Despite all the dramas, closures and travel problems elsewhere, we made it to Are for some excellent skiing. After an enjoyable weekend in Stockholm
, we took the night sleeper train to the north. Not the newest rolling stock to say the least and a bit cramped with our luggage, the beds were comfortable and the bonus of our own bathroom in first class was much appreciated. It was great to wake up in the snow with the sun shining. Are railway station was about 150 yards from our hotel, the very dignified and classic Aregarden in the village square. Handy for lifts, shops, bars and restaurants. Checked in, enjoyed a very welcome breakfast and on to the slopes. Day one was mainly in the Are By and Bjornen areas. Very few snowboarders and lots of T-bars (are the two related?) - lovely first day cruising around. By 4.30, after our travel adventures, I was ready for a beer and a hot shower! We dined the first night in Pinchos - a large chain on the continent where you order your food and drinks and pay via an app on your mobile telephone. All in all, it was excellent value - and prices throughout our trip were much more reasonable than I was expecting - certainly beer and wine was no more expensive than French or Swiss resorts (or London, for that matter!). Two coffees at a slopeside cafe were less than £5 (can't imagine you could match that in Val D'Isere or Verbier!). Day 2 we skied in the Rodkullan area where we each had private lessons (mine was very technical and analytical and was well worth the money for 1.5 hours). The weather was superb on each day - and it snowed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Conditions underfoot were superb. Day three, while Mrs LOTA had another lesson, I skied in the Hogzon (High Zone) and despite the closure of the cable car, as a Covid-19 precaution, there were plenty of skiers about but no queues. Many people don't like t-bars but they do move skiers up the hill quickly!
Although there was no sense of panic or concern in Are itself, we were very conscious of the growing travel problems elsewhere so decided to bring our flight forward from Sunday to Thursday. This proved a sound decision as the Sunday flight was cancelled the following morning, just before we left, and the cabin crew said theirs was the last flight that would be carried out.
Although our planned six days of skiing was halved by the world emergency, we felt very privileged to have been able to get some skiing in - especially as the horror stories of arriving in France and then being immediately sent home were coming through. Overall, I was impressed with Are. The slopes were quiet, snow conditions were excellent, the lift system accesses a lot more than than you might guess from the piste map. The 'transporter' tracks between the various areas are a really good way to get about and give a real senses of travel across the mountain. Very friendly people, too, who speak immaculate English. We will definitely return in the not too distant future.