Club Holiday Cervinia January 2003


by John Weatherell

Or

How we skied a little on the cold side !!!!

Once again the main Club holiday brought out, not only the evergreen faces of the "regulars", but some bright-eyed and bushy-tailed "younger" members.

We all gathered at Terminal 2 at Manchester for the 1.15 pm flight, with the "happy" Air 2000 check-in girls. I know it's monotonous saying, "is this your luggage etc" to all the uncomplaining travellers, but I think it could be done with a smile. All forty-seven of us checked in without any mishaps apart from the plane, which arrived at 1.00pm as we looked out of the departure lounge. With a very quick turn around we left approx forty-five minutes late. The flight went well with no film, tax-free sales, bacon butties (in flight gourmet style) and drinks (various).

On arrival at Turin we passed through the airport with the biggest problem being how to get your E1 (euro) coin back out of the luggage trolleys. I have never seen so much IQ put to use to reclaim a euro stuck in a trolley.

We then met our First Choice Reps Damon, a good bronzed, but not blonde, boy from the southern hemisphere colony of Queensland and Emma from New Zealand. As we found out later, both had a good sense of humour.

First problem encountered was too much baggage to fit on the bus, many worried faces thinking theirs would get left behind. Problem solved immediately, use bus No 2; still worried faces, and "heard that before". Problem no2 - as we all sat on the bus being head counted, this revealed three people missing. Several recounts later and still three people missing. Like a Phoenix from the ashes Paul Sharp arose to read the register - still three people missing. All turned out well when it transpired that two people had withdrawn at the last minute, and one had not told Paul that he was not coming, but they were apparently still on the reps list.

So on that happy note we set off for the resort and a trouble free journey to arrive two hours later at The Hotel Astoria, Cervinia.

After an enjoyable late evening meal when, unknown to us, the Salad course was self service and consequently not eaten (but it was for the rest of the week), most retired to their adequate rooms while some enjoyed palatial suites! One or two tried the Dragon Bar - the local meeting place for all the reps in the resort and visiting glamorous Brits.

Eager and early risers on Monday morning opened their curtains to glorious snow, high winds and low cloud with the link to Zermatt closed. Undeterred, everybody skied in various groups for a limited but enjoyable first day. The more sociable in the evening joined together in the Dragon Bar again to form "Emma's Team" in the reps pub quiz, gaining third place and free pizzas at the local pizza emporium.

Tuesday again found the Matterhorn in the clouds and wind with the link closed but the snow was excellent. Tony and Dot Keates took a break from their Alpine Grand Tour and joined several members for a good days skiing.

On the après ski scene the Irish Bar in the main street attracted the thirsty people with 2 for 1 drinks 4.30 to 5.30pm. And two doors further up the street the Grivola provided the now hungry people with bar snacks and nibbles free with discounted drinks. You can no doubt imagine the happiness free drinks and free food brought to some people. The organised nightly entertainment varied drastically between a Skidoo Safari or a resort Pub Crawl with the reps. The pub crawl turned out to be very good value for E6 (euros) with various flavoured vodkas in each bar plus dancing in the final bar, The Sports Bar. Some members did not pay but tagged along for the experience, I and Barry Vickers my roommate cannot be held responsible for the state of certain members the following morning.

On Wednesday morning we awakened to even better snow with sun and not a cloud in the sky and the link was open! While most stayed on the Italian side, approximately fifteen ventured over to the Swiss side. This venture came as a shock to some as once over the top and down a short red/blue you had to pole for about one-and-half miles to reach downhill again. Unfortunately, while having this heart rendering experience the weather turned to high winds, whiteouts with blown snow and a deep drop in temperature (-18 on the Plateau Rosa). At this point decisions were made and some returned while a few carried on to the delights of Zermatt.

Après ski again consisted of 2 for 1`s and nibbles, but this time with a recruiting drive for new members by Paul Sharp who carried on a conversation with a young South African couple. (Nick and his partner, whose name escapes me at present my apologies). After Paul's sales pitch on the benefits of the ScoM they joined there and then. Later the football fans gathered in The Yeti bar to watch Liverpool and Arsenal match.

Thursday brought news of really bad weather or rather the hotel head waiter did when he arrived with the daily faxed forecast. He looked at Paul, shook his head, screwed up the fax and kicked it into the bin. Very high winds were forecast with several lifts, bubbles and gondola closed, snow, freezing temps. -23 deg. C at Plan Maison and the link again closed. The snow was very good though, so off we all skied making the most of what we had.

Friday was bad, windier, colder -26 deg C. with a wind chill factor taking the temperature to a mind boggling -38 deg C. Officially posted temperatures. Even the river flowing through Cervinia froze, but the snow was good and most skied - boy o boy was it COLD!!!

The après ski crowd was now getting bigger as the news of 2 for 1, the nibbles, and Paul's new recruits, filtered through to the rest of the members.

Saturday dawned with cloudless skies, The Matterhorn in all its splendour, no wind (although Paul said he "had been affected by it all week") a rise in temperature to -18 deg C., the links to Zermatt open and the snow was good. Groups went in varying directions, some going to Zermatt. I joined a fast and furious team who, on this occasion, shall remain nameless. They did indeed ski fast and furious all over the Trockener Steg side and down into Zermatt village for lunch. This was my first visit to Zermatt and first impressions were good as we walked around - fur coats, horse drawn taxis, milk float buses and taxis, very clean and pleasant. Lunch came as great surprise to me as I followed the boys into - and I will never live this down with my family - MacDonald's.

At après ski the topic of conversation was of a brilliant day's skiing had by all, either side of the resort, including those who had ventured up the KLIEN MATTERHORN at -30 deg C in the cable car to take in the view and the ice sculptures inside the mountain.

A couple of the boys skied Sunday morning, while most had a lazy day waiting for the coach for the return journey to Turin at 1.00pm. At the check-in we were greeted and processed in the fastest time ever by the most charming, good-looking group of young ladies you could wish to meet. There was a downside of course in that a three-hour delay was forecast for departure, but the snow had been at its best and we all arrived home safely at Manchester Airport.

VERDICT
Hotel clean, tidy, rooms adequate, 25m. from the main cable car and bubble.
Food depending on your choice, good
Reps overall good, although lacking in lift pass knowledge
Resort not the liveliest this week, but has its good points
Weather with being a very high resort this time of year odds on Evens
SNOW very good.

Would I go again ............................ YES

Thanks again to Paul Sharp for all his hard work and we all hope his new boot WARMERS work well.