Trip Report: Val Gardena, February 8-16, 2019,
Venice, February 16-19, 2019
A group of 35 Fund – Bank Ski Club members signed up for the Val Gardena/Sella Ronda, Italy, trip departing on February 8 and returning on February 16, 2019, or extending it to February 19, 2019, to go to Venice Carnival. Majority of the group joined the post-ski trip, which turned out to be fabulous! There are many ways to experience the Dolomites mountains and the traditions of the four Ladin valleys of Badia, Gherdëina, Fascia, and Fodom. But no doubt the best way is to ski them all using the Sella Ronda ski lift carousel. Not only the group skied Sella Ronda both ways (clockwise and counterclockwise), but also had a day trip to Marmolada Mountain, Hidden Valley, Lagaruoi Mountain (towed by a horse carriage) with Cinque Torri deviation, Alta Badia challenging ski area, as well as Corvara and Colfosco. Dramatic mountain views, enormous frozen waterfalls, breathtaking beauty of Dolomates, gourmet Italian cuisine and sunny warm days will stay in our memory forever!
The trip was a tremendous success: we were lucky to ski powder the first day and enjoy sun and perfectly groomed slopes the following five days. In the nutshell, Dolomites rewarded us with six fabulous days of skiing, amazing mountain Safari trips and warm weather. Once on the slopes off we go to explore all four valleys and then relaxed for lunch and had good time on an open terrace of excellent Italian/Bavarian/Tyrolean restaurants enjoying a great meal….sun…..and may be a glass of great Italian wine celebrating the joy of skiing in Dolomites! “Time for lunch”,- as Tom will announce….
The Hotel Oswald was magnificent: newly renovated, tastefully decorated big rooms, large SPA with Jacuzzis, steam & aroma baths and saunas, as well as a comfortable relaxing area allowed us to prepare our muscles for the next day of skiing. Four course dinners, as well as “all you can possibly imagine” breakfasts were a part of the package. Elaborate menu and a very friendly staff. The group chemistry was so good that we just glued together, meeting at breakfast, having lunch together on the slopes or in the village, socializing during gourmet dinners and enjoying the fact that we do not need to bundle up to go out for dinner.
Skiing in Val Gardena was at its best, offering challenging slopes, fantastic quality of snow, nicely groomed pists, comfortable skiing for all levels, sunny and warm weather. Now we all can endorse the statement that the best way to experience the Dolomites Mountains is by skiing all four valleys! The sun was strong and everyone got a nice suntan. Majority of the group skied
6 days, and we never got bored with the slopes, skiing most of them for the first time. Great advantage – Super Ski Pass was good for 79 lifts and 175 km of runs….nothing to worry about.
On the second day of skiing the most courageous of the group gathered to take a guided tour to Marmolada Mountain. Val Gardena does not offer Free Mountain Tours, like almost all resorts in the US, so we had to hire a guide to show us the way to the far away mountain. The guide met with us at the hotel and shocked us with the information that the wind is so strong that we will not be able to reach Marmolada Mountain that dayL. However, the mountain tour was very useful for the skiers to get the feeling of different areas of this vast skiing area, to get to know each other and to find partners to ski with the next day. We still reached Marmolada Mountain on another day when the wind was not that strong and allowed the lift to take us to another side of the mountain: it was very rewarding to ski the longest slope of Dolomites around that huge red rock all the way to Arabba.
We usually started our days by meeting at the entrance of the hotel at 8:30, taking a quick hotel shuttle ride to Gondola, then switching to chair lifts during the day, and did not quit until 4 PM when the lifts were closing, sliding all the way down to the hotel ski room.
Endless skiing, endless exploration of the mountains, endless challenges, endless fun. What more can a skier dream about? Only a nice après-ski and dinner!
Tourist Program in Van Gardena
In the middle of the stay to give legs a nice break from skiing, the group took a day bus trip. Because of the favorable exchange rate the club was able to provide a day bus trip to NEUSCHWANSTEIN castle and INNSBRUCK (as well as the ski guided tour to the Marmolada Mountain) free of charge. Half of the group went to Innsbruck and were dropped off on the way and picked up by the bus coming back from the Neuschwanstein castle. Unforgettable Nordkette funicular, with futuristic stations designed by architect Zaha Hadid, climbs up to 2,256m from the city center to the top of the mountain in Innsbruck; Imperial Palace with Court Church; Golden Roof house – just to mention a few attractions that we visited during our stay in Innsbruck.
Some group participants also took free bus rides to thermal SPA, nearby villages of Ortisei and Bolzano.
Tourist Program in Venice
We arrived in Venice on the Water Taxi boats on a sunny Friday afternoon, checked in at a gorgeous Hotel Bonveccihiati, located in a short walking distance from Piazza San Marco, went sightseeing and had great dinner at the hotel. Next day was the Carnival Boat Parade on the Grand Canal – please check the pics on our website: not to forget!
The day after was the Carnival Parade on Piazza San Marco: great costumes’ show! The group also explored the city on foot, took guided walking city tour and an Art Tour to find hidden
Titian and Tintoretto, had lunches and dinners in Michelin star restaurants and had an uplifting shopping experience in the authentic stores of Venice. Many of us went to Murano and enjoyed lunch on that island.
We were leaving Venice early in the morning in thick fog….so thick that we almost lost the first group that took the first boat from the island. At the end we were lucky to reunite and to get to the flight on time!
I think all the participants will agree that the Val Gardena/Venice was a great trip for skiing, “fine dining”, sun tanning, sightseeing, exploring history and culture of Italy & Austria, finding breathtaking views, shopping, night life……and many-many more.