Category: Ski

Gstaad-Switzerland

Gstaad

Bernese Oberland

The Gstaad-Saanenland holiday region in the Bernese Oberland is popular with a charming mix of visitors: while the chalet village of Gstaad attracts countless stars and starlets the smaller neighbouring villages offer attractive options for families with children.

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In the past years the centre of Gstaad has developed into the most popular and shortest shopping street in Switzerland. With its top hotels, gourmet restaurants, luxury chalets and nearby Saanen airport, the car-free resort of Gstaad is a popular destination for international celebrities. With the neighbouring resorts of Saanen, Rougemont, Schönried, Saanenmöser, Zweisimmen, Gsteig and Lauenen, the Saanenland as a whole however offers a considerably broader spectrum: the nature preserve by idyllic Lake Lauenen with its waterfalls and high moors, the narrow streets in the historic village centre of Saanen, the advantageous situation of Schönried and Saanenmöser for winter sports enthusiasts and the peacefulness of the idyllic mountain village of Abländschen are examples of an extremely diverse holiday region.

The Saanenland ski and hiking arena with 57 transport facilities has been given the name «Gstaad Mountain Rides». It is accessible from several villages by link transport facilities. The Montreux-Oberland-Railways (MOB) and buses connect Gstaad with other base stations in Saanenmöser, Schönried, Zweisimmen, Gsteig, Reusch, Lauenen Rougemont and Château-d’Oex in the French-speaking neighbouring region of Pays d’Enhaut.

Summer

The wide-open countryside of the Saanenland offers a versatile and and diverse sports programme: hiking (trail network of over 300 km), mountain biking, paragliding and golf. On the River Saane there are opportunities for mountain torrent and canoo adventures. Summer cross-country skiing is possible in the «Glacier 3000» ski region. The summer toboggan run in Schönried, a via ferrata and the Lake Lauenen nature paradise are ideal excursion destinations for families.

 

Winter

In winter, 220km of pistes at altitudes of up to 3000 metres above sea level await skiers and snowboard riders. Several snowparks and numerous toboggan runs as well as 165km of trails for classic- and skating-style cross-country skiing are at the disposal of visitors. For walkers there are about 200km of winter walking trails. Among the rather more unusal activities on offer there is Bavarian curling in the centre of Gstaad and glacier- and heli-skiing.

Winter in the smaller resorts in the region, such as Lauenen, means peace and pleasure on long winter walks, while cross-country skiing or taking a ride in a horse-drawn sleigh.

 

Wellness

True to its slogan, “come up, slow down”, Gstaad provides a deliberate counterpoint to our increasingly hectic daily lives. The wellness destination of Gstaad guarantees a perfect wellbeing experience thanks to its intact nature, unsurpassed variety of leisure activities, healthy mountain agriculture and international top events. The right pampering programme is provided by five hotels with a publicly accessible and complete wellness infrastructure, eight hotels with a partial wellness offering and a sports centre with indoor swimming pool. The area’s harmonic topography is made up of five valleys. The location between 1,000 and 3,000 metres above sea-level has a positive impact on your wellbeing. Rushing mountain streams, sparkling mountain lakes, forests and gently rolling green hills with a spectacular Alpine backdrop lend the landscape its idyllic charm. Gstaad is also a paradise for fine diners, with more than 100 restaurants ranging from cosy raclette restaurants to acclaimed gourmet temples. Those who are fond of Alpine authenticity will find plenty of options for accommodation in traditional Alpine operations. Gstaad’s car-free promenade and its easily accessible recreation areas complete the overall impression in a pleasant way.

Highlights

  • Gourmet restaurants – the gourmet’s paradise of Gstaad has no fewer than fifteen renowned restaurants, including the Restaurant Chesery which has been awarded 18 Gault Millau points.
  • Lake Lauenen – idyllic mountain lake you simply have to take a dip in and excursion destination with a restaurant for mountain bikers and walkers.
  • Scooter fun – Wispile-Gstaad or Sparenmoos-Zweisimmen offer fast descents on special scooters.
  • «Golden Pass» panorama railway – journey from Montreux on Lake Geneva via Gstaad to Lake Thun and from there on to Lucerne in Central

Top Events

  • International Balloon Festival in Châteux-d’Oex – most important Alpine balloon event with about 90 hot-air balloons in a variety of shapes and colours (January).
  • Swatch FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour – 1to1 energy Grand Slam Gstaad – volleyball admidst impressive scenery (July).
  • Crédit Agricole Suisse Open Gstaad – international ATP Tennis Tournament with elite players (July).
  • Davidoff Saveurs Gstaad – celebration of authentic flavours from kitchen, cellar and humidor (July).
  • Menuhin Festival Gstaad – summer music festival in honour of the great violinist and conductor (July – September).
  • Hublot Polo Gold Cup Gstaad – international teams riding fiery Arab horses fight for victory (August).
  • Country Night Gstaad – leading country event encompassing a wide musical spectrum (September).
  • Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad – intimate festival of classical music in spring (February/March).

MySwitzerland.com

Christmas in Austria

Christmas is undoubtedly the most important holiday in Austria.
As in other European nations, December 6th is the day Saint Nicholas, the giver of gifts, makes his rounds. Arrayed in a glittering Bishops robe and accompanied by his devilish assistant, Knecht Rupnecht, he can occasionally be seen roaming the streets giving sweets and apples to good children while his companion playfully beckons “little sinners” to feel the string of his golden rod.
On December 24th, when the city is frantic with last minute shoppers, the countryside is a refuge for quiet traditions. Farmers chalk the initials of the Three Wise Men on the archway of the stable door; C for Caspar, M for Melchoir, and B for Balthazar, to protect the heard from sickness in the coming year. Christmas trees are lit on this day and in many villages “shelter-seekers” plod through deep snow from farm to farm re-enacting the plight of Mary and Joseph as they sought shelter on the eve of Christ’s birth.
In the snow-covered Alps, families descend from their mountain homes to the valley below, illuminating the night with torches held high to light their way in the darkness. Carolers gather in church towers and village squares to guide the people to Christmas services with their melodies. All shops, theaters and concert halls close their doors for this is an evening spent with only with family.
Following church services, families return home for their more intimate celebrating. First Christmas Eve dinner is served, often with “Gebackener Karpfen” (fried carp) as the main course. Dessert may be chocolate and apricot cake called “Sachertorte” and Austrian Christmas cookies called “Weihnachtsbaeckerei” (yes, this is the actual spelling).
After the meal, the ringing of a bell signals the opening of a door long locked against the anxious eyes of the little ones. For the first time the children are permitted to witness the Christmas tree glistening with lights and colored ornaments, gold and silver garlands, candies and cookies. Beneath the tree is usually arranged an elaborate manger scene. Almost every family owns hand- carved manger figures handed down from generation to generation.
Father opens the Bible and reads of the “Kristkindl,” Christ Child. Then all sing traditional Christmas carols such as “Silent Night” and “O’Tannenbaum.” After this the presents are distributed and opened.
In Austria, there is no Santa Claus. Children are taught that their presents have been brought by the “Kristkindl,” a golden-haired baby with wings, who symbolizes the new born Christ. The story tells how the Christ child comes down from heaven on Christmas Eve and, with his band of angels, decorates and distributes trees.

christmas tree

Image by peminumkopi via Flickr

Christmas Eve at Weikersdorf Castle

Not far from Vienna, you can experience a traditional Austrian Christmas Eve celebration which the whole family will love! Get into the yule time spirit, with a White Christmas in the beautiful Austrian alps.
Christmas Eve at the Castle of Weikersdorf in Baden regularly sells out weeks in advance, so you’ll need to book ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

Not far from Vienna, you can experience a traditional Austrian Christmas Eve celebration which the whole family will love! Get into the yule time spirit, with a white Christmas in the beautiful Austrian alps.
Likely to Sell-out! Christmas Eve at the Castle of Weikersdorf in Baden regularly sells out weeks in advance. Book ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
Travel from Vienna to the distinguished Renaissance Castle Weikersdorf in Baden. Take your seat at the table to enjoy a delicious four-course dinner, including glazed Christmas-turkey ‘Viennese Style’ while a live band entertains you with traditional music.
After your Christmas dinner, take a short walk to St Christopher’s Monastery of Heiligenkreuz, where midnight mass will be celebrated. This is followed by the Austrian Christmas Eve tradition of recreating a Nativity scene.

Before the night is over you will be presented with a gift as a souvenir of your wonderful night of celebrations.

Salzburg Christmas Eve Tour to the Silent Night Chapel

The most famous Christmas carol of all time ‘Silent Night’ was written as a poem in 1816 by an Austrian priest called Joseph Mohr. The story behind this is magica itself. The St Nicholas chruch organ at Oberndorf had broken a few days before Christmas, so the priest after considering the options decided to give the poem of Silent Night (Stille Nacht) to his friend Franz Xavier Gruber and the melody for Silent Night was composed and it was composed on a guitar!!
Travel through the foothills of the Austrian Alps, along the Salzach river valley to Oberndorf, where you will have the opportunity to take part in a touching Christmas celebration in the Silent Night Chapel.

The church is small accommodating only 12 – 15 people inside, therefore the Holy Mass will be celebrated on the outside of the chapel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Horse Drawn Sleigh Ride from Salzburg

Take one of those excursions to take you along the Salzach river valley past many of Austria’s ski resorts. Near Schladming, location of the 1982 Ski World Championships, you will ascend up to the ‘Steirische Ramsau’ 3,281 feet (1,000 meters) above sea level at the base of one of the Alpine glacier massifs – the Dachstein. In the village there is time for a stroll in the frosty fresh air and lunch in one of the local inns. Your guide will give you advice on all of the possibilities. Then you will hear the jingling bells on the reigns as the sleighs line up across the field and your winter sleigh ride begins!

 

 

 

 

 

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Hokkaido-Japan

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Attractions in Hokkaido, Japan

Hokkaido is the second largest, northernmost and least developed of Japan’s four main islands. Its weather is harsh in winter with lots of snowfall and below zero temperatures while its summer is mild and not as humid as the other parts of Japan. Hokkaido attracts outdoor lovers, skiers and snowboarders in the colder seasons and hikers, campers in the summer.

Hokkaido confounds expectations at every turn. While the mainland of Japan has a reputation for being tiny and crowded, Hokkaido is expansive and  populated. While the mainland features typically Asian architecture, the major cities of Hokkaido have a European feel. Hokkaido has natural wonders, from fields of alpine flowers in the summer to breathtaking ice-scapes in the winter months.

Places to visit in Hokkaido

Cities and Resort Towns


Furano and Biei

are towns in the center of Hokkaido, Known for their pleasant and pictureque rural landscapes. Best time to visit in July when the Lavender fields are in bloom.  Furano is a popular downhill and cross country skiing resort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Furano Ski Area is one of Hokkaido’s famous snow resorts. Located in a town known for its flowers and television dramas, the resort offers an exciting attraction for the cold winter months.

 

 

 

 

Asahikawa Winter Festival


The Asahikawa Winter Festival (??????, Asahikawa Fuyu Matsuri) is Hokkaido’s second largest winter festival after Sapporo’s Snow Festival. The festival takes place over a week in early February, about the same time as the Sapporo Snow Festival. Hence, it is possible for winter visitors to visit both festivals on the same trip as the two cities are only an 80 minute train ride apart from each other.

Asahikawa  has some of the biggest snow sculptures. Every year one massive sculpture is made as a stage for music and other performances. The giant sculpture of a Korean fortress in 1994 even made into the book of Guinness World Records as the largest snow construction built. The giant sculpture has a different theme each year, such as a snowman castle in 2010 or the Daisetsuzan Mountains in 2011.

An Ice Sculpture in the Heiwa Dori Area

Rusutsu Resort

Rusutsu Resort is considered one of the best ski resorts in Hokkaido. It has a large

ski area that covers three mountains, each having a variety of long runs with a good mix of groomed trails, great powder and tree runs. It is close to Lake Toya (Toyako) and is on the other side of Mount Yotei from Niseko.

A large hotel complex sits at the center of the resort, consisting of the highrise Rusutsu Tower, A monorail connects the buildings with each other.

Rusutsu Resort offers numerous attractions beside Skiing, hot spring baths, as well as places catering to foreigners such as the Cricket Pub sports bar. Summer activities include golf and an amusement park with over 60 attractions and 8 roller coasters.

 

 

 

Noboribetsu Onsen

Noboribetsu Onsen is Hokkaido’s most famous hot spring resort. A large amount of Noboribetsu’s many types of hot spring water surfaces in the spectacular Jigokudani or “Hell Valley” just above the resort town. Noboribetsu is part of Shikotsu-Toya National Park.

Other Nearby Attractions

Lake Toya,  Lake Shikotsu. Jigokudani, Hot Springs, ???Porotokotan, Mount Uso, Caldera Lake and Hell Valley.




Jozankei Onsen

is located inside Shikotsu-Toya National Park between the high cliffs of the Toyohira River. The town is only one hour from Sapporo, making it a popular side trip from the city for residents and tourists. As a result, Jozankei is very developed compared to smaller onsen towns in Hokkaido.

The onsen waters of Jozankei were discovered in 1866 and the town now has dozens of ryokan, restaurants and shops catering to hot spring tourists.

 

 

Hakodate

is Hokkaido’s third largest city, located at the island’s southern tip. Hakodate is best known for the spectacular views to be enjoyed from Mount Hakodate and its delicious, fresh seafood.

As one of the first Japanese harbor cities to be opened to international trade after the country’s era of isolation, Hakodate has experienced notable influence from overseas, and the foreign population’s former residential district and a Western style fort are among its main tourist attractions.

Onuma Park, a quasi national park with beautiful, island dotted lakes, is located only half an hour north of Hakodate.

 

 

The Shiraoi Ainu Museum, also called Porotokotan, is one of Hokkaido’s better Ainu Museums. Ainu culture and lifestyle is shown in an outdoor reproduction of a small Ainu village and inside a conventional museum building. Several performances, such as traditional Ainu dances, are held throughout the day.

 

 

 

 

Asahikawa

Located in the center of Hokkaido, Asahikawa is the island’s second largest city after Sapporo. The city is not known as a leading tourist destination, but its zoo, Asahiyama Zoo, is among Japan’s best and most popular. The local noodle dish, Asahikawa Ramen, is also quite well known.

 

 

 

 

Otaru

 

 

Otaru is a harbor city,  Its beautiful canal area and interesting herring mansion make Otaru a pleasant one day trip from Sapporo  to or from the Shakotan Peninsula.

Ferries from Niigata and Maizuru on Honshu arrive at Otaru Port

 

 

 

 

 

Sapporo

 

Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido and Japan’s fifth largest city. Sapporo is also one of the nation’s youngest major cities. In 1857, the city’s population stood at just seven people.

Sapporo became world famous in 1972 when the Olympic Winter Games were held there. Today, the city is well known for its ramen, beer, and the annual snow festival held in February.

 

 

 

Hokkaido and Asahikawa are Famous for its Ramen

 

Hokkaido, Asahikawa is famous for its ramen. Whereas Sapporo is known for its miso based broth and Hakodate for its salt based broth, Asahikawa is known for its shoyu (soya sauce) based broths. Shops serving shoyu based ramen can be found throughout the city.

The broth of Asahikawa Ramen is also known for being quite oily, and there is often a thin layer of oil on top of the soup. Another characteristic of the local ramen is the generally thin, hard and wavy noodles. The range of toppings is quite typical and includes green onions, pork, bamboo shoots and eggs.

On the outskirts of the city there is an interesting collection of ramen shops called the Asahikawa Ramen Village. Eight famous ramen restaurants from Asahikawa have opened small branch stores besides one another in the complex alongside a gift shop and a small ramen shrine.

 

By: Adma Dababneh

Information taken from Japan-guide.com

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Ski Megeve in the Heart of the French Alps

Ski- Megeve, France and discover its Chic and Charm!

I am one of those who never know the direction of my journey until I have almost arrived………
I spent 3months in Megeve, France taking French Language and Ski lessons, I just adore Megeve!!
Megeve is made up of a well linked collection of resorts; St Gervais, Jaillet, Combloux, Cote 2000, Rochebrune, Mont D’arbois, and Mont Joly. These are all lift connected ski areas, the lift passes allow skiers to ski Les Contamines too but this is a drive. The ski areas setup is beginner-intermediate friendly and has plenty of terrain for this, but the thing is there are great selections of terrain to move way past this level to cater to the expert skier too. Easliy accessible backcountry terrain and a great area (Mont Joly) for free ride and steeps 35-50 degree pitches. Not to mention the women’s world cup downhill course at cote 2000, which is a must, plus through a short backcountry ski route you can get into the heart of the Les contamines ski area, “you need a professional to take you on this one”

Megeve has so much to offer. It beats the Killy range, Porte du soleil, and the 3 valleys.
Michelin Guide rated restaurants, high-end shopping stores, casinos, and quaint narrow cobbled streets. The village is dominated by the traditional church belfry, and a square all in a pedestrian friendly atmosphere. Horse drawn sleighs carry tourists all over during the peak periods adding a festive and memorable experience for young and old.

There is plenty to do off the pistes. A sports center with an indoor pool, indoor and outdoor ice skating ring and curling rink, climbing wall, indoor tennis courts, table tennis, weights gym, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room. Scenic flights over Mt, Blanc, hot air ballooning, dog sledging and snow shoeing excursions, cross country skiing areas and a bowling alley. There are also numerous events such as FIS ski racing fixtures, winter polo, and winter golf cup, ball room dancing competitions, International ice hockey competitions and music festivals. There are numerous Michelin star restaurants in town and on the mountain but be prepared to pay for the privilege of being in the most entertaining and exclusive resort in the French Alps!
Also Genève, Switzerland is only 33 miles to Megeve, it is great for shopping and night clubs or if you like Milan is only 126 miles away from Megeve, not to forget the high-end shopping stores in Megeve.

Now down to the snowfall:
With the regard to the resort’s altitude and the snow fall; most of the terrain is around the 1800-2000m mark with slopes for all levels (1 week skier to expert) the skiing base station starts at 1600m and the highest point is 2380m (plenty of steeps and free ride terrain up here). Megeve has always benefited from an above average snow record for its altitude range thanks to the microclimate resulting from the proximity of Mont Blanc. Sufficient snow cover is always expected from Christmas until mid-April. Megeve also benefits from tree line skiing which provides good shelter and visibility on bad weather days so it has the luxury of always having somewhere good to ski. And a few lesser known facts that work in favor of Megeve are; because it is a lower resort the terrain underneath the snow is generally grass land and tussock as opposed to a rocky topography, this means that it takes very little snow coverage to open up all areas and keep them open! Not to mention when the winds pick up the windward slopes that get scoured will still be skiable without wrecking skis on rocks! Megeve is always open until the very last scheduled week.

What a place to ski!!!


What better way to ensure a white Christmas than to treat the family to a Magical Christmas in the enchanting resort of Megeve., Spend Christmas day skiing, sledging or having a snowball fight with the kids, listen to the children carol singing in the village, watch Father Christmas passing through on his sledge and ski Instructors skiing into the village by torchlight.