There is nothing like a week at home with three kids to get you craving a vacation. We survived(and enjoyed) President’s Week with a bit of a stay-cation. We went to a few museums and had dates with friends. I put just the right amount of activity on the calendar to keep the kids busy enough that they wanted to go to sleep every night! Last week I wrote about getting away to somewhere warm. When I started to think about it, I realized some of my best vacations have been in places where it is cold and there is lots of snow on the ground.
I didn’t learn how to ski until I was in my 20’s. Shortly after that I moved to Denver, Colorado to go to Johnson and Wales for Culinary School. I learned a lot at school but also learned that I love the mountains and specifically skiing! I don’t actually have the genetic make up of a good skier… I get cold really easily and I also get altitude sickness. Once I figured out a few tricks to get over those obstacles, I really started to LOVE skiing. I would take trips up to the mountains and ski for the morning before heading into work for the dinner shift. It was a great! My first trip with my husband was to Vail, Colorado; making it very fitting that part of our honeymoon would be spent on the slopes in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
To this day, one of my all-time favorite vacations was to a little town in northern Italy called Selva Val Gardena. My husband and I were living in London at that time and knew we wanted to go skiing in the Dolomites in Italy. I found Hotel Laurin through some online reviews and our trip was set. We would fly into Venice, Italy and then drive up to the mountains for a few days. We would end our trip walking and boating through Venice. It all sounded very romantic and it was, once we finally arrived at the hotel. We hit some snow on the way up, to Selva Val Gardena; which was awesome in the context of skiing but not awesome in the context of driving a tiny car up a mountain. Long story short, we were installing chains on our tires in the dark on a Saturday night in some small town in Italy. The good news is we finally made it up and over the mountain and arrived at the hotel safe and sound.
The rest of the trip was amazing. The Hotel Laurin was just what it advertised, small and charming. The owners were very hands on taking care of our needs from espresso in the morning to cocktails before dinner and a night cap before bed. You could book the hotel with dinners included but being the foodies that we are we decided not to do that as we wanted to explore other options. It turns out that was a mistake, the food at the Hotel Laurin was amazing and plentiful and the only other dining options in the town are other hotels. When your hotel has an amazing restaurant you don’t want to venture out too much. The next year when we returned we took all of our dinners at the hotel. The food was a mix of Italian, Swiss and German. It wasn’t fancy but it was just what you needed after a day on the snow. I still remember an evening where we had fondue… meat fondue. They specially prepared a broth for us which we used to cook different meats. It was amazing. The trip was so great we returned the following winter to the same hotel. I hope someday to return to Hotel Laurin with all of our children in tow but it will be a few years before they are all able to ski.
Winter holidays in the snow are just as fun as those in the sun. Food plays a big part in any vacation I take and the food on the mountains in Selva Val Gardena, and most mountains in Europe, surpasses the expectations set by the cafeteria style eateries you find on the mountains in the states. I’ll probably fall asleep tonight dreaming of the mountains, skiing and fondue. I’ll wake up to reality here in NYC and maybe with some snow on the ground.