Snow at the ground level is a foreign concept to Californians. Whereas the rest of the US and much of the world have a season called winter, Californians shiver at the thought of sub 65 Fahrenheit (18.3 Celcius) weather.
Ukraine’s sub-zero temperature, though non-ideal on the ground level, presented the perfect opportunity to visit the Carpathian Mountains. Rostyslav and Volodymyr took me to Bukovel, the largest ski resort in Ukraine and the world’s fastest growing ski resort in 2012.
We left my hotel at 6am, then drove over two hours to the slopes. I slept half way, but was again mesmerized at the roads, homes, foliage (or lack of), and blue-grey skies.
There were some difficulties getting ski rentals. None of us brought our passports, didn’t know they were required for all rental equipment, even for Ukrainian citizens. Therefore, we needed to withdraw several thousand Ukrainian Hryvnias. This is a small fortune for local folks, and we maxed out the daily ATM withdraw limits on one debit card.
Afterwards, up the slopes we went!
It was snowing all day. Volodymyr brought his daughter, but Rostyslav and I parted ways and accidentally went down an intermediate slope on the first run. And that was Rostyslav’s first run, ever – he had never skied before.
He fell about three times within that timespan, and only fell an additional 3-4 times throughout the rest of the 6-hour day. I simply told him “This is hot dog, this is pizza. Hot dog is fast, pizza is slow. After that you just shift weights left to right to slow down, which cuts your skis into the snow.” By the end, he was going down the intermediate slopes with ease, an incredibly quick learner. I want my refund back when I had learned through a ski professional, some time around the age of 10.
Bukovel slopes are no joke. There were three separate mountains with two main valleys. The gondolas all housed four people and moved at fast speeds. As a first, the boarding area was a moving platform; we simply lined up onto the moving platform, and the chairs would align.
The trip to Bukovel was unexpected. I didn’t bring any contact lenses, thus wore my glasses on the slope. Didn’t bring any gear, so I wore jeans. No mask or goggles.
This resulted in snow hitting my face at high velocities. I felt like The Day After Tomorrow descended upon me, and that a new Ice Age was upon us. I could barely speak from the semi-frozen lips. Major lisp, much embarrassed.
Spoiled, overdramatic Californians, can’t get used to winter weather.
Even this doggy was just chillin’ there. No shivering and no complaints. I dusted the snow off him, hoping he had somewhere warm to go at late. Sincerely hope that wasn’t a stray.
First time on a slope outside of California, glad it was in Ukraine. Let’s conquer an Asian mountain next time, maybe Japan or Korea!