Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

October 4, 2011

Getting to Hokkaido

Filed under: Skiing — Tags: , , , — admin @ 1:53 am

From Sydney to Hokkaido.

This is the part where I plan out my trip to Hokkaido. I may as well lay it all out for you so that you can understand the steps I go through when planning a trip. I have sussed out a flight from Sydney to Osaka via Jetstar. I could have gone with AirAsia and had a holiday in South-east Asia on the way there and back. But I would have skis with me and lugging skis around Indonesia does not seem like a fun idea at all. I may stop on the way back yet, and leave my skis in Japan.

Luckily I have been to Osaka a couple of times now so I am fairly confident about getting around. From the aiport in Osaka(Kansai International Airport), I will take the Nankai train line to Shin-Imamiya Station. This will cost about a thousand yen. When you get out of the station turn left and go down the road and you will see heaps of cheap hotels for around 1500-2000 Yen per night. The area is a bit run-down but it has a lot of character and grunge unlike most of Japan which is sparkling clean. I stayed at the Hotel Toyo last time and it was fine. Rooms are about 1500 Yen and you can get a Japanese or western style room. Japanese style is a futon on a tatami mat and I guess Western is a bed. doh! The Hotel Toyo is a couple of blocks down the road right near the Dobutsuenma Subway station, so it is super handy for getting around in Osaka.

When you are at the airport, I will drop my skis off at the Yamato counter and they will get delivered to my hostel in Furano. Yamato Express is a courier service which delivers baggage. They are awesome. Just drop them off and your gear will be at your hotel when you arrive. The service is called Takkyubin and is very efficient. They are open from 9am to 6pm at the airport. If you arrive later, then your hotel will fix up the Takkyubin service for you. Get the hotel to book your ferry while you are at it.

Now to get to Maizuru. I loaded up the Jorudan train finder website and found that there is a train going from Umeda/Osaka station to Kyoto, then I have to change to the Ayabe train to Higashi-Maizuru. That will take me about three hours so I could take it easy as I would have all day. Make sure you go to Higashi-Maizuru station which is the port and not Mishi-Maizuru which is the town. I could also spend a day in Kyoto if I wanted but I am not in the mood this time. The Shin Nihonkai ferry goes from Maizuru to Otaru in Hokkaido. It leaves at midnight each day and arrives in Otaru the next night at around 9pm. You can get a Second Class berth for 11,700 Yen.

So, the next night you will arrive in Otaru at the ferry terminal and you need a place to stay. I will stay at the Otarunai Backpackers. I will probably have to get a taxi there (~550 Yen) but if I did not have skis I could probably walk. As a side note, taxi drivers in Japan are incredibly honest and helpful. They will go out of their way to do their best to get you to where you want to go and will not rip you off. The hostel will cost about 3000Yen per night.

From the Otaru bus terminal I will get a bus to Sapporo. They should leave every half hour or so. Then from Sapporo bus terminal I will get the bus to Furano via the Chuo bus. et voila, I will be there, ready to ski for another season. Bring it on!

May 16, 2010

Skiing in Grindelwald

Filed under: Skiing — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:17 pm

Grindelwald Skiing

I went to Grindelwald in 1983 and skiied there for a couple of months. When I arrived in December there was no snow, so I stayed in Interlaken down the mountain, waiting for the snow to come. Interlaken has a couple of hostels and is quite a nice little town with a lake nearby. There are 11 hostels in Interlaken, ranging in price from $20-30. I hitch-hiked to Paris just before New Years and spent a great time on the Champs Elysees celebrating the New Year with some fun Argentinian people that I met.

When the snow finally did come in January I moved up the hill to the Youth Hostel. Today there are three hostels that I can find in, ranging in price from $35-45. We also stayed at the Naturfreundhaus for a while. If you want more luxurious accommodation, there are heaps of swanky hotels and lodges in Grindelwald. As for accommodation for the whole season, I have no idea, but I am sure you could find a little room somewhere at a reasonable price.

Me skiing under the north face of the Eiger – 1983

As for the skiing, it is wide open. There are kilometers and kilometers of piste on either side of the valley. On one side (First) you have wide slopes and mountains and on the other side, you can ski underneath the north face of the Eiger at the Kleine Scheidegg and ski down into the next valley at Wengen. There are about 30 ski lifts, which comprise cable cars, chair lifts, T-bars, etc. Lift Prices approximately range from about $60 per day to $500 for 14 days. You can get many configurations of ski pass. The Jungfrau Sportpasses covers the whole area, Grindelwald-Wengen, or the Mürren-Schilthorn pass.

To get to Grindelwald, you first need to get to Bern. Berne is a very old city and you could probably spend a day or two wandering around the old city marvelling at the medieval atmosphere. I think they even have the old bear pits, from which the city gets its name. From Berne, travel to Interlaken, and then up the mountain to Grindelwald.

Skiing in Italy

Filed under: Skiing — Tags: , — admin @ 5:49 am

Ski Resorts of Italy

The skiing season in Italy usually lasts from December to late March. You can also ski all year on the glaciers in such places at the Marmolada Glacier in Trentino, Alta Adige and Mont Blanc and the Valle d’Aosta.

Cortina d’Ampezzo
Cortina is in the Ampezzo Valley near the north-east border with Austria. It is part of the Dolomiti Superski Region. The top station is at 3243 meters and the base is at 1224 meters. That is a fabulous vertical drop of more than 2000 meters. There are 5 cable cars, 24 chair lifts and 8 surface lifts. Season Passes for the valley are around 500 Euros or more and the Dolomiti SuperPass is approximately 700 Euros.

Madonna di Campiglio
The village is at 1522 meters. Local Season Passes are about 500 Euros. The Hotel La Felce has beds from around 37 Euros. The San Lorenzo in Banale (18kilometers away, Nembia Apartments) has beds from 11 Euros.

San Martino di Castrozzo
San Martino di Castrozzo is in the Trentino region. There are 22 lifts. The Ostello Dolomiti offers shared rooms for around 30 Euros. There are buses from Trento or Bolzano.

Bardonecchia is a small ski resort in the Italian alps, located in the west of Italy, with the highest point being at about 2750 meters.

Canazei is in the Val di Fassa, Val di Fassa local season passes are 400-500 Euros.

Alagna Valsesia
German is spoken in the valleys. The tourist office website is at The nearest train station to Alagna is Varallo Sesia. The Ayas Gressoney and Sesia Valleys from the Monterosa Ski Area. From Alagna Valsesia a cable car climbs to the Punta Indren at 3260 meters. You can get a train or bus to this area.

The ski area is about 2050 meters and goes from the Valle d’Aosta to the Matterhorn. Smaller ski resorts are Antey St-Andre, La Magdaleine and Valtournenche. You can get a bus to here. Local season passes are more than 200 Euros while season passes that include Zermatt in Switzerland are more than 600 Euros.

Corvara is in the area of the Dolomiti super pass, 40 kilometers east of Bolzano. The nearest railway station is the Bruneck (38 km). From here taking the shuttle bus to Corvara Val Badia. From all reports a great place to ski.

Plan de Corones or Kronplatz
The Plan de Corones is at 2275 meters, near Brunico in the Sudtirol. They are part of the Dolomiti super pass. A local season pass is more than 600 EUR.

Part of the Milky Way, the piste are above 2500 meters, there are 92 lifts plus connecting ones between other resorts such as Sauze d’Oulx. Get there from Turin, Oulx, then bus to Sestriere.

Solda is in the Trentino area to the west of Bolzano. There are 11 lifts some over 2500 meters.

Val Gardena
Val Gardena is part of the Dolomiti super pass. Local season pass is more than 500 EUR for the use of 83 lifts.

Tarvisio is in the far north-east of Italy near Austria and Slovenia with 11 lifts. Top station is 1800 meters.

La Sila
La Sila consists of two resorts in the south of Italy in Calabria – Camigliatello Silano and Lorica. The highest point is about 1800 meters with about 6 kilometers of piste. Its very basic skiing. Lorica is 11 kilometers away and is a little higher at 1900 meters but only with two lifts. Hotels start at around 40 Euros. There is a YHA in Cosenza for around EUR16. New Dino’s Hotel at San Giovanni in Fiore is 31.50 EUR.

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