First time Europe. Looking for insight.

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Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sat Sep 25, 2021 6:02 am

JNelly, you mentioned a while back that you're leaning toward using GVA as your arrival airport. I assume that you'll be flying out of ORD, from which the only nonstop flight is to ZRH. Something to consider with your location in Wisconsin requiring additional travel time.
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Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jnelly » Sat Sep 25, 2021 8:22 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:I assume that you'll be flying out of ORD, from which the only nonstop flight is to ZRH. Something to consider with your location in Wisconsin requiring additional travel time.


I've definitely taken that into consideration. At the same time I'm not necessarily opposed to a stop...I'm in Madison so it comes with the territory usually no matter where you go... the usual debate ensures when you live here: 2 hrs drive-park-deal with everything ORD to get a non-stop or pay 100$ more to leave from Madison, 5 mins from my house, and usually be the only person in TSA pre-check. Now that I said it its almost a no-brainer; and makes me feel extra stupid for not grabbing a MSN-ZHR (via ORD) two weeks ago for 460$. That is most likely ancient history going forward.
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Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sat Sep 25, 2021 11:52 am

jnelly wrote:not grabbing a MSN-ZHR (via ORD) two weeks ago for 460$.

Doh! If you don't have a frequent-flyer war chest, that's as cheap as it gets.
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Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jimk » Mon Sep 27, 2021 10:23 am

Great input to this thread.
I have very little experience visiting/skiing the Alps, but what I have was really fun. I second the recommendation to check out Where to Ski and Snowboard. It can be found in some public libraries in the US. I have visited the Alps several times, but only once for skiing, it was back in 2003 and I went to Salzburg/Ski Amade region and skied at five different ski areas, all excellent. It was a week in early Feb that included the US holiday of President's Day. The crowds weren't bad, the snow was good, the food/drink/culture was great, and the scenery was outstanding.
Zauchensee, AU:
Image

Here's an old two part trip report:
https://www.dcski.com/articles/446" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Sep 27, 2021 12:33 pm

jimk wrote:I have visited the Alps several times, but only once for skiing, it was back in 2003

Interesting coincidence: I made my inaugural visit to the Alps for skiing in March 2003. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and chose the Kitzbühel Alps (Saalbach, Skiwelt, Kitzbühel, Alpbach) purely because the U.S.-based tour operator Ski-Europe (just checked, it's still around) was offering a good end-of-season deal that included airfare and a rental car. We got lucky and experienced decent conditions at that time of year for a low-elevation region.
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Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Sep 27, 2021 2:48 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:Doesn't every passenger on an overseas flight, even without frequent-flyer status, get a free checked-in bag (thus a ski bag + boot bag)?

What happened to the sage advice (which I learned the hard way in 2008) to ALWAYS bring your boots as carry-on?

With the 23 kilo/50lb weight limits, are you really getting away with only one checked bag if you are bringing skis?

And finally, IIRC James was giving a heads-up not long ago about some Euro airlines gouging for ski bag transport.

Bottom line, I think frequent flyer status is quite important if you're going to make a habit of skiing in the Alps from North America, and I'm sure James would agree.
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Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Sep 29, 2021 5:01 am

Tony Crocker wrote:IIRC James was giving a heads-up not long ago about some Euro airlines gouging for ski bag transport.

I stand corrected; I'd completely blocked out my 2019 experience, when I booked a United FF award to Salzburg on partner airlines Lufthansa eastbound and Austrian Airlines westbound, and both of them demanded that I pay baggage fees because they weren't United. I reminded them that they were code-share flights; therefore, I should get my United free baggage allowance. The Nurse Diesel customer service rep in Salzburg really put up a fight but finally gave in with the memorable rejoinder "I'm only doing this because I'm impressed with your command of German curse words."


Tony Crocker wrote:With the 23 kilo/50lb weight limits, are you really getting away with only one checked bag if you are bringing skis?

For a one-week stay, between my large ski bag and the accompanying boot bag, that's enough space for everything I need.


Tony Crocker wrote:What happened to the sage advice (which I learned the hard way in 2008) to ALWAYS bring your boots as carry-on?

I stopped doing that years ago because I've never had your bad experiences. Even the comparatively rare times when I change planes inside the U.S. or Europe, like to Spokane last season in the pic below, my luggage always arrives with me:

Image


Tony Crocker wrote:Bottom line, I think frequent flyer status is quite important if you're going to make a habit of skiing in the Alps from North America, and I'm sure James would agree.

Without question both domestically and internationally, especially at your elevated Delta status. Without it, you're looking at an additional $70 to 120 roundtrip depending on the carrier. I'm shocked that Southwest continues to allow two free checked bags given what a cash cow it is for airlines.
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Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Sep 30, 2021 2:50 pm

Is there only one pair of skis in that ski bag? I nearly always bring two, which limits the extra weight you can throw in there. For me that generally means a pair of Sorel boots and/or an empty backpack.
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Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jamesdeluxe » Fri Oct 01, 2021 5:45 am

Tony Crocker wrote:Is there only one pair of skis in that ski bag?

Yes, one pair of skis for that March trip to northern ID, which had zero new snow. I'd guestimate that I bring two pairs of skis only on a third of my destination visits -- when the seven-day forecast or current conditions warrant fatter skis. I understand that your Alps trips are always at least two weeks so it makes more sense to bring two pairs as standard operating procedure.

Tony Crocker wrote:which limits the extra weight you can throw in there.

My purely anecdotal experience -- I've never gotten busted for exceeding the 50-pound limit between the ski and boot bags, even when I've gone considerably over by bringing a second set of skis. Both in the U.S. and Europe, the customer service reps never bothered to add the weight of the two pieces.
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Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Oct 03, 2021 9:41 am

Vorarlberg, Austria
The last circuit I have to post is from late January/early February 2015, following trips to Ischgl, Austria in 2013 and the Portes du Soleil, France in 2014. This was the first of my road trips dedicated to visiting lesser-known ski areas and/or regions in the Alps. Since I'd already skied twice in Lech/St. Anton, I was interested in the region just to the west, Vorarlberg, on the western edge of Austria, which is bordered by Germany, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. At only 90 minutes from Zurich airport, it's easy to reach, not overly commercialised, has cute villages, excellent food, and friendly people. Here's the overview article and following are the daily trip reports.

My first three days were in the Bregenzerwald (Bregenz Forest), considered to be the snowiest region in the Alps with 15 ski areas, many of them comparatively small. These are the three biggest ones:
Day 1: Diedamskopf
Day 2: Warth-Schröcken
Day 3: Damüls

Next was a surprisingly interesting ski area near the medieval mountain town of Bludenz:
Day 4: Brandnertal

The last three days were in the Montafon sub-region, where Ernest Hemingway set his infamous short story "An Alpine Idyll."
Day 5: Silvretta-Montafon
Day 6: Gargellen/Madrisa Tour
Day 7: Golm
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Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jnelly » Sun Oct 03, 2021 1:28 pm

This post keeps drawing my mind back to this area..
Progress Report: Booked GVA for Jan28-Feb7. Choose it at the time over ZRH due to the stated 7 hours layover on the way home...of course the day after I booked for Geneva the Zurich return changed to only a 2 hr layover.
jamesdeluxe wrote:Vorarlberg, Austria
Zurich is still super enticing because this itinerary as a stand alone not to mention all the other ones listed. Honestly, its really hard to pick. The paradox of choice has always been an achilles heel for me. That said, the crazy in me still might book a Zurich tic, then I have all ends covered and I cancel one at some point and the $ goes back to credits for another day. We'll see....
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Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Oct 03, 2021 5:50 pm

Don't sweat the gateway airport that much. In both 2018 and 2019 we flew to Geneva. Within 2 days we had driven to the Dolomites in 2018 and St. Moritz in 2019.
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Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jnelly » Mon Oct 04, 2021 6:57 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:Don't sweat the gateway airport that much


Good point Tony. Less factors to muddle ones plan is great advice. Ill add this is my first time to EU and I'm as excited to just experience it as I am to ski it. Some of this is re-programming how one plans and ranks priorities and expectations after only skiing in NA. Here my mind is snow, snow, snow, no crowds, snow. With The Alps, I'm finding that there's definitely truth to practically everything you read about the ski culture in EU; more of an all encompassing thing with the food, views and local culture. I guess to your point, "will travel for snow" is fine by me should you need to or want to. My camera always rides shotgun!
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Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Oct 20, 2021 4:13 pm

I'm booked on two trips across the pond this season. Of course, the fun is always seeing how the actual visit pans out compared to what you planned.

Central Pyrenees: Jan 28 to Feb 6
• 45,000 FF miles: AA to LHR, then British Airways to Toulouse. A long layover on the outbound flight so delayed luggage won't be an issue.
• Skiing at Luz Ardiden, Grand Tourmalet, St. Lary, Piau Engaly, and Peyragudes in France along with Baqueira and Boí Taüll in Spain.

Southern Alps: March 5 to 13
• 48,000 FF miles: AA outbound to Milan, United on the return. Torino/Turin would be a more convenient gateway airport; however, that requires changing planes and the connections weren't the best.
• Skiing at Bardonecchia along the Italian border on arrival day followed by Serre Chevalier, the Forêt Blanche (Vars/Risoul), Puy Saint Vincent, and a handful of obscure/old-school ski areas in the Queyras region.
Last edited by jamesdeluxe on Thu Oct 21, 2021 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Oct 21, 2021 12:05 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:Serre Chevalier

I'm sure with your language skills you can find a guide to show you La Grave just down the road if conditions are good. Extremely Canadian showed us a leisurely day at Serre Chavalier when weather/conditions were not cooperative at La Grave in 2008.
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