Country number 36 is Lithuania. I visited Snow Arena in southern Lithuania, near the border to Poland and Belarus. Snow Arena is a unique indoor-outdoor ski center, something that I have not seen before anywhere. The indoor ski hall operates throughout the year, but during the winter they open an exit from the top of the structure. An elevated "bridge" carries the upper part of the outdoor slope, which then continues along the natural terrain.
The indoor slope is one long, straight slope. The entry to the slope, though is from the middle, and a small beginners slope is near the entry as well.
Along the slope there are plenty of jumps, rails, and even an air-filled landing pad for acrobatic jumps. The slope is of medium steepness, steep enough to ski down comfortably, but not very steep. Turning indoor slopes like the one in Dubai are better in this respect. But I enjoyed Snow Arena's slope, particularly the various extra activity spots.
The exit door to the outdoor slope is visible in the middle of this picture:
The ski area is well-equipped with various services. At the top of the slope there is an ice bar with interesting snow and ice structures. There is also a fine-dining restaurant with a great view, accessible to outsiders by a separate lift. (And perhaps mostly outsiders, it was closed for the skiers when I was there.)
Gear is included in the lift ticket prices, and in addition there are ski school services.
The outdoor slope was unfortunately closed at the time as I was visiting in April. I looked for an exit door that I could open from the indoor slope, but found none. I hiked around the outdoor slope (which was still fully covered with snow) to find a way to enter, but found nothing else than fences and security cameras.
Oh well, I did get some outdoor skiing, as I skied down the side of the slope towards the road. On untracked, soft snow!
Snow Arena is at Druskininkai, a popular recreation area that hosts spas, restaurants, and beautiful nature. This would have been an interesting area to spend some more time at. Recommended!
Druskininkai is 1 hour and 40 minutes away from the aiport in Vilnus. While the airport is a very nice, old-style building with modern insides, there seems to less flights to Vilnus than to neighboring countries. For instance, Finnair does not fly to Vilnus on Sundays, so I chose to go on a Saturday. I had a very productive weekend, by the way - Saturday in Lithuania and Sunday in Åland, and still found time to do a lot with my son on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Day tickets for Snow Arena cost 85 LTL for adults. This is about 26 €, i.e., relatively inexpensive.
I thought totem poles were something that only the North-American natives did, but there are also plenty in Lithuania:
Photos and videos (c) 2013 by Jari Arkko. Tämä blogi löytyy myös suomeksi.