As a Filipina girl coming from a tropical country… When I travel during winter, people usually judge me for my excitement with snow. But I can’t help myself… It’s so magicalllll. :) When it comes to my “things to do with snow” checklist, I’ve already made a snowman, already participated in a snowball fight, and I’ve made snow angels. But one thing I haven’t done yet that I’ve always always always wanted to do (no, it’s not to pee in the snow haha) was to go snowboarding!!!! :D :D :D Read on for my experience and a quick 10 Tips For Your First Ski Trip below!
Thanks to being an english teacher in Istanbul, I am located near countries that have good ski resorts and I was able to save money for a 5-day Snowboarding/Skiing trip with my Serbian brats (Stefan, Marko and Nikola)! :D Since the start of the school year, I was pretty much looking forward to this trip BECAUSE SNOWBOARDING!!! :D I honestly can’t believe a lot of good things lined up for this to happen. :)
First off, I am unbelievably lucky to have my Serbian family who adopted me as their little Asian pet. :)) Kidding aside… Serbians are seriously some of the kindest people I’ve ever encountered, and the Mitrovici have given a huge huge huge hand in making this dream of mine come true. :) From planning the trip, to creating itinerary, to finding discounts, to letting us have a car to travel with, to feeding us hungry pandas, to sponsoring all my gear literally from head to toe (to my Serbian little sister…if you’re reading Jelena, hvala ti puno ponovo!!!), I can go on and on but that will make me wanna hide under a rock in shame. haha. Bottomline, they’re the best ever.
Continuing on with the story… The drive from Belgrade to Kopaonik made me more and more excited… With a quick two day stopover at Nis, we whooshed away to Kopaonik mountain. The ski resort in Kopaonik is actually considered one of the best (usually the best or 2nd best, according to my insane research haha) in Eastern Europe. However, just like with every ski resort, everything is quite expensive… We took great measures to save money. The hotel we stayed in (on a big discount thanks to another of my Serbian brats.. Zdravo y hvala, Milos!) was a 30 minute drive to the actual resort. Plus, we brought food with us so that we can just cook our meals at the hotel.
We got our 5-day unlimited ski pass, which cost around 100 euros. The slopes are open from 9am until 6pm. There are 4 levels that you can find on the Kopaonik resort. The 1st one is basically a tiny little hill where super duper duper beginners learn to get comfortable riding down a tiny ass hill. The 2nd one are the BLUE coded slopes, these are considered “Easy-Intermediate”. Then the 3rd one are the RED coded slopes, which are considered “Medium-Hard”. And then the BLACK coded slopes, which are considered the most difficult. Each code has a LOT of tracks. So for example… even if blue is easy, there’s still a variation when it comes to the difficulty, scenery and paths of the slopes…
I was a tiny little Filipina hobbling around in her thick multi-layered outfit and a board taller than her, smiling from ear to ear, as soon as we arrived at the main area. I am 85% sure I looked like a penguin. Isn’t it beautiful?! :D It was my first time to see what goes on in a legit ski resort. Even riding the ski lift made me giddy with excitement, that I had to control myself from jumping up and down my seat. It was love at first sight… Oh but reality came crashing down on me… When? When I started with snowboarding lessons… hahaha.
Because I’m a super beginner (who was extra super pathetic next to the tiny little children half my body size and 3 times less my age, but already so good with skiing and snowboarding haha) it was mandatory to take lessons. I came from a country whose normal weather rivaled the temperatures of hell, so I had no way whatsoever of learning how to glide on the snow. Jelena recommended Ivan Maksimovic, her past snowboard instructor. (You can message him on that link for lessons!)
He has a reputation of being one of the best instructors on the resort, and after 4 days (and only 6 hours total) of lessons with him, I was able to go down red/black slopes on my last day on the mountain! :D But then, I also have to be fair and give a bulk of the credit to my other “coach”. Stefan is one of the best skiiers I’ve ever seen so he’s used to the whole “gliding on snow” thing. Persistently teaching and pushing me til I got better and better everyday. Yes, he pushed me til I cried, but then he also pushed me (literally) back to the right path whenever I make a mistake and crash into a pile of snow off the slope track. So whatever, guess it’s even. haha.
I’ve never felt so much pain learning a sport before… (Stef hates when I say this hahaha) But I usually pick up fast when it came to learning things. But for the love of all things good and evil, snowboarding was a complete bi*ch to me. On my first day, I fell down so many times that I had to beg my body to get up the next morning. I couldn’t cruise easily and I always clung to Ivan and Stefan when I make my way down the slopes. But I got more and more determined. Whenever I fall down, whether on my butt, my back or on my face.. I look up and tell myself… “Shame on you. If those tiny little children can survive this slope track, then you can too. Get up!! That child who just passed by practically judged you for crying when you fell for the 157th time.” hahahaha
And so, everyday, for 8 hours, (YES. EIGHT HOURS. EVERY. DAY. FOR. FIVE. DAYS.) I learned, got braver, fell harder (but now get up faster haha) and continued to get better. I was so happy everytime I do new tricks, or change direction, or switch on heels or toes, or upgrade to a different slope track, that I actually do a happy dance or a big big big smile while going down the slope. It was the best feeling ever! Plus the sceneries on top of the mountain. Gahhhh. Too beautiful!!! :)
It was skiing and snowboarding during the day, and then drinks out at night. The MK city center had a lot of places to party in, but the boys always preferred a chill bar. I on the other hand, am a destroyed child who was too tired and in pain to make decisions in life. hahaha. The town also looks so pretty!! What I’ve always imagined Santa Claus’ hood to be like.
One thing that I found weird on Kopaonik was that everywhere I went, people stared. I eventually asked Stef about this, and he laughed and told me that people there weren’t used to foreigners from Asia. I became a bit conscious about it and found myself looking around all the time. I was literally the only Asian on that resort. haha. Possibly for the weekend only, but still. haha. Either way, I would recommend Kopaonik for an affordable ski trip but still have decent resort amenities and slopes. :)
Just in case you’re also from a tropical country or have never ski’d or snowboarded before and find yourself planning to go on a ski/snowboarding trip, here are my ’10 tips for your first ski trip’ for you! :)
- Having the right gear and clothing is THE MOST IMPORTANT part you need to prepare for. If you don’t want to freeze to death, then come wearing the right clothes. The mountain cold is harsh, people.
- Skiing trips tend to be very expensive. Make sure you research all the prices so you can save the right amount of money. These include accomodations, ski resort pass (prices vary on how many days you plan to stay), gear rental, ski/snowboard rental, food, etc…
- To save tons of money on your trip, rent a room that has a kitchen in it. You can just buy groceries and cook your meals.
- It is essential to have a small backpack to wear while skiing so you always have your stuff, especially valuables.
- If you haven’t the littlest clue on how to ski or snowboard, you have to take lessons. Two hours a day is pretty good (I had one hour in the morning and another hour in the afternoon), and then you can spend the rest of the day practicing what you learned every lesson.
- Snow is your bestfriend. You will fall and get hurt so many times, trust me. But snow will be there to catch you when you fall, and not let you die from the impact. Repeat with me.. Snow is my bestfriend.
- Pain killer will be another of your bestfriends. I’ve been an athlete since I was a child, I have good stamina, balance, strength etc.. And yet I still fell on my ass,back,side and face tons of times. No beginner will be able to escape pain from millions of falls, but pain killer will hug your pain away. haha
- Always keep a bottle of water and some small snacks in your bag. You need to hydrate and munch on small snacks to keep you energized.
- Pack smart and pack right. Click here to see a sample ski trip checklist!
- Manage your expectations and persevere! I got the hang of longboarding on my first lesson of it, so I thought snowboarding would be easy. I was so wrong. haha. Not just about skiing or snowboarding down slopes, you have to manage your expectations about your entire trip! But despite that, don’t forget to be in the moment and HAVE FUN. You will anyway! :)
My first ever ski trip during winterbreak was amazing.. Definitely counted as one of THE BEST experiences of my life… I cannot wait for next winter!!! :D I’ve been dreaming of snowboarding for so long that every time I go down a slope, I can’t help but feel like it was just a dream. I still couldn’t believe that it was actually me riding on a frigging snowboard. :D What I liked about it though, is that even if I was able to snowboard, I still had to push myself to get better everyday. This just reminded me that even though we do attain our dreams, it doesn’t stop there. You always have to work harder to do more, be more. :)
How bout you guys? Have you experienced skiing or snowboarding? What was your first time like? And when it comes to achieving dreams, did you ever feel like you still had to work harder even though you’ve attained it? Sound off on the comments, would love to hear from you! :)