Peter Welcome to our travel podcast. We’re specialist travel writers and we’ve spent half a lifetime exploring every corner of the world.
Felice So we want to share with you some of our extraordinary experiences and the amazing people we’ve met along the way.
Peter This week we’re doing something a bit different. Felice and I were guests on Talking Travel With Wendy, a podcast based in Alabama in the USA. Wendy Payne is a military wife and mother of three who first started her podcast for US families posted to Germany in order to help them to discover the secrets of travel in Europe, and indeed around the world. She’s back in the States right now, but no doubt not for long, after the 17th house move of her marriage. She describes her mission as: ‘Helping to create a sustainable tourism industry by promoting small hospitality and travel businesses around the globe.’
Felice We’re big fans of Wendy. She came on Episode 13 of our podcast, but this time around we thought we’d share her chat with us. It tells you more about Peter and me at Action Packed Travel than it does about Wendy. But if you want to find out more about her, go to her website, Travel With Wendy, or go to Instagram: Travel with Wendy, or you can find her own YouTube channel. Full details for this episode can be found on our Show Notes at Actionpackedtravel.com.
Wendy Hi, welcome. Thank you so much for joining me here today. I am happy to be chatting with new friends, Peter and Felice Hardy from Winchester, Great Britain. And they are avid ski enthusiasts as well as massive travellers. I’m super jealous. So we’re going to be talking about all things skiing and travel today. So thanks for joining Talking Travel With Wendy and welcome.
Felice Thank you for having us. We’re excited to be here with you.
Peter Yes, it’s really exciting for us.
Wendy I love that you’re across the pond. And we used to say,’ How long does it take to get across the pond?’ And today it’s just one Zoom call away. How long have you just loved skiing and hiking and biking?
Felice Well, I’ve skied since I was three years old.
Peter I skied since I was about 12, so I’m the later-comer.
Felice And we have had a job for years where we managed to do lots of skiing, which is great.
Wendy Well, tell me about that.
Peter Well, it really is quite a lot of skiing. I mean, we go skiing most weeks during the winter. We come and go – hopefully together, but not always. Sometimes we do pass in the night. The last time we go away together, I guess, was an average winter. I used to ski for maybe one hundred days, but now it’s half that. And we still we still get about eight weeks skiing. That’s quite a lot by most people’s standards. We get to go to a lot of places. It’s good fun. It’s called making a living out of what you like doing. But we also like going to warm places as well.
Felice And we also love going to the Alps and the Rockies in summer for hiking and other sports.
Peter And cycling and just about everything. And eating; never forget eating.
Wendy And of course that’s like half the fun of travelling.
Peter It is, absolutely. The question we always get asked is what’s the best ski resort in the world? And, you know, you can’t beat that up for about half an hour. They say said you need to what’s the best ski resort in the world? And the answer? There are lots of answers. And my stock answer is to say, ‘Well, it could be almost anywhere.
Some of the best days skiing we’ve had have been in the most remote places that no one’s ever heard of. But basically, if you wake up in the morning and it’s a sunny day and it snowed about maybe 20 inches overnight…and sun is shining from a blue sky and the ice crystals are dancing in the air…and it’s so cold and you go up the mountain and you’re with friends and promising. That’s the best ski resort in the world.’
Wendy So basically, it’s whichever ski resort you’re at?
Felice Yes, It helps if the weather’s good and you can see where you’re going. And I like a pretty resort too. I mean, everywhere has great scenery, but it’s nice, you know, one of my favourites is Zermatt in Switzerland: quaint wooden chalets. And Kitzbühel in Austria is another one because they’re both really beautiful.
Wendy Now, Zermatt, aren’t those more difficult trails as well?
Felice They are in Zermatt. But Kitzbühel, which is equally beautiful, has a lot easier skiing.
Peter Kitzbühel is famous for the Hahnenkamm race, which is the toughest downhill of the World Cup circuit. But when it’s not prepared for racing, it’s actually a family ski run. Cover it in ice and and put the jumps and it gets really dangerous and difficult.
Felice I was going to say there’s lots of easier skiing in Austria, and all the villages are so pretty and there’s lots of atmosphere, which you don’t always get in the more modern resorts.
Peter Our actual favourite, not the stock answer, but the actual favourite resort is unquestionably Jackson Hole in Wyoming.
Felice We love it because it has great atmosphere. It’s a cowboy town; you see elk walking around.
Peter And moose.
Felice And it’s just really full of atmosphere and lots of lovely little shops and restaurants, great skiing. I mean, it’s quite difficult skiing, but one of our kids learn to ski there – so there is skiing for beginners as well. We’ve skied in Japan and we’ve skied in Chile. Japan is amazing. You’ve got to like sushi and you’ve got to like the baths they have – onsen baths which are in hot springs and you take all your clothes off – they’re single sex but you take all your clothes off, everyone together, to go in. And that’s what people do in the evening.
Wendy That’s sort of what I got used to when we lived in Germany. But some of my American friends are still quite skittish about doing that. But after about five seconds, nobody really cares and everybody’s doing that.
Peter Sometimes in Japan too, they have – especially on the North Island – they have these hot springs on the mountainside. So you’re going through a ski run? And you go through some woods, down a meadow and there is a little pool of bath-temperature water, and people just stop and take all their clothes off and get in and sit around in there for a while. And that’s OK. Getting out of it is the hard bit; putting your clothes back on.
Felice In Chile they are hot, you know, because you ski on a volcano or just at the base of the volcano. So again, all the hot boiling hot water is piped into the swimming-pools…the hotel swimming-pools.
Peter Not boiling hot.
Felice Well, not boiling hot.
Wendy Well enough for a bath.
Peter I think that’s really invigorating though, being in the cold and then going into those hot springs and out again and out again. We love going to all sorts of different countries to ski because every single one is so different from each other
Wendy And Felice, who do you work for?
Felice Well, I write on a freelance basis for almost every national newspaper in the UK and some of the lifestyle magazines, Condé Nast Traveller, Tatler, House & Garden, all these different things. But also together, Peter and I have a ski website called Welove2ski.com, which is like an online magazine with lots and lots of information about, oh, over 100 resorts, different resorts around the world. So people can go on there and find out where to stay, where to eat.
Wendy Yeah, it’s really a wonderful website. I’m so glad I checked it out, because as I was telling you the other day, I have quite a few clients who are very interested in skiing and I just don’t know enough. So I’m so happy to talk to professionals.
Felice You can go on there and find out everything.
Wendy Well, and they can sign up for your podcast, too. And the podcast is called…
Felice Now the podcast is not connected with Welove2ski. Action Packed Travel is the full name. You can listen to the podcast on iTunes and Spotify and all those places. And it’s a new venture for us; we started it in March. And it’s not just skiing, it’s travel worldwide. And we interview interesting people who’ve been inspired by their travels, like you Wendy – some really interesting people.
Peter The first person to fly a hot-air balloon over Everest, for example.
Wendy Oh, wow.
Peter My favourite is a jewellery expert who she’s quite well known here because she appears on a TV show, and she’s one of the world’s most famous gemologists.
Wendy I love that episode. I listened to that. It was so fascinating. I had no idea all of that went into gemology. I really didn’t. I just took it off for granted, like they found a stone. I realised there was some science behind it, but not as much as the episode shared. Wow.
Peter I worked in radio many, many years ago. And in those days you cut up audio tape with a razor blade and Scotch tape.
Wendy Yes, these young people, they just get on there and know right away, intuitively. Makes me so mad.
Peter It’s fun learning, too.
Wendy And one of the things that I have really enjoyed about creating the podcast and joining the podcast community is how helpful and friendly everyone is. Have you found that to be true?
Felice I found that as well, yes. It’s amazing how helpful people are.
Peter If you were if you were working for a newspaper, right now we wouldn’t be appearing in each other’s newspapers talking about like this. That would not be allowed. But of course, it’s all one community in a box with each other.
Felice Everyone wants to help each other. It’s amazing.
Wendy Yes. Have you ever faced bad weather that has cancelled a trip?
Felice Well, they’re usually they’re not cancelled, but we’ve been to Austria once in December. And when we got there – it was to see all these new chalets that had just opened – when we got there, there was no snow at all, so no one could go skiing. So that’s one of the problems. And the other problem is too much snow. So you can have that and you can be stuck not being able to get into the resort or not being able to get out
Peter Or not be able to ski too, because there was too much snow. The lifts close because of avalanche danger.
Felice So the best skiing is when you have the right amount of snow. Not too little, not too much. And we always say to people, you need to go to a resort that has very reliable snow so you don’t want to go to one to low down. And I know Peter’s favourite resort is Val d’Isere in France.
Peter But I do work for them, I must confess. I do the marketing for it.
Felice But it always has plenty of snow. Always. And so it’s a resort we go to a lot.
Peter And in these troubled times you have to look at occupations are relatively safe, and skiing you actually get up in the morning and you put on a face mask and you put on goggles and you have gloves on and you go on a transfer bus or coach to get you slopes. You’re completely safe. And then when you got the lift, now you have to wear a mask and you’re got to lift.
Wendy Have you ever had challenges with bringing your equipment, flying with your equipment? Maybe they don’t show up or partially.
Felice Yes. I once left the UK, as the plane went up in the air I could see my skis in there bag down on the ground. They’d forgotten and they left them behind. Then when you get to the other end, you have to fill in all these forms and things and finally your skis sort of catch up with you, but not necessarily the same day. And you could be going somewhere quite remote. And it’s quite hard for someone to deliver the skis to you.
Peter You actually had a worse one than that, not skiing.
Felice And oh, yes, I once went to South Africa. My suitcase didn’t arrive and I got there it was a trip with a very tight itinerary. So we went to Johannesburg the first day. The next day we went on a safari. And then after that we went to Cape Town and we were moving every day. Well, anyway, my suitcase didn’t arrive and I had nothing with me apart from what I was standing up in.
And when we arrived at our hotel in Johannesburg, the person who was the guide said, ‘If everyone would like to freshen up, you know, have a shower, get changed, we’re going to go straight out sightseeing’. So everyone could do this, apart from me. I had to go out in the clothes I’d been wearing on the flight, and I felt sort of yucky. And in the end, the guide had to take some time to take me shopping so I could buy some clothes because I didn’t know when my suitcase would arrive, and we were going on a safari the next day.
Wendy Oh, wow.
Felice So people lent me things to wear anyway. The suitcase never turned up. Just never turned up again. Never been seen again.
Peter She always puts sunglasses and important things in her hand luggage.
Wendy So have you had you had to rent equipment ever when you travel?
Peter Always buy your own boots. I like to travel with skis but it’s becoming more and more difficult because you have to pay quite a lot of money to travel with skis, now the airlines charge you, but otherwise we rent skis. It depends where we’re going. If I’m going to a well-known resort, then it’s easy to rent skis. If you’re going to somewhere obscure, they can be pretty strange.
Felice Yes. We try and take our own stuff whenever we can and if we’re going skiing in Europe we sometimes drive. Or go by train and then you can easily take your whatever you want.
Wendy Well, thank you guys so much for joining me here today. I really enjoyed talking with you and I absolutely look forward to a follow-up interview to see where we are, maybe in a couple of months and maybe before you can start skiing again.
Felice That would be great.
Peter Well, thank you very much for having us on.
Wendy Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed it. I have much more content on my website, Travel With Wendy, and you can also support this channel by becoming a Patreon patron. Remember, it’s always an adventure when you travel with Wendy.
Felice That’s all for now. If you’ve enjoyed the show, please share this episode with at least one other person! Do also subscribe on Spotify, i-Tunes or any of the many podcast providers – where you can give us a rating. You can subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or any of the many podcast platforms. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to sign up for our regular emails to [email protected].
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