Looking for Early Skiing in Europe – Try Glacier 3000 in Switzerland

On your marks, get set, SKI!

It’s that exciting time of year when skiers and snowboarders begin the process of ‘hurry up and wait’ for the winter season to commence. If you are desperate for some early ski season action, look no further than Glacier 3000 in Switzerland. Located at 3000m/10,000ft, the glacier has one of the longest ski season in Europe and will be opening THIS weekend: 28th October, to be exact!

Glacier 3000 is situated 7 minutes away from the Swiss town of Les Diablerets (a firm favourite on this blog), 90 minutes from Geneva international airport and is accessible by train, car and bus. What are you waiting for? Let the pictures speak for themselves…I see that 50cm/20inches of fresh powder fell this week!

22728851_1084312708338240_45379567971682600_n
Enough snow for you? Photo credit: Glacier 3000
22729014_1084312678338243_7800146142869480607_n
Snow, snow everywhere…  Photo credit: Glacier 3000

 

So, who’s ready to hit the slopes this weekend? I know I am…!

 

Photos: banner – Jennifer Hart, Glacier 3000 original source click here

The Dog Days of Summer at Dog Beach in San Vincenzo, Italy

As many of you know, I am a big ‘dog person‘ and my beloved Labrador, Leni, is one of the most spoiled dogs around. He has a passport, has travelled overseas and, quite possibly, has been to more countries than many adults. I am always conscious of choosing a vacation that will meet his needs and not see him left for hours at a time while we head off for fun.  So, with this in mind, imagine my absolute delight when I was organising our first trip to San Vincenzo, Italy and I came across the Dog Beach website. Could it be true? Could we really take our water-loving Lab to the beach with us in Italy? It seemed like a clear win-win for our entire family…and off we went!

11046639_10155853445735411_2776114225781198271_o
Found it!!

Dog Beach is located on the Mediterranean coastline of the western Tuscan region of Italy. Just south of the major port city of Livorno, Dog Beach lies on the pristine sandy outskirts of the town of San Vincenzo where the summer days are sunny, hot and long! A trip to the beach for you and your furry friend are practically what the doctor would order as a cure.

11781681_10155854649750411_6327584869167950763_n
Dog days of summer?!

Dog Beach is accessible off the main road, with limited free and abundant paid parking nearby. There is a small entrance fee for your dog, which helps pay for the facilities and a vet available in case of emergency. Dogs run around primarily off the leash but if your Fido isn’t very friendly, you might want to consider keeping him/her on a leash.  Sun beds, chairs and umbrellas are all available for rent.

11886172_10155853445740411_280763640793791604_o

As if all of this wasn’t enough, we were delighted when a guy came by on a 4 wheeler selling gelato (ice cream).  It was only once I approached and asked him what flavours he had did he surprise me with “is it for you or for your dog?”  Yes, they sold all the wonderful flavours one would expect from Italian gelato, and similar dog-safe versions. Our dog consumed his pineapple and ginseng one too fast for me to get a decent photo but as you can imagine, he was thrilled.

11924572_10155861164480411_6747297997799134261_n
Dog-friendly gelato, devoured in about 30 seconds…!

If you find yourself wondering where to go this summer and don’t want to leave your four-legged friend at home, I highly recommend the San Vincenzo region, with daily trips to the Dog Beach.

Good to know:

-Shower/wash stations are available for spraying down your dog at the end of the day. On our last trip, these cost 1€
-A small snack shop is located nearby with sandwiches and cold drinks for sale. Cash only
-there is a dog gift shop where you can buy toys for the beach for your dog, kids and different souvenirs
-if your dog has never been in salt water, watch his/her consumption. It can give some dogs an upset stomach, just be aware
-there is a free fresh water station for filling up your dog’s water bowl
-Bring cash with you as you will need it for everything and hard as I tried, I failed to locate a bank machine/ATM nearby

Most importantly, have fun!! Bring an extra towel or two…!!

 

Photo credits: Jennifer Hart, Dog Beach San Vincenzo

 

 

 

Photo Journal: Lake Como, Italy

My family and I are bona fide Italiophiles. We love anything and everything to do with visiting Italy, as readers of this blog may have already learned once or twice before! Once we cross the Italian border, we feel relaxed and happy. This may very well be built up in our heads, but even if that is true, is it really so bad?? Italy represents a slowing down of life for us. Taking some speed off of the pace of things and allowing ourselves to enjoy leisurely days and delicious food.

IMG_0119
Wine, sun, mountains and Lago di Como – when life is perfect

We recently booked a last minute long-weekend trip to Lake Como (Lago di Como) and spent 5 marvellous days soaking in the sun, the culture, the wine and the gelato! Lake Como, often known for its most famous resident, George Clooney, is breath-taking any time of year. The weather starts to heat up in April and really pumps up its volume in June, July, August and September. Outside of these months you can expect cooler weather and perhaps some rain but I promise, even then, Como will not disappoint.

Alas, we did not find George on our trip (to be honest, we didn’t look that hard) but we did find our own little paradise along the lake. We may not be in the same tax bracket as Mr. Clooney, but we were able to borrow his lifestyle for a few days. Thank you, Como. We’ll be back!

Enjoy the photos!

Photo Credit: Jennifer Hart

Adventure Families: Avalanche Fear and 5 Tips for Families Skiing / Snowboarding

I’m often asked by people “aren’t you scared of avalanches when you ski so much?” Short answer: Yes. Any skier/rider worth their weight that spends time in the mountains KNOWS this is a permanent risk underlying our favourite activity. Avalanches are real. They kill real people every year. They are not exclusive to the Alps and they can happen anywhere with mountains/hills and at almost any time.

So, if that’s true, then what the heck makes me go up a mountain, with my children and ignore this reality.

Several factors lead to this; none of which I intend to sound smug or dismissive. I am forever aware that this is part of mountain life and sports and try to be smart and prepared.

529678_10152590143950411_790907503_n
Like all parents, I fear ANYTHING happening to my precious kids.

5 Tips For Getting Over Avalanche Fear:

  1. Trust the mountain rescue workers to do their jobs. That does NOT mean only after an avalanche has struck. Mountain rescue workers around the world are working day in and out to secure mountains and make sure they are safe for us to enjoy. They post daily risk factor scales (usually 1-5 rating or a flag system) and shut down mountains they deem unsafe. They routinely bomb mountains to set off avalanches (in secure situations) that seem evident. Watch the following video of a purpose-led avalanche by the amazing staff at Glacier 3000/Les Diablerets:https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fglacier3000%2Fvideos%2F907671902668989%2F&show_text=1&width=560
  2. Wear Recco reflector strips. My entire family does. We wear them in the recommended manner of one on one boot and one on the helmet. Recco is a trademarked avalanche rescue system that almost every ski resort in the world uses to find people trapped in an avalanche. There are several clothing companies that now make winter wear with Recco sewn into their clothes. Their transmitters are the best in the world and when the juniors start wanting to experience more freeride and off piste adventures, we will buy one for each of us.
  3. Stay on piste and listen to the advice of the mountain staff. If they have closed my favourite piste for the day, I don’t argue or think I’m above their decisions. I listen to their advice and stay where it is safe.
  4. On my personal to-do list is to take one of the numerous FREE avalanche safety training courses offered throughout Switzerland next year. Anyone can attend and as my juniors get older and push the boundaries of their skiing, I will make sure they are fully trained up in this area. Look to see if courses are offered near where you ski or at your favourite mountain gear shop.
  5. ABS Airbag systems. We don’t have these yet but we will all get them when/if freeride becomes a part of our lives. Check them out!

abs

Until then, I have discussed avalanches with the kids and we have practices the dog-paddle move you are meant to do to help create breathing space if you are ever caught in an avalanche. Our needs and the safety items on our list will expand as their skiing does but for now, I take comfort in playing it safe and only skiing when the pisteur/mountain staff say it is a moderate risk day. Their job is to make us safe and if I didn’t have faith in them, I don’t think I could ever take my precious children to 3000m/10 000ft.

12928232_10156621773775411_4161121827592693839_n
Things happen but trust the mountain staff to always have your safety in mind. We were caught at 3000m/10000ft when a storm came out of nowhere. Out came the snowcats to save us. These dudes were my heroes that day!

Photo/Video credit: Glacier 3000/Les Diablerets, ABS Airbag System, Fotolia, Jennifer Hart

A Quick Tour Through Malta

I recently came across this video while planning our trip to Malta this summer and knew I had to share it. My mother’s family comes from Malta and the last time I was there I was pregnant with my son. I cannot WAIT to return this summer with my family. My heart broke the day the Azure Window closed but as you can see from this incredible video by Oliver Astrologo, we won’t be hard pressed to find things to do! Malta is a magical place and it still surprises me to this day when people have no idea what Malta is when I’m talking about it!!

*********************************************
Instagram: instagram.com/oliverhl
Twitter twitter.com/oliverastrologo
Facebook fb.com/oliver.astrologo
*********************************************

 

Video: copyright Oliver Astrologo

Photo credit: Fotolia – Valery Bareta

Photo Journal: London at Christmas

Over the Christmas/holiday season, my family and I had the absolute pleasure of spending a few wonderful days in London. It was last minute and quite ‘uhhh what are we going to do?’ but turned out to be a real highlight of the end of the year.

If you are starting to think about what a holiday season would be like in London, take a look at some of these photos. I only had my iPhone (as this was unplanned) but I think I managed to capture the real holiday spirit. I love London, as you know, but I love it even more when it is glittery and decorated for the holidays. If you are looking for a destination for next Christmas, I highly recommend London. It is busy and crowded but there is something magical in the air during the holidays that even my husband, a Brit that pretends to be unimpressed with London, can admit to 😉

We didn’t make it to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland this year but we have gone in years past and enjoyed ourselves, despite the cost and crowds!

Enjoy!

img_7252
Tower Bridge and the Christmas Market along the south bank
img_7263
My favourite piece of graffiti in London!
img_7268
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (made me think of my nephew back in Canada!)
img_7277
hehehe
img_7284
Loved all the lights leading up to the London Eye
img_7327
Sunny sky and Parliament (Big Ben is actually the bell inside the clocktower but I think it is safe to say we all refer to this image as Big Ben now)
img_7329
Had to snap this quickly before the changing of the guards-he was about to move and the crowd tripled in size in seconds!!
img_7336
The London Coliseum featuring Giselle by the English National Ballet
img_7374
A photo for my daughter
img_7342
Morning walk to Covent Garden
img_7343
What else can you say?
img_7352
Perfect end to a few days in London!

 

During our trip we stayed at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge and we all absolutely loved it! We woke up with the most beautiful view of Parliament and enjoyed everything else in-between. We’ll be back!

IMG_7326.JPG
View from our window – good morning, London

Photo credit: Jennifer Hart

An Overseas Assignment: Are You Doing the Right Thing By Your Kids?

Have you ever wondered whether you’re doing the right thing by your children, traipsing them across the globe as part of an international assignment and exposing them to the globally mobile life? Y…

Source: An Overseas Assignment: Are You Doing the Right Thing By Your Kids?