Where Did January Take Us? Our Travel Experiences

Grindelwald Sledge Run

We have often had fun reading the roundup posts from fellow bloggers. After some thought and the frustration of leaving so many personal anecdotes out of our blog, we’ve decided to start writing monthly roundups. 


If you’ve been following our Instagram you’ll know we’ve recently been braving the cold and enjoying a winter in Europe. We’re really braving the cold I should add, it’s currently -22°C, or -8°F, outside our Airbnb in British Columbia. January has been an interesting month for us with great highs and weird lows. We spent the entire month of January in Europe snowboarding, something we have been wanting to do for years.air

It was simultaneously amazing and exhausting. Ever since we first left to travel the world in 2015 we had determined we wanted a base, but going into the third year of consistent travel and we have still not found a base or tried to settle down. For the start of 2018, we have a lot of travel planned and we won’t stop until at least April or May. Talk about a bit of travel fatigue!

travel Switzerland

Where we went in January

 

Edinburgh

We started off the new year in Edinburgh. Scotland has become one of our favorite countries in Europe and Edinburgh one of our favorite cities. So, when the festival team reached out to us about coming back to experience NYE in the city we jumped at the opportunity. Read more about our experience at Hogmanay here. 

Chris Watt.

Bankso, Bulgaria

Not wanting to ruin our time in the Alps we decided to head to Bansko, Bulgaria to warm up for our upcoming snowboard trip. Bansko was an interesting experience and we still can’t decide if it was a good call to head there.

Food was cheap and plentiful with good accommodation options. However, lift tickets were cheap at €35 a day, but when compared to parts of Austria or Italy that are €50 it’s tough to say the savings were worth the experience. Getting to the top of the mountain was a struggle every day as the one gondola almost always had two hour long lines. Not wanting to waste our time we opted to pay for a taxi to the mountaintop a few times driving the cost of our lift tickets up anyway.

Then once on top of the mountain, we were faced with the most crowded slopes we’ve ever seen. Our resort total is up to more than 20 so we’re not a stranger to the slopes… Tasha and I both witnessed multiple collisions and some angry Brits throwing punches at each other – no jokes. It was not a pretty sight. Speaking of ugly sights so was the bottom of the mountain resort in Bansko. It’s a mish-mash of cheap bars, rental shops, strip joints, half-finished buildings, and clubs with no clear sense of building ordinances.

With all that being said the slopes were in pretty good shape and the mountains of Bulgaria really are stunning! The mountain resort itself really is beautiful with some nice runs, they just need to limit how many lift tickets they sell by about 10,000. Read more about the experience here. 

Snowboarding in Bansko

Trentino, Italy

Oh, Italy! We have often shared our love for the country and it shouldn’t have been a surprise that we would be smitten by the Trentino region. After all, any mountain resort that allows you to ski on one of the most famed mountain ranges in the world while serving Italian food is sure to be a hit. That mountain range in case your curious is the Dolomites, and they are a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We had several days of fun exploring the slopes and plenty of wonderful food. We also had the best weather of our Europe trip in Trentino. Almost every day was sunny and the snow was in amazing condition. Read more about our time in Trentino here! 

Innsbruck, Austria

We had Innsbruck high on our list because the city is famed for its access to the surrounding mountains. It’s certainly a charming city with a colorful old town. However, the with whiteout conditions and lots of snowfall the mountain resorts were closed while we were there.

So, no snowboarding! Instead, we wandered around the old town and enjoyed some of the cities cafes with delicious strudels. Not so bad! We also had an awesome view from one of the best hotels in the city at Hotel Adlers – with a rooftop sauna. Check out how cool Innsbruck is! 

Things to do in Innsbruck

Lech am Arlberg, Austria

We were super excited to visit Lech am Arlberg as it’s widely considered one of the best ski resorts in the world. Those are some massive shoes to fill and we weren’t disappointed despite mixed weather. A serious winter storm was blowing into the area along with some wind. Never the less we headed up the mountain with our snowboard instructor who got us off-piste and gave us our first taste of the deep powder.

Lech am Arlberg - Austria

Gargellen, Austria

Almost a week in Austria and the winter storm was still going. With all that fresh snow our travels came to a halt in Gargellen, Austria. We’d never seen so much snow in our lives, and it kept coming down! Eventually, the only road out of Gargellen was closed due to the risk of avalanche and we were stuck there. What an amazing surprise that turned out to be! Gargellen is a wonderful little village with a beautiful mountain and a nice ski resort that is a part of the famous Montafon Ski Area. After a few days of complete whiteout conditions, our last day on the mountain was a bluebird sky and the mountain was full of powder. Ever since we’ve been dreaming of snow like we had in Gargellen. Curious about Vorarlberg? 

Deep Powder in Gargellen, Vorarlberg, Austria

Malbun, Liechtenstein

We’ve been trying to check off all the of the countries in Europe so we’ve been visiting a number of its smallest nation states. It started earlier this year with a visit to the Faroe Islands and then Luxembourg in December. So, next up was the tiny nation of Liechtenstein in between Switzerland and Austria.

We traveled to the tiny village of Malbun which has Liechtenstein’s only ski area. It was a charming place with lots of fresh snow and extremely quiet runs. We also got to check something off the bucket list with llama trekking. Really we got to add something, then immediately check it off the bucket list. In case your curious yes our llamas had names and they were Balloo and Tully.

Grindelwald, Switzerland

We finally made it to Switzerland! This was my first time visiting the country and Tasha’s second time. Her first time here she came for a three whole days before quickly leaving after paying $40 for a rosti meal. Rosti is one of Switzerland’s national dishes, but it’s by no means fancy as it’s more or less hash browns with cheese. Yes, it is delicious and yes, it’s ridiculously expensive, as is everything in Switzerland.

After coming from three beautiful villages Grindelwald did not steal our hearts. The main street is lined with hotels, restaurants, and stores all geared for mass tourism. However, the view of the mountains above Grindelwald is nothing short of spectacular. Three massive mountains stand over the village including Eiger with it’s deadly Noth Face. Yep, The North Face brand is in reference to this famous mountain face responsible for claiming the lives of many climbers.

We opted to climb the mountains via cable cars, gondolas, chairlifts, and trains. Then we proceeded to explore the mountains from our snowboards. We had several wonderful days with great snow conditions, mild days, and sunny weather. Oh and we made it to “the top of Europe” at Jungfraujoch. Read more about our time in Grindelwald. 

Lucerne, Switzerland

We made a stopover in Lucerne to fill a gap in between Grindelwald and Davos our next stop. The train journey would take six hours or we could split in two by stopping in Lucerne. If one day can even count as a break. That night we splurged a bit and treated ourselves to a stay at the Rennaisance, Lucerne. Then went out to eat at Titbits a vegan/vegetarian buffet with some tasty food. We used to think Whole Foods has an expensive hot buffet, but with the conversion, it came to an eye-watering $17 a pound of food. No one said to travel in Switzerland was cheap!

Davos, Switzerland

We finished out January in Davos just after the World Economic Forum wrapped up. Luckily, Drumpf’s hot air didn’t melt all of the snow. Although, we did appreciate the massive “CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL” stamped out in the snow in front of his hotel.

The village of Davos is by no means the most beautiful, but the ski resort is understandably one of the best in the world. We had a great time riding in Davos. With beautiful mountains and a ridiculous amount of easy to access slopes, it’s hard to beat. It was so fun that we ran ourselves down. Our first day of skiing we woke up for the special ski sunrise and rode until the lifts closed. The next day we both had a wicked cold, but decided to keep snowboarding since we lift passes and we were in the fricken Swiss Alps. The cold then ended up lasting a few more weeks.

Highlights

Spa at Rifugio Capanna Presena

We got to spend the night on top of a glacier with an amazing spa. To make matters better we were the only guests in the whole hotel. What a tremendous experience and one of our favorite evenings in Europe ever.

Rag N’ Bone Man

We had not heard of Rag N Bone Man before the NYE concert in Edinburgh. Apparently, he is very big in Europe, but hasn’t really made his way over to North America yet. After, his concert we were blown away by his amazing voice and talent. He had a massive stage to fill and did so with ease. He even rang in the New Year with a rendition of Auld Lang Syne, the classic Scots poem.

The Dolomites

I remember the first time I saw a photo of the Dolomites I knew I had to see them in person. I would never have guessed that I would not only see them but get to snowboard on them. What a dream come true!

Ski packing list

Lech Powder Day

We’re still working on our skills as snowboarders. When we arrived in Lech we were still pretty green snowboarders, but with a guide and some encouragement, we left the pistes to find deep deep piles of powder. Riding in powder is like floating on a cloud and it’s enough to make a snowboarder out of anyone.

Stuck in Gargellen

With the winter storm raging we were stuck in Gargellen, Austria. At first, we felt bummed about having our plans sidetracked, but it didn’t take long to see the wonderful positive. With the mountain roads closed, we were stuck in a winter wonderland with our own private mountain.

Alpenhotel Heimspitze

Llama trek in Liechtenstein

There was pretty much no way that this was going to go wrong. I mean who doesn’t want to take a walk in the woods with a llama on the leash? Surprisingly they are super easy, extremely funny looking, and make for great buddies to walk in the woods.

Low Points

 

Bankso gondola

The lines for the gondola in Bankso became a pain in the ass. We were faced with three options, wake up at the crack of dawn every day and wait for the opening of the gondola, wait two hours in line, or pay for a taxi up to the mountaintop. We didn’t like a single option, but we went with the easiest and that meant spending money on a taxi cab which still ended up taking an hour because the cabbies would wait for the cabs to completely fill up with people.

Skiing in Bansko

That’s a line up the mountain…and yes it took two hours…

Snowstorm in Innsbruck

I had high hopes for Innsbruck, but apparently, it is possible to get too much snow.

Catching a cold in Switzerland

We got the better of ourselves in Davos. The lift tickets there include a special experience in which you can be the first of 12 up the mountain. We absolutely hate waking up before the sun, but couldn’t miss it to be first on the slopes for this special trip. The slopes were so nice this day we kept going until the lifts close. Then we got sick and felt rundown from the constant cold weather, constant travel, and constant activity. Yea…first world problems.

Travel Days

Would you believe it, but we’re getting tired of packing our bags up every few days. Sometimes we’re only in a place for the night before we have to move – it is getting exhausting. On average we moved every two to three days the whole month of January. We actually just got our own Airbnb with a washing machine and kitchen for the first time in two months. That means a lot of dirty clothes and eating out. We’re aiming to slow down later in this year.

The World Pursuit

Income

Thanks to the hard work we put in this summer our income has consistently increased every month. Our mid-year goal is to have the website earning at least five figures every month in passive income. Passive income is the money we generate through affiliates and ad-based marketing. It means we don’t have to actively work to be paid, and instead, we can concentrate on creating good content like travel guides on our site. We’re on track to hit that before summertime rolls around.

Readership

Since April of last year, our blog has increased in readership every single month. No gain was great as in January, which saw an amazing 125,000 unique people visit our corner of the web. That means a whole city reads our blog this month. WOW! It was the first time we felt the presence of our blog and we believe it will only go up from here.

Plans

We’re still chasing the endless winter with a lot more days on the slope planned. We’ll be in beautiful B.C. and Alberta for almost a month before heading south. We’ll visit Colorado and Idaho in the US. It’s our first time exploring these states and couldn’t be more excited. We’ve also considered setting up a base somewhere out west, so although we are traveling and snowboarding we are also scouting out places to live. TBD.

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