Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Skiing in the French Alps vs. Skiing in Bosnia

Many of you may be unaware that Bosnia has some really great skiing. Olympic standard skiing in fact. Remember Torvill and Dean in a cloud of purple skating to gold medal success in that sea of perfect 6.0s in 1984? That Winter Olympics was in Sarajevo. There are 2 mountains within a 20 minute drive from the centre of Sarajevo that have some excellent skiing.

Having spent Christmas skiing in Sarajevo last year and New Years in the French Alps this year, I feel fairly qualified to judge the two. And as this is my blog and I can do what I want to, that is exactly what I am going to do.


Bosnia: Really very nice. Newly refurbished, all the mod cons, plenty of living space. Exactly what I'd expect on the French Alps. (Ledena Krajlica in Jahorina).

France: Well, ok I guess. Not sure if I expect more from French accommodation, but really it was quite cramped, nowhere near enough living space having crammed as many people as possible into the chalet. Lots of covered over bits (spare beds and mattresses piled into our room, that sort of thing). Kept running out of hot water. More what I'd expect on the Bosnian slopes if I'm being brutally honest.


France: Its the Alps. The skiing is amazing and extensive. Les Gets was good for beginners, with some small nursery slopes with small child friendly ropes to pull up slopes (even a not yet 3 year old Lukey managed this one). They also have a few 'magic carpets' to help save parents arms from dragging really quite heavy boys up the slopes.

Bosnia: Not as extensive, but still good. Jahorina also has a nursery slope with a rope lift to hold onto which small children can manage. Recommended that you stay on the slopes if you don't have a guide though, not all the mountains have been fully de-mined yet.

Ski Lifts

Bosnia - rumoured to be having a much needed update. Last time we went they were the old style 2 man, take out the back of your knees, no padding, freeze in the winds as you head up variety. Probably best described as character building.

France - someone told me that some of the French ski lifts are not only covered but are heated! The Bosnians would fall about in hysterical laughter at such levels of wussiness. Not in Les Gets though, but they are padded making it much more comfortable on bottoms and make for an easier getting on and off procedure.

Ski School Teachers

France: 'You want to be taught? By me? But no, I am here so you can follow my pert bottom down the slopes and zen I can look at you with disdain as you do not know how to ski. I might condescend to wave my hand at you to tell you zat was so so. You want actual instruction? Pah (complete with shrug). But come on, you have more admiring of me to do before the end of ze lesson.'

(actually I am being a bit mean. The ski school for the kids was brilliant, once the boys got into the idea of being left there for a morning they learnt a lot and loved it. I'm really talking about the schools for adults here).

Bosnia: Ski school is cheaper. You can afford one-on-one lessons with the lovely Dragan. This is much better for learning. Dragan's sister (a fully qualified nursery teacher) is also available for teaching small children. Don't know much about the group lessons but judging from the ability some of the groups we saw, put money on a Bosnian skiing star emerging in a few years time.

Apres Ski

I have small children. What do I know about Apres Ski? But, the French bars and restaurants all looked pretty great from the outside. The Bosnian ones have very funky cow hide covered benches and welcome kids. And serve homemade blueberry juice.

Celebrity Spotting

France: None that we noticed.

Bosnia: Paddy Ashdown (who is a really, really good skier) and the ex-Chelsea footballer, Mateja Kezman (I appreciate this may only be of interest if you are actually a member of my family but we found it exciting, although he wasn't that pleased to be reminded of his Chelsea days which were not what you might call covered with glory).

Either way, we have been spoilt. Skiing has proved to be a real hit with the small ones. Adam throws himself down the slopes and can't wait to get back onto skis. Luke, still with that toddler belief that everything will be alright and someone will catch him at the bottom, just stands there as his skis take him down the slope, and amazingly enough someone does always does. It's nice to be 2. Now, just to work out how to afford to take them again...

First carnival of the New Year is up over at A Modern Mother's and I strongly advise grabbing yourself a coffee and heading over there to see what the rest of the British Mummy and Daddy Bloggers have been up to over Christmas and New Year.


Michelloui said...

An excellent low-down on the two ski areas--and an education for me who had no idea Bosnian slopes were so good! Yes, I envy the two year old as well with all that blind faith!

Glowstars said...

Can you believe I've never been skiing. We always said when the boy was this age we'd perhaps go, but now with a baby I guess we'll be waiting a few more years. Maybe not heading to France now though.

Mwa said...

Very nice comparison. Shame I'm a wuss when it comes to ski lifts, or I would be tempted to try Bosnia...

Amy@Bitchin'WivesClub said...

Thank you for the honest comparison! We discussed skiing over the Christmas break, but I chickened out.... Do you think we could go somewhere April 4-10? Is it still okay to ski then?

Bosnia sounds just our speed. No snooty instructors, just a low-key, family-friendly place. I don't know how to ski and have tricky knees, so am not anxious to get on the slopes, so I'm thinking that I could just check the kids into their classes and show up for lunch and dinnertime activities?

What? Doesn't that sound perfect? :)

Metropolitan Mum said...

One-on-one lesson with Dragan? Sounds promising :-D

Skiing is fun, but SO expensive and I imagine you need a Phd in logistics to accommodate all the stuff you need to carry around with you - especially with 2 kids or more.

nappy valley girl said...

Bosnia sounds good! Apart from the ski lifts. I am not a fan of T bars and although I learnt to ski on button lifts, much prefer chairs. Have never been on a heated one though, and I've skied at a few places in the French Alps.

Know exactly what you mean about French ski instructors - they are all good-looking show offs.

The food would probably bother me most - one of the things I like best about skiing is the opportunity to gorge on French food at mountain restaurants and drink vin chaud.

Overall, I'm very jealous. We are still debating whether to ski in the US this year as Littleboy 2 is not quite old enough and it's very expensive here - we might have to leave it until next year when they can both have a go.

Lynn said...

Ooh, what an interesting comparison! I tried Slovenia in 2006 and Austria in 2002 ... honestly, it's been so long that I probably couldn't make a valid comparison anymore, but I do remember that Slovenia had the BEST mid-day snacks. The breakfast at the hotel wasn't half bad either.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Michelleoui - I want the blind faith, I really do!

Glowstars - France is great, but knows it. Think you are wise about waiting a few more years...

Mwa - the ski lifts are not for the faint hearted!

Amy - skiing is great, my youngest is not yet 3. But it is expensive indeed.... If you are serious about it then definitely give it a go - tires out the small ones in no uncertain terms. Some tired boys means some goooooood nights sleep for us :-)). But, Bosnia no good in April, snow will be non existent from mid March. You need to try the Alps for snow then. I'm being mean about France, it is worth a go. And any activity which involves me turning up for lunch and dinner -time activities works in my book ;-))

MM - logistics get better when no need for buggy, travel cot or nappies (about 2 1/2 if you are wondering!). Skiing is so expensive but we are trying to work out how to manage it as the little ones have loved it and the big ones have VERY much enjoyed the ski school morning period when they could get out and blast it on their own for a bit. We were up anyway so might as well get some adreneline going.

NVG - no T bars in Bosnia, just very cold chairs and the odd leap a mile at the start button (which does lead to some good spectating activities whilst drinking vin chaud equivelent - tastes just as good here too). Re small boys - Luke could be put on skis and would glide down the hill. Wasn't his top activity though, the bubble lift was far more exciting. As were chips for lunch every day.

Lynn - haven't been skiing in Slovenia yet, but very very keen to, especially now I know about mid morning snacks!

Lady Mama said...

I liked your French ski instructor impersonation. I've never been skiing, though I should soon since I live within an hour of some excellent slopes (apparently) (Banff). I had no clue there was skiing in Bosnia!

Laruca said...

I'd also imagine that in the French Alps you get a clear idea of the price structure for the ski lifts - unlike Bosnia where someone looks you up and down and names a price and it's impossible to get a straight answer about how much a week/season pass is..

Anonymous said...

sorry Laruca, but that is a lie !

Bosnian skier

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

LM - if you get the chance, definitely give it a go! It is a wonderfully exciting sport.

Laruca - that happened to us just once, all the lifts were shut bar one because of bad weather and the guy operating it was just asking for 2KM per trip, which we thought was pretty good value!

Anon - most of the time I'd agree that there is a fairly flat structure for lift passes, but just occassionally you can get a real bargain (see above!). Bosnia is so much cheaper for skiing than France or Switzerland or pretty much anywhere else. It is just such a shame that the flights to Sarajevo are so expensive (and not direct from the UK either) or I'd be out there recommending it as a great value ski holiday to everyone I meet!

Anonymous said...

yap, u r right about getting a ride cheaper, but this claim: "it's impossible to get a straight answer about how much a week/season pass is..", is nothing but a nonsense!
There are enough websites ( I could name them) to find out all the prices in 5 minutes. In addition, all the booths (that I have seen last year - this season one can not call a skiing season) have a price list at window. Sorry, I did not want to make your blog a clash spot, but that was maliciously stated.

Laruca said...

Anonymous, lie, really?
I was there the weekend before Christmas, that's exactly what happened.
Might not be like that when you are Bosnian, things change slightly when you are foreign.

Anonymous said...

impossible ?





need more ?




need more ?

Took me 3 min to collect the links

Shall I ask someone to make pics of the boots or it can wait until I go there (when enough snow) ?

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

I love skiing in MAcedonia (WHEN there's snow...) cos it's so low key, un-snobby, laid back, family friendly. It's not a huge, extensive resort. The lifts are slow. You meet the odd granny walking up the ski slope with handbag, just there on a day trip to have an espresso in the mtn cafe. I love it. And it IS much much cheaper, & you are right they CRAM you in in French resort accom In Macedonia we staye i n a gorgeous chalet minutes from the lifts. You cd ski to yr door. Yay!

Tattie Weasle said...

I love that "someone will catch me belief" - Bog Boy at 3 and a bit seems to have no intention of giving it up despite the heartattacks it give his Mum!

Iota said...

Paddy Ashdown is a good skier. It's amazing what you learn from blogging.