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3-Valleys France & Amsterdam

Date: Jan 27-Feb 7, 2012
Trip Leader: Steven Krapes
Trip Assistant: John Kelly
 

(Pictures are clickable for high-res images)

Our 42 trip participants converged at Newark Airport at noon from our Club bus or their own transportation.   We learned that our flight was delayed and we would miss our connection but Delta arranged for us to take an alternate flight out of JFK, and provided us bus transportation to JFK.   Delta took good care of us - being in a large group has pull.
 

Amsterdam airport for breakfastLe Montana bar - a gathering placeThus began our trek to La Tania.  The 7-hour flight to Amsterdam arrived at 6am, giving us time for coffee and stuff before our 10am flight to Geneva.   We arrived in Geneva around noon and boarded our bus around 1pm for the 2.5 hour trip to La Tania, where we had 34 people at the Le Montana and 8 at the La Saboia.  Most of the hotel rooms were ready and the group dispersed to the town to go shopping and to get their ski rentals.   Our 3-Valleys orientation was the beginning of our experience with the casual French way of life - a long delay while the hotel staff tried to regroup when the orientation person did not show up.  We had some free beer/wine so the wait was a good excuse to socialize.

We had a single group dinner seating in the Le Montana restaurant.   The food was plentiful and tasty.  There was a bar in the lobby that was happy to pour as much beer/wine as you wanted.   A lobby fireplace made a great place to talk about the day's activities. Breakfast started sometime around 7:30 (this is France) and included scrambled eggs, ham, cheese, yoghurt, juices, and of course amazing crusty French bread and the best croissants on the planet.   My kingdom for a good French patisserie in New Jersey.

Le Montana - right on the ski slopeLunch - well, DrinksLa Tania was covered in many feet of snow.  A stark contrast to what the United States was experiencing this year.  Our first two days of skiing were sunny with all trails open.    A great introduction to 3-Valleys since we could see all the slopes and get a good idea of the layout of the mountain.  The area is so huge that you had to pick one direction/town and concentrate getting there and back.   You could easily spend 2 weeks at 3-Valleys and not still not ski every run.   3-Valleys is not just a bunch of groomed runs.  Most of the ski area is above the tree line so you can easily ski off-piste the majority of the time.
 

Crowds?  What crowds?On Tuesday it snowed and snowed. About 1 foot on the lower slopes and much more at higher elevations.  We were in nirvana epic territory.  Snow up to our calves and sometimes our knees.   Most of the locals appeared to avoid skiing while it was snowing and as a result we had the fresh powder to ourselves.   8 hours of powder skiing.  What more can I say.
 

On Wed, 22 of us gathered as a group and skied over to the top of Val Thorens (pronounced tor-ens). It was a clear sunny day, perfect for the long trek to the far side of 3-Valleys.  3 1/2 hours later we arrived at the top of the Caron Tram, with awesome views of the French Alps.   Val Thorens  is a large ski vacation area high up in the French Alps, at 7,000', way above the tree line.  While La Tania is a quiet area with hardly any people, Val Thorens is a bustling ski town with people/hotels/apartments/lifts everywhere.    Much of the day was spent skiing up to a ridge and stopping for a mandatory photo opportunity.   The place was massive with skiing as far as the eye could see.
 

Hail the beer bunniesLunch in Saint Martin De BellevilleThursday was yet another sunny day that allowed for an excursion to the far reaches of the ski area.  12 of us ventured over to Meribel and eventually to Saint Martin De Belleville, where fine restaurant-quality lunches were available for under $20.    Friday brought in clouds and a bit of snow yet the skiing was still excellent.  The Club was extremely lucky to be in the French Alps when they had the most snow in 20 years.
 

Dam Square - AmsterdamA local cheese farmOn Saturday we woke up before dawn and boarded the bus for our flight to Amsterdam.  We were at our Hotel (Die Port Van Cleve) by 5pm and the group immediately ventured out into the city for dinner and entertainment.    Amsterdam appears to cater to tourists and entertainment.  Your eyes were surrounded by hotels, restaurants, bars, smoke shops, and fast food joints.  And then there were all the museums and cultural activities.   It is incredibly easy to have a good time in Amsterdam.    Sunday morning started with a great buffet breakfast followed by a 3-hour city bus tour.    We visited a gouda cheese farm and a wooden shoe factory, and then a windmill.  Very touristy but it was fun.  We ended Sunday by going to a local Irish bar that was broadcasting the Super Bowl, which began at 12:30am.   Many lasted until 2am - some stayed until the end.
 

Skating on the CanalsJohn/Lenny wishing there was beer in thereMonday was a free day for the group to tour the city.  Indonesian food seemed to be a popular restaurant choice.  You can pretty much get any cuisine in Amsterdam.  And of course the beer in Holland is quite good, on par with our Prague trip.
 

Amsterdam Museum - Bye ByeSteve and John would like to thank everyone for being such a great group and making it a memorable trip for all.

 

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