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Skiing, Near Death, and Other Fun

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For me, the best places to travel to over Christmas are ski resorts. My favourite spots have been Val Thorens and Andorra, but there are so many more places for non-skiers. St Moritz in Switzerland has a beautiful lake, the perfect site for winter walks. It also has a bobsleigh track for those interested in lessons. Zermatt in Switzerland also has a winter walking trail, and, with the highest cable car in Europe at 3883 m, it’s got amazing views over Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa. For those interested in culture, the town of Kitzbühel in Austria dates back to the 1300’s, and, for those who just want a relaxed, pampered holiday, you are pretty much guaranteed to find spas and fancy restaurants in whichever resort you pick. Although typically quite an expensive venture, you can pick up great deals if you book far enough in advance. Nearer the time, you can find a plenitude of great holidays they’re trying to get rid of on the internet. Scotland has the potential to be a cheaper venture, although, from my experience, there was a lot more grass than snow.

One of the best reasons to visit a ski resort is a guaranteed white Christmas. You can build snowmen and make snow angels to your heart’s content. You’ll also have sun enough for a tan to keep you going until the summer, although stay clear of the ski goggle tan line.

Depending on your wishes, you can rent a chalet or stay in a hotel. You can either make your own Christmas dinner (you’ll find all the ingredients in the surrounding town) or have a ten-course one prepared for you. I’ve done both.

Although I typically enjoy slouching in my pyjamas all Christmas, watching family movies, and eating chocolate, there’s something to be said for getting up early and spending all day outside in the bright snow and sun, skiing down and along huge mountain ranges, wishing merry Christmas to wrapped-up strangers. It also gives you a huge appetite, so you might want to go for the ten course option.

I’ve had some of the best holidays in ski resorts. I’ve gone down a black slope by mistake before I properly knew how to ski. It was exhilarating, and I definitely almost died. I’ve skied to the bottom of a mountain range before I realised all the lifts had stopped for the day and had to hike up with my sister and my skis all the way to the top (which is funny only in retrospect). I’ve been on a night out in Val Thorens, lost my sister who had the room key, gone back to a friends’ apartment (in a different town), and had to find my way back for my morning flight because my friend was too hungover. I may or may not have had a breakdown in a pile of snow and thought it was the end. Those times were some of the best times I’ve had, and so I fully recommend a ski resort this winter.

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Bethan May

Travel Editor 2015/16

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