Sierra Nevada – A Cultural Affair
Sierra Nevada, a ski resort on Spain’s south coast, is the southern-most ski station in Europe and the highest in Spain. On a clear day, you can see the tip of Morocco from its peak. According to the trail map, the highest run starts at around 3,300 meters or 10,800 feet. To compare, it is roughly the same altitude as the top of Aspen Mountain in Colorado. Though not well known in the US, this resort positively bustles in winter. In a good snow year, you have close to 100 kilometers of trails to ski. Not only that, but its vertical drop of 4,000 feet is similar to skiing from the top of the tram in Jackson Hole down to the village.
Another Sierra Nevada attribute is its location. Resorts in California often brag of their proximity to the coast, and point out that you could, feasibly, ski and surf in the same day. Fans of skiing in Chile like to one-up California, by pointing out that the distance from the resorts around Santiago to the coast is only 2 hours, about half the time it takes to get from Tahoe to San Francisco and the Bay Area. Sierra Nevada is less than an hour’s drive from the beautiful Costa Tropical where the warm Mediterranean Sea awaits.
If the proximity of the sea beckons, just between Malaga and Salobreña, a two and half hour drive from the ski resort lies Nerja, one of the most picturesque beach towns in Spain. It is the gem of the Med with its inviting beaches, charming restaurants, tapas bars, and hotels.
Skiing in Sierra Nevada is a worthy pursuit in and of itself, but when you can include a cultural experience along with it, all the better. Some of Spain’s most important historical sites are just minutes away like the Alhambra in Granada that is just a 20 minute drive from the ski resort. The Alhambra was originally built in the 9th century and was used by Andalusia’s Muslim rulers until the Catholic monarchs of Spain expelled them in the late 15th century. Its beautiful Moorish architecture gives insight into times past. Be sure to hydrate from all that sightseeing in downtown Granada with a cerveza and all the tapas you can eat so you’re ready to hit the slopes early. http://en.sierranevada.es
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Canada’s Quebec City ski region is as close as one gets to a European après-ski experience without crossing the Atlantic.
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