With two weekends left in our time in Germany, we went with some friends up to Sölden, Austrtia to ski in the alps, and I'll be honest, I was a bit nervous, because we hadn't been skiing in something like five years. Even when we did ski with somewhat regularity, I am not the strongest skier, mostly because, well, I like my life. I see no need to go careening super fast down a steep mountain when slow works just as well. Needless to say, the goal for the weekend was to have fun, enjoy the scenery, and not die or have any major accidents when we were so close to going home!
As you can tell from these iPhone photos that have had absolutely no altering or editing, on a bright, sunny day, it is unbelievably beautiful for skiing! Plus, cheap! A lift ticket was roughly half what it costs in the US!
It seems that most folks go for a week at a time (arrive Sunday, leave the following Saturday) so Saturday is actually a better day for skiing because the mountains are rather empty. Totally different from the US, but the weather cooperated for us. How helpful!
One more gratuitous mountain photo, and I'll get on with this actual blog post. Promise!
Day one of skiing was an undeniable success for all that we had wanted: time on the mountain, had fun, stayed on very easy slopes so no injuries; happy, tired people on the gondola ride down. Little did we know that the day was just starting as apparently the après ski is a MUCH bigger deal in Europe than the US. Once we got down and stowed our gear, we went to the bar, where in order to get the truly authentic experience, we partook in the pear schnapps sampling. It was like being inside a completely hopping bar except instead of it being 10pm, it was 4pm and everyone was in ski gear.
After showers, naps, and dinner, folks go right back out for more partying every night. There were a couple "stag parties" (Europe speak for bachelor parties) and these guys were part of one such group. I'm not sure what the logic was in wearing blue bathrobes, but we saw them the next morning, and they were looking rather functional given how drunk they were the night before.
The next morning, weather reports indicated snow was expected that afternoon, and as we rode the gondola back up the mountain, I started noting the severe lack of visibility. I even asked, is that fog (I always assume fog first- that is what happens when you are from San Francisco!) or you know, snow falling from the sky? I was told, no, don't worry, just a little cloud cover. Yeah, once we got to the top of the mountain, over half of it was closed. Inconveniently, the half that was closed was what we had planned to ski - a glacier. So, I haven't skied on a glacier, but I did get a big "told you so" which was quite satisfying.
Since it was so overcast and such flat light, you couldn't see the mountain right in front of you when you skied down, so we went in for a hearty lunch, with the photos above being some of the funny translations. Want to eat your Viennese dumplings in a napkin? Perhaps eat your meat with typical Austrian lard? And no, I have no clue how that might taste different from US lard.
We cut the second day early since it wasn't good skiing, so these are some photos from the drive back during which I thoroughly amused Greg trying to take photos from a moving vehicle, which is a cardinal photography no-no.
I couldn't help myself though, because it was beautiful and I wanted to try to capture what it looked like. I don't even like horseback riding, but out on that horse seemed so peaceful.
In any case, much of the drive looked like this, as we went through super long tunnels through the Alps. Major difference from the US, where you have to mostly go up and over the mountain passes, whereas in Europe, there are all sorts of tunnels that are a couple miles long to cut through the mountains.
As the sun was setting, I took this picture and finally gave up on taking any more, so hopefully you appreciate my attempts, but if you ever get a chance, go see the alps for yourself in the winter; they're beautiful on a sunny day!