Falling in Love with Skiing in Europe

Ski Italy, Ski Europe, Skiing, Skiing the Alps, Ski Dolomites, DolomitesAs a professional ski racer, the question often comes up, “How long have you been skiing?” They inevitable answer always seems to be “since I was a kid.”

A better question would be “when did you first fall in love with skiing?” For me, it was on my first trip to Europe in high school to compete in the Italian Marcialonga Ski Marathon. I had experienced the Birkie in Hayward, but had no idea what to expect from my first trip to Europe—let alone my first international ski race.

Lining up at the start line in the tiny mountain village of Moena in Italy’s famed Val di Fassa, I was surrounded by hundreds of skiers and could not understand a word they were saying. When the gun went off, the massive pack of skiers took off down the trail, which turned out to be groomed streets through the village of Moena. It was a “choose-your-own-adventure” of ski trails, past 13th-century buildings and down narrow, cobble streets covered by groomed ski tracks.

Considering we were racing in the Dolomites, I was surprised that the course was relatively flat, but I found smooth, level skiing along the brook created by the lake, Lago di Soraga. As we followed the trail, we kept skiing through little towns – Pozza, Canazei, Predazzo – each town had scores of locals lining the route cheering. Each town would try to out-do the last. Local elementary school students would cheer “die! die! die!” Italian for “go! go! go!” and brass bands would trumpet polka tunes – this region, after all, was part of Austria before World War I.

Everything about the race was exciting. Everything at a Worldloppet event is exciting and the Italians know better than anyone how to have a good time!

Ski Italy, Ski Europe, Skiing, Skiing the Alps, Ski Dolomites, Dolomites

It was this experience racing in Europe that helped me fall in love with skiing and inspired another 12 years of international competition—not to mention a few more in the years to come!

Of course, when deciding the places to bring guests for VBT’s first Nordic Ski Tours and Worldloppet events, the Marcialonga in Italy was the first place that came to mind. You can join me this winter for 12 days in Europe and compete in both the Marcialonga and Austrian Dolomitenlauf. Read more about the departure on our website.

The Marcialonga trip and race registration are filling fast! Contact our sales team by Tuesday, October 9, to get more information and reserve your place on the tour. I can’t wait to ski with you in Italy this winter!

For more great ski news check out our friends at www.skipost.com.

Genuine Italy

To keep our travelers well-informed about VBT vacations, we’ve introduced a great tool, our Traveler Reviews. We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback through this new channel and we just couldn’t resist sharing this testimonial about our Puglia: Italy’s Undiscovered Coast vacation. Enjoy!

Did we know about Puglia before we chose this VBT bike tour? Not really. It is off the beaten path for tourists. But that is what we loved about this trip. The landscape, people, food, towns are so like the Italy one imagines. I was fascinated by the masseria – the self-contained walled compounds dotting the countryside. I was thrilled we had a chance to stay in two remarkable examples of masseria during this VBT trip!

Italy Vacations, Italy Tours

We biked every day along olive groves on quiet roads edged with low stone walls. It was a full sensory experience: seeing the individuality of the twisted, ancient olives; smelling the sweet wild fennel and oregano along the roads; feeling the sound-wave chirr vibration of cicadas; breaking open fresh green pods to find sweet, tender almonds inside; feasting on olives and cheeses and seafood and the local Primitivo red wine made locally. Did I mention I learned to make pasta with the master chef at the amazing masseria where we first stayed?

Italy Bike Tour

We were drawn to Puglia because of the charming, quirky conical dry-stone Trulli houses found in this region. I delighted in every one of these amazing structures I saw, whether the vast numbers in the World Heritage site of Alborobello or the unpretentious homes we rode by. My curiosity was satisfied by our opportunity to see the inside of a Trulli and how the architecture perfectly suited the environment.

Italy Bike Tour

And to cap it off, biking along the Salento coast looking out towards the Adriatic. Monopoli! Ostuni! Lecce! Each town magical in its own way. Do I want to go to Rome and Venice? Probably. But maybe I’ll just come back to Puglia.

-Anne M., Puglia: Italy’s Undiscovered Coast

Italy Bike Tour

Thanks Anne! To give our travelers the opportunity to enjoy even more reviews, we’ve got a great contest. If you submit your own review about a previously taken VBT vacation by October 31, 2012, you’ll be entered to win $1,000 in Travel Credits!* Head to www.vbt.com, find a tour that you’ve taken with VBT and click the Traveler Reviews tab to fill us in on your experiences.

*Contest rules: VBT travelers who post a review by Wednesday, October 31, 2012 will be entered into a contest to win $1000 in Travel Credits. This prize is non-transferrable and not redeemable for cash. Respondents must be 21 years of age or older and must have taken the VBT trip that they reviewed. Entries must be posted by Wednesday, October 31, 2012 and a winner will be drawn on Monday, November 5, 2012. To obtain the name of the winner, send your name and address to Paul Williams, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, 614 Monkton Road, Bristol, VT 05443. You may contact VBT with questions or concerns related to customer support and satisfaction.