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Skiing in the Dolomites Sets a High Bar
Sportlöv is a fantastic Swedish tradition
It’s been a while since we’ve provided any updates. It was tough to top the trip to the Arctic Circle. Since then we have settled into a pretty normal routine of school and weekend fun that any family with young kids would recognize. You know, children’s birthday parties, ice skating play dates, etc, etc. Oh, and despite being vaccinated four times (2 times in the US and 2 times in Sweden), I managed to get a serious case of Covid. Our oldest Cinnamon Stick got it too. Mrs. Cinnamon Bun and our youngest probably had it too, although their symptoms were mild. So we spent a couple of weeks sick and tired. But we healed up fine, which is good, because our next event was skiing in the Dolomites of Italy!
We planned our trip to Italy for Sportlöv, which is “Sports Break” or “Sports Leave”. Judging by the number of cars with ski racks around that week (60% or so?) I’d say it is a scheduled ski week for Sweden. Actually, like many things, they do it right here. They stagger the breaks around the country so that the ski resorts don’t get overly crowded. Southern Sweden gets a break at Week 7 or 8, Stockholm Week 9, etc. Despite the spread, when we looked for accommodations in Sweden everything was booked. I’m sure Covid kept people in country that might otherwise have gone abroad.
Mrs. Cinnamon Bun has some Italian colleagues who heartily endorsed skiing in the Dolomites in Val Gardena. We looked elsewhere as well, then thought, “Why would we argue with locals?” So we booked it. And boy are we are glad we did. It was one of the best, most family-friendly vacations we have ever been on. This was our backyard for the week:
We stayed at the wonderful hotel Family Hotel Posta. Which we highly recommend. The reservation includes half-board, so our breakfast and dinner were included with the hotel. And the food was fantastic, the hotel… fantastic… for both the adults and children! They also offered the vacation maker: full day ski school for the kids! The kids got on shuttle busses and rode to the mountain with their classmates at 9:30am. They skied all day, and if you weren’t home when they got back (we always were), there was a kids club where they could hang out with the on-site babysitters while you finished your skiing.
One of Mrs. Cinnamon Buns co-workers described the Dolomites as “Typical Italian mixed with Austrian influence. So you get Italian food and joy of life with some of the Austrian structure.” All around, a very good combination, I must say. The first couple of days of ski school, we got to meet the girls for lunch, after that they ate with their groups at restaurants on the slopes.
We were a little worried about our kids skiing all day - they are pretty much beginners - so we checked on them several times. It was one of our first experiences where I felt like our kids were embarrassed we were around. Most of the kids were Italian and suffice to say, there were no other helicopter parents around.
Once the kids were ensconced into their ski school, Mrs. CB and I got a chance to ski. I spent more time alone with her on this trip than I probably have in the last 2 years combined! We enjoyed ourselves immensely. Val Gardena, where we were skiing, consists of 4 contiguous ski areas that are linked by a ski circuit called the Sella Ronda. It totals 1,200km skiable trails and 450 ski lifts. And based on our experience, an equal number of fantastic on-mountain dining options! Mrs. CB had the foresight to book us a ski guide for our first full day, as it can be very confusing since it is so large. Still, during our whole week, we probably covered 1/20th of the terrain.
I learned that the Dolomites get 300 days of sun per year. When I asked our guide how they get so much snow, she said, “Well, when it’s not sunny in the winter, it snows”. Fair enough. It was beautifully sunny the whole week that we were there. We all got sunburned despite ample sunscreen application. It turns out that 80% of the days during the winter in the Dolomites are sunny.
We spent our time on slope split roughly between skiing and eating. No $25 hotdogs in a cafeteria on these slopes. The food was fantastic. Our day routine: Ski, stop for mid-slope espresso, ski, stop for lunch, ski, espresso, ski, après ski (which translates to cocktails). Often, we only had one or two runs before we took a break because the runs are so long. Top to bottom could take up to 30 minutes in some areas.
After a full day of skiing and eating, we retreated to our hotel. Usually we were picked up by Marco, our hotel shuttle driver, who warmed up to us eventually because my wife spent much of her childhood in the South. Then the kids would swim. This was the view near the pool:
The Grand Finale of the week was a ski race Friday morning where the kids got to show off their newly acquired skills! The CB girls did great!
We can’t wait for next year!
To be continued…