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This winter I decided 2 ski weeks weren’t enough. I mean… I’d had to miss skiing during the entire pandemic. I had some making up to do. Unfortunately I only have so many holidays, so I settled for a long weekend in Austria. On Thursday we took the train via Munich to Zell am See, with a return on Sunday afternoon. We had 2,5 days and 3 ski fields to choose from. The ski area at Zell am See, Schmittenhöhe, is not that big, so the ski pass also included skiing at Kaprun and Saalbach-Hinterglemm-Leogang. It was really more than we could cover in 3 days, but we managed to explore all of it a little bit. On Friday we were at the rental shops when they opened and we geared up. It was pretty warm and I was already sweating before I even had the skis. We went up…

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This weekend a quick train ride brought me to Leipzig. After waiting for 2 years I finally got to go to the Rammstein concert! I took the opportunity to check out the city and I was surprised. What a beautiful place this is! At only 1,5 hours from Berlin, it’s perfect for a day or weekend trip. The gigantic Leipzig Hauptbahnhof is right at the edge of the inner city. From here you walk straight to all the main sites, the many shops and cosy restaurants. The station is the largest one in Europe, at least by surface area, and it’s got a shopping mall hidden under the station floor. But once you leave the station, you find out Leipzig is the city of “biggest”. The tallest town hall tower in Germany stands in the huge castle-like new town hall. The old one wasn’t big enough, so Leipzig build a…

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Skiing in April… was that a smart move? After slushy slopes in March I was a bit worried. Again I took a plane to Geneva, waited at the airport, got on a bus and stared out the window, watching the scenery change. At Moûtiers we took the road uphill towards Val Thorens. There was still not much snow to be seen and actually, it was raining lightly. As we ascended the rain drops became thicker and turned into wet snow. We passed through St. Martin. No snow. Even in Les Menuires the majority of the snow had already disappeared. But then we turned the corner at Val Thorens and it was completely white. I walked into the UCPA and noticed nobody was wearing a mask. What a change from January! That evening I already met a French girl whom I joined skiing the next day. That morning the grey skies…

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It’s funny how you start to believe you can do something. Last August I watched the half marathon, referring to the runners as crazy. In September I joined a company 5,5 km and surprised myself with the result. At the end of that month I watch the marathon runners, calling them insane. I still think it’s crazy, whether it’s a 21 or 42 km, but slowly I felt the urge to increase my running distance, just to explore what I would be capable of. As I ran a few 10 km’s, new ideas started forming in my head. Maybe I should sign up for the half marathon… In November I started to increase my distances. 8 km. 10 km. 12 km. 14,5 km. If I could do that, then surely I could do 21 km? In December I felt comfortable enough to sign up, encouraged by a study friend whom…

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After a snowy day I woke up to bright blue skies, the sun piercing through my window on the top floor of the old mansion was staying at. I walked down the big wooden staircase again, past the animal heads and antlers on the walls. On my way out the hotel owner asked where I was going. I hoped to hike to two lakes: Biele and Zelene Pleso. He wished me a good day and got back into the reception area. First I walked through the park towards the incredibly good-looking Grand Hotel Praha. Behind it the trail goes past the Sorea hotel and then slowly up the mountain. At the bottom the autumn colors were still mixed in with some bright green. I crossed a little bridge covered in yellow and orange leaves. It was the most idyllic and serene place. As soon as I walked uphill it changed…

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I didn’t sleep well and felt really low on energy. Even just standing straight I felt like my balance was off. I didn’t want to miss out on the skiing, even though I was a bit wary when I followed the group. Today we’d go to Les Menuires, the area adjacent to Val Thorens. We raced down a mostly flat traverse to reach the Masse gondola. At the top we had a very nice view over the Grandes Jorasses. Today we took another long route off piste. After traversing off the slope we had to walk a bit to reach the start and after some more traversing we stood in a quiet snow field. Even though we saw two people who were also hiking up, we were now totally alone. The landscape was pretty gentle, although there were some challenging parts. There was a fair bit of traversing over a…

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With only half a day of lessons I had the morning free to see a bootfitter for new ski boots. I walked into a small shop full of skiboots, pictures and notes with common problems and equipment. The man looked at my feet and immediately saw ‘the problems areas’. He put three different boots in front of me. I stood there for a while, a different boot on each foot. One was affordable, the other a bit pricier. I explained the drama with my last boots, how my toe nail would come off and how I hesitated to invest a lot in new boots. But Jérémy the bootfitter was confident and would make any needed adjustments, even a year later if necessary. The affordable one already felt a bit too comfortable, loose, so eventually, still hesitant, I went with the pricy option. As in my old boots I needed a…

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My first days in Val Thorens After a successful off piste course two years ago, I decided to book another off piste course with UCPA for my first ski trip since COVID started. On the first morning we got our backpack with avalanche equipment and checked everything was working. Taking the shovel, checking the emergency numbers, assembling the probe… everything was in order. After what seemed like ages, we finally hit the slopes. Well.. for a little while. Then we searched for powder. And it wasn’t hard to find! It seemed like I’d chosen the perfect week since there’d been a big snowfall before my arrival and this week the clouds were moving out, making room for the sun. Only on Monday morning it was a bit grey, but the instructors were checking levels, taking us only to short bits off piste. I felt great. My turns were amazing. I…

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Months ago I booked a ski trip because this year nothing would stop me. Normally I arrange my trip and transfers through the same company, but this year I found out they didn’t offer transfers. That was the first red flag. Since the trip had already been paid for, I searched the web for shared transfer companies and eventually found one that could bring me to Flaine in France. A week and a half before my departure I thought it was curious I hadn’t heard from them. I called and found out the transfer had been cancelled, only they didn’t find it necessary to inform me. Let the drama begin. Happy new year! With about a week until departure I looked all over the place again, trying to find transportation. It quickly became clear that it would have a price tag. My flight time had been changed to an evening…

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I’m a big fan of fairytale castles and if I have the chance to visit one, I’ll usually take it. As I researched Slovakia there was an overwhelming choice of castles. All kinds of castles; medieval, fortresses, fairytale, mansions… you name it. Luckily my friend send me a list of recommendations in her home country. Bojnice Castle was one of them. I made a rough trip itinerary and refined it once I was in the country. This gave me the freedom to stay longer in the High Tatras, a place I totally fell in love with. I figured I could just about squeeze in my other top spots and scheduled Bojnice Castle on my way from the Slovak Paradise to Bratislava. I would stay for one night, take a train to Bratislava in the morning and still have some time in the capital. Well… that turned out to be too…

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