5 Reasons For A Ski Trip To Europe!

If you are a skier or snowboarder, there are at least 5 reasons for a ski trip to Europe. The Alps have a special mix of landscapes, style, glamour and après ski. And when you add the world-class ski terrain in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and France, it can’t be beat!

Olympiaregion Seefeld
Olympiaregion Seefeld

A European Ski Vacation blends skiing or snowboarding with the culture, history and alpine views only available in Europe. It’s a unique alpine experience – thermal baths for après ski relaxation; Italian cappuccino in Italy (after skiing in from Switzerland); drinking beer in Munich after skiing all day on nearby mountains. A European ski vacation is the perfect blend of travel experience and incredible skiing!

Here’s 5 reasons for a ski trip to Europe:

Why Europe?

Why not? If you haven’t been to Europe, you have to go (ski season or any season). Almost everything is different – time zone, language, food, and money, electrical outlets too. And now add the ski specific differences in Europe – over 4,000 ski areas; huge terrain; great snow; efficient lift systems and super long top of the mountain to bottom of the valley runs.

Skiing in St. Moritz, Switzerland
Switzerland

When To Go?

Generally speaking, most ski areas in Europe open at the end of November and close later in April, with some exceptions.

January tends to hold the best deals for European ski resorts and is less busy than peak holiday times. Most resorts have fewer visitors and are more peaceful. Fewer skiers on the slopes means shorter lift lines! Prices are much higher at peak times such as Christmas and New Year, and during school holidays around Christmas, Easter, and particularly with the now popular February Reading Week.

If you are going on your ski/snowboard holiday during late March-April (with longer and nicer days), you’ll greatly reduce the risk of poor skiing conditions by skiing at a higher altitude resort. Chamonix Mont-Blanc, France; Zermatt, Switzerland; Cervinia, Italy all come to mind. Zugspitze, near Munich, is a glacier and is skiable from early autumn until late spring. It has the highest elevation (2,100m) and is the most snow guaranteed mountain in Bavaria.

Skiing in Val D'Isere, France
France

Where To Stay?

There’s a wide range of places to stay from traditional Alpine chalets and guest rooms; to charming historic hotels; to fully equipped apartments. Deluxe and moderate accommodations are available at or near most ski resorts in Europe. Austria and Italy are known in particular for their great hospitality and value. If you’re after luxury, there’s no shortage of first-class trips with transportation, boutique hotels and inclusive experiences! A few top Europe luxury ski areas include Gstaad, Switzerland; Courchevel, France; and St. Anton, Austria.

Modern ski resorts, (purpose-built ski resorts) are of course built specifically for skiers and boarders. Purpose-built ski resorts are situated at higher elevations and have more consistent snow conditions. They offer ski in/ski out and true slope side lodging. The list of resorts includes the well known Val D’isère, and many other less known like Peyragudes, France (in the Pyrenees), St Johann, (Tyrol, Austria) and Geilo (Norway).

Historic Alpine villages provide both true alpine ambiance and the quintessential Europe experience along with skiing. Walk cobblestone streets; eat delicious local cuisine and stay in centuries old chalets. The nearby slopes are typically a short shuttle, train or cable-car ride away. Think Kitzbühel, Austria; Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy; and St. Moritz, Switzerland.

What To Do? (When You Are Not Skiing)

Many European resorts offer a combination of spas, boutiques, bars, restaurants and other off-mountain activities. Cities near resorts offer city shopping, dining and sightseeing—perfect for a day away from the slopes. As an example, skiers in Seefeld, Austria can take a quick 20 minute train ride down the mountain to Innsbruck. Or do it in reverse – stay in the city and travel up to the slopes. Munich is the perfect springboard to the nearby mountains of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Nearby Wallberg or Alpspitze are great options too. You can ride all day, and then enjoy Munich beer and it’s beer halls by night!

Stay in Munich for A Ski Trip To Europe
Munich

Ski Terrain, Passes and Guides

Europe is home to literally thousands of miles of groomed and off-piste terrain, and several resorts are interconnected by lifts and trails. A multi-resort ski pass like the Dolomiti Superski Pass offers 700 miles of Italian Alpine terrain spread over a dozen resorts. The world’s largest ski area, Les Trois Vallees in France, includes Meribel, Courchevel, Val Thorens and 5 more resorts. The Milky Way Ski Area straddles both France and Italy and let’s you ski and snowboard across actual country borders (and have a French pastry or Italian cappuccino).

A local ski guide is a very worthwhile extra. An experienced local can take you through little known ski terrain, keep you safe and will have local knowledge on lunch spots and après ski parties. A ski guide in Europe packs a ton of value and can go for as little as 200 euros per day.

And at the end of your European ski holiday, you can still have more Europe! Add on a trip extension to an iconic city like Vienna, Frankfurt or Amsterdam, rich in history and culture. Europe ski vacation anyone?

Best Museums in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Museums

If you are day dreaming about a visit to Amsterdam, you may also be dreaming about visiting the best museums in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is home in fact to more 50 thought provoking and interesting museums. Here is a partial list of some of the very best museums in Amsterdam:


BEST MUSEUMS IN AMSTERDAM

Het Grachtenhuis Museum
This museum is located on the beautiful and upmarket Herengracht canal. The canal district itself is a UNESCO world heritage site, and its history is told with 3D animation, models, projections and an interactive multimedia exhibition. It’s a very modern look at Amsterdam’s history and a great way to start to your visit.

Tulip Museum
The tulip is synomous with the Netherlands, so this museum is quite popular with both Dutch people and tourists alike. If you love tulips, botany, or history in general, this is the museum for you.

Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House is one of the world’s most thought provoking and popular museums. The main building of the museum is the actual hiding place where Anne Frank wrote her diary during World War II. As you walk through the rooms of the house, you’ll easily imagine how hard it was to live there during World War 2. The original diary is on display at this location. This is a must visit (I’ve been twice) but get there early because the lines can be long. Here’s my post on the Anne Frank House.

Amsterdam Museums - The Anne Frank House

NEMO Science Museum
NEMO is a hands on museum and is very popular among children. It’s a must visit if you’re on vacation with kids or adults who are interested in science and technology. The “I Amsterdam” City Card or Museumkaart will get you free admission.

Torture Museum
This place brings out the macabre in everyone. View a collection and learn about some of the oldest and cruellest torture methods of the past. Thankfully most of these methods are no longer in use. Most of the artifacts on display were actually used which makes this museum just a little more disturbing.

National Maritime Museum
The museum contains many artifacts associated with shipping and sailing and is dedicated to maritime history. The collection here contains world maps, models, paintings and weapons. A replica of the 18th-century ship Amsterdam (which sailed between the Netherlands and the East Indies), is located in the waters just outside the museum.

Van Gogh Museum
The world’s largest collection of Van Gogh work is located here and needless to say is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Amsterdam. In addition to seeing many of his works, you’ll learn about the man himself and his life story. You won’t be disappointed!

The Rijksmuseum
Dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam, this is the Dutch national museum. Over 800 years of Dutch history is showcased with national treasurers and artifacts. The museum is located in the Amsterdam South borough at the Museum Square, and is very close to the Van Gogh Museum. Again, a must visit!

There are of course more museums, including the Museum of The Canals, the Costume Museum, the Heineken Experience, the Houseboat Museum and more. They make for an interesting day and a way to quickly immerse yourself in Dutch culture and history.

Can you think of any other interesting or strange museums that are in Amsterdam?

Texas Finest – A Franklin Barbecue Review

Texas BBQ

There are just so many great places in the world where you can eat. But if you’re a true culinary fan, you know that it doesn’t do to go to Italy, for example, and try ramen, or eat fish in Germany. Each part of the world has a specific cuisine that you should try. If you’re a barbecue lover, then you probably know that the “best of the best” is located in the United States. With the size of the U.S., there are differences in barbecue styles by region. This time, though, we are reviewing Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas. According to many, this is the best barbecue joint in this part of America. So, is it worth checking out?

Franklin Barbecue – What do you need to know?

Before you head off to Austin to check out this great barbecue joint, you have to know certain things about Texas-style barbecue. As mentioned, there are different American barbecue styles by region, but the Texas-style comes with beef as their meat of choice and a spicy, tomato-based sauce with some sweetness.  Now, as you’re coming close to Franklin Barbecue, you will notice the tremendous line that’s always happening in front of the restaurant. Waiting for at least 2 hours (sometimes even longer) to get a taste of their dishes is a common thing, with many people waiting from early morning to be the first in line at 5 am. This is a BBQ joint that received two stars according to The New York Times and was featured in a TV show by the amazing Anthony Bourdain.

Texas BBQ

Why do they do this? Well, basically – once something is gone for the day, it means it’s gone, so it’s always best to come early and have a wide range of options to choose from. If you want the best case scenario, you should come during a weekday as the lines grow faster on weekends and during the South by Southwest festival in March.

Franklin Barbecue – What do you need to try?

Well, this is probably the most difficult question of them all, because no matter what you try at Franklin Barbecue – it’s worth it. Of course, everything depends on what will be left once you have your turn. Probably the most important things to try are the brisket and the pork ribs which are simply delicious. As far as the brisket goes, you have plenty of time to figure out just how much brisket you need. Don’t skip this, since it’s the foundation that Franklin Barbecue was built on. (The owner of the joint, even has a book called “Franklin Barbecue – A Meat-Smoking Manifesto” that you can read if you want to know something more about the history of this place and its brisket).

Texas BBQ

Their meat is wrapped midway through smoking so that it doesn’t dry out, and helps to give it that special taste that you will literally die for. Apart from that, you really want the pork candy, known as pork ribs, which are probably the best in Texas, and perhaps in the States. You can also try sausages and even smoked turkey – everything here is super tasty and good, but make sure to have your essentials first!

Texas BBQ

Franklin Barbecue – What to do afterwards?

After waiting for at least 2 hours to eat one of the world’s best barbecues, there’s no lingering – you should hit the road and let somebody else take your place and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience (if you’re not from the USA). Now that you’re probably full to the max, it would be a great idea to head a bit further down to the Zilker Brewing Company and enjoy a pint of their amazing beer. They work every day except Mondays, but you can check on their website for the exact working hours because they differ each day.

Texas BBQ

Hopefully, you’ll get the chance to eat at Franklin Barbecue and to drink beer at Zilker’s afterwards. If you love BBQ, you will remember it for the rest of your life.