5 Reasons For A Ski Trip To Europe!

The glitz, glamour and après ski of the Alps is calling. And some of the great ski destinations of the world are calling – Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, and more.Rossütte mit Blick auf Seefeld- copyright Olympiaregion SeefeldOlympiaregion Seefeld

A European Ski Vacation is as much about experiencing culture, history and alpine scenery as it is about skiing. The full European alpine experience is hard to beat – après ski thermal baths to soothe sore muscles; Italian cappuccino in Italy (after skiing in from Switzerland); drinking beer in Munich after a day of skiing on nearby mountains. A European ski vacation offers a unique experience on another continent with different cultures —and world class skiing!

Here’s 5 points to ponder if you are thinking it’s time for a ski trip to Europe:

  1. Why Europe?

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

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  1. When To Go?

Generally speaking, most mountains in Europe open at the end of November and close mid to late April, with a few exceptions.

January tends to hold the best deals for European ski resorts and is less busy than peak holiday times. Most resorts are quiet and more peaceful. Fewer skiers on the slopes means that there are of course shorter lift lines! Prices can be almost double at peak times such as Christmas and New Year, and during the school holidays of Christmas, Easter, and particularly February Reading Week.

If you are going on your skiing holiday during late March-April (with longer and sunnier days), you’ll greatly reduce the risk of poor skiing conditions by skiing at a resort with a higher altitude. Val Thorens, France; Zermatt, Switzerland; Livigno, Italy all fit the bill. As a glacier, Zugspitze is skiable from early autumn until late spring, the highest (2,100m) and most snow-sure mountain in Bavaria, and just 90km from Munich.

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  1. Where To Stay?

Choices for accommodation range from traditional Alpine chalets and guestrooms in charming historic hotels to fully equipped apartments. Deluxe and moderate accommodations are available at most ski resorts in Europe. Austria and Italy are known in particular for their great value. If you’re after luxury, there’s no shortage of first-class transportation, five-star boutique hotels and world-class experiences! A few top Europe luxury ski resorts include Courchevel, France; St. Moritz, Switzerland and Cortina,Italy.

Modern ski resorts, (purpose-built ski resorts) are of course perfect for skiers and boarders. Purpose-built ski resorts are situated at higher elevations and have consistent snow conditions. They offer ski in, ski out and true slope side lodging. Think Val D’isère, and Les Trois Vallées, France.

Historic Alpine villages provide both true alpine ambiance and the quintessential Europe experience with skiing. Walk cobblestone streets; eat traditional local cuisine and stay in centuries old chalets. The nearby slopes are typically a short shuttle, train or cable-car ride away. Think Zermatt, Switzerland; Chamonix, France; and St. Anton, Austria.

  1. What To Do? (When You Are Not Skiing)

Many European resorts offer spas, boutiques, bars, restaurants and other off-mountain activities. Resorts near major cities offer city shopping, dining and sightseeing—perfect for a day away from the slopes. For 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 to the slopes. Munich can be a 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 the city of Munich by night.

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  1. Ski Terrain, Passes and Guides

Europe is home to 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 France and Italy and offers the opportunity to ski across actual country borders (and have a croissant in France or espresso in Italy).

A local ski guide is also worth your consideration. An experienced local can take you through little known ski terrain and has the inside scoop on lunch spots for locals and après parties. A ski guide in Europe packs a ton of value and can go for as little as 250 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 Paris, Berlin and Rome, rich in history and culture. Europe anyone?

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Top 3 Routes to Suit Every Biker’s Needs

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Whether you have recently retired and decided to live out your childhood dream, or you’ve always wanted to go on a longer adventure but never had the time – the biker culture can win the hearts and minds of everyone. However, it’s not enough to simply own a bike – much of your experience as a biker will come from the routes you take and the way you perceive them. But how do you know which ones to take?

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The slow and classic

Some people ride their bikes to clear their mind and think through whatever issues they have at that moment. For those kinds of people, the long Route 66, the mother of all roads, is a perfect choice. The long straight road will leave you plenty of time and space to relax and enjoy the ride. Stop by the local diners and talk to the locals about the place, or take a moment to enjoy the feeling of timelessness and tranquility that comes with this open road. It’s a great road for traveling alone or in good company, just make sure not to rush through it without taking it all in.

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The scenic
However, if you are looking for something more soothing for the eyes, with a picture-perfect view around every corner, then why not hit the Transalpine road? It’s not as peaceful, since there are plenty of 180-degree turns at every corner, but the sights are breathtaking and you will find yourself lost in its wonders. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience the magnificent Stelvio for a bit of a challenge, and enjoy the fresh mountain air. Stretching through the mountains from France to Italy, it’s a great road for riders who want a bit of thrill, while still having enough time to enjoy the beauty of the scenery around them.

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The adrenalin-packed
Lastly, if you are someone who likes to go on paths that pack your body full of adrenaline and get all of your senses involved in every turn, then you might want to check out the German Nordschleife, nicknamed the green hell by the F1 racer Jackie Stewart. It’s known to be one of the trickiest and most demanding race circuits in the world, so if you want an adventure – look no further. It was built around the historic castle of Nurburg. It stretches 12.8 miles and it has over 1000 feet of elevation range. If you start feeling lightheaded, you might want to take a break, because this ride will definitely get you feeling all kinds of dizzy.

Rules for every biker

While on the road, your bike is your lifeline, so you must make sure that everything is in top shape before setting off. Also, make sure you are well stocked on everything else: off road riding gear, water, essential spare parts, and anything else you might need for your trip because you never know when you are going to need it. If you are traveling in a group, you might not have to double up, so make a plan about who should be bringing what. Having a safe bike and all the essential items is crucial to having a safe and memorable journey.

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There truly is nothing like an open road and the feeling of freedom it evokes. There is always something new to see around the corner, and it doesn’t get much better than experiencing it all on your bike. No matter which route (or routes) you choose, there is no ranking and there is no competition. Pick the one that interests you the most and you can be sure that the trip will be forever remembered and the road forever marked by your tires.

 

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Tipping in Europe

For travelers, local etiquette is often a concern and researching tipping in Europe or other destinations around the world is a natural step in planning the perfect trip. The good news is that understanding the tipping culture in European nations is fairly straightforward and in general you’ll be fine as long as you follow these handy suggestions for how to leave a tip in Europe.

Below we’ll cover the most common scenarios in which you may feel inclined to leave a tip, and we offer suggestions for how much it’s polite to tip in Europe during certain situations.

Important Facts & Common Misconceptions about Tipping in Europe

International travelers are always concerned with knowing when it is appropriate to offer a tip for excellent service and how to avoid insulting the locals (and also what size tip is considered appropriate in that culture). At Auto Europe we hear questions all the time like “How much is too much should I tip in European countries?” and “Will I insult those serving me if I leave a small tip or don’t tip at all?”

The truth is that tipping etiquette varies from one country to the next in Europe, the same way an “appropriate” tip may differ from state to state within the United States. You may be expected to tip more in New York City than in rural Arkansas and the same is true if you’re at a Michelin Star restaurant in Paris or at a pub in rural France. In general travelers in Europe are not obliged to leave a tip, though in many situations it is polite to do so.

Here are a few facts about paying for services in Europe which can guide you when it comes time to leave a tip:

  • In Europe it is required by law that a quoted price includes all taxes. This means that when a price is advertised, the local merchant expects you to pay that price and no more.
  • Most European restaurants will feature a menu outside for patrons to review before entering. If there is a mandatory service charge this will be posted. If you dine at a restaurant and are surprised to see a service charge or tip added to your bill you should speak up – this is probably an attempt to overcharge you.
  • Many people in the service industry in Europe will hold out their hands for a tip. You are not required to tip these individuals, though if you feel that you’ve received excellent service you certainly can do so.

How Much Should I Tip in Europe?

Here are our best suggestions to adhere to when traveling in Europe, though it’s important to remember that how much you choose to tip is really dependent upon your financial resources, personal philosophy on tipping and the circumstances of the service you’ve received.

Tipping In European Restaurants

Tipping in Europe Restaurants

 

 

 

 

 

When dining in a restaurant in Europe you should expect to tip a bit more modestly than you would in America. If a service charge is included in your bill then leaving a tip is optional. If it isn’t you can often leave a 5-10 percent tip without insulting your waiter or waitress. In many restaurants in Europe a 10 percent tip is considered quite generous and leaving more (while appreciated) will often say more to locals about your cultural ignorance than it will about your generosity. European servers are quite well compensated so any tips are considered a small bonus. Often leaving a tip at a restaurant is a way to make set line the bill more convenient – it’s common for diners to “round up” the bill to a whole number.

As an additional note – when ordering food in Europe you’re really only expected to leave a gratuity when you are served by a waiter or waitress … if you’re ordering food or drink at a counter (at a pub for example) you shouldn’t feel that it’s necessary to leave a tip … even if you would normally do so at home.

If you do choose to tip while dining in Europe a good rule of thumb is to add a Euro or two for each person in your party (this is an easy calculation for travelers to remember … even if you’ve enjoyed a few drinks!). We recommend that if you do choose to tip the waitstaff that you hand them the tip rather than to leave it on the table … especially if you’ve dined at a busy restaurant … otherwise your money may find its way into the pocket of the diners at the next table.

London Tip Tip: In London you’ll often see an optional 12.5% gratuity on your bill. You shouldn’t feel tied to this number, but if you’ve received excellent service feel free to use this rate.

Tipping Your Taxi or Chauffeur Driver

Tipping Taxi Drivers in EuropeA good rule of thumb when tipping your driver in Europe is to simply round up to the next Euro. For example if you have a €15 fare, offer your driver €16. If you have a larger charge for a longer cab ride or airport transfer it’s polite to round up to the nearest 10 (for example if you have a €84 charge you might pay €90).

Extras for Your Driver: We all know that there are times when your driver deserves a bit extra. If he or she has gone above and beyond and zipped through traffic to get you to the airport on time or helped you with some especially large luggage, an extra Euro or two will be appreciated. If, on the other hand, your driver takes a very circuitous route to your destination as a way to up your fare you can skip the tip altogether. If you’ve arranged for a chauffeured tour during your trip in Europe and will have the same driver each day, a good practice is to ask your driver on the first day what a polite amount to tip will be if he provides excellent service during your trip. This gives him incentive to go above and beyond during your tour (he knows he’s working for a fair bonus) and it gives you an idea of what you should offer (though if his suggestion seems unusually high we recommend leaving less … whatever you’re comfortable with and whatever amount you feel your driver has earned).

Tipping Hotel Porters in Europe

If your European hotel has someone to help you with your bags a good rule of thumb is to offer him (or her) one Euro for each bag the porter assists you with. It’s not required, but a few Euros left in your room at checkout is a nice touch and a polite way to thank the cleaning staff.

Tipping European Hotel Staff

Final Thoughts on Tipping in Europe

There may well be other instances beyond what we’ve mentioned here which offer you an opportunity to tip those who provide you with special services in Europe. Whether you choose to do so or not is entirely up to you. Tour guides at monuments or on buses and boats in Europe will often hold out their hands for a tip at the end of their tour, but you needn’t feel obligated to offer them a gratuity unless you’re inclined to do so (you won’t be considered rude if you simply offer them a sincere “Thank you,” and let them know that you had a wonderful time). In general if you’ve received excellent service, offering a tip of a few Euros will be appreciated by anyone, but you should never think of it as being a requirement while touring Europe. A good way to ensure that you’re adhering to local tipping etiquette in Europe would be to speak up and ask at the local tourist information office or speak with your hotel’s concierge. These local travel and tourist professionals will be happy to fill you in on what’s considered polite in the area you are visiting in Europe and it’s a good way to make sure you’re being polite without overpaying.

(This post was provided by Auto Europe)