My first visit to the Alps

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The Red Devils school of skiing

The Red Devils school of skiing

My first visit to the Alps! Nothing can be more exciting than a knee course in the Alps in Winter! I visited ValDisere in French Alps in Jan 2012.

Val d’Isère is a village in the Tarentaise Valley, in the Savoie region (Rhône-Alpes region) in southeastern France. It lies 5 km from the border with Italy. It is on the border of the Vanoise National Park created in 1963. During the 1992 Winter Olympics, the Face de Bellevarde was the site of the men’s downhill race. Other alpine skiing events held during those games included men’s giant slalom and alpine combined. Val d’Isère regularly hosts World Cup alpine events, usually for the men in early December, and hosted the World Championships in 2009. It is ideally located in the Savoie region with good transport links in and out of Lyon, Geneva and Chambery. Altitude here is 1850M.

:-( Accommodation during ski season can be pretty pricey. I had stayed in L`aigle des neiges, which was situated very close to the piste- the ski slopes. Route: BLR-DXB-GENEVA, Onwards by road to ValDisere by Bensbus. Alternatively one can travel upto Chambery by train & reach ValDisere by road. Within the village, one can use complementary shuttle service.

Things to do: Ski, Ski & Ski, Snowshoe expeditions (I did it with Michele Gavet of raquettesvaldisere.com for a private tour costing 280 euros); Ride the Funival- funicular train. If you buy a ski pass for the number of days in Valdisere, you can use the ski lifts/ chairlifts/ funival any number of times, moreover saves time in long Q at the daily ticket counter. A six day pass costs 45 euros.

Things to buy: Homemade cheese, honey, rose candies. For daily supplies there are dept stores- Sherpa/ SPAR.

Accessories (which I would never need in my native place!): Thermal head gear from NorthFace (50Euro); Thermal jacket with goose down inner by PeakPerformance (300Euro); Thin thermal gloves (so that you can handle your camera)by Thinsulate (48Euro); Plenty of SPF 50 sunscreen

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Dubai: Land of Gold

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1 dubai skylineI recently visited Dubai (to attend SICOT world congress)/ Abu Dhabi (to visit Sheikh Zayed mosque). Though this happens to be the 3rd visit, it was unique on two counts. First, I witnessed the torrential rain, which lashed UAE after a long break of 20 years! Second the visit was special due to the long awaited visit to the Sheikh Zayed mosque at Abu Dhabi. UAE was at its best, getting decked up for the National Day celebrations…decorations, flags, lighting and not to forget the goodies (discounts and chocolates distributed on behalf of the Sheikh)…Dune bashing was abandoned due to the rains, so was the Tanura/ Belly dance with dinner.