First time Europe. Looking for insight.

jamesdeluxe

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Tony Crocker said:
As far as James' trip is concerned, I'd look at the whole week of driving. 4 hours from the gateway airport is not so bad if you're settling in at the same place for a few days and not doing too many relocations during that week.
I agree. For me to hit my target Pyrenees ski areas using Barcelona as gateway airport, I would've had to stay in three different hotels with this as the route: more than 700 miles of driving, a fair amount in the mountains. As much as I want to check out a new-to-me range, that would be an exhausting road trip over eight days. My replacement itinerary is two hours from Milan airport and I'll be able to stay at one hotel the entire time.
 

ChrisC

Active member
I'm going doing Spokane to Revelstoke in late January.....6 hours

Red Lodge MT to Spokane.... 8 hours
 
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Tony Crocker

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Powder Highway Trip 1997
This was my first Canadian ski road trip, which I show here because it's a one week itinerary comparable to James' Pyrenees trip from Barcelona. Total is 659 miles of driving in 14 hours per Google Maps, though 1.5 hours of that is a ferry crossing of Kootenay Lake. I spent 3 nights at Island Lake Lodge, one in Fernie after that, one at Ainsworth Hot Springs and two at Red Mt. after skiing Whitewater. I might have spent a night near Spokane airport on the way out but don't recall.

I thought about ChrisC's trip one week+ from Spokane this year, definitely more driving than mine in 1997. My toughest day was the 5 hour drive to Ainsworth after skiing a full day at Fernie.
 

Tony Crocker

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My replacement itinerary is two hours from Milan airport and I'll be able to stay at one hotel the entire time.
You may want to keep an eye on conditions in the Dolomites as they are obviously convenient to Milan. There are 12 lift ownership groups covered by the Superski pass. My understanding is that the ones not directly connected to Cortina or the Sella Ronda are fairly low key. There's a fair chance we might start our March trip with the southernmost part which is closest to our Venice gateway airport.
 

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
You may want to keep an eye on conditions in the Dolomites as they are obviously convenient to Milan.
The Dolomites (and Italy in general) are in the same bucket as the Pyrenees -- something I'm saving for retirement because a) Sella Ronda is a decent drive from MXP airport, but more importantly b) I promised my wife a while back that I wouldn't do that circuit unless she was with me, and c) I want to get my Italian up to snuff before checking out that country (I don't have the bandwidth while working full time and raising my son).

My likely itinerary for late Jan/early Feb is now the German-speaking southern part of the Valais canton in Switzerland. You may recall that I visited mostly under-the-radar ski areas in the French-speaking part of Valais (including St. Luc/Chandolin, Grimentz/Zinal, Vercorin, etc.) from Geneva in March 2017. Within 30 minutes from the town of Brig (near the Simplon Pass to Italy), there's a nice grab bag of options (zoom in to see the trails/lifts) -- the Aletsch Arena, an interconnected second-tier circuit with stunning views, along with numerous obscure areas you've likely never heard of, including Visperterminen, Eischoll/Unterbäch, Grächen, Belalp, Bellwald, Bürchen, and Rothwald.
 
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Tony Crocker

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I agree you'll want your wife along for the Dolomites. But it's still heavily German speaking among both visitors and locals.
 

jamesdeluxe

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But it's still heavily German speaking among both visitors and locals.
Yes, German-speakers on Alpinforum still refer to all of the towns and ski resorts by their original names. They don't really talk about it because it's 100+ years after the fact, but I always wonder if Austrians ever consider how much tourism revenue they lost over the decades by ceding the Südtirol region after WWI.

austro hungary.jpg


Sudtirol.png


Look at all the ski areas in the northern part:
dolomites.png
 
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Tony Crocker

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Here's a closer map of where the pre World War I border ran through what are now the Dolomite ski areas, Austria west of the black line and Italy to the east.
Dolomites_WWI_Border.jpg


The Sella Ronda is the NW quadrant of the map. Of the major lodging bases, only Cortina and Arabba were in Italy. Even San Pellegrino in the SW of the map was in Austria, as were several other separate ski areas beyond the western edge of the map: Ortesei/Seceda, Seiser Alm, Pozza di Fassa, Carezza, Pampeago. James will blend in just fine as a local with his German.

If you look at the eastern edge of the border between Sudtirol and Trentino on James' first map, it looks like it runs through the middle of the Sella Ronda just north of Arabba. Both Sudtirol and Trentino were part of Austria before World War I.
 
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Tony Crocker

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The border was on the map as a faint dotted line. I could tell it was correct by the contours matching your map. So I traced it in dark black using Paint.
 

ChrisC

Active member
Powder Highway Trip 1997
This was my first Canadian ski road trip, which I show here because it's a one week itinerary comparable to James' Pyrenees trip from Barcelona. Total is 659 miles of driving in 14 hours per Google Maps, though 1.5 hours of that is a ferry crossing of Kootenay Lake. I spent 3 nights at Island Lake Lodge, one in Fernie after that, one at Ainsworth Hot Springs and two at Red Mt. after skiing Whitewater. I might have spent a night near Spokane airport on the way out but don't recall.

I thought about ChrisC's trip one week+ from Spokane this year, definitely more driving than mine in 1997. My toughest day was the 5 hour drive to Ainsworth after skiing a full day at Fernie.

The trip is broken up into - Rosland (Big Red Cats) - Nelson (whitwater, Valhalla) - Revelstoke (Eagle Heli, K3, Revy Mt proper for 1.5 days) and Ainsworth Springs (Stellar Heli)...but still decent driving Looks like BC is getting the snow so far setting bases.
 

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
Take a look at yesterday's mess at LaGuardia. While this is obviously a carryover from the holiday surge (and the Omicron hysteria should ostensibly level off in coming weeks), I'm girding my loins for my Jan 28 trip -- landing in Milan with a two-hour drive across the border to Switzerland. Tony, given your recent international travel, can you repost any best practices for testing/carrying vax proof?
 
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Tony Crocker

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The 2020 trip to Argentina was our first example of test requirements for international travel.
If we haven't sent results to AstroTrails before we leave Dec. 10, we will not be accepted on the tour when we get to Buenos Aires. They specifically said that an electronic result shown upon arrival will not be accepted.

Two people from Scotland did not get their PCR test results in time and were not allowed to go on the trip.
So rule #1: Do not depend on getting tested at the airport like the LaGuardia $#!%show James described. And do do not accept anecdotal stories about people getting their PCR results back in one day at a pharmacy or some other free site. You need to find a place that guarantees 10-12 hour PCR test turnaround. Those tests cost $180 in Dec. 2020. This year we found a place that charges $75 but then bills your insurance for the rest.

Chile required preclearance of vaccine information. It needed to be submitted online, and if approved you got an online Mobility Pass in about 3 weeks. We furthermore had to submit the fast PCR results online and get an acknowledgement form back from Chile on that. So rule #2: Don't assume showing a vaccine record at your departure airport or upon landing is sufficient. We were not checking in for our flight at LAX without showing the above documentation plus proof of medical insurance covering COVID and good in Chile.

The travel agent TEI gave us a detailed heads-up about Chile's requirements. Nonetheless there were a few people who didn't pay attention and needed some last minute intervention from TEI to get into Chile.

I doubt the Eurozone will make us jump through as many hoops as Chile did, but I'd recommend thorough investigation in advance for each country just to be safe.

I've generally been resistant to using my smartphone as a data repository. But now I have a Notes file where I have pictures of passport, driver's license, medical insurance cards and COVID vaccination record. I put both my and Liz' Chile Mobility passes in there. We were often requested to show the Mobility Passes to enter restaurants and for some of the domestic flights. L.A. County requires proof of vaccination at most sports and concert venues (usually they check) and restaurants (maybe 10% check). So I would definitely have that info on my phone, preferably in electronic form with a QR code as California and Chile use. I realize there are some US states that do not provide such forms so you might have to use photos of your CDC card(s).

We were unable to get a COVID test in Puerto Varas, so had to drive in and out of Puerto Montt to a clinic there in rush hour traffic that would do L.A. proud.
For returning to the US, the negative test needs to be no earlier than the calendar day before arrival in the US. The good news is that the US does not require PCR. You can get the cheaper antigen test where results are routinely available in half an hour. I found a clinic in Puerto Varas online before we went to Chile. We showed up at noon, were told to request an appointment online, then learned at 2PM none were available that day. So Liz had to call around and find the place in Puerto Montt. So rule #3: So do the research in advance where you can get an antigen test on the day you need it to come home and then make an appointment.
 
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jamesdeluxe

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Thanks. I've spoken with people who flew to across the pond over the break and received best practices from them too. Makes me realise how easy it is to fly to/move about Europe in normal times.

@jnelly, are you still going?
 

ChrisC

Active member
Even Canada is becoming a little dicey.

We will be entering British Columbia from Washington state (Spokane). Therefore we only need a Covid PCR test within 3 days for the Canadian entry, plus proof of vaccination and completing e-form on ArriveCAN app. However, returning to the US by land does not require a COVID test so you are not going to get stuck in quarantine.

What was surprising - different border crossing have different hours of entry. The Rossland, BC entry is open 24 hours. However, the Nelson, BC entry is only open 8am-4pm. Luckily we were warned by some of the heli and cat operations.

Flight cancelation is a real possibility, so I booked a second arrival flight via award points that I could cancel at the last minute. Also, we took out insurance on our trip - especially since the first 2 days are snowcat days $$.

Recent developments:
Ontario and Quebec have closed restaurants/bars except for takeout. This includes ski restaurants. Warm-up only. Quebec even brought back a curfew. British Columbia has now started canceling concerts and sporting events for the month of January.

Hopefully, we get this trip in before the BC government starts getting creative.
 

jamesdeluxe

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Flight cancelation is a real possibility, so I booked a second arrival flight via award points that I could cancel at the last minute. Also, we took out insurance on our trip - especially since the first 2 days are snowcat days $$.
Nice dodge with the FF award. We may have discussed this before but I've forgotten -- what does travel insurance actually cover?
 

Tony Crocker

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Standard travel insurance has a pandemic exclusion clause. We battled this issue with both Chile and Argentina. My AMEX travel medical policy only excludes for pre-existing conditions and was approved for the Antarctic ski cruise in 2011. Argentina in 2020 made us buy a local insurance policy because the AMEX doesn't cover hotel quarantine expense even though it does pay medical evacuation. Chilean check-in people at LAX demanded to see the actual policy and we waited 15 minutes or so while they got some supervisor to look at it. Chile only wanted medical expense covered.

Jan. 31 Grammy Awards in L.A have been postponed indefinitely. The Super Bowl is supposed to be here Feb. 13 and Jerry Jones has offered to move it to Texas. I would be very surprised if L.A. County (not city, as SoFi Stadium is in Inglewood) tries to mess with the Super Bowl.
 
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ChrisC

Active member
I have only utilized Trip Delay and Trip Interruption.

The first time I went to Alaska with my brother we were required by the 2 heli operations to buy trip insurance (specifically Travelex). Since there was so much snow over the week in the Chugach/Valdez (about 80"), we only flew about half the time.

Also, I was to leave a day early but had my flights canceled and to rebook and stay another night.

Submitted a well-documented claim for trip interruption and trip delay, and we reived the full value of the claim. This was rolled over into a trip to Valdez the following year where we flew about 85% of the time / one down day.

Some policies have additional benefits around covid, medical, etc. We purchased Travelex policies that were Covid specific.
 

Tony Crocker

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Staff member
Thanks. I've spoken with people who flew to across the pond over the break and received best practices from them too. Makes me realise how easy it is to fly to/move about Europe in normal times.
Do those people say there are any changes moving between countries in the EU now? How about EU to/from Switzerland. Our spring plan intends to hit all 4 major alpine countries by car after arriving in Venice.

Island Lake will defer cat skiing to 2023 if COVID restrictions prevent us from getting to Canada.
 
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