The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

Set­ting off for the slopes in Geilo in a re­laxed at­mos­phere opened an ad­di­tional wing with an in­door pool long enough to al­low a se­ri­ous work out. PACK­AGE: : Crys­tal Ski of­fers pack­ages at Dr Holms Ho­tel. Prices for seven nights half board start from £415 or £539 (for two shar­ing — de­part­ing from Gatwick on Jan­uary 17 or 24) — dis­counts of £384 and £260 re­spec­tively. For­est cab­ins avail­able on the same dates for £238 for each of 4 shar­ing (down £280). For those seek­ing slightly more de­mand­ing ski­ing Crys­tal also of­fers pack­ages in Hemsedal (about one hour from Geilo). Seven night half board at the Ho­tel Skogstad, de­part­ing on Jan­uary 24 from £525 for each of two shar­ing crys­tal­

There’s also in­ter­est­ing art here, from the wealthy owner’s size­able col­lec­tion, in­clud­ing a sketch by Ed­vard Munch for his best known work, The Scream.

Out among the trees, sur­rounded by snow, there are also some beau­ti­fully ap­pointed self ca­ter­ing cab­ins.

If you har­bour the no­tion that Nor­we­gian cook­ing is by and large bor­ing — boiled fish and pota­toes maybe — pre­pare to be sur­prised. The culi­nary revo­lu­tion that has swept Scan­di­navia has reached here, too.

While both the pre­vi­ously de­scribed ho­tels have fine chefs, in the cen­tre of Geilo is the Restau­rant Hallingstuene.

There I ate a su­perb din­ner of moun­tain trout fil­let with lemon herb but­ter, and cloud­ber­ries with ice cream.

The pound may have strength­ened sig­nif­i­cantly against the krone but Nor­way still isn’t cheap.

This meal would set you back around £60 a head be­fore you’ve had a drink. The restau­rant has a wine cel- lar with prices start­ing at around £25. It also has a couple of bot­tles of 1990 Ro­manée-Conti at around £6,550.

It’s per­haps a state­ment of the ob­vi­ous that, as a vi­able al­ter­na­tive to down­hill ski­ing, Geilo has Nor­way’s equiv­a­lent of Premier­ship foot­ball: cross coun­try.

Asked which she liked bet­ter, a ho­tel re­cep­tion­ist shot back: “Are you ask­ing me if I’m Nor­we­gian? Be­sides the mag­nif­i­cent, flood­lit World Cup sta­dium, where se­ri­ous com­peti­tors share the cir­cuit with skiers sim­ply out for ex­er­cise and a lung full of fresh air, there are 220 peace­ful kilo­me­tres of tracks within a 5km ra­dius of the re­sort. But take heed, if you haven’t tried it — it’s trick­ier than it looks. Those skinny skis have minds of their own, par­tic­u­larly on down­ward stretches.”

Best of all, per­haps, though this is by no means ex­clu­sive to Geilo, there are the Nor­we­gians them­selves.

I’m sure there are grumpy lo­cals, as there are every­where, but so far, while ski­ing in Nor­way, I haven’t en­coun­tered one.

Most speak good English and have no dif­fi­cul­ties with Bri­tish hu­mour. An ex­am­ple writ large was Elis­a­beth An­dreassen, born in Swe­den to Nor­we­gian par­ents and a huge star here­abouts, best known for win­ning the Euro­vi­son Song Con­test in 1985 with the group Bob­bysox.

With un­flag­ging cour­tesy and hu­mour she signed CDs and posed for pho­tos with fans who had just heard her per­form songs, in­clud­ing a some­what sur­real 12 days of Christ­mas (in Nor­we­gian) at a fes­tive con­cert at the re­sort’s ul­tra-mod­ern Cul­tural Church.

The Trois Val­lées this most cer­tainly isn’t but, like Knut-Arne’s piz­zas, that kind of warmth makes a lit­tle ski­ing go a long way.

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