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You'd be excused for thinking that my very sporadic posting over this summer has been due to a packed social calendar or at the least a lovely exotic holiday or two. Not quite, but while it's been a bit damp and chilly here it's the first summer I've been able to go south of the border and visit my grandparents in Wexford and all the glamour that implies. The drive between Belfast and Wexford is a lovely long stretch of motorway, but if you head off the beaten (newly tarmac'd) path you can find this beautiful corner of the world...

Explore Ireland: Avoca mill


It's hard to believe I moved back to Belfast 3 weeks ago, leaving foggy London behind. (Well apparently heat-wave London now!) The last 3 weeks here have flown by in a very exciting whirlwind of "change of address" forms and trawling through recruitment sites. I can't complain too much, we timed our move to coincide with Easter and felt like we were on holiday at home for two weeks, going for long walks and coming back for tea and chocolate eggs..but now it's all business.

Day "Out Out" of London: Bushy Park



So much has happened in these few short months that I haven't shared any photos of my little Verbier Ski-Mini-Break! I may have mentioned before that it was a lovely friend's Hen Party, and I've loved the reactions to this so far, some people like myself think it's a great idea to do something really different / you've always wanted to do with your closest friends. Others just ask the very important question: "Didn't that mean skiing hungover everyday??" The very sensible Hens, myself included, paced ourselves quite well and made the most of the clean air, the food, the hot chocolate, until the last night. You need to go Out Out at least once in Verbier!

This was a super-organised trip and we go so lucky with the weather, our arrival afternoon was grey and eerie, but we woke up the next morning to the most beautiful blue skies. Conditions were perfect for skiing and for snapping away with my new Nokia Lumia 930 - it arrived the day before we left London (me having spectacularly dropped my old phone at the weekend) and even though I (and the husband) had read up the camera qualities, I was still stunned by the picture clarity.

Checking skis with Sarah our Ski Instructor
I could give you blue sky snowy mountain overload here, but I'll restrain myself. I will also Not be posting the messy "going out" photos, you all know the Hen weekend rules are similar to Fight Club rules! Anyway here is some photographic proof we did actually get out and up the slopes! The Hen Herself arranged skiing lessons for us at different abilities, and if you're planning a trip for next year, this would be my #1 tip! We had a beginners lesson in the morning followed by a free afternoon, while two of the more advanced girls shared another instructor. I felt I came on leaps and bounds in the afternoon, and my big achievement was not only Not Falling, but saving myself from a down-the-slopes-backwards-at-speed near fall! They don't make awards for that?? Oh well.

Me (left) in my big pink trousers! I missed the memo on sexy ski-wear!

We splashed out and stayed at the Hotel Cordée Des Alpes, and the above-and-beyond friendly service really made the trip. From helping us to book restaurants before we had even arrived, to casual advice on the best bars and most of all the great "shuttle" service to our various-abilities ski-slopes, ski-hire centres and even taking us from apres-ski to back to the hotel on our first exhausted evening. I really recommend this for a short ski-break: less time shuffling uphill in your ski-boots means more time on the slopes or relaxing!

The view from our "penthouse" at Hotel La Cordee
Hotel room details: need more glass sculptures


Speaking of relaxing, I can't believe none of us took a photo of the bathroom (aside from my un-symetrical tile photo above!). After our early start - including 4am. champagne and healthy brownies en route to the airport - we still managed to fit in a ski's-fitting, a quick beginners recap lesson and a little mulled wine at Le Rouge. By 7pm we were exhausted but determined to perk ourselves up for a big dinner, and what better way than a quick sauna and a long rainfall shower? Bliss. Even better after another full day of ski-ing and a failed hungover attempt at skiing the following morning! Instead we spent a couple of hours before our airport shuttle having lunch and swimming / jacuzzi-ing and steaming ourselves at the beautiful but nearly empty hotel spa, and my muscles were very thankful.
The hotel lobby décor - vintage skis

Hotel bath product winning
We couldn't believe how smoothly such a short break went, and how relaxed we returned from what was an action-packed hen-do, and we're already discussing Verbier reunions next year. If you're planning a trip, here are a few tips from the well-travelled hens:

VERBIER HOT-SPOTS:

STAY: Cordée des Alpes
LUNCH: Carrefour
APRES-SKI: Le Rouge
LIVE MUSIC: Farinet
DINNER: Al Capone  / La Grange
DANCING: The Farm

 

Tips for a skiing mini-break:

  • If you're getting an airport-to-hotel transfer, make friends with your fellow travellers - it can make 2 hours fly by.
  • Research your eating options before you get there, and make reservations for dinner - your hotel may help if you ask kindly!
  • If you are renting skis / ski boots, you will need to get fitted, so allow time for this on your first day. Some sites may offer to drop them to your hotel, but don't be mislead, they won't do anything without your measurements - safety first.
  • Ask if your hotel has a shuttle or taxi service - this will save you a lot of time and energy.
  • Book a ski instructor for your first day, ahead of your trip - they'll get you up to speed quickly, and can offer advice on slopes for your level for the rest of your stay.
  • Plan in some time to recharge before a night out - whether it's a long shower or a quick Jacuzzi you'll feel refreshed when you dress up again.
  • Don't forget your sunglasses and SPF!
Clear the way!
All photos taken on my Nokia Lumia 930.


How to have the best Ski Mini Break: Verbier


After kicking off the honeymoon in Split, we left the mainland and headed for a change of pace on the beautiful island of Hvar. The town itself is a pretty maze of steps and streets, best enjoyed early in the morning before the big boats and party-yachters arrive. Luckiy Hvar is surrounded by many even smaller islands, ideal for exploring, sun(shade)bathing, not to mention saltly sea swimming..








 *all photos by me, and still more to come!

xxx

Croatia part II: Hvar