Snowboarding: Jasna, Slovakia

I’m going to tell you a story about our wintersport holiday!

…wintersport holiday. Can you tell we live in Holland?

Since we’ve just come back from our month long adventure in Cambodia and Vietnam, we really only had two goals: snowboard & snowboard cheaply.

Turns out, Eastern Europe has plenty of good snowboarding if you’re willing to sacrifice piste kilometers, and since we were looking at a 3 day trip that’s exactly what we decided to do.

Shane originally found Jasna, Slovakia on an Apple News article talking about “little known ski areas” – something to that extent. Once Jasna was on the radar, I started researching.

Turns out, there’s not much out there on snowboarding in Slovakia.

I’m here to change that, folks! So here we go.

First up, my go-to snowboarding specific website, World Snowboard Guide, gave Jasna a 7/10.

For real, if you don’t know about this site then you need to. It gives you the whole run down of how each mountain ranks specifically for snowboarding. It’s how I found Livigno, Italy last year and where I generally start planning trips. For us, anything 7 and above is a winner!

How to get there:

There are three nearby airports: Propad (Slovakia), Krakaw (Poland) and Vienna (Austria). Propad being the closest, but appeared to only be serviced by carriers originating in the UK.

For us, coming from Amsterdam, the best option was to fly to Krakaw and drive ~3 hours to the mountain.

We flew with KLM for ~180 euros per person including 1 extra checked bag for the gear. KLM allows you to check a ski or snowboard bag with not additional fees, which is quite handy.

See ya, Holland!

A car rental from the Krakaw airport from Wed – Sun was ~60 euros, which we were thrilled about! What we were not so thrilled about was the 200 euro fee to cross the boarder from Poland to Slovakia. If you rent a car in the Netherlands you could literally drive the thing TO Slovakia and they could care less, so this was really a surprise for us.

Consider yourself warned! If you rent a car in Poland you will be charged a fee to cross the boarder!

Our handy dandy car rental that perfectly fit all our crap!

Where to Stay:

This was a tricky one for me. We were trying to keep it cheap, so staying on the mountain itself was definitely out. You can stay in what looked like gorgeous ski in-ski out lodges and spas on the mountain, but you’re also going to pay a hefty sum for that.

We also are grown-ass adults and weren’t trying to stay in a dirty run-down hotel. Balance, ya know?

We settled on Penzion Routunda which is located smack in the center of Liptovský Mikuláš; the closest town to Jasna Chopok – the main mountain. 160 euros got us 4 nights in a 1 bedroom apartment with free parking, enough room to store the gear, and enough kitchen to cook breakfast before we headed out.

Staying in the center of Liptovský Mikuláš was a great option. There were plenty of restaurants for dinner and a grocery store nearby. You, of course, won’t find your typical après-ski, but for us having some cold beer and a snack at home before we ventured out to dinner worked perfectly.

You can buy beer by the 1.5 LITER in Slovakia!

The Mountain:

Ahh.. and on to the good stuff. The mountain itself!

Jasna Chopok is located ~15 min driving from Liptovský Mikuláš. A ski bus is available, but we could never find a clear ski bus map with pick up locations or times so we decided to drive.

The first day we were a little late out the door – lifts opened at 8am and we were on the road probably at 8am. If you want good parking, don’t do that.

It was fine. There is parking (P4) at the bottom of the mountain and a shuttle bus that takes you up, but the shuttle is jam packed and only ran every 45 min (?!?!) and when you’re tired and ready to go, you’re tired and ready to go!

The next day we got our sh*t together and were in the P1 parking lot – the closest one to the main lift – by 7:15am.

Even made it in time for a pre-lift pick-me-up.

As for the snowboarding… it was perfect for a 3 day trip.

This is the first year that I can truly say I’m a proper snowboarder. I can finally handle my own and enjoy a good fun park!

…there were no fun parks in Jasna.

Ok so there was one small section, but the only access was a terribly slow lift or the bain-of-a-snowboarders-existance: the tow rope.

I would say most of the pistes were intermediate level. Shane, who’s been snowboarding for much longer than I have, might say otherwise. Regardless, after three days we had fully explored the area, and if we stayed longer we might have been bored.

Easy riding meant I could practice my snowboarding selfie skills.

I would also like to disclaimer that my opinion on this would probably be 100% different had we had fresh snow. The entire back-side of the mountain was essentially off-piste, but since there was no new snow it was all ice and unusable.

We were able to sneak out a few good powder runs on the first day after ~10cm from the night before, but to get there, we had to brave the white out…

So,

Was Jasna worth it?

Yes.

A 3 day lift pass was 90 euros per person – a fraction of the cost for a 3 day pass somewhere in the alps. Our total expenses (excluding food and drink) were 620 euros including our surprise boarder-crossing fee. The average dinner for two (including drinks) was ~20 euros. Compared to your average ski holiday in Switzerland, Austria, or France – it’s a steal.

I would also highly recommend Jasna to anyone who’s learning, or who might take kids. There’s plenty to keep those who are more experienced entertained, while letting the newbies gain some confidence.

And of course, had there been fresh snow, the off-piste area would have been amazing! Instead, I stared at it with envy from the gondola…

Biggest downside? No funpark. I was looking forward to landing some sweet jumps (and by jumps, I mean baby-sized jumps)! Maybe next year.

But, Shane found a dog (he named him Pablo) so it couldn’t have been all bad, right?

OH! And here’s the video of our Jasna adventure!

Tot ziens,

Whitney

Livigno, Italy

Ahhh, nothing better than alpine wind blowing through your braided pigtails as you whizz down snow-covered mountains with a board strapped to your feet.

Especially so, considering we almost didn’t make it on this trip. I’ll explain.

We had plans to fly on Saturday around noon. The last few trips we’ve cut it pretty close at the airport for various reasons – delayed trains, delayed baggage check-in etc.. This time, we were going to be smart. We booked ourselves a hotel at the airport Friday night and planned to have a “leisurely morning before the flight”. Boy, were we wrong.

Friday night, in the hustle and bustle of getting all the snowboard luggage off the train, Shane left his backpack in the upper storage compartment. What was in the backpack? Oh, let’s see. Only everything important: his work computer, the GoPro, a Nikon camera, his snowboarding goggles, his keys, his new hat, and the kicker – his passport.

Now, I must say. We’ve learned a few lessons from this experience.

  • NEVER put all your expensive stuff in one bag. I mean, rookie mistake. We have traveled enough to know better.
  • Take a picture of your passport NOW. Don’t make a paper copy. I mean, do that too if you want,  but find a way to store it on-the-line. If your paper copy happens to be with your lost passport and you can’t find the number then you’ll run into this scenario – like us.
  • Save ALL your receipts for any purchases over, say $50, in a dedicated place. You’ll need them if you submit claims for insurance, and when you go to look for a computer purchase that happened in 2010 the odds are you don’t have the email anymore and the store where you purchased it won’t have records beyond 2012 *cough-Best Buy-cough*.

As soon as we realized the backpack was missing, Shane filed a report with NS, the train company. They told us that we had a chance because the train we were on terminated for the night in Den Haag, which was only two stops away. On the other hand, the train terminated in Den Haag, only two stops away, so when we realized the backpack was gone the conductor had already taken the train to the yard for the night.

Ok Ok, so we lost the stuff. Expensive, yes, but replaceable. And Shane is a compulsive backer-upper so all his thesis data was locked up at work – also ok. Next problem: the passport. Generally speaking, you can’t fly to another country without a passport. Lucky for us, we found out that the airline KLM would allow Shane to fly with only his Dutch drivers’ license as ID. So, I kept the original flight and Shane rebooked with KLM to Milan.

Fun fact. Milan has TWO airports. Our original flights went to LIN. The rebooked flight went to MXP.

Ok ok ok – soooo no problem. We rented a car to drive to the mountain. New plan – I’ll pick up the car, drive to Shane (who arrived after me), pick him up and we will be on our way.

That’s a big fat NOPE!

I booked the car but listed Shane as the primary driver because he usually is. Turns out, for reasons that are still beyond me, when one makes a car reservation you can’t change the primary driver to someone else without canceling the booking and starting over (despite having all the booking information and the same credit card). Since we definitely didn’t want to do that – we still needed the car – Shane had to land and come to me.

So, 4 hours and an expensive cab ride later, my knight in shining armor arrived and picked up the car with no problems whatsoever (insert eye roll – to the car people, not Shane).

BUT HOT DAMN WE WERE FINALLY ON THE WAY!!

And no, this picture is not from our journey there. By the time we arrived in Livigno, it was ~10:30pm (instead of ~6pm as intended) after a dark and winding way into the mountains where, despite Shane’s excellent driving, I did very little talking and pressed my invisible-passenger-side-break a lot.

But it was all worth it. SO worth it!

I think I’ll stop talking now and let the pictures speak for themselves. Since we lost the GoPro, no real action shots this trip, but we did agree – it was kind of nice to be disconnected in that way. As fun as it is to have the GoPro, you’re always thinking about if you’re getting good videos for pictures or for the compilation video. This time, we just snowboarded, drank, and snowboarded again. And we were very lucky with the weather, only one white-out day (which we used to play in the *beginner* funpark – I made 4 JUMPS IN A ROW!) and the rest was snow overnight, sunshine during the day.

Ok, now I’ll really stop talking.

I swear we were having a good time. (lol)

One really nice thing about Livigno, if you could get to it then it was open for business. As in, the off-piste (off-trail) options were just about equal to the piste options. This was my first time trying off-piste, and now I get it. It’s like snowboarding on a cloud!

Despite, as Shane likes to put it, “his best efforts” we came. We snowboarded. We conquered.

Now we have to wait another year to do it all again… sigh.

And don’t worry. Shane figured out a way to report the lost passport without the number and goes next week to apply for a new one. Turns out, it requires exactly the right combination of information (current address, permanent address, phone number etc.) to allow the online system to find you. Quite a challenge if you’ve moved a lot.

Oh, and FYI, don’t try calling – they will only direct you to the website. Good work, America.

Tot ziens,

Whitney

Innsbruck/Ischgl, Austria

After nearly 3 years of living in Europe, we FINALLY went snowboarding in the Alps! 

It’s ironic that it has taken us this long as snowboarding was one of the opportunities we were most excited about when first moving – it’s the Alps after all! Luckily, the Sufrinkos wanted to come back for another taste of Europe and so we had no excuse to put it off any longer.  So, without further delay, I give you (as Whitney has so aptly named it)…

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The Shwitfrinko Snowboarding Adventure!


Innsbruck

Our adventure begins in Innsbruck, Austria.  For a quick back story, if you are going skiing in the Alps, you have multiple countries to choose from – Switzerland, France, and Austria are among the most popular.  We chose Austria for no other reason than we had yet to visit that country.  So, as I was saying, we began in Innsbruck.  For Whitney and I, it was a short one hour flight from The Netherlands.  For the Sufrinkos, not so much.  So the first day was just causal exploring of Innsbruck and jet lag recovery.

We stayed in Innsbruck for two more days, exploring more of the city,

completing an escape room,

alicia-sufrinko

and of course ringing in 2017/celebrating Whitney’s birthday!

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January 2 saw the end of our Innsbruck stay (we would return again at the end of the trip) and on to Ischgl for snowboarding!


Ischgl

For the next 5 days, we stayed in Ischgl.  When we arrived, the entire area had snow, but it was all man-made.  However, by day 2, the real snow started and we ended up with nearly a meter of fresh powder (2-3 ft).  The view from our room really shows the difference: from no snow to dog sleds in the period of 4 days!

Speaking of rooms, if you happen to travel to the Ischgl area, we cannot recommend Hotel Verwall enough.  Great family-run hotel with amazing food!

…conveniently located on the border of Ischgl, not-Ischgl.

The views from any given piste/gondala/mountain top in the area were spectacular! Photo credit to Brian for many of the snowboarding and scenery pictures, as he manned our camera for a large portion of the trip.

He also commandeered my phone…

As an added bonus, you can ski into Switzerland as part of the “Smuggler’s Run” challenge.  Two countries in one trip! Now Whitney can claim that she has been to Switzerland as well.

All-in-all, a fantastic snowboarding trip! Aside from the pictures posted here, I’ve also put together a video of the GoPro footage shot throughout.

Check it out!


Innsbruck – pt. 2

As I said before, we returned to Innsbruck after snowboarding for one more day before our flights the next morning.  Despite the fact that we had already spent three days there, it was a completely different experience – no more holiday festivities and lots of snow!  Naturally, we spent the day indoors, relaxing in the hotel sauna and getting massages. The perfect end to a vacation!

Until next time,

Shane