Skiing in October? How’s that then?

Last week we took a long weekend in Germany to visit the indoor Alpine Ski Centre in Bottrop, Germany

We took up skiing three years ago and for the last two have visited Norway over Christmas.  While it’s beautiful and the skiing is brilliant, it’s not a cheap holiday, and a week on the slopes can seem like overkill.  There isn’t usually much other than a ski resort in the vicinity, so unless you’re happy sitting around in front of the fire all day,  it can seem a bit too long.

As an alternative this year we decided to forgo Scandinavia and find another way to practise our skiing, which wasn’t as costly or as far to travel, and didn’t involve a whole week.  The answer of course was an indoor ski centre.  Bottrop boasts the largest in the world and, as I like to practise my German language, it seemed an ideal solution.

We drove from Harwich and took the overnight ferry to the Hook of Holland.  The ferry crossing was superb.  I get seasick but I’m OK if I lay down, so the option of sleeping over in a cabin seemed perfect.  The ferry is perfectly equipped with a restaurant, bars and cafes, shops, a games room and even a cinema.  It even arrived on time.  I’d definitely take that option again over flying or driving all the way through France.

We stayed at the Van der Valk hotel (a Dutch chain) in Gladbeck – a 15 min drive from the ski centre.  The hotel was really lovely, with a roaring fire, comfy sofas and a large restaurant.  The staff were all exceptionally friendly and helpful.  Our room was lovely and big and perfectly comfortable, and there was a free car park on site.  The TV had international channels.  The only downside was that there was on occasion a waft of a toilet smell in various places in the hotel, but that wouldn’t put me off visiting again.

We very much enjoyed the Alpine Centre.  There were a couple of curt members of staff but enough nice ones to balance them out.  The slope is as good as it possibly can be for an indoor slope, with twists, turns and optional jumps.  I still consider myself a beginner skier, and I felt comfortable but challenged on the slope.

They have a cosy restaurant area with buffet and a separate cafe/bar, which is very authentic.  The great thing about the centre was that for one price (which I felt was very reasonable), everything is included – equipment hire, food, drink and skiing.  For beginners there is a nursery slope with separate lift and lessons are available.

We will definitely be returning to the Alpine Centre in Bottrop, possibly next year, and would recommend it as a good alternative to visiting the real thing if you’re looking for one.

On our final day we drove to Gent in Belgium, which I thought was wonderful.  I’ll do a Gent blog next time!

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