first ski trip with Crystal ski holidays

 

Walking through Manchester City Centre the other day, on my way to meet my beautiful sister for a catch up, the sun was shining, the streets were busy with the usual hustle and bustle… and all I could think about was how much I missed… skiing.

I know, pretty random? But I did! I was just pining for it.

Let’s rewind back to last November, when Crystal Ski organised a bloggers’ taster ski lesson at the Chill Factore at Trafford. A group of us took to the (very baby) slope for an hour to have a go on the snow. The hour just wasn’t enough, my enthusiasm had been ignited and thankfully, all my wishes came true a few weeks later as I had miraculously managed to win a Fantastic Four trip to the Haute, Savoie, France.

And here begin’ith my love story…

Growing up in Saudi Arabia, well skiing wasn’t all too popular over there, for obvious reasons. Moving back to England though, it seemed to be ‘the’ thing to do with the family. I was always intrigued by those who were off to hit the slopes for a weekend, to join their parents in the Alps for a week, to make the most of the season at winter. I had no idea what they did when they got there, couldn’t really understand the appeal of dedicating a holiday to one sport and something that always stopped me from pressing the booking button… it seemed to be the pastime of only the affluent among us.

Knowing I was finally about to embark on this ‘ski’ journey, well I was pumped. And scared, of course. I knew nothing about what we were about to do, and people trying to reassure me… well they were quite frankly making things worse!

“Make sure you don’t put the GoPro on your helmet, it can crack your skull if you fall”

Nice.

“Try and stay on the route, you don’t want to fall into a pile of rocks off the mountain.”

For real?!?

“When you get on the lift, make sure to pull the bar down in time, you don’t want to fall off”

Like I’m not scared of heights enough as it is.

But one of the scariest things I heard out of them ALL…

“Have you checked whether there’s any snow??”

I’m sorry… WHAT.

?!?!?!?

I remember laughing at first when my friend asked me that, she looked at me quizzically at which point my tone turned to a sort of “Oh wait you were serious? I genuinely have to check whether there’s snow?!?”

I mean, it definitely hit home at that point that I had no clue what I was doing. But luckily, Crystal Ski Holidays had sorted everything else, I prayed that they too were taking care of the snow situation.

As we flew over Geneva, we passed snow topped mountains, I thought to myself, OK that’s better than nothing, but I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed by the large proportion of the land looking pretty normal.

 

 

A few hours later and the bus started to meander up the mountain path towards our resort in Flaine – French side of Alps, not Swiss – Paige, our rep warned us to stay awake and keep our eyes on the view…

There was snow.

EVERYWHERE.

 

Crystal ski holidays Flaine resort after snowfall

 

We were in a white paradise, I can’t describe it in any other way. It was still snowing too. We’d heard that we were incredibly fortunate as it had been fairly poor on the ‘dump’ front over the past few weeks and the snow was set to continue.

Over the next seven days, my team and I learned how to ski – we didn’t waste a single day! We came here to ski and that is exactly what we intended on doing with our time. I wrote soon after a collection of our top tips from the trip, if you’re a first timer like us it’s definitely worth a read 🙂

 

 

We tried a group lesson, changed to private (more on that later) and we put in time on the appropriate slopes to practice.

We found a local favourite for lunch, tried new places for dinner, sometimes opting to stay in and make use of the apartment facilities (which were fab, more on that later too), to cook at home.

We started and ended the trip at one of the fancier restaurants, L’Ancolie, celebrating the start and end of what had been a truly memorable holiday.

 

 

I know, I say that about a lot of my holidays!

But you know as well as I do that each one is special in its own way. When I return from places such as Myanmar, Indonesia, Barcelona etc… they are all destinations that I do genuinely want to return to, but it wouldn’t be something I would look at doing a year or so later, there are so many other places in the world I’ve yet to see!

Whereas skiing? Yes, this is definitely a type of holiday that requires yearly attention. A kind of holiday which really brings everyone together. A kind of place where even though you can go off and do your own thing for a few hours, there’s always the apres slope meetup, evening times to chill out and fun-fuelled sessions throughout.

It’s very much a family thing too, I was mesmerised by the number of tiny tots that were at ski school, dressed head to toe in onesies, tiny skis strapped on, looking tres adorable! And they were usually pretty good too (I can’t even count the number of times a little’un half my size whizzed past me!).

We all managed to invent different ways of falling, on and off camera, all equally as funny as the next. I think one of the funniest ski facts I came to realise, is even when I thought I was FLYING down a slope… watching it back on the camera… wow that was totally not the case! Can’t wait to share some of these crazy videos of me sauntering down a flattish-slope-that-felt-as-steep-as-a-cliff.

On our final day, my skiing had improved, my confidence was boosted but I wasn’t quite at the right ability to hit the mega slopes. The weather that day, well it was perfect. The sun was beaming down on us as we sat at a new lunch spot on the side of the mountain, with outdoor seating looking down at the view. We were sat stripped down to our t-shirts, sunglasses on, enjoying each others company and planning our final afternoon. G and Dave were going to head up to a new blue and the rest of us decided we were braving the big bubble lift right to the highest point, not to ski down! just to have a nosey.

We walked out, past the café, seating area and out into the open, with Mont Blanc right in front of us.

 

looking out at Mont Blanc Flaine Ski resort crystal ski holidays

 

Look at that. Doesn’t it make you want to be there? I was there and I still look at it like it’s not real.

What a beautiful thing nature is. From the snow beneath us, to the birds around and the mountains in front. It’s a sight like I’ve never seen before. Sitting there on a pile of snow, with my loved ones, I felt very blessed, as did we all actually. It was the perfect way to end our trip, a real vision to fill us all with an affinity to return.

We may not have all got to the same ski level, but hey everyone is different. As a group of six, four complete beginners, one mid, one professional – we all managed to have an absolute blast together on and off the slopes.

Oh gosh maybe writing this wasn’t such a good idea, I miss it even more now.

 

 

*** Massive thanks to Crystal Ski Holidays for giving us the opportunity to experience the wonderful world of skiing ***

 

Follow:

header image for Travel Linkup_ New Year Travel Goals

 

Happy New Year!!

It’s finally here, we’ve said goodbye to 2016 and I can now get excited for a fresh start and year ahead. In between working, volunteering and seeing friends and family I spent the last week having a complete detox in the house. Mo and I cleared through all the excess we have accumulated in our lives and have passed things on to those who need them more.

We want a fresh start for us both.

So… what lies ahead??

SO MUCH AWESOMENESS!!!

 

Myanmar

I’m heading to Yangon this month to join a tour with Intrepid travel and discover the beauty of Myanmar. A trip that originally I was in two minds about (more on that later) but now everything has been finalised and I will soon be taking my first Cathay Pacific flight East where I hope to discover sights, sounds and tastes of Burmese culture.

 

View point in Myanmar

Image taken from myanmar.travel

 

Flaine

I had never heard of Flaine, had not the foggiest idea where it was (I now know it’s in France). But after a fantastically fun session at Chill factore in Manchester with Crystal Ski Holidays, I managed to win a trip for my fantastic four crew and I to FINALLY go on our first ever ski trip!!! So to Flaine we shall go!!

 

snow in Flaine, France

Image taken from Crystal Ski Holidays

 

London

I go to London quite a bit, but this year Traverse has decided to pick London as it’s host city and they’re going all out with a week of organised events. One of my favourite blogger hangouts in one of my favourite cities. What’s not to be excited about??

 

 

Sweden

No year is complete without a trip to see the niece and nephew in Stockholm. It feels like ages since we were last there and Mo and I are both feeling some serious withdrawal sypmtoms, we miss Fika! Think we’ll start looking for those flights asap…

 

 

Ben Nevis part 3

Despite the name, we’re not headed to Ben Nevis for a third time, this is simply what our yearly family trip has been titled. First year Ben Nevis, second year Saltburn by the Sea and this year Mo and I are taking charge and I know my dad will be reading this so I’m afraid I can’t divulge the location just yet, but it’s basically somewhere in the UK where we can all be together as a family and enjoy a mini break.

 

So thats whats on my to do list. What’s on the wish list? Well as usual, plenty!

 

Turkey

For years and years Mo and I have talked about visiting Turkey with our dear friends. Istanbul gets a lot of bad press at the minute as they seem to be caught in some of the Middle East cross fire but it hasn’t put us off wanting to go, perhaps 2017 will finally be the year we do.

 

sunset over Istanbul

Image taken from blogs.fco.uk

 

Iceland

It looks so beautiful! I mean just look at it…

 

blue lagoon iceland

Image taken from iceland.is

 

Nice no?

 

Italy

Everyone raves about Italy but I’ve never been. I’m not really sure where in Italy I’d like to go, but it could be nice to venture that-a way and try some of my favourite dishes in their home country.

 

image of Italy, Venezia at sunset

Image taken from surprisingitaly.com

 

And I haven’t really had the chance to think about anything else, well not yet anyway 😉

 

I am just looking forward to looking forward and I am determined to make this year the best one yet. I have a number of other life goals that I am also determined to accomplish. I want to take the charity work I do for others up another notch and have some other exciting changes I’m working on too which I hope to share at some point.

So first up, Yangon! and I have two weeks to get packed, sorted and prepped for my trip. Any tips, please please send them my way…

 

What have you got planned for 2017? 

 

*** January Travel Linkup ***
Travel Wishlists and plans for the year of adventures ahead (and perhaps even a few of your favorite 2016 travels?)
Just pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th January), add it to the link up widget – found on either Angie’s, Emma’s or on our lovely co-host Polly’s blog

 

image header for January Travel Linkup_ new year goals post

Follow:

Mo and I have been to Paris many times before, but we would return again and again. Recently, I was quite shocked to discover that a surprising number of people don’t share the same love for it as we do.

For us in the UK, Paris is a mere two hour flight, not long at all and perfect for a weekend getaway . Mo and I flew out earlier this year to celebrate his birthday. We took a Saturday morning flight there and a late Sunday afternoon one back.

Paris, for me, is not about fitting in as many tourist spots as you can. It’s not about ticking off everything in the guide book, or standing in queues to get into attractions. View Post

Follow:

header image for perfume pilgrimage to grasse

 

I wanted to make Mo’s 30th birthday really special. He has a real passion for fragrance and skincare so after a lot of research I decided to take him to the world capital of perfume: Grasse. I wanted to plan a complete trip, find places of interest, places he could learn from and find boutique perfumers for him to meet. Now, at the time I didn’t have much interest in ‘smells’ and how they were made etc. but I sure do now! This trip opened both of our eyes to the fascinating world of perfume creation, set within this quaint little town in the South of France.

I had booked early on for us to stay at La Rivolte, the lady there, Suzie, who was helping me pointed out popular places of interest for me to research.

I have to say though, my saving grace and inspiration for this trip was from a blog by Clayton Ilolahia. The blog titled ‘What men should smell like’ pretty much provided a complete itinerary for our trip. I read through his posts which delved into his experience and knew that everything he mentioned would be of interest to us when we visited for ourselves. He covered a number of areas in his post with some great images.

 

screen shot what men would smell like

 

So I think it only makes sense to share Clayton’s words with you and hope he inspires you the way he did for me:

http://whatmenshouldsmelllike.com/2012/12/03/scent-adventure-provence-alpes-cote-dazur-france/

I would also like to add that Clayton was kind enough to message me with a few tips at the time, for which I am ever so grateful. I needed all the help I could get.

Oh wait, I’m still not done… it seems I have a lot to say about this blog!

Just remembered that ‘what men should smell like’ was also the turning point for me falling in love with blog reading and using them as tools for everyday life. Our trip to the South of France was the first time I hardly consulted my guide book, and it was really refreshing. We pretty much only used the map inside that I had written notes all over based on Clayton’s post recommendations. I had been able to plan our days so they flowed and we weren’t wasting lots of time trying to make decisions and walking back and forth to try and fit in everything we wanted to do.

 

Mo and I at Molinard creating a perfume

 

I realised that for every type of holiday out there, there will more than often be someone who has experienced it or can offer help and advice. The best bit, it’s all online, literally at our fingertips, for us to find.  I hope one day my posts are able to help inspire someone, the way Clayton’s did for me.

 

Have you been to Grasse? Would a trip through perfume history be of any interest to you?

Follow:

Our trip to the South of France was predominantly based around Grasse, however as we were flying in and out from Nice airport I thought it was worth spending a night or two by the coast before we flew home. I didn’t have to do any research for the hotel as the minute I had worked out our schedule, I knew where I wanted to stay.

The Negresco Hotel is an iconic building right by the beach along the Promenade des Anglais. Originally designed and set up by Henri Negresco, he had a vision to attract wealthy international clientele, their website quotes them as ‘Kings of the old and new world.’

Henri hired one of the most famous Belle Epoque Architects, Monsieur Edouard Niermans, to help create his plan of a luxurious Palais style hotel to compete with others that lined the Riviera at that time. From what I read on the plaques in the Grand Hall, the hotel came under pressures during the war and never really fully recovered until it was sold to the Augier family. Madame Jeanne Augier reinvigorated the hotel with luxurious decorations and furnishings, including an outstanding art collection, which today boasts thousands of pieces.

DSCN0796   DSCN0798

I have a real passion for expressive art, detailed architecture and have always loved the belle Ă©poque area, so there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I would be doing whatever was necessary to stay at the Negresco in Nice. 2013 was also the 100 year anniversary for the hotel, it was a big birthday for Mo and the Negresco.

We pulled up in our teeny VW Polo and the doorman, dressed in red and blue velvet attire, came straight to take our bags, the valet took our car and we were left to stroll into reception and sort out our booking. As usual we were early so we asked if it was possible to grab some lunch in one of their restaurants, ideally La Rotonde. The restaurants at the Negresco are famous in their own right so they totally get their own blog post, I couldn’t possibly gush about them on here or this would turn into yet another monster essay.

DSC_0159   IMG_4535

Obviously, budget restrictions meant I wasn’t able to book us a suite and instead Mo and I had to settle for a basic room. I say settle, but a basic room at The Negresco is still pretty awesome. All of the guest rooms are uniquely decorated, inspired by a period of French art. The suites on the website looked particularly spectacular, but to be honest if we were to come back I would probably book this room again anyway. Its comfortable and clean and there’s so much to do in Nice (and the rest of the hotel), we spent most of our time exploring and used the room purely as a crash pad.

IMG_4522   IMG_4523

We spent a a fair bit of time nosying round the hotel as it was just so interesting. The Grand Hallway after the reception area is a stunning gallery and the corridors to the shops and restaurants are also filled with quirky odds and sods. Every floor is festooned with a selection of artwork on the walls, on the console tables, on the floors, all from different eras and areas of the world. So it’s worth taking the stairs when you can, just to take it all in. The combination of modern and fine art forms all housed in Niermans beautifully designed framework is breathtaking and so enchanting. If ever I have to think about my favourite art gallery in the world I would think of this hotel. It epitomises my own belief of having art in a functional space. You can either take the time to specifically look at the individual pieces or simply take a seat and glance at the collection and appreciate it as a whole (This is how I envision my home to be one day).

IMG_4537I know I said take the stairs when you are wandering around, but don’t completely miss out the lift, even that is quite quirky. Kind of like being in a lush velvet padded cell, in a good way, if that’s possible?

DSCN0918   DSCN0912

Location wise, you cannot go wrong. We walked everywhere from here. The hotel really is situated in the heart of the Promenade and we didn’t need the car once. We were able to stroll the streets and still visit all the places on my to do sheets. The hotel has it’s own private beach area, however we were there in March and it wasn’t really the weather for us to enjoy this particular facility. I can only imagine how great it would be in the summer.

DSCN0800DSCN0919

If you are into art and design, this hotel is a must! And if you’re not, that’s ok too because this hotel is so wonderfully quirky and luxurious in every way I struggle to think of any faults with it.

Follow: