Passo Tonale


For our final ski trip of the season, we booked a package deal to Passo Tonale in Italy.  It's been a while since we went for a package, and the 0630 flight did remind me one of the reasons why...  But hey, it was a good price.

Early on in the week we received bad news from back home, which put a dampener on things somewhat.  This led to more subdued evenings than normal, with not as much alcohol and probably better sleep because of it...

We stayed at Grand Hotel Paradiso, which is a little bit out of the main town, but conveniently right next to some of the lifts.  Our deluxe room was lovely, the spa was ok (though an extra cost) but the food... oh, the food.
I definitely don't expect gourmet cuisine from a half board package ski hotel.  BUT - I do expect food to be warmed up properly!  And sorry, but 'peas and carrots in white sauce between pasta sheets' is really not what I expect from veggie lasagne.

However, the food in La Baracca (next to the Vittoria lift) is fantastic.  As is pizza from Alpi - and not forgetting the bruschetta and huge selection of flavoured hot chocolates in Bar Botte.

view from the Presena glacier
view from the Presena Glacier

By the end of day two I'd skied almost every piste in resort - only missing a few in Ponte di Legno.  After this, Jon switched to learning to ski for about half the week, so a lot of time was spent on blue runs. I did get two hours of non stop skiing by myself while he had a lesson though - no snowboard faff, bliss!

As the week progressed, the sunshine vanished behind the clouds and things started to warm up.  Things got a little slushy at resort level, but not enough to be an issue.  However, we woke on our final morning to a big dump of overnight snow.. and not great visibility. Ah well, can't have everything!

Unsurprisingly, Jon swapped back to his snowboard and we enjoyed the powder.

low vis, a hint of sunshine, and lots of powder
mmm, powder

That photo is from the 'Alpino' piste (number 20) which was definitely one of my favourites, along with 'Bleis' (#22).  Both start at the top of the Bleis lift and both were lovely in both the sunshine and cloud.  Also the scene of my only fall of the week, ahem.

Painswick Rococo Gardens


Painswick Rococo Gardens is only a few miles from where I've been living for the last 9 years, but I'd never thought about visiting.  Thanks to the Cotswold Bloggers group, that has now changed.

As part of English Tourism Week 2018, Visit England organised a series of Instameets to showcase certain venues/parts of the country.  This seemed like an excellent opportunity to take lots of pictures, meet some new people, and generally fail at networking.
I will add a disclaimer now: we were provided with free entry to the gardens, and also tea and cake in the café afterwards.  Thanks also go to Cotswold Tourism who were involved in the organisation.  Here's a group photo of everyone who attended.

Unsurprisingly, I posted quite a few of my photos on Instagram:

But I'd like to share a few more here too.

light on the café building
lamp outside the café

The day itself was cold - and in fact the day afterwards there was so much snow that the gardens were closed.  Within about ten minutes into our hour of wandering around my toes had gone numb, brrr. 

view from a window
view from the Pigeon House

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy just wandering around with a camera taking pictures of whatever random things I feel like.  I certainly do less of this while out walking now, as I usually have a dog lead in my hand and/or dogs to keep a keen eye on.

duck bums

Oh, did I mention there was cake?  It was very good.  The café was lovely and warm too - just what we needed.

Les Gets


The holiday started well because for the first time in a while I actually managed to get the window seat - usually Jon whinges about leg room and makes me swap. I amused myself for a while admiring a glory, then took a lot of photos during our descent into Geneva, because, well, just look at it:

flying above the clouds coming into Geneva
clouds and snow and mountains, mmm

We arrived at our chalet in Les Gets and were immediately ushered to the table and handed tartiflette.  Delicious and well timed!

This holiday also marks my first time skiing somewhere other than France - on the Tuesday we skiied to Morzine, then slogged our way over to Avoriaz via a busy slow green run and lifts with a massive queues, and eventually made it to Les Crosets in Switzerland.  Worth it just for the short black run we found that wasn't full of moguls (and also didn't seem to be on the piste map?)

For five out of six days, we had sunshine.  However, Thursday was a whole different kettle of fish.  It had snowed heavily the night before (after the pistes got bashed), and kept snowing until about 3pm so there was loads of powder everywhere.  I spent the morning feeling like my legs were on fire, and doing the occasional ultra slow motion face-plant into heaps of snow.  Once I'd got used to the powder though, it was all good - and quiet!  Turns out only three of us (out of 10) had left the chalet that day.

powder on the piste
first run of the day - powder on the Belle Mouille piste

Along with others from the chalet, we tended to head to Mont Chery in the mornings, as that's where the sun was. This side of the valley is much quieter, and more of a 'locals' area.  The lifts are old and slow - one chair was shut all week (had to use a drag lift instead, eww) and we spent 25 minutes sat on an uncomfortable 2-seater that had broken down.  But the runs are lovely, particularly Lievre.  The red back down to the town features two road crossings which I could have done without.  And I don't mean 'this is actually a road in summer' - I mean actual road currently being used by vehicles.  "You go first, you're on hired skis".  Thanks...

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