As we were off to Italy skiing for Christmas week with friends, the week before was packed with 6 belly buster christmas meals, including Bowood Golf Club, Jamies Italian in Oxford, Weighbridge Inn, lunch with mum and spent nearly 3 hours in Devine cafe with Claire.
Short flight to Innsbruck and swift transfer then we were in the Italian Dolomites mountain range for Christmas. San Vigilio di Marebbe village is in a World Heritage area of outstanding beauty and was our home for the week.
The Kronplatz ski area offered us challenging terrain, amazing views, variety of snow conditions, heated seats in gondolas, not a drag lift in sight ;-), fresh pizza prepared, BBQ’s on the mountains, plenty of snow fall, excellent snowmaking and management across the area, only slight downside an afternoon whiteout with gale force winds to add to the excitement and fear ! But it cleared the slopes so we had a ball.
Pauline was in Ski school under the guidance of Anna, with an afternoon of tuition from me ! Anna actually saw the whole lesson and complimented me on my success as Pauline was off and running the next day ( Anna sussed that even though I was carrying a snowboard and was wearing the comfy type of boots I must also be a skier- I am, I just chose to board).
Stuart, Thomas, Mike and I hit the slopes. From the big bell at the top of Kronplatz you can literally drop off the mountain in any direction, then a gondola will whisk you back up to the top to chose you’re next decent. Mainly red & black runs from the top, but stunning views across the Dolomite mountain ranges. We were 3 gondolas and a chair ride away from the top but nice warm up to get there.
The village and ski area were virtually empty, not once did we line up. Italians tend to spend Christmas at home then hit the slopes on Boxing day week. We were only Brits in the village which was a nice change. Ladin is the local language a mix of Italian and German so my Italian was often lost in coffee shops so we had to resort to English !
Santa arrived on CHristmas Eve to give presents out, the wind-up Racing Santa’s from Sue were a great hit on the night, last seen running along the bar with the chef.
We also saw a European Slalom competition, Andy Ryder, the sole british representative to get through to top 32 was 11th. Somehow I managed to get us all into the VIP area at the finish line, talk to the GB coach and get us on live Italian TV whilst having a close up view of all competitors and the course with a large TV scene for replays.
The Hotel Condor was friendly, welcoming, had a great pool, steam room, sauna rooms in its well design Wellness suite. The food was exceptional, 4 to 8 courses with plenty of local specialities – rabbit, veal, fish, pork, partridge. Amazing deserts, cheese boards and a banquet for breakfast. Probably put on half a stone or more with wine added !
A funeral procession went through the village on Christmas Eve with a horse drawn carriage. Then the village square changed to a real christmas festive scene with a burning tree trunk, brass band, carol singers, mulled wine, sweets and snow in a beautifully light and decorated village. Church bells range for mass, then again to wake us at 6:30 am !
Definitely a great white Christmas on the slopes and thoroughly enjoyed being back on the snow after a years absence.
All back in one piece and Mikes already planning Canada for 2012 !