Skiing in Kvitfjell, Norway

Skiing in Kvitfjell, Norway

I have been on the slopes since I was nine years old, and I’ve seen many snowy mountains in Austria, Switzerland, the French Alpes, Germany and even inItaly. But I had never been skiing in Norway before. Why not I wondered. Norway is only a short flight from Amsterdam and has many ski and snowboard options. I flew to Kvitfjell to find out.

The Olympic Town
Kvitfjell was build for the Lillehammer Olympics in 1994. After that, an investor bought the place and he made sure it continued it’s main purpose as a ski resort. But Kvitfjell is not just famous for the winter Olympics, the town is turned upside down for the World Cup ski competition. Every year people from all over the world come to Kvitfjell at the beginning of March, to watch the brave athletes ski down the famous black piste at 130 km per hour. It’s broadcasted around the world. 


Winter Wonderland

I was about to experience the actual black piste with a crazy steep decline of 64% at some parts. But first it was time to explore the rest of the ski area. Kvitfjell decided to expand last year so I was exited to see the newly opened westside of the mountain. With 1039 meter above sea level, you will reach the highest part of the mountain. In total there are 34km of ski slopes that vary from easy to advanced. It’s a great ski area for families with children from three years old as there are many nice green and blue slopes to learn the basics. I must warn you though, what they call blue at Kvitfjell, kinda means red in other countries!


A traditional Norwegian farm in the middle of the piste

The hotel
It’s a small town so there are only 2 hotels. The biggest and best hotel is Gudbrandsgaard Hotel. Prices starting from NOK 1190 up to to NOK 2190 per double room per night/2 persons, and includes a buffet breakfast. The hotel holds up to 79 guests and has a spa that includes a large swimming pool and a gym. After an intensive day of skiing, your body can use a warm jacuzzi, let me tell you! The hotel has a charming and traditional Norwegian interior and four floors. The rooms are quite spacious and look out on the piste or forest. It had snowed so much when I arrived, that the snow fell into the room as I opened my window!

There are several food options in the hotel. There is an exclusive wine cellar where you will find some exclusive wines plus you can book the place for a special dinner. The hotel’s main restaurant is called Prepperiet and includes a cozy fireplace. The food, again, was amazing. Best pumpkin soon and ravioli I’ve ever had. And trust me, I’ve eaten a lot of soups in my life. The breakfast and lunch buffet area is located on the first floor and is simple, yet inviting. The breakfast is for champions and the veggies during lunchtime are crispy. Happy Elke. 

I can honestly say, it’s the best food i’ve had around a skiresort!

Gastronomy
One thing I MUST mention is the food in Kvitvjell. If you’ve been skiing before, you know that lunch on the slopes is usually greasy and fat. Fries, pasta, cakes and sausages are some of the dishes you will find at most ski resorts. In Kvitfjell it’s different. ients and I can honestly say, it’s the best food i’ve had around a skiresort! You have a few options; 

  • Fôr
    This restaurant is just 200 meters from the hotel and serves modern style Norwegian food. It’s run by a few cool dudes (if I may call them that, because they looked like die hard snowboarders). I was lucky to enjoy a five course dinner and although ordered vegetarian food, I didn’t end up with a simple pasta on my plate. From soup to the mushroom risotto, it was all beautifully set up and sooo tasty.

Dinner at Fôr, Kvitfjell
Dinner at Fôr

  • Tyrihanstunet
    This charming and traditional Norwegian place, is right on the piste and a great stopover to have a nutritious lunch. I ate the shrimp sandwich and it was huge! If you are a coffee addict, this is also the place because they serve the best coffee on the piste. 
  • Plaza Café
    Situated next to the skishop is the Plaza Café. Come here for quality burgers, spaghetti, salads and drinks. 
  • Koia
    For gluhwein, gourmet sausages and beer you come to this 300 (!) year old loghouse. 

Lunch at Kvitfjell
Lunch at Tyrihanstunet

Old log house in Kvitfjell
The 300 year old Koia house is perfect for a après ski

Ski Conditions (and my experience on the World Cup slope!)
Because of the heavy snow throughout the night, fresh powder was everywhere and made the ski conditions top notch! It was like sliding through soft clouds and even though the sun didn’t shine, it was such a great run to experience. There are a few options to go off piste but I recommend these to the more advanced skiërs. I had to try the infamous world cup piste of course, and although I was a little nervous, I managed to get down without falling. What a confident boost! The World Cup piste is 3,5 km in length, black and very popular with the skiers that I’d like to call; speedy conzales.

Stunning paths in Kvitfjell
Go a little off piste and find stunning paths like these!

Verdict:
I loved it! But skiing in Norway is a little different from what you might be used to in Austria for example. Après Ski is something they’ve definitely heard of, but it’s not the main objective here. People really come to Kvitfjell to enjoy the scenery, have a lovely family break or come over to improve their skills. People from Denmark, Sweden and Norway are amongst the biggest group of tourist that visit Kvitfjell but people from The Netherlands and Germany are also showing interest. In my opinion it’s the ideal place for families and couples because it’s perfect to combine with a weekend in Oslo, as it’s only a 3 hour train ride from the capital!

So if you’re looking for something a little different from what you are used to, enjoy a relaxed atmosfeer and great gastronomy, Kvitfjell is your town!

Love,

Elke

For more info about Kvitfjell and it’s surroundings, visit their website.

Vasilitsa, the amazing skiing resort in Greece!

One of my best friends is Greek and I’ve known him for most of my life. I have been coming to Greece since I was 3 years old but he never told me about this amazing winter secret before until he sent me a text message last week with a few pictures that looked like the French Alps or Switzerland.
Little did I realize that these were pictures from a place called Vasilitsa Greece.

Winter wonderland in Greece
There’s fallen a lot of snow in Vasilitsa this winter

Vasilitsa is one of the best ski resorts in Greece. The ski center is located in the middle of Pindos, approximately 417km from Athens and 2,5 hours away from a place called Perdika, where I used to spent my summers. 

“Vasilitsa is one of Greece best skiing resorts, so why don’t we know about it?”

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Just a few hours away from a winter wonderland..

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Off the beaten track
Currently, Vasilitsa has 5 lifts and 16 ski trails, making this a perfect getaway for the Greeks. A lot of foreigners don’t know about this place though so maybe it’s time to pay a visit. During this season, flights are low priced and from Preveza airport it’s a only 3,5 hours drive before you get up on the mountain. 
You can choose different ski-passes: a day card is €10,- while a 5 day pass will cost you only €30,-!
If you just want to enjoy the views, you will only need to pay 3 euro’s. The ski sets are available for rent from about €12,- and snowboard sets will cost you €15. More info here.

Where to stay
Rooms are also widely available and not expensive! You can stay in a fully equipped room for as little as 250 euro’s for 5 nights based on 2 persons.

For accommodations in the area check here

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Stunning views

Vasilitsa
Picture perfect

Want a ski holiday a bit out of the box? Then pick Vasilitsa!

Love,

Elke

*All pictures from Vasilitsa are courtesy of Alexie Efstathiou

Are you ready for wintersport? Do the test!

Winter is coming… well, at least the skiing and snowboarding season is on the way. Maybe you’re a pro or perhaps it’s your first time on the slopes. Whatever skills you may or may not have, it’s a good time to find out if you are wintersport ready!

You can now digitally test your skills, fitness level and ski/snowboard experience to see what you might need to do to get ready for your skiing trip this winter. The tool by the Netherlands Ski Federation is especially designed to test several points that will result in clear and helpful advice. For example, if you have an old injury, you will get a list of physiotherapist within your area,. Or if you need to boost your fitness level or core stability, you will get a full exercise plan.

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Did you know that you basically practice a 4 to 6 hour workout per day when you’re on wintersport? Without even realizing it, you are using certain muscles in your body that you have never used before. If you submit your email address after the test, you will receive a weekly and personal exercise schedule in your inbox that will help you get ready for your action on the piste. This way you will be fit and ready to go!

Wintersport ready
Am I ready for wintersport? I did the test!

Check out www.wintersportklaar.nl, do the test, and let us know if and where you are having fun in the snow this season!

Love,

Elke

*We wrote this article in collaboration with the Nederlandse Ski Vereniging

Kitzbühel » The Metropolis in Winter Wonderland

Maybe it’s because of the Hahnenkamm-Rennen, the luxurious and colorful city center or cause it kind of feels like the Manhattan of Austria. Kitzbühel is one of the most distinct ski destinations of the Alps and she wears it with pride.

The city center of Kitzbühel
Like a colorful necklace the villages swings around the mountain foot. Each shop has a different colour, forming a bold contrast with the pearl white snow. I have been told that every colour stands for a different house owner. The large colored surfaces already reveal Kitzbühel is far from poor. Actually, in my whole life I’ve never seen a ski area with so many luxurious shops. I only went to Zillertal and Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis but still, it counts. It doesn’t matter if you’re a tough freerider or if you prefer the chic-side-of-life, the stores offer enough diversity to empty your wallets in no time. If that sounds like heaven to you I would recommend staying in Tiefenbrunner Kitzbühel, a beautiful hotel in the shopping street. After a long day of shoppi… uuh skiing you can recharge in the sauna or swimming pool.

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Relaxing at the Tiefenbrunner hotel

Snow on trees in Kitzbühel

We can all thank Franz Reisch for making Kitzbühel a leading destination for winter sports. Applause for you Franz, cause I can surely appreciate it. Let me take you back 120 years when it all started. Franz Reisch, the mayor of Kitzbühel, fell in love with skiing and wanted to share his passion. He imported thousands of skis in order to sell them again to the restless guests in the village. Just as predicted, the visitors were enchanted by the sport and it became a great success. That day, in Kitzbühel, winter sports (and of course après-ski) were born.

Kitzbühel
Kitzbuhel offers amazing mountain views!

Skiing
A small layer of snow is enough for skiing or snowboarding thanks to the grassy slopes at high altitudes. So we can all thank Mother Nature (with a little help from the snow cannons) for making 180 days a year of ski fun in Kitzbühel possible. For me, as a beginner, the area is perfect for skiing. More than 50{8b669be72a7f340f9ef2d6d852585cd40ddf0e79ccf763f3ea93c1234c3d888b} of the slopes are blue (101 km) and it’s even possible to make a few trips without scaring yourself to death because of the steepness.

Skiing in Kitzbuhel

 Kitzbühel offers you a great diversity of relaxation, shopping and skiing

Lunch break in Kitzbuhel
A well deserved Austrian lunch break!

Advanced skiers can try their luck at the Streif. A spectacular descent where the best skiers compete with each other once a year during the Hannenkamm-Rennen. It’s one of the most difficult slopes in the world: ramps up to 85 percent, speeds around 140 kilometers an hour and a 80 meter jump over the so called “mousetrap”. She’s famous, notorious, feared but certainly loved. Every year this event attracts more than 40.000 visitors who watch the skiers flying down the Streif in suspense. Advanced skiers will find plenty of challenge at the Steif so put it on your to-do list (if you got the guts). Next to this try before you die slope you can enjoy beautiful red (61km) and black (17km) slopes in the area. The rebels who like to colour outside the lines can find some adventurous off-piste runs in the area of Kitzbühel – Kirchberg.


Group tours through the mountains of Kitzbühel

My verdict
You won’t find the giant mountains and hundred kilometres of black slopes but Kitzbühel offers you a great diversity of relaxation, shopping and skiing. Talking about relaxation: Kitzbühel is well known for her cozy mountain huts. Two of my favourite huts where the Bei Tomschy and Berggasthof Tirol. Both traditional, but the food and service are of high standard, perfect excuse for a break. Cause after a long day of skiing (or shopping) we can all use a heiße choco mit sahne… und Rum.

Love,

Eva

*Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heals at home when wearing a backpack. Living by the urge to be where she’s not, to explore, experience, fall and get up. You can follow her on Instagram.

Private slopes and more in Zillertal, Austria

I can ensure you that I’m not a morning person but while getting up at 5:30 am for the private slope at Hochfügen, Zillertal, I only snoozed once (very proud of that). Leaving my cozy bed at Das PostHotel – Zillerseasons to get ready for the untouched slopes and a heavenly white view.

Hire a Private Piste
The private slope is limited to a maximum of 30 people so take the title ‘private’ very serious. Standing 2.133m high with my head in de clouds, ready to take a jump in the powder snow on our very own red slope. The experience is amazing; nothing can be compared to skiing down the smooth white sheets while the world is still asleep. Creating that very first track, the silence that embraces you and nobody that (in my case) overtakes you. Truly an amazing experience, one of those try-before-you-die things. But, if you are a beginner be sure to check the type of slope before setting your alarm at 5:30 am. To be honest, going down a red slope on the third day of skiing was a little bit too ambitious for me. I have absolutely no regrets but for now I’ll stick to the blue beginner slopes to keep myself from a heart attack. The private piste hire is available from 7.30 – 8.30 am from €40 per person.

Private piste Zillental
Virgin slopes are guaranteed!

Luckily for me, Zillertal offers 132km of Eva-proof blue slopes. The confident skiers out there can take it to the next level with the 238 km of red slopes. Zillertal is also a perfect destination for snowboarders because of the small amount of flat connections between the slopes.
There is another 65km of black slopes for the experienced skiers and snowboarders. The real daredevils can try their luck on the Harakiri. Beware, cause with an average gradient of 78 percent this is the steepest slope in Austria. I kindly turned down the invitation this year, but who knows what the future will bring.

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skiing in Zillental

Those 435 km of slopes Zillertal has to offer will keep you from getting bored for sure. But there is more to Winter sport then stroking the slopes with your skis or snowboard. And no, I’m not talking about après-ski cause we all know how much fun that can be. Zillertal changed my opinion on which ingredients a laid back vacation had to include. Forget lying on the beach all day, working on your tan and following those yoga classes at Bali.

Winter sports is the new mindful vacation this world has to offer and will surprise you with the diversity of activities. Although I enjoyed skiing to the fullest, it wasn’t exactly a relaxing experience for me as a beginner. I’m not even talking about the muscle pain or bruises on my butt, cause that’s just part of the deal. The blame is to my inner voice who kept on shouting “DON’T DARE to fall in front of this cute ski instructor!” Well, bye bye inner peace… Here are my favorite activities that can clear your mind while still exploring the area and enjoying the nature:

Cross Country Skiing
It’s still quite a workout but that way you can order another plate of Keizerschmarren without any guilt feelings (at least I did). You use different muscles then with skiing, what makes it a perfect alternative if you suffer from muscle pain. Next to that it’s a really calm way to explore the area but way more fun than walking. Pause to take some photos, enjoy the view or to catch your breath. And once you are at the top of the mountain, you only have to slide down again. I took the Gamsstein Cross Country path near Hochfügen. The access to the area is free so grab those skies und gehen!

Langlaufen in Pill, Zillental

Toboggan Run
In Gerlosstein you can find the longest toboggan run in the Zillertal Valley, 7 km of sliding fun. The cable car will take you to an altitude of 1.650 m and after that you actually don’t have to do anything… perfect winter-sports- activity right? Just sit, enjoy and somehow find a way to steer around the corners. The best part; you’ll even find bars along the toboggan run for some Glühwein to warm you up.
Tip: Check the weather condition before planning a toboggan run. If there is too much snow you will loose your speed and will need a lot more Glühwein to stay excited.

Gluhwein in Zillertal

My verdict: Zillertal is a great place to discover and enjoy the diversity of winter sports. It offers a great amount of slopes, modern lifts and Austrian hospitality. Next to skiing there are plenty activities to add some variety to your trip. Choose from snowtubing, funparks, cross country skiing or rent your very own private slope. Whatever you choose, I can ensure you that you won’t get bored. Find more info about the area here.

Read my previous article, A Beginners Guide to Wintersport and find out where I had the best High Tea at 2600m!

Love,

Eva

*Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heals at home when wearing a backpack. Living by the urge to be where she’s not, to explore, experience, fall and get up. You can follow her on Instagram.

A Beginner’s Guide to Wintersport

Walking into the unknown to discover a whole new world. It felt like the openings scene of Alice in Wonderland. Except my tour-guide wasn’t the smiling Cheshire cat and I didn’t have to climb down the rabbit hole (just a 1,5 hour flight to Innsbruck) but hé, minor details. A big blanket of snow covers the typical Austrian houses and impressive mountains. Standing in the middle of paradise at Hotel Chesa Monte in Fiss. The perfect place for a good night of pre-ski-sleep, while the 62 ski slopes are waiting to be explored. I was ready for my beginner’s guide to wintersport.

The slopes of Fiss

On the slopes for the first time
With all of my courage in my backpack, I was standing at the top of a real slope for the first time. Fiss is where I started. Although the Slope was next to ‘Berta’s Kinderland’, what probably says a thing about the height, I suddenly felt a lot less confident then I did at the indoor skiing course at Snow World. After 5 lessons of skiing on artificial snow, this was the moment I worked for. The moment to show of my skiing skills and… well, I went down in the biggest pizza shaped vorm you probably have ever seen. It can’t be compared to the training I’ve done indoor and on the dry slopes. It goes a lot faster, the track can be quite uneven and the amazing view will distract you for sure. Still I would recommend taking a few lessons on artificial snow or a dry slopes. You get used to the feeling of skiing, will learn the techniques and it’s actually a pretty fun way to work out (I can ensure you that there is no need for a squad session afterwards). After knowing what you have to do, you only have to keep on trying in the real winter wonderland.

Beginners guide to wintersport in Fiss
Yep, that’s a beginners guide to wintersport! (Gear by Head, outfit by O’Neill.)

A group lesson at Skischule Fiss-Ladis helped me to boost my confidence on the skis. It took away my fear after noticing that falling a few times doesn’t mean the end of the world, especially at my speed. Most of the time it’s just a little laugh for others while diving into the fluffy snow. Of course, you should still be careful.  A lesson with an experienced teacher is also a fun way to discover the area. They usually know a lot about the slopes and cities surrounding it.  The only disadvantage is the waiting on the group, but it gives you a moment to catch your breath.

Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis
For further exploration of the ski area I’ve left my skis at the ski depots at serfaus-fiss-ladis. Wait what, does it make sense to explore the area without ski’s?! Well, it does. You can even do a Segway tour instead of skiing (for sure a bucket-list thing, believe me). While being on the slopes, if you are a beginner like me, you probably stay at the foot of the mountain for your skiing practice. But it truly would be a shame if you miss out on the heads-in-the-clouds feeling.

Segway tour in Fiss, Austria

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As evening falls in Fiss during the Segway Tour

The view high up at Mount Schönjoch (2491m) is like living in a dream so say goodbye to your skis and take a ski lift to the top. The good part about ski lift is; as long as they go up, they can always bring you down again. There are 68 lift facilities in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis so more than enough to explore, discover and experience. If you’re planning on going to Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis please do yourself a favor and make a reservation at the Crystal Cube. Have a champagne breakfast, luxury lunch or high tea at 2.600m high and with a 360-degree views of the winter mountain panorama. Both the food (I had more than 8 courses with the lunch) and the view is something you won’t easily forget. Check here for more info.

Crystal Cube, Fiss

Lunch at the Crystal Cube in Fiss-Ladis
Lunch with a view!

Eva at the Crystal Cube for Wander-Lust

My verdict as a beginner:
Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis is beginner proof. Beautiful nature, charming villages and many activities to discover. Your ski ticket is valid in all three area’s so take your time to discover the area and find the slopes that match your experience. It’s also a great place to go to if you’re have kids. While they are being enchanted by the charm of Berta the cow in Kinderland, you can enjoy your cold beer at one of the 19 nearby après-ski bars.
P.S: Did you know that Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis is the sunniest place of Tirol? With those 2000 hours a year of sun you don’t even have to choose between tanning and skiing!

Love,

Eva

*Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heals at home when wearing a backpack. Living by the urge to be where she’s not, to explore, experience, fall and get up. You can follow her on Instagram.

Risoul, France » Skiing on a budget

Wintersport is no ordinary holiday where you relax all day. Nope. You get up at 7am, have breakfast, take the bus to the slopes and you basically work your muscles the entire day. During lunch you stop for a schnitzel (or two), drink hot chocolate and you repeat this until about 5pm when you meet at a nice après ski bar where the hot chocolate makes place for a hot wine or Jägermeister. Awesome! But, I didn’t go for about 10 years. Until 2 years ago. Yes, it was time to rejoin the snow fun and see if I still had what it takes. But now, how could I make this winter wonderful holiday affordable? This was something I wanted to discover.
Austria and Switzerland and well known for their breathtaking views and slopes but it comes with a price.
But after searching around a bit I came across a town called Risoul in France. The town is sometimes called Risoul 1850 because it is 1850m above sea level.

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Source: en.ski-france.com

How did I get there?
It takes about 12 hours to drive there (from Amsterdam) and I was with 5 other friends and we had a nice van so splitting the gas was good option.
You can take a plane to Lyon but you will need to continue your journey by train or bus and you will spend double the money.
My friends and I decided to start driving around 9pm so we would arrive in the early morning.
Why? This way you don’t lose a day of skiing/snowboarding!

Where did I sleep?
There are many hotels to choose from but we decided to rent a fully equipped apartment where we could cook and prepare our own food.

This is also a good money saving option. We stayed at Résidence MMV Antares. Our apartment had en-suite bedrooms, a small living room and a simple but good enough kitchen where we had breakfast and dinner every day.

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Résidence MMV Antares in Risoul

Where and what did I eat?
When we almost entered Risoul, we stopped at the nearest Lidl supermarket, which we found on Google maps.

We bought everything from bread, eggs, and vegetables to sweets, soft drinks and alcohol. We split the bill and it had cost me 50 euro’s for at least 3 days worth of food and drinks including alcohol.
We prepared a nice breakfast every morning and we got fresh baguettes from the bakery across our apartment.

A good breakfast will save you money because we didn’t eat lunch until about 1pm.
Food on the mountain is expensive so when you’re on a budget, the best option is to prepare your lunch in the morning so you can take this on the slopes.
I’m not a big fan of bread so I prepared some nice salads and I always brought a banana for energy.
Of course there is always the temptation of ordering some delicious French fries so I must admit doing exactly that for at least 3 times. Yummie!

Risoul, France
Beautiful pistes to ski!

So, what did it cost me?
» Travel cost by car/van: 120 euro’s pp
» Food/drinks including alcohol for 5 days: 100 euro’s pp
» Lodging including a ski pass for the entire area: 315 euro’s
» Ski hire: It’s cheaper to bring your own but I decided to rent them on the spot so it cost me 70 euro’s for ski’s, boots and sticks.
» Extra’s: Après ski and happy hour (Jägermeister) nights cost me about 50 euro’s.. (yes, this is all part of the fun)

Verdict: Skiing on a budget, it can be done! It normally cost about a 1000 euro’s and I did it for 655 euro’s!

Love,

Elke