It’s about time I wrote about another of my favourite places – it’s got absolutely nothing to do with beaches, but everything to do with peace, love and a whole lot of fun! But I have to tell you how I got to this amazing place if you can indulge me a little looking backwards.
Way way back when I was eleven, my parents got together with some friends and their 11 year old daughter and decided to show us girls snow for the first time. Very good intentions of our wonderful parents, but a day trip to the snow in jeans, jumper (sweater for my American friends), beanie and woolen gloves did nothing to enthuse either of us girls with the white wet cold stuff.
In hindsight though maybe our parents were smart because anyone who has taken a ski holiday will know how insanely expensive it is. Maybe it was their grand plan to completely turn us off so we would always choose a summer holiday over any other. Sitting lazing on a beach doesn’t cost much. Mmm will have to ask mum if that was the case.
So after a 12 year permanent summer, I met a guy who was an avid skier. Paul had skied everywhere and his stories finally convinced me to take a day trip to Mt Buller in Victoria. He kitted me up with all the right gear and said I would love it – and he was right! I spent nearly the whole day on my butt, laughed myself silly, drank way too much schnapps afterwards and fell in love with the white wet cold stuff. This was my kind of sport. Unfortunately it was the end of the season when he convinced me to try it … so what was a girl to do?
Well I lived on baked beans, spent nooo money, saved and saved and four months later headed to Europe for two weeks of skiing. A week of full on lessons with a “bend zee knees” instructor and great snow made me want more, more, more. I was now on a permanent winter. Skiing Australia and then Europe – for three years I worked hard and played hard. I even managed to escape and work half a season at my home mountain Mt Buller, before being lured back to the corporate world.
But then it happened, after running into an old school friend one day I went sailing ….and to cut my reminiscing short, met my husband to be – a Queensland boy, and went back to my permanent summer.
Life has a funny way of working things out though. And it’s not that I don’t like sailing – I love it, but nothing compares to a winter holiday in the snow. Seductive fires and hot chocolates that melt away the cold, feeling the exhilaration of beating that black run (black diamonds are, after all, a girls best friend) and the sun going down so early that the night is your own. It’s the people you meet on the chair lift or share a table for your apres ski. Telling stories of near misses and “you should have seen that”. Yep I love it! I love everything about getting up for the first lift of the day to getting lost in a white out!
So in 2009 we had a combination of good fortune – winning a set of skis as a lucky door prize – an airline price war – cheap fares to the states – and the best friend in the world moving to Colorado. Now I just had to convince my husband that our sun-loving children and my “sailing the warm trade winds” man that a freezing cold holiday was just up our alley!
Obviously I managed a win, and we now, as a family, class Vail as one of our all time favourite places on the planet. If you’ve skied before you will know that Vail is one of America’s top resorts (some will say THE premier resort), not only for the huge skiable area, but a village that accommodates all types from the mega wealthy who sit down at 5 star restaurants every night, to the fabulous hidden gems of budget eateries and bars that serve a $5 margarita! But it’s not that you can mix it with the rich and famous that makes Vail so special. It’s the warmth of the locals, and the imported locals, that will speak your lingo from wherever you come from on the globe. It makes you feel at home.
I love the myriad of shops from beautiful galleries with blown and sculptured glass to a real western place that you can buy cowboy boots and buckles that get ridiculously expensive! Of course you’ve got the fur shops and jewelers that you have to ring a bell to be admitted, but then there’s the moose caboose that has all kinds of goodies that a 8-year-old can spend her pocket-money on.
I love the fact that you can buy an Epic Pass to maximise your skiing dollar. I love the photographers dressed in green that pepper the mountain that will take your photo doing just about anything and upload it to your pass. And if you are very clever you can link it straight to your Facebook account so you can share those “did you see that” moments. I love the new pins you can get while skiing the mountain. The pass keeps track of every lift you take and then you can earn pins for just about anything. I must say I was very chuffed to get the Mount Everest one. I’d skied enough terrain to have skied top to bottom of tallest mountain on earth.
I love the bars. Garfinkles would be on my all time favourites list (The Soggy Dollar being the other), with cold beer, great music and an atmosphere that is hard to beat and not to mention only a very short walk from the end of the run. But then the Ore House with its wicked margaritas and amazing buffalo wings held us captive the last time we went. The Red Lion deserves a mention too, with a pumping atmosphere and the best spot if you end up in Vail Village at the end of your day.
I love the fact that there are three different villages in one. Lionshead, Vail Village and Golden Peak. Each offering something different and special. Yep Vail is something special – to quote their motto
Like nothing on Earth
So if you haven’t been skiing and you made it to the end of this piece (way too many words for me) you should try it sometime, you might be surprised at how much you love the white wet cold stuff. Or if you are a skier and haven’t made the trek to Vail, do yourself a favour and put it on your bucket list. You wont be disappointed.