Ski Urlab!

So, Amit and I went skiing/snowboarding at Stubai Gletscher this week.  It was quite an experience.

We took a train to Innsbruck.  From Vienna, this was a five hour Journey.  I occupied myself by reading “The Amber Spyglass”, although I should have been working on a paper or something else.  When we arrived in Innsbruck, we lugged  our ski equipment around the city until we found the christmas calendar that they called an inn.  (Literally, we lived in the windows marked 10 and 19.  Then, we took a walk for an hour and saw all that there was to the little town: the Golden roof , the arch that looks like the arc de triumph(in fact, i think it is called the triumphal arc), and another palace.  The entire center of the city was a giant Advent market.  Since we had enough of the markets in Vienna, we were not so pleased by all of the tourists!  We walked for a little along the river, then turned back to find a place to eat. 

Unfortunately, it was a Sunday and nothing was opened.  We went into a Best Western hotel to ask if they knew of any restaurants that were open.  The response we got was “my internet is not working, but you can go down the street to use the internet.”  As we were walking out, we realized that the receptionist must have misunderstood us.  So, we went back and asked again.  This time, she told us to go into the city center.   Finally, we found a nice little beer hall that reminded us of beer halls in Munich.  In fact, it served the Augistiner brews, so Amit was quite pleased.  I ate the guloush and Amit ate a fatty slab of pork.  Then, we went searching for the bars that he and Dmitriy had patronized less than a year ago.  We were successful in finding the Irish Pub that did not serve Harp (although they had a nice light up harp sign in the window).  After a drink, we called it an early night.  We were in bed by 11, resting up for the next day.

If we were to go to Stubai again, we would stay closer to the mountain.  Last time Amit was there, he took a free shuttle to the mountain.  This time, we had to pay 15 euros for each round trip.  That’s quite pricey when you add it to the price of the lift tickets.  But, as a bonus, we did get to explore all of innsbruck.

On Monday, we woke up around 7.  I took my time getting ready as Amit showered and suited up for the day ahead.  We were out the door at 10 to 8.   We stopped by the bakery below us to pick up our breakfast.  They generously filled little bags for us with fruit and bread.  They also gave us a tea and a coffee to take on the road.  So, we wobbled over to the train station carting skis, snowboad, and now breakfast.  The bus picked us up at 8:30.  We found ourselves among the group of local teenagers heading to the mountain on their day off from school.  About half way through the ride, an older generation of people joined us on the bus. 

The first day of skiing was absolutely AMAZING.  The best conditions that we could have asked for.  I was getting used to my new skis, and I must say that I am quite pleased.  I could feel every feature at work that the mad at the store told me about.  Turning was much easier than before because my weight was more balanced, my boots were comfortable becuase they were formed to my feet and legs, I could feel the soft wood of the ski bend as I went over patches of deep snow, and best of all, I felt like I was gliding.  I was a little slow on this day, as I could easily take off with these new skis … and everytime I did take off… I went over small bump and got some air under the skis.  But, Amit waited patiently for me at the end of every run.   A couple times we stopped just to admire the scenery here.  All you could see was mountain.  Nothing but mountain.  The slop was extremely wide … with extremely wide ungroomed shoulders on both sides.  As we would go up the lifts, the small winding rivier of people going down the mountain looked silly in proportion to the large mountainside that they were on.   I have a photo or two from that day, but I am telling you that no photo can due the beauty of the day justice.  It was just absolutely perfect for skiing and snowboarding.  At the end of the day, we took the 10k trail down to the bottom of the mountain.  Parts of the 10k were a little frightening, as we were on this small path and there was a “cliff” on the one side.  It wasn’t really a cliff … perhaps only a steep ledge, but intimidating for us as we were used to the wide open trails all day.  The bottom of the trail was a littel rocky, and I think I scratched my ski!  But, such is life.  It was an amazing day.

The next day, it was raining in Innsbruck.  In Stubai, however, it had been raining since 4 a.m.  By the time we arrived on the mountain, there was already a foot of fresh snow.  By the end of the day, there was at least a foot and a half of fresh snow.  As I was skiing, this was not a big deal.  It may be tiring to push through all that snow, but at least I can keep going.  But, Amit was snowboarding.  At one point, we decided to be adventerous and just go wherever the trail brought us.  Well, we went down a small slope and found a lift we had not been on yet.  We got on the lift, and started going down a red slope.  (Red is the intermediate level slope).  After about 100 meters, we were on ungroomed turf.  Perhaps this trail is usually groomed, but there was no way the staff could keep up with the rate at which the snow was falling here.  We were once again on the vast mountainside.  The edges of the main trail were marked by periodic red signs no bigger than mailboxes in front of homes.  This is where Amit had real problems wiht the snowboarding.  At some points, we were no more than 10 feet away from each other and I could not see him because it was snowing so hard.  It was a complete white out.  Although, it was really neat to ski into complete whiteness.  It was a remarkable thing to be surrounded by complete white.  I could not even see the trails left by my skis because snow had filled in the voids so quickly.  When we got almost to the bottom of the slope, we had to make a decision.  Go to the bottom, where there might be a continuation but if not there wa a pulley to go back up, or go to the right where we would have to shimmy our way over to anohter trail.  I decided to go test the hypothesis that the trail continued straight.  Amit sat in the snow and watched me go to the bottom.  Down there, I got stuck past my knees in snow!  (I am not kidding).  After the attendant at th pulley thing laughed at me, he told me that the trial did not continue in the direction that I pointed, so I took the pully to go join Amit.  We worked our way over to the new trail and made it down to the lodge.  We decided to take a break for a bit, and went in for lunch.

When we came out, we decided to do our favorite trail again.  Both days, our favorite trail was 1 followed by 1a.  We must have done that run at least a half a dozen times.  When it became time to leave, we decided to do this run one more time instead of doing the 10k.  Since the conditions of the day were not agreeing with Amit, and since the cliffs scared us the day before (yet alone thinking of going down it without being able to see the trail), we figured we would do something we enjoyed then go enjoy a nice Gluehwein at the bottom.  After the gluehwein, we also had a special pear schnapps … it had a real pear in it.  We were intrigued by the drink since everyone else was having one.  I must say, it was pretty tasty.

On our final night in Innsbruck, we went out to dinner at a Tirol restaurant.  (We enjoyed saying Tirol as though it were the name of a football player: Ti-ROLLLL).  Tirol is the region of Austria in which Stubai and Innsbruck are located.  I forget what we ate there, but I do know that the waitress kept forgetting to bring us things.  Or rather, forgetting to bring me things.  And, when we were finished, we were still hungry.  So, we went out to find some Speck.  Speck is similar to bacon, but it is cured.  It is pretty similar to prochutto, but has a very different taste.  Anyway, we ordered a plate of Speck and ate all of the Speck and Kren (Horseraddish) on the plate.   We left the bread behind.  The one annoying thing that happened was that the waiter was not going to give us a glass of water.  He said (thinking that we were foreigners) “well, in Austria we do not give out water in restaurants”.  I snapped back at him, “Well, in Vienna, I get water at restaurants all of the time”.  I am sure that they would have SOLD us some bottled water, but I just want tap water.  I drink too much water to pay for that stuff.  After my remark, he brought us the water (hopefully without spitting in it first).  At some places in Vienna (like Griffins on Naschmarkt) they pull the same trick on tourists, and it makes me mad.  But, most places do give you tap water when you ask for it.  The places that refuse to give me water have lost my business.

And that concludes our ski trip.  Although, we did eat two packages of Speck on the train ride home too.  Yummy!

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