Friday, March 11, 2011

Roadtripping the Balkans and skiing Greece

Amélie arrived as expected. But in the meanwhile, I haven't really been able to find a car at a decent price with room enough for two to sleep in the back and with a rack on which we would have been able to strap our ski bags.

The RV rental company as contacted me about a camper that they had to rent me, but the price they quoted me was too high to split by only two persons. We thought, we could maybe see if they had anything available. After some negotiation, we settled a really good deal at 40euros/day including everything…. with no invoice of course!

So we moved all our stuff from the big RV into our new home! This smaller version was perfect for only the two of us!

All set up, we left south the same day towards Serbia! We haven't made it 1km from the rental office that we ran out of gas..... The rental fuel us with 1liter! Just enough to make it to the next gas station. I guess someone as really understand when they said that we don't have to bring it back full!

As we entered the ex-Yugoslavian countries, the scenery was familiar as travelling across the Canadian prairies…

The final destination of this roadtrip was Popova Sapka, Macedonia. What? You never heard of Macedonia? Guess it is a bit normal. This small balkan country is nestled between Albania, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Serbia and Greece. I've heard great things about this resort and with new snow on the forecast it seemed like a good time to check it out!

After travelling across the plains and driving through Belgrade, we eventually quitted the flatland of Serbia to enter a much more mountainous landscape.
We drove through some pretty heavy snow in times promising for some great skiing!

We finally slept in Tetovo just 13km short of our final destination.

A short drive uphill led us to this old resort nestled at 1100m. Unfortunately for us, the storm that was forecasted have moved south and was (apparently) hitting Turkey in full strength (don't ask me what those huge storm we drove through have gone!). We both agreed that Turkey was too far to think about it (at least for this time!). 

We were left with some hardpack snow from the latest warm front with not much freshies on top. Even better, the main chair was broken! We figured we could always spend the day exploring the backcountry and see if the north facing aspect were having some better snow.

We found a nice cat-track that was going around the mountain and it seemed a great path to check out different aspects. As we skinned our way around we cross a snowcat full of skiers. Popova Sapka is (I think) the only place in Europe where you can do some cat-ski.

Even if Amelie was really motivated at skiing, she had to agree that there wasn't much good snow this time around. It is too bad since the terrain is nice and the past weeks have been quite snowy.

As we skied out, we met a couple of Swiss with there 2 kids of 7 years old skinning uphill! Those were the youngest fellow I have ever met in the backcountry! They told us about a resort in Greece, Vasilitsa, where they skied the day before and that has good snow! A so motivated couple couldn't be wrong!

We follow their advices and left for the 5+ hour drive south. We made it just short of the border that day and slept in Bitola, Macedonia.

After packing up some supplies at the market and filling up on gas, we cross the border and kept going south.

We eventually made it up to Vasilitsa resort at 14h30 just in time to see that they were closing the lifts. I was rather pissed about not skiing that day, so we skin up the nearby sidecountry. 10-15cm of nice light snow was covering much of the slopes.

We made it to the top of this 530m (1620m-2150m) nice little resort to get a really nice view of the surroundings. With the sun slowly sinking, we started skiing down is some great conditions!

I was pleased by what we were skiing since I wasn't expecting much about the Greek snow!

We eventually made it down to the camper just before dusk. Since this brief introduction was really interesting, we are going to stay around here for one more day to check out what this is really all about!

View Balkan1 in a larger map

1 comment:

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