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The Winter is coming - time to ski!

As the winter is nearly upon us, many people might wonder what is there to do during winter in Spain. It’s a wrong assumption that Spain is only good for Summer vacations, as there is plenty of places to visit especially during winter! One of such places is the infamous Spanish ski resort – Sierra Nevada!

So, let’s start of the beginning, what is Sierra Nevada?

In direct translation from French it means Snow Covered Mountains. It is a mountain range in the region of Andalucia, in the province of Granada in Spain. It contains the highest point of continental Spain and Europe outside the Caucasus Mountains and the Alps, Mulhacén at 3,478 meters above sea level. It is a popular tourist destination, as its high peaks make skiing possible in one of Europe's most southerly ski resorts, in an area along the Mediterranean Sea predominantly known for its warm temperatures and abundant sunshine. At its foothills is found the city of Granada and, a little further, Almería and Málaga.

How do you get there?

Let’s presume you are doing your Erasmus studies somewhere in Andalucia province, this could be cities like Malaga/Granada/Almeria/Sevilla. There are many ways in which you can get to Sierra Nevada, it all depends on your financial situation. The cheapest and convenient way to get there is to go with a group of friends using a rental car. This shouldn’t be more then 30/20 euros per person, depending on the car as well as the amount of people you are going with. Another option would be to go by bus. If you are living in a big city such as the ones mentioned before, you can easily get a ticket from the central train station for about 20/30 euros one way. The bus journey will be longer and more tiring as it will make a few stops through your way to Granada. Also, you can consider using services like BlaBla car, where you can get to the place by the means of car pulling.

Options:

1. Car sharing

2. Rent a car

3. Bus

Once you will get to Granada you will of course see the mountain, but here is a note, it will take about half an hour to get to the mountain from the city center of Granada.

Where to stay?

Of course, normally tourists don’t go to Sierra Nevada for one day so it is essential to find a place to stay. Generally speaking the average price for one night per person would be about 50 euros. As the place is very popular the tourists the prices for the stay won’t be cheap. While looking for accommodation to stay take a note of the distance till the Ski lift.

The options are:

1. Hotel

2. Airbnb flat

3. Shared hostel

Ski Pass and renting of the Ski

Generally speaking you don’t need to bring anything with you except for the skiing clothes, as you can rent out everything on place. The rent of the ski will cost you about 10 euros, of course It all depends on the type you choose, the price can go up to any sum, all depends on your preferences and the skis that the shop has. Don't forget to bring your sunglasses, sun cream, gloves, scarf and hat. From the shop, you will get skis, ski poles (essential, even if the guy tells you otherwise, as they can be very useful in some situations) and ski boots. Don’t forget the fact that you will have to leave some kind of ID as a deposit.

You can get a ski pass online from the resorts website (http://sierranevada.es/en/). One good thing to note here, is that if you buy 48 hours before the arrival (you can buy it later on but you won't get your card in time to go skiing) you will get a discount of 10 euros. So first you need to buy a membership card and then the ski pass.

The ski resort

If you are staying in the little village at the bottom of the ski stations, it's easy to get to the pistes. You just have to take the ski lift. There are two lines for the ski lifts: one for Borreguiles and one for Al-Andalus. The Borreguiles line is busier but you can sit down on this lift. Coming down from Borreguiles there isn't as many people so it's better if you choose this one. Going up the mountain, there are rush hours between 9 and 10. 30 in the morning. So, try to get there earlier so you can make the most of the day and not have to queue.

Once you get to the top of Borreguiles, there will be a lot of pistes around you. The green ones are on the right and the more difficult ones are on the left (Blue and Red). If you are a beginner you can start on the 'tubos' (the tubes) on the far left. You can ride a tube or two of you can (the other is behind) and make the mini-descent and learn to turn and how to slow down (facing your skis inward and bending the knees). It is also there where you have your first lessons from an instructor.

Then you can use the second piste, from the Emile Allais chair lift, or the one on the right. If you take the Emile Allais lift, you have to head left and walk a bit (without skis). If you take the other, you go straight ahead and it is on your right. The first descent is a bit steep for beginners but if the weather conditions are good, you will get down without any problems. The main problem that you might experience is the length of the queues, as during this time of the year the resort is very popular among tourists. The earlier you go, the less you will have to wait.

In case you an experience skier or at least an intermediate level, you can take the ski left on the left from Emile Allais, Veletta II (Velette I, takes you to another green) and then after Veletta. There is also the 'Stadium' piste which is more difficult and more to the left. Some advice is that if there are a lot of people, go down the 'Rio' (so called frozen river). It goes from the Borreguiles station to the bottom. Then if it still isn't the rush hour, you can quickly go back up and there are still only a few people on the slopes. It's really great for those who haven't been skiing before.

If you want a real challenge you can go to “Jara”. To get there, you don't take the Borraguiles ski lift. You go left, past the Al andalous piste and go towards the left of the village. There, there are more ski lifts to take. It is a green/blue piste. The thing to note is that there are a lot less people on the top and the snow there was much better because you are less high-up so it is less icy when it is nice weather and less foggy when it is bad. It joins the 'Rio' then finishes towards the left at the bottom.