete the winter sports season.
Having analyzed the four spots I tried this year, I come to the conclusion as follows:
If you want a party, if you are bunch of friends, if limoncello is just as valuable for you as sports; you want constant music around, bunch of hot instructors and constant movement; if you are experienced enough to ride quite difficult slopes and to be hungover constantly – Courmayeur is for you!
If you are a couple/family, you want to enjoy the mountain views while laying in hot springs listening to the perfect silence around; if you want dinner that lasts 3 hours and makes you feel like an aristocrat – chose the Gastein Valley.
Wanna spend a lot of money and be surrounded by posh events, well-dressed people; wanna drink champagne from a crystal glass in the morning and have a real Swiss Alps experience like one of those they promote in movies – then Crans Montana is just right.
If you are just about skiing/snowboarding and that’s the main point why you spend vacation in the Alps at all; well-prepared interesting slopes are more important than party/hot springs/luxury surroundings/whatever else – then you will love Madonna di Campiglio!
I again wanna express how glad I am we have had such a rich vivid experience this season. Thanks to my family and everyone who joined us! Looking forward to the next winter!

 


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Bad Hofgastein

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flashbacks to the beginning of February and an incredible season’15-16 follow

Good morning! It must be yet night or even previous day in your part of the world though. But I am writing from incredible Hong Kong.

So many impressions I have already received after first day here. Wanna share asap! But there are still three more notes missing from other trips. So it’s my luck that jet lag woke me up so early and I can try to catch up a little bit before going for my breakfast dim sums 😉

The valley of Gastein in Austrian Tyrol was the first place I visited in Austria. We loved it so much that came back again several years later; I switched from skis to snowboard that year. So I can thank Bad Hofgastein not only for introducing me to the Austrian culture but as well for supporting my beginnings in another winter sport that I mostly picked up from instructors there and still enjoy so much.

Who could have thought back then that I would be coming here again as a long-term inhabitant of Austria myself. It’s amazing how time flies and how unexpected our lives are. The owners of the hotel recognized me when we were checking-in and melted when found out I speak German now. We went to the same hotel as two times before, absolutely gorgeous Klammer’s Kärnten. Coming back as a grown-up to the place which I remember from 14 years old felt cool though.

This time I was without our huge squad of skiers that all hotels we have ever stayed at remember for another couple years. It was just me and Ksenia who finally got introduced to the alpine culture. Endless slopes, nets of funiculars, hot chocolate or Aperol Spritzer sitting in the chair catching some sun; people dancing in skiing boots, hot springs and marvelous views. I can imagine how impressed she was! Seeing this for the first time in life wouldn’t leave indifferent even someone who had traveled the world. And I was happy to be her guide.

Bad Hofgastein is one of small towns of the Gastein Valley. We find it the most attractive because of our favorite hotel, but the neighboring villages like Dorfgastein or Sportgastein (slopes only for professionals, be careful when booking!) are no less cozy. If you want more party – chose the town of Bad Gastein. As a beginner Ksenia was sent by skibus to the area of  Angertal, I caught up with her by having snowboarded through the mountain pass from Bad Hofgastein side of the mountain which I then repeated every morning – a decent exercise to start a day with! So she was successfully learning skiing while I was like crazy exploring whole Schlossalm area with no map and brain to later catch up with her in a mountain bar and share impressions. Mountain peaks with strong wind and no people, unexpected black slopes popping up on the way, fear and then pride for having accomplished the descent and grabbing a deserved drink at the bottom – how much I love all that, ahh! I found Angertal quite satisfactory for beginners in comparison with more complicated slopes of Courmayeur where we took my sister earlier this season. So, if you are yet a beginner, be very careful while choosing the area and pay attention to the heights: if it’s less than 1800m then you are risking to observe all the blue slopes at the bottom being covered with grass.

Another good thing about Gastein valley is it’s accessibility. Very few spots can be reached without having to pay 500euros for a taxi. Here you can get by train, from Vienna there is even a straight connection, takes about 4h. So whole trip for us was very easily organized and comfortable. We came back to Vienna with the best impressions, definitely willing to continue exploring the Alps together another season.


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Crans Montana

6iv7qdlj3dmGood morning! This is how it looks like in the Swiss Alps. Sweet, right?

I will be honest. I am not a fan of Switzerland at all. This approach when you have to pay for an additional egg in the morning and when no one would be nice for you for free puts pressure on me. But let’s not discuss that here not to ruin the atmosphere of nice alpine days. Just look at this. Once you are there you don’t really care anymore how much you will pay for all that. You just can’t take your eyes off it.

As the year began, so did continue our journey as well. We moved from wonderful Courmayeur of Italy that will be in my heart forever to the next spot – Crans Montana of Switzerland. It’s different. More ehh.. mature? Niminy-piminy. If Courmayeur was all about drunk bearded snowboarders opening bars’ doors for us with one hand while pouring us genepy with another, here it was all about evening dresses, good manners, interesting talks with important people, practicing official Italian in attempts to understand French, trying rare wines and just being on top of the world. I am not saying I don’t like it. I am just still a kid who certainly enjoys bearded snowboarders more. But feeling like a lady somewhere where most of the Earth’s population doesn’t reach is an interesting experience, too. Plus I feel how much I had grown up during the past year every time I find myself at such kind of supper table. This all is very useful and interesting.

Now switching to the main point why I was there – the slopes. They were amazing this time. If Coutmayeur suffered from the lack of snow until the very last day of our stay, Crans sur Sierre was crazy. I hardy had ever seen that much snow! It was a snowboarder’s heaven indeed. The skiers weren’t in such a good situation as the slopes were all one huge never ending fresh free-ride. But I was absolutely enjoying every lump, jump and soft landing. Sunny weather suddenly becoming the worst visibility ever – what can be more fun than adventures like that? Amazing, totally amazing. I would love to thank discreet and a bit boring town of Crans for the amazing snowboarding at least!

So far it all came out even: good party and average snow conditions in Courmayeur vs. plain town but perfect powder in Crans Montana.

To sum up, I leave a pic gallery here as well (you can click on each photo, this is not a collage).

I also wanna leave some pics of the evening atmosphere of alpine towns. This bright village in the darkness, loud spot in the mountain serenity – you hardly feel like that anywhere else. Explore the mountains. Love the mountains. They will give you a lot back.


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Mont Blanc – Chamonix

Hi, everyone!

Now I am back from winter vacation and it’s finally the time to make a review of what we were up to during the past 2 weeks. Aaaaand here we go!

This is a French part of the posts I am going to write looking back at our wonderful time in the Alps. But first – the intro. We have been skiing for 13 years; I have written tons of posts about that under my hashtag #snowboarding (yes, I snowboard now, 6 years ago I switched from skis) but as they are all in Russian let me share the story shortly once again. So, the 13th season, spots in Italy and Switzerland this year. Close to French border which I crossed more than 10 times for sure during the whole trip. That means – why not go to France for lunch? Definitely a yes!

We decided to combine our desire for foie gras with something spectacular and got up on the highest point of the Alps to take a closer look at Mont Blanc peak (4810m). Eight years ago we already went up there but from the Italian side: from Courmayeur itself there is a funicular Skyway. Back then we used the old one that had been renovated. Now there is an amazing 360 degrees panorama viewpoint which you can access from France as well.

Chamonix. A town that combines coziness of alpine village with typical french facades. I didn’t remember it well as it was very foggy when we visited it last time. Presently we were lucky and sunny weather followed us everywhere. As soon as we went through the famous Tunnel we rushed to catch more sun on the Aiguille du Midi peak. The gallery follows even though it is impossible to convey those feelings of height, space and infinity that overwhelm you up there.

I must admit it is not easy to stay up there long even for somebody who has no fear of height at all. Disequilibrium, total imbalance, very low pressure and lack of oxygen have their impact on you very fast. Soon we had to hold on something to keep moving. But malaise is totally worth it!

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crazy people who climb up there and even ski down in unreal conditions

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my sis saw the mountains this high for the first time and was absolutely amazed

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the town of Chamonix lays down there as if you were observing it from the plane

czwp-5xjak4After the adventure of being higher than anyone in Europe we got down to explore Chamonix itself…wkqy5apripk373nk0n2htuj1rqasqk6bkbywhwyzbx4w0njrgyy5bpitimwouaeeg0efhio9bmji…of course it all ends at a restaurant! snails in garlic oil, I had missed you since Nice last summer!

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Benvenuti a Courmayeur

Снимок экрана 2015-12-24 в 22.56.51Good Christmas morning, folks! Hope everyone is surrounded by family and presents now, finishing tasty leftovers from dinner and being lazy.

I met my family at Geneva and all together we drove through Switzerland and France to my favorite Italy. Here we stay at a mountain village called Courmayeur in Valle d’Aosta region. I remember it from 8 years ago, we already went skiing here. Unbelievable how time flies! We are back and all is the same at this quiet place with its own life rhythm. Even my favorite candies that were so good that everyone still remembers them after 8 years are still being sold at the same shop! I meanwhile am no kid anymore and don’t even ski now. Having switched to snowboard and being a level up now than back in those days of skiing, I am looking forward to discovering slopes from a totally different perspective.

We already opened the season and had a full day on the mountain. But I prefer to write separately about slopes and snowboarding. So, later.Снимок экрана 2015-12-24 в 22.56.59Снимок экрана 2015-12-24 в 22.56.25Снимок экрана 2015-12-24 в 22.56.36Снимок экрана 2015-12-24 в 22.56.43Снимок экрана 2015-12-24 в 22.56.04Снимок экрана 2015-12-24 в 22.56.14Our Christmas night was fun and bright. Celebration in town with music and locals (the official season starts on the 30th, we are the first tourists here this year), family dinner and good mood. It’s absolutely lovely here.Снимок экрана 2015-12-24 в 22.55.46Снимок экрана 2015-12-24 в 22.55.56Снимок экрана 2015-12-24 в 22.57.06It’s time for me to get dressed for another day of conquering the peaks. Merry Christmas!


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On Board!

Привет!

Я не собиралась писать до конца сессии, но раз уж хочется опубликовать ссылку, заодно сделаю небольшой апдейт. Экзамены в разгаре, завтра и послезавтра мне предстоят последние два, а потом – итоговая вечеринка семестра, после которой я надеюсь взобраться живой по трапу на самолет в Питер, где все уже встретились, и у всех уже закончилась сессия. Юхууу! Я скоро присоединюсь!

А зима тем временем в разгаре, и на 80days я кратко поделилась своим 12-летним опытом любителя зимних горных видов спорта. Ссылка внизу, и всем, кто в февральские каникулы собирается кататься, удачи и хорошего покрытия!


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On the way to Switzerland: off to New Year party.

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Доброе утро! Крайнее утро в горах для меня.

На самом деле я уже еду в поезде в сторону швейцарской границы, которая была у нас за соседним хребтом и видна с трасс, но по лощинам до которой пилить мне еще добрых часа 2. Спасибо большое идеально работающим службам чистки дорог в Австрии, благодаря ночному труду которых я без труда добираюсь даже после сильнейшего многодневного снегопада.

Как-то так вышло, что фотографий с трасс Игшля у меня нет. Ничего страшного, ведь я обязательно собираюсь туда вернуться. Мне очень понравился как город, так и регион катания (который я больше изучала по карте склонов, так как на самих трассах видимость не превышала пару метров), и покататься много в этот раз нам была не судьба.

Хоть наш сезон катания трагично закончился на пару недель раньше ожидаемого, все будет хорошо. Просто всегда важно помнить, что в горах никто не застрахован от несчастных случаев. Лучше держаться вместе, важно всегда иметь связь друг с другом и быстро думать и реагировать. И отдельное спасибо австрийским службам спасения и врачам за все, что они делают для людей.

С грустной ноты попробую перейти на более позитивную, ведь скоро Новый год! А сегодня уже Полин Новый год! Хоть я уже очень скучаю по родителям и хотела бы побыть с ними подольше, ехать в любимую страну мне все же приятно. Точнее сейчас я еду в нелюбимую, но из Цюриха полечу в Рим, где меня уже будут ждать подруги. Очень надеюсь на скорейший приход праздничного настроения, всем того же!

Ишгль, как бы все ни закончилось, спасибо! Я еще приеду 😉

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