Austria - January 2012
21.01.2012 - 28.01.2012 -5 °C
It all started with big fat fluffy snow pouring down from the sky as we left Munich...real snowman making snow. Winter had been mild to date so with the first real snow in Bavaria. We had to be careful as we shot down to Austria. The roads were full with holiday makers coming home from the fields and the new batch driving in, and the snow just wouldn't let up.
I really need to clear up what could almost be considered a fallacy today...you see, foreigners get so excited about the Autobahn's of Germany..woohoo! drive as fast as you like etc...Well..it's not quite that simple.
Lesson Number one:
German drive on the right side of the road...truth.
Lesson Number two:
Yes, the speeds are regulated to the degree that there are areas where there is no speed limit. But in many areas, there are limits. Germans are well trained to stay on the right hand lane and over take on the left before moving back into the right lane...something to do with good order...In Germany police have the right to fine people that persist in driving in the middle lane and disrupt the flow of traffic...food for thought eh.
Slow, is usually about 130kph..Medium 130-150kph, and the fast and left lane against the barrier from about 150kph upwards...(This is not recommended for tourists)...these speeds arn't fixed of course, but after a while you work it out.
Lesson Number three:
Well...often, none of the above applies because of a thing called, STAU...yep the good old German Stau...and this is where driving as fast as you like almost becomes a fallacy...truth!
Stau means traffic jam...you see people come rushing over here to give the autobahn a go, only to be stuck for hours upon hours in a stau...there's a cultural experience for you!
And that is what we saw as we passed all the warning on our way down to Austria....The poor folk, having enjoyed a lovely week of skiing were simply trying to get home...but all we saw were miles and miles of Stau...so much so that the snow clearers couldn't get through to our side...we managed though and were out of the thick of it soon enough.
For us all this snow was great. We had a week ahead, and a lot of excitement about the new snow that would be waiting for us when we arrived. My greatest worry (Yeah right) was that I'd get stuck in the resort... and miss my flight to Spain.
A couple of hours in we met in the last town before we entered the valley leading to Kuhtai, where we were headed, and bought any last minute items we needed for the week.
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We put on the chains and then we were off. The wind was strong in places but the tunnels protected us, clearing the way.
We passed cute montain homes, huts and pine trees weighed down from the snow...and bus stops!
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And then there was an inviting glimmer of light of in the distance...
And we were greeted by the cow herself.
This was Kuehtai!
Our apartment was pretty awesome. There was plenty of room for us...and we even had a personal Sauna!...And the snow was piled so high outside on the terrace...and and and...Yay!
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But if this ins't enough...there's always an igloo up the road!
The kids tried to build one!
The town itself, lies in a valley with the slopes on either side running straight down to your accommodation.
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Now it's been an awfully long time since I went snow boarding. I think only one weekend in the past 5 years, so I am pretty rusty. This wouldn't deter me though....Given I was excited but aprehensive at the top of the first hill! But I love to sail down the slopes no matter what..even if it is rolling on occasion.
I guess I'd better introduce to my friends.
A true super Mum Betty, and her mountaineering husband, Hilmar with their two Snowblitz Children, Kaya and Elina! Hardly a wonder considering what good skiers Betty and Hilmar are. I got to enjoy the week with them and a couple of other friends, Daffy, Marc and Claudia.
A friend of Betty lent me her ski pants and gloves, and Betty sorted out the ski glasses, and the rest I could hire. I knew lugging my thermals and hiking jacket through tropical countries would serve a purpose, so although some what multi coloured, I had the peace of mind that I'd get found if lost in snow storm!
Each day was more or less the same.
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Powder and fresh snow to be marked
okay..a couple of cloudy days..but who really cared with all that fresh soft snow!
When I wasn't caught sitting!
It's tiring you know!
Some courageous folk even built a huge ramp...and wouldn't you know it... The one time I didn't have my camera on me I finally caught an amazing view of a summersault!!! Nooo..
Each day I go to chuckle over the funny English...but we wouldn't know better if we had to write it in German, would we now!
Where are all the people..I asked myself each day?!!!
Lot's of birds though...
Hilmar and Betty enrolled the girls in a ski course for the week, as they do each time the go skiing. And I should add that Elina is 4 and kaya 7. I swear, if or when I have kids, they are definitely going to learn to ski and early...kids put us adults to shame with their fearlessness.
Each day, I headed off with Daffy and the others to our favourite slopes, getting better and better as the week progressed.
The whole place was open!
And the beauty of having a week...well..you can take day off without that feeling of you have to use each and every minute to justify the price of the lift ticket!
We ate a yummy feast each day with Betty, wondermum, cooking up a storm...and we even treated ourselves to a handful of restaurant meals too.
On the mountain, we enjoyed some fabulous favourites.
and much much more.
I love a hearty meal when it's nice and cold outside.
Just next to our accomodation we had a rather good restaurant, where we enjoyed other local delacacies...MmmmMmmm...
Kaiserschmarn....that apparnetly the Emperor of Austria invented, having wondered into his palace kitchen for a snack in the middle of the night..well Emperors are just people too...and it seems he made a mess of some pancake-like concoction and ended up with this....
Delicious! What a talented old fella.
My last meal was a rather delicious Deer Steak...
I already sussed out Betty...you see much to my amusement she's also a hunter...or has the licence still at least. For years she would help regulate the wild animals in local forest, so she knows her animals and cuts of meat...but here's the funny thing...Hilmar...well this Bolivian born Mountaineer, is a vegetarian! Kills me...love it.
Each meal we had there was fabulous.
But back to the mountain....one thing I'd noticed here is that there just weren't any people about. It was such a great week to go. Christmas holidays were over and school holidays hadn't begun, so the place wasn't overly full and had a great mix of people from around the world. This included families with pre school age kids....just great.
This didn't stop accidents happening though.
And I was fascinated to see that pretty much everyone was wearing a helmet. That had certainly changed since I was there last. It seems that it is mandatory for everyone in some countries now.
I guess because it was so quiet, the special forces had decided to use the week for training...I thought I was in a James Bond film, as I suddenly saw a bunch of black masked people shooting down through powder off Piste....
But more impressive was an old bloke, I'd seen about the place for a couple of days, with what appeared to be rather antique gear....
He's ski's were wooden, as was his stock...the bindings were strong and maintained thank goodness, and well..the clothes, I mean what can I say...there's plenty a German or Austrian in this part of the woods that wears the traditional outfit every day....I only have to mention Munich!
Anyway, he was great. I could resist asking him for a small photo shoot and video. Fabulous.
This is called Hok skiiing and he let me know that although his father thought he was crazy to take it up and that his son snowboards, he loves the tradition of this sport and is thrilled to meet people like intrigued by it.
Now I'm going to claim that it was towards the end of the day when these videos of me were taken...truth!...and I know I don't quite board with the ease of Torah Bright, our Gold Medalist super snowboarder...and remember that it has been a while...but sheesh! it's always nice to have someone hold my camera for me...so enjoy... and what a nice commentary! You even get to hear me speaking German!
But the true stars of the week were Kaya and Elina.
The practice run.
Look at them go!
I think they had the biggest fan club...nothing like intimidating the others kiddies eh!
And then we had the award ceremony...cow and all!
We are the champions!
So completely chuffed we headed back home for dinner.
Along the way I spotted the skiing version of the dog leash I'd seen in Mexico!
And more impressive, one of those sleds I've always wanted! Aren't they gorgeous. I simply love the traditional wooden ones. Such a shame I didn't bring one back with me the last time I returned to Australiaform Germany... It's fantastic how you can attach a back rest and turn it into a pram like sled for babies. And the rest of the time you can enjoy sledoffs against your mates...cool. I think my friend in Australia collecting my mail, would have slaughtered if I sent her that package!
And that night we did what we'd been enjoying all week after a big day out.
We hit the Sauna...it does wonders for your muscles after a day of skiing. Despite it being so long since I'd been to the snow I didn't suffer from any sore muscles at all...
Just a touch of frost bite after a roll in the snow!
Oh, I thought the morning after my first leap into the snow.....neighbours....
Oh...lot's of neighbours!
From then on I confined myself to a freezing shower after each time!
Completely chuffed and energised from a great week, we headed off back to Munich, just as it started snowing again...Bwah ha ha...
We were able to take the short cut this time, and I got to admire one of the Ski jumps from the European 4 Jump tournament that is held each year....quite the event if you're in the area.
It was with a fond farewell that I bid my friends goodbye, and Daffy took me to Munich's airport...with plenty of time for my flight, we could have a relaxing drive...I hugged my old car one last time and with a final Auf wiedersehen! I farewelled Germany and settled into the flight to Madrid!