A Travellerspoint blog

Hej då Åre: Return to Stockholm

Current Location: Stockholm, Sweden


View Trip to Stockholm (2009) on nigetv's travel map.

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With all the daily skiing, the week just flew right by and by the time I saw another group of people arriving at Åre, it was already time fro me to leave. I spent my last night in Åre walking around town and buying momentos (I left with a lapel pin and a magnet). If it were possible, I would have definitely been up for staying a few more days to get in a bit more skiing and a lot more exploring around town.

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Now that my short week of lessons are over, I finally see the fun and exciting part of skiing (especially now that I don't fall ... as much). I still can't believe that in four days I built up enough confidence to actually tackle different blue slopes! I've definitely got a running plan to come back for Week 9 (hopefully next year and at a different skiing area). What's even more exciting is that I'm actually planning on buying my own ski gear this summer! I've already checked out some equipment from Evo Gear (http://www.evogear.com if somehow you stumble on ths and are looking for skiing equipment ... although I think they only ship to the US) and I can't wait to hopefully buy them this summer.

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The train back to Stockholm did not have as much of a hectic start as catching the train to Åre (there was still running but it wasn't as desperate). We arrived at CityTerminalen at 03:30 but never left the train until around 08:00 as our car was disconnected and left in the station while the rest of the train continued along its path (I was pretty much blown away by this concept since I've never been on a train that did that).

Despite not knowing the language, I can definitely tell that I've walked back into city life as the people passing seemed to be moving at a faster pace and carried a bit heavier cloud of stress than those (including myself) who were in Åre.

I can now finally feel the effects of my skiing and it's rather strange for me. I honestly expected that I would be completely sore after each day but that didn't happen. Instead, now that I'm not skiing on a daily basis, that's when I can feel the pressure and the phantom ski boot syndrome where I feel as though I'm still wearing ski boots (it feels the strongest when I keep my legs in certain skiing positions). Even though this is happening, I wouldn't want it any other way because it's a reminder of my accomplishment this week. It's a reminder of how I learned something brand new. But most importantly, it's a reminder that it will be something that I will continue to do in the future.

Posted by nigetv 03:11 Archived in Sweden Comments (0)

King of the (Misty) Hill: Rise to the Top of Kabinbana

Current Location: Åre, Sweden


View Trip to Åre (2009) & Trip to Stockholm (2009) on nigetv's travel map.

From light to dark, the clouds have once again covered the sun. But with this change came fresh snow and so the slopes were powdery today. Today was officially my last day of ski school and since I'm typing right now, it would be safe to assume I graduated with blue colors!

Not once did we set ski on a green hill, the 1.5 hour lesson was nothing but blue run after blue run. The first order of buisness was to tackle the same t-bar lift that I fell off of yesterday. As I was quickly pulled uphill my anxiety skyrocketed and I was dreading the peak and once I arrived at the base of where I fell off I slowly ascened ... and I fell again (although this time I triumphantly fell off at the top of the incline instead of at the bottom of it).

Our class followed yesterday's route until we got to a Y-Intersection where we skied down the right path instead of the left one and so we ended up at the bottom of a different hill. Once again, I officially felt like a real skier as I had taken a route that ended elsewhere from where I started. And so the rest of the lesson consisted of going up a different t-bar lift (where I never fell again) and sking to the bottom.

The entire time was spent practicing not only wide turns but also short ones, eventually culminating in attempts to perform the "hockey stop" which I see many skiers do instead of the plowing stop. The day was not without difficulty however as, despite the powdery snow, there were still some steep parts where it was hard to control to my speed. I did end up crashing twice when I some patches and one leg decided to go faster than the other one. While the rest of my class continued until they realized I was not behind them, I slowly got up with a bit of help from other skiers (all of whom said my crashes looked rather bad as I rolled around a bit until I stopped). To be honest, I've resigned myself to just laugh when I fall and at the end of both crashes that was exactly what I did. I could definitely feel myself rolling around and my landing position was hard to get out off (what with skis being crossed) but falling is a part of the experience and I believe it's half the fun when out of nowhere you fall on your face and get up with a mouthfull of snow.

The end of the lesson was definitely bittersweet because I had learned to ski but at the same time I knew I probably wouldn't have an opportunity to ski again for a rather long time. Thanks to Cassandra Berg for being an awesome instructor and giving both encouragement and critique.

After the lesson (you may have guessed it) was lunch time!

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There's a restaurant (and later I found out a hotel as well) at the top of the Kabinbana bus station and that's where we went for lunch. It was great food ... although what was more impressive was that we had to take a gondala to the top as it was at the top of Åreskutan which is 1400 meters high. The ride up was a bit disappointing because it was so foggy and it was snowing so much but the glimpses of I was able to see told me were were definitely climbing way above the tree line and it was happeing fast (the entire ride only took 15 minutes).

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We got to the top of the hill and the area was so alien to me. First of all, the gondala was covered in such a thick frost and a thick coat of snow that didn't even come off because it was pretty much just frozen on. When I finally walked out of the gondala station I could hardly see 3 feet around me because so windy and snowy (it was like driving in white out conditions except that I was walking). Every picture taken would literally make it seem as though you were standing in a white and cloudy room. It was definitely an experience I won't forget.

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This was an extreme mountain to ski on and my cousins and uncle did just that. Despite being unable to see anything, they skied/snowboarded all the way down to Kabinbana. One group brought a camera and all that could be seen was white with the shouting in the background. They were relieved to have been able to make it down without crashing or running into any other people on the slope.

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Posted by nigetv 12:38 Archived in Sweden Comments (0)

Rödkullen: T-Lifts, Blue Slopes, and Sun ... Oh My!

Current Location: Åre, Sweden


View Trip to Åre (2009) & Trip to Stockholm (2009) on nigetv's travel map.

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I woke up this morning to see light cutting through the shutters right into the heart of our lakeside cabin. The sun had finally pierced the thick gray clouds over Åre and the way it hit the mountains and reflected off the snow made waking up to the winter weather seem alright (I would even dare to say magical). Everyone around town (and even the town itself) seemed to move about a bit faster with the excitement the sun brought out after days of continous snow and lashing winds.

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Yesterday, after having my second fall-free class in a row and finally conquering both of the green slopes at Duved (one of which had a rather steep hill) I finally began to feel that I truly was becoming skier. I've even got to admit that at one point I told myself that the green slopes were feeling more and more like warm-ups instead of actual runs (pretty big words to say, I know).

Although my first attempt at the t-bar lift during class left me rather scared about going up again because I fell off (although right at the very last hill since it was quite steep) once I reached the top of the mountain it was really an amazing view. It was a sunny day and in all directions I could see Åre in all its natural glory as I was now above the tree line. To be honest, I rather regret not bringing a camera with me (right now I've really got to concentrate more on sking and not taking pictures at top of hills haha) but hopefully by my next ski trip I will be more confident with bringing one along.

At the top of that hill, I truly felt like I had become a skier because this was the top of Rödkullen where different blue, red, and black slopes originated and this was also where a more experienced skier can easily ski to the bottom of other slopes and end up at different ski sites miles away (yup it was a pretty legitimate slope).

When we finally skied dow ... it was amazing. I followed in my instructor's path at a leisurely speed while making wide turns and taking every opportunity to practice speed control and proper stance (I've found that I end up leaning backward when I go faster than I would like therefore losing control ... and making me go faster still). We finally reached the bottom of the hill after about 20 minutes of sking and I could feel the sting in my legs but it was probably my proudest moment in my short sking history as I had made it down a blue slope ... and I didn't crash once.

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With my great accomplish, however, also came more exhaustion than I had experienced in my last few days of sking and after class I decided to take a personal day from sking by returning to the cabin ... and falling asleep. When I woke up I decided to enjoy the shy Åre sun and what resulted was a walk through town and on the lake, culminating in the photos that you see in this post.

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Posted by nigetv 18:54 Archived in Sweden Comments (0)

The Lure of Week 9: Stockholm's Sports Week

Current Location: Åre, Sweden


View Trip to Åre (2009) & Trip to Stockholm (2009) on nigetv's travel map.

On this, the second day of lessons, I've already created my mini-itinerary for sking for the rest of the week. Essentially I will be waking up early to catch the start of my lesson at 09:15 and then ski up until about 15:30 which is the time the bus arrives at Duved to take us back to the hotel.

With my sking lessons, today we spent our time practicing turning. I'm still getting used to positioning myself on the skis and turning has helped to familiarize myself with this stance since it reinforces the fact that I won't actually fall down if I lean too much in one direction. It seems like we're gearing up for eventually tackling a blue slope (which makes me both excited and nervous ... more so on the nervous though).

What brought me all the way up to Åre from Chicago? Why, I'm here because it's week 9 (the equivalent to spring break back in the States) and this is the time that many Swedes participate in snow sports. I would imagine that the phrase "snow sports" probably conjours up pictures of sking and snowboarding (I know that's what I think of) but my exploration of the hotel grounds revealed a lot of new activities I would have never even thought of.

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I imagine that Åre must be a wonderful place to vacation in during the summertime what with the various beaches that have evergreen mountain backgrounds. I've also learned that many travel here for mountain biking, water sports, and zipline. But what I'm impressed with is how the lake can still be utilized even in the winter time as it freezes enough to not only allow people to walk and ski but also to allow for racing, snowmobile courses, and even wind sailing.

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We're staying at a place called Holiday Club (http://www.holidayclub.se/en) and it really is a winter getaway with its vast log-cabin-like lobby complete with a fireplace to all the hotel amenities a guest would expect.

Åre itself is an amazing town. I've really only had the opportunity to explore the area immediately surrounding Holiday Club but it looks very charming and really fits what I would picture in my head as a European village (covered in snow) in both its modern architecture and centuries-old structures that bring present-day vacationers back to the past (the oldest building in the town is a 12th century stone church).

So far I'm having an amazing time up here in the Swedish mountains and while I would definitely jump at the opportunity to visit Åre during its summer glory, thre is no doubt in my mind that if I had the opportunity to return to Sweden for another week 9 adventure, Åre would definitely be one of the destations I would like to consider.

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Posted by nigetv 13:12 Archived in Sweden Comments (0)

Duvedsområdet and Rödkulleområdet - (Un)Lucky #11

Current Location: Åre, Sweden


View Trip to Åre (2009) & Trip to Stockholm (2009) on nigetv's travel map.

Yesterday, for the very first time ever, I rested my feet on a pair of skis and ... I fell (each and every attempt to go down the slope). It was definitely one of the scariest things I've ever tried. Whenever I would go down-hill a bit, I was never able to control myself and whenever I leaned forward (which is apparently what you're supposed to do) I would freak out and think that I would fall ... which resulted in me actually falling.

I did, however, end up impressing myself as I took the button-lift to the very top of the green hill in Duved (and both times I didn't fall). My family surround my descent down the hill screaming "Plow! You've got to plow!" which was very helpful advice except for the fact that I had no idea what that meant. In case you're not familiar with skiing terminology (much like myself) plowing is the "pizza" shape stance one makes in order to slow down or to stop. When I was finally armed with this definitition I found myself trying to plow and (to my surprise) actually slowing down.

Each time I went down the slope, it took me between 20-30 minutes to complete and I fell 9 times. One of the other things that I learned to do was actually stand up after a fall. Once again, my own know-how of how to walk (which I think is sturdy knowledge that has compounded for the last 22 years) failed me and I was taken out of my box to learn a new way to stand up. This, in fact, was my accomplishment for my first day as a legitimate skier. I never did learn how to slow down during a run, but at least by the end of my two sessions, I was able to get up ... without having to take off my skis.

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Like many of those enrolled in skischool, this morning was one full of anticipation and anxiety. After a day of falling and attempting the "pizza" stance I really wasn't sure if I had the endurance to last and entire hour and a half if the only thing I would master was the art of falling. Arriving at Rödkullen 45 minutes prior to the lesson gave me the opportunity to look around the grounds and I saw the long green slope that would be our training ground.

Our international ski class consisted of 9 people (mostly English) in varying states of the "beginner" label. However, I was the only one who was a true greenhorn since yesterday (as I said) was my first day ever. After a small ski test (one in which I didn't fall at all) people were generally impressed at how I was able to pick up sking in less than 24hrs (myself included) and we were split between the two instructors, myself going with the two others who had skied the least out of the rest of the group.

During the next 1.5 hours I became increasingly comfortable with plowing (I suppose now that I'm a "skier" I should use the correct term) and I even learned how to effectvely make turns without falling so that I could better control my speed as I descended the slope.

Today, all in all, I would say that my sking definitely made a leap forward. Post-skischool we returned to Duved for more practice and this time I managed to fall only 2 times ... therefore resulting in 11 falls in two days.

While the number 11 may seem large, it was a positive number in my book and will be a lucky number that I will always associate with my early experimentations with the winter wonder that is sking.

Posted by nigetv 14:44 Archived in Sweden Comments (0)

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