The expectations were high when I struggled to get my luggage on board the tram. Finally was it time to get going! It was time to try out Åre, Swedens best ski resort, for the first time and also try the overnight train. A whole week at work was done and this Friday was it harder than usual to stay focused at work. At 18:30 is the train supposed to leave Gothenburg and to make sure we don't miss it do we meet up at the train station at 6-o'clock but in usual SJ spirit is the train delayed. It doesn't bother us though since we all are equally stoked to get away for this trip. Once onboard the train do we make ourselves at home, eat some dinner that we brought and play some games and we can all agree that this is far better than being stuffed in a car even though we had to wait a bit extra at the station. None of us slept very well on the train but a good breakfast and the view of snow outside the train window gave us more energy than any energy drink could have done. When we managed to get all our luggage off the train was it straight to the hotel reception and luggage storage in Åre Fjällby to get ready for a full day on the slopes since the time was only 8:30. Thanks to a good system for luggage storage with large cages and access to changing rooms did we have no worries about leaving our stuff there until the afternoon when we would get access to our apartment.
Our accommodation for the week was a two-room apartment with joint kitchen/common room and 2 bathrooms with showers. Each bedroom had a bunk bed and plenty of storage space but the best thing about this apartment was its location. With only 100 meters to the VM8 chairlift did it almost provide ski-in ski-out which meant that almost all lunches were had in the apartment. Apart from being a more economical option did it also give us the opportunity to get back our frozen feet and hands back to life which was well needed with temperatures ranging between -20 to -12 degrees Celcius the whole week.
Our riding did vary pretty much during our stay and with lots of fresh snow at the beginning of the week gave us nice slopes with great grip but as the week progressed did the slopes become firmer and firmer. Åre did also have full focus on getting the slopes around VM8 ready for the World Championship in downhill skiing which meant limited access to Gästrappet and Lundsrappet at the end of the week. This was really sad since these two slopes were our absolute favorites plus that you could use the gondolas on VM8 instead of the chairs. This helped a lot to keep the feet and hands reasonable warm. In the middle of the week did the upper zone finally reopen after the storm Jan and apart from great skiing was it also super cool to see the effect of all the icing that had happened which gave an apocalyptical feeling. Sadly did we not have the opportunity to ride the tram from the village to the top due to the icing. Other parts of the system that we spent lots of time in was Björnen since the wind wasn't as bad here plus did the chairlift have the possibility to pull down a hood for protection. The riding was okay but since there was only one red slope, Viksvängen, and not that much elevation did it soon become pretty boring to do laps here. On Friday did I try out Skistars Ski touring tour which was a full day of ski touring with a guide for people who had done ski touring before. I turned out to be the only participant which meant I got a private tour with the guide which was great fun. I strongly recommend this tour even if you're not as lucky as me and get to do it alone because we found a whole bunch of good runs even if it was total white-out on the very top.
Since we ate lunch in the apartment most days did we not have the opportunity to try out that many different lunch restaurants on the slopes, but the ones we did try were Rautjoxa Värdshus and Kastrullen. Rautjoxa did not impress with their food but the atmosphere was really nice. Kastrullen did have a nice atmosphere as well plus the service and food were good for a reasonable price.
The only After Ski we tried was the one at Hyddan which is located a bit up the slope Stjärnbacken above VM6:an. They had live music and the atmosphere was great but they lacked a bit with the food options. So choose something else if you want more than goulash soup.
Since we took the overnight train home as well on Saturday did we have the opportunity to ride the whole department day. We just checked out in the morning and stored our luggage the same way as when we arrived and when we where done could we use the showers and get changed. We had to spend some time at the train station though since the luggage storage closed at 6-o'clock and our train didn't leave until 8 but we spend this time eating pizzas and drank beers at Lounge at the station and this was a great finish on a very fun trip.
My review of Åre is that it's the best ski resort that we have in Sweden. Thanks to the upper zone do you get more vertical elevation than any other resort in Sweden and you can get some really long runs. The lift system is modern and effective which means you quickly get to the top. The village has a nice atmosphere and there are lots of different types of accommodations. Some minus does Åre get since you pretty quickly go through all the different slopes which means that if you stay for a full week is it hard to vary the riding. If you look at the off-piste potential on the other hand is it close to endless which means that if you are willing to ski tour can you find new lines on each run. I will definitely come back to Åre for more skiing but then the focus will be on off-piste skiing and I will probably only go for a weekend. I also give overnight train a big thumbs-up since it was a very convenient way of travel plus it gave us 2 whole extra days of riding since you arrived in the morning on your first day and left in the evening on the last.
A big thanks Åre and see you soon again!