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by Paul Wojnicki

travelogue

Let it snow!

I’m astonished by how much snow there is, and how everything functions in spite of it all. But this region of Sweden is no stranger to snow, and the transfer from Åre Östersund airport to Vemdalen goes more smoothly than a trip along the M6. The scenery is also infinitely more attractive: frozen lakes, snow-covered pine forests and even the odd reindeer herd in the hills. * Our resort in Vemdalen is just as picture perfect when we arrive, with a mountain blanketed head to foot in snow and Christmas trees every 10 metres in the picturesque town centre.

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“I love it!” Harrison screams as we wade through the snow toward Sörgårdarna Apartments from the bus. “So do I!” my wife, Alena yells as we open the door to reveal a huge apartment, complete with its own private sauna. I’m starting to fall in love with Vemdalen myself as I gaze from the living-room window toward the slopes, which are only a few metres from our room. They look perfect for learning to ski, with wide, uncrowded slopes covered in fresh powdery snow.

Three-year-old Ella smiles and shouts: “Snow!” The kids are eager to get outdoors so we quickly don our snow suits and head to the hire shop to pick up our skis, passes and a sledge. We then spend the whole of our first day sledging on the slopes right outside our apartment- with just a quick trip to town for dinner interrupting the fun. With the excitement of the trip and the exertion of climbing hills all afternoon the kids are exhausted come 8pm and fall asleep as soon as they’re in their beds. So the following day we’re up early, enjoying breakfast in the ultra-modern kitchen/dining room before building a snowman and an igloo, then beginning our ski lessons.

I’m surprised at how competitively priced the lessons actually are, despite Sweden’s reputation as an expensive country. A private one-hour lesson for two costs £90, which is even cheaper than the private lessons we enjoyed at Chill Factore in preparation for the trip. I’m also happy to see how quickly the instructors get Harrison and Ella skiing. Five-year-old Harrison had already had a lesson at Chill Factore but I’m still surprised to see him graduating from the nursery slope to the main one on his first lesson. Three year old Ella meanwhile had been too young for Chill Factore but still manages to ski all the way down the nursery slope hand in hand with the instructor after a few minutes. And by the time the lesson has ended Harrison is taking the chair lift to the top of the mountain while Ella can use the sheltered magic carpet lift to get to the top of a gentle slope and glide down again completely unaided. It’s amazing to watch and I don’t have any anxieties about their safety at all. Indeed, it’s the perfect place to learn for young children as the slopes are so wide

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