Skiing Adventures in the Italian Alps – Part Uno

Before I begin, I want to remind you that I Eat Therefore I Run is now self-hosted, meaning to get here, you just need to type in http://www.lovetorunandeat.com, simple!

Do you use Google Reader to follow this blog? You may already know that the service is shutting down as of July 1st, 2013, and will cease to exist. Another way to follow my foodie and running adventures is through Feedburner email subscription: simply enter your email address in the appropriate box on the right, and you will receive I Eat Therefore I Run posts straight to your inbox. This is what I use to follow the many blogs I read, quite handy actually.

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Anyway, greetings from about a three week hiatus, fellow eaters and runners! Apologies for my absence, I’ve been tired from a long term at work, and then my husband and I packed our bags and jetted off for a ski holiday to Italy last week.

My beloved, Italian made ski boots

This was a trip of many firsts for me: first time skiing in the Alps, first time going to Italy, first time in Switzerland, and being the plane geek I am, first time flying with Lufthansa. You see, to ski the Alps of France, Italy and Switzerland, no matter where, it seems Geneva is a central point to fly into. From there, you hop aboard your shuttle destined to whatever country/town/resort you’ve booked. We took the most possible rigamarole route to get there, flying from Aberdeen to Frankfurt, then onto to Geneva, only to catch a shuttle bus which would take us through France into Italy. Five countries in one day, how many passport stamps would one get? My husband and I were excited because we both assumed we’d get a Switzerland stamp on our passport with it not being in the European Union. Pat hasn’t had a stamp on his passport since we went to Canada in 2010 because all the countries we’ve visited together since are EU countries (and if you’re an EU citizen, like my husband, you don’t get stamped). Sadly though, not only did we not get that Swiss stamp, but there wasn’t even any passport control in Geneva! There were, however, many billboards for private banks displayed everywhere. Despite traveling through so many countries, the only stamp that was received was Germany. Disappointing, really.

We did, however, get a first glimpse of the Alps from the plane, poking through the clouds. Not at all disappointing.

We headed to Courmayeur, Italy, just over the boarder from France, in the Aosta Valley. We were staying in the little village of La Palud, nestled in the mountain above the town of Courmayeur, at the Albergo Funivia, ‘an antique restored mountain house,’ full of rustic charm and warming interiors. Elena and Vittorio, the owners, greeted us with a loud and friendly Hello! Welcome! all in Italian of course. It was fantastic to see their enthusiasm and passion.

The hotel is a small, 13 bedroom house that has been converted into a B & B. We both absolutely loved this place, and I would love to decorate my house in this style some day. The best parts of the hotel included the two sitting rooms for guests to lounge:

Our room was built into the roof of the hotel, so it featured some quirky slanted ceilings and a ladder to our window.
You could really see the attention to detail everywhere in the hotel. There were cute ornaments and decorative touches throughout, like this hook in our bathroom:
Enough about the hotel though, onto the skiing. The last time I’d been skiing was December 2011 in Scotland, on what was considered a day with good conditions at Glen Shee, although there were icy patches all over the place. The last time I’d been skiing in the proper mountains was sometime in 2008, one of many ski trips to the Rockies with my university friends before moving to Scotland. Those were good times.

The day started off in the dinning room with a satisfying breakfast consisting of the most delicious and smooth yet strong cappucino, fresh wholegrain bread from a local bakery in Courmayeur topped with Nutella, mueslie with yogurt, and a blood orange. Very satisfying and enough fuel to last until late morning.

Our first day at Courmayeur-Mont Blanc resort, which was also a crowded Easter Monday, was a combination of exhiliration, excitement, happiness and exhaustion. We picked up our ski rentals then took the Dolonne gondola up to the base of the mountain, ready to jump on a chair lift and warm up our legs after over a year of not skiing.

My hardware for the week
Our playground for the week – source

It was a good day, but also an eye opener. I naively assumed that it would take a few runs to get back into the swing of things: part of me was right, but also pushed it a bit too much that day, going down some steep red pistes (intermediate runs, the equivalent to blue runs in North America), which burned the legs causing them to tire quickly.

For some reason, I have a need for speed when I ski, I seem to attack runs quite aggressively where I carve quite a bit on the edges of my skis and need to bend my knees a lot as well. It’s fun but really tiring!

This required a doze in the sun after a lunch of lasagna.

The weather that day was beautiful, and as a result, we noticed several people with goggle tans. Glad we bought, and wore, sunscreen. We also passed a group of 20-something snowboarders, camped on a snow bank, topless and suntanning. Why not?

Our first day was culminated by a quick but delicious pizza dinner at La Piazzetta Ristorante Pizzeria in Courmayeur, for some very satisfying thin-crust pizzas: sausage, olives and mushrooms for Pat (background), and Pizza Belvedere for me – tomato, rocket (arugula), prosciutto and parmesan cheese (foreground). And of course, Peroni beer.

Best. Pizza. Ever.
And for dessert? Early bed, we were exhausted!
Day two saw us back at Courmayeur, ready to tackle the more quiet backside of the mountain. This was a better day of skiing, as we resolved we would take a morning and afternoon break on top of lunch as well to make the most of our time there. A great plan led to a fabulous day of sun, skiing, adventure and good food.

Enjoying left over pizza for lunch while basking in the sun

 One of the best things about skiing at Courmayeur, and I’m sure this could be said for many resorts in the European Alps, was the selection of restaurants scattered throughout the mountain. Each restaurant was independently owned, clearly offered great mountain views on their patios, and served food that tasted like it was made at home; as well, each menu was unique and offered something different. A real contrast from the many resorts I’d visited in the Rockies. We would take a packed lunch everyday, stored in our backpacks, but I would always get a little something from the restaurants. After passing a sign for a restaurant selling crepes, I yelled to Pat, mid-run, ‘We’re going there for lunch!’ And we did, as noted by my dessert of a crepe with sugar and lemon.

 

Our second day overall was a relaxing, confidence-building day for both Pat and I. We stuck to the morning and afternoon break plan, and went on red pistes that were more quite and more groomed, unlike the pistes the day before, which were fresh with snowfall and had what looked like the beginnings of moguls forming due to the excess of people using those runs. We both worked on keeping our shoulders facing forwards while twisting at the hips to carve and make our turns. I was still a speed demon, but loving it so much more. Pat made his way down slowly and safely each time. A successful day really.

The day ended with another pizza dinner at a different restaurant, one that Pat was convinced was Mafia run, and another early bed., preceded by some reading of Silver Linings Playbook, (really good by the way).

Next up: more ski adventures in Italy and France, because let’s face it, this post is quite long.

Also, have you checked out Rachel’s recap of the Paris Marathon and adventures in the City of Lights? You should.

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3 thoughts on “Skiing Adventures in the Italian Alps – Part Uno

  1. Pingback: 2013: The Year that Was | I Eat Therefore I Run

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