October 6, 2013

Skiing in a Post Card

One of the things we were excited about doing in the Alps was skiing. Both Jonathan and I love the mountains, but neither of us had skied outside of North America before. So, even though it caused us to bring considerably more luggage, we hauled our ski (for me) and snowboard (for Jonathan) gear across the Atlantic with us.

The first mountain we visited was Alpe d’Huez. This is about an hour and a half drive from Grenoble and was home to the 1966 Olympics. My friend accompanied us and we left the city after breakfast and drove the winding roads into the mountains. After an hour or so, our GPS directed us to turn up a narrow mountain road. It was only one lane in each direction, appeared to only lead to a small village, and switched back precariously as it gained altitude. We followed the crazy curves back and forth and I dared not peek down the steep cliff at the edge. I think I held my breath the whole way...

Eventually we emerged at a large alpine ski resort. There were lodges, shops, cafes, and ski lifts and trails heading off in all directions. We unpacked, got our tickets, and headed up the mountain!
It was a perfect day - sunny, not too warm or cold, and not very windy. And the snow was perfect too - soft, groomed flakes and no ice. We started on the area of the mountain in front of the main lodge. After a few runs there we took a lift to another mountain peak. This ride to the other mountain has to be one of the most unique (and unsettling) chairlift rides I have ever experienced. First the lift brought us up over some buildings, parking lots, and flat terrain. Then it began descending sharply along the mountainside into a valley before reversing direction at the bottom to bring us up to the other mountainside.

Sometimes it felt like I was skiing into a post card!

This mountain peak had my favorite run all day - a long winding blue trail that circled the mountain giving you a panoramic view of the spectacular surrounding alps. After skiing for a few hours we stopped for lunch at one of the several lodges in ski resort. Lunch was definitely not what you’d get at a cafe at an American ski slope - fresh salads, pastas, and other warm entrees all served with beer, wine, tea, cocoa, or other non-alcoholic beverages. (Definitely a more civilized meal than bad pizza and burgers I’m accustomed to in ski lodges on the west side of the Atlantic!) We ordered salads with hot chocolate or tea and enjoyed our meal with fresh bread and a view of the alpine slopes.

After lunch we spent the afternoon skiing and enjoying the opportunity to be in such a beautiful place! I hope to be able to return to Alpe d'Huez sometime soon...

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