Archive for the ‘Alps’ Category
Oh hey there blog! Hi. Yeah. I know. It’s been a really long time. I’m sorry. I guess after four consecutive trips to Austria kind of put me in a schnitzel-induced coma and made writing anything really difficult. What? You find that hard to believe? Well wait until you hear what we’ve been through before you judge.
It all started in January after our return from Canada. Our last ski season was inadequate — barely existent! — so we had to make up for it. It started with a four day trip to St. Anton. It was beautiful. The first day was a bit cloudy, but what followed were two of the best days of snowboarding I’d ever had. Not only did we have beautiful snow, but we had access to six different villages and eight villages on one ski pass that cost us less per day than a single day at Grouse Mountain in Vancouver would. We made it to all of them, thanks to the White Ring.
Now, as you can imagine, all that travelling on skis or a snowboard can inspire an alpine-sized hunger, and we were in Austria! Land of great things like Wiener Schnitzel, Kaiserschmarrn and Germknödel! We refuelled heartily. And the apres! St. Anton is most definitely a place to go if you live for the Apres life.
Our return from St. Anton saw us stop in Cologne for a little thing called Karneval. I’m sure you remember our adventure there from last year? It was more or less the same, but without Dom, Andrew or Krister. Sad faces. But that left more Kölsch for us!
We were back in Berlin for a little more than a week before we boarded a bus for 13 hours to get to Kaprun with a bunch of Josh’s coworkers from Nokia. Yes. 13 hours. On a bus. Gross.
But once we were there, it was pretty great. We spent our days with coworkers turned friends and on the second day, I had easily one of the best days in the snow EVER. Josh and I are usually pretty slow in the mornings of our ski trips. Not that Sunday. We were on the lift five minutes after it opened to get in as many fresh tracks as possible. And we got LOTS. It was amazing.
The snow here is different than what we’re used to from the West Coast. I’ve never seen snow as beautiful as what we were dealing with in Austria. It was so dry, that the slightest of breeze would make the sky around you sparkle with snow crystals. It was so light, that even when you were riding over other people’s tracks, you could just surf on top of it. It was heaven. And definitely led to a massive lunch. Again — we were in Austria!
Well, after that day, and another 12 hour bus ride back to Berlin, Josh still had five days of vacation from 2009 that had to be used by March 31, 2010. What else could we do but go somewhere else? After exploring our options in Switzerland, France and Italy, it was back to Austria. This time it was Mayrhofen and even though it was just two weeks after we had our powder day in Kaprun, spring skiing was in full swing.
Again, one ski pass and we went to a different mountain every day of our last four days of the 2010 season. And again, that’s pretty exhausting and we had little choice but to make sure we properly refuelled to get through the soft slush. More schnitzel! More spätzle!
Anyway, you’d think that we’d have had enough of all of this Austrian fare, but oh-ho-ho! In February, we decided to book our Easter weekend trip. Guess where we planned to go? Oh yes. Austria. This time to Vienna to enjoy the city life of Austrians.
Vienna is beautiful. Full of white buildings and parks and history. We managed to score an incredible deal on a five-star hotel that served a breakfast buffet that included caviar. And if ever you go to Austria, you have to visit the Naschmarkt. It is a massive outdoor food market that has just as many restaurants. And it was Easter! There were Easter markets everywhere! That also included food. And we would spend all day exploring the sites like Schloss Schönbrunn, the Prater gardens and St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Also, you’re in Vienna! It would be crime not to eat Wiener Schnitzel while you’re in Vienna.
One evening, we managed to persevere through the start of the schnitzel coma to make it to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed in Ballet at Vienna’s State Opera house. We made sure to stop in on a couple famous coffee shops along the way to help us stay up.
So, as you can see, we’ve basically eaten our way through Austria. And yes, that takes a while to recover from. Never have Opa’s words of “You guys like to eat everything” rung so true.
Josh pretty much took command of the camera, so you’re going to have to wait for him to stir from his schnitzel coma to post those.
But the good news is I’ve awoken from my schnitzel-induced coma and have stopped neglecting our blog.
This time I swear I’ll be better about it.
It was a surreal experience. The first day was fine — we spent the day on the mountain battling an ice-cold wind for the sake of riding fresh tracks into the snow. But I think it was Saturday, our second day, that made Josh and I realize how fortunate we are to be able to do what we’re doing now. I wanted to pinch myself and wake up. I can hardly believe my own life.
It started as an invitation for a weekend of skiing and snowboarding in France for Dom’s birthday. Details were sparse — his friend Rob’s dad had a place near Nice. We were to be picked up at the airport by Rob and the weekend would carry on from there.
As Canadians, we hear “place in the hills” and “ski weekend” we think of log cabins nestled into the mountain surrounded in white. In the South of France, this means a villa built into the stone foothills of the alps. The place was spacious enough to hold the 10 of us that flew from Germany and various cities in England and it was stunning. If I woke up to that view, I wouldn’t complain about getting out of bed. That doesn’t mean much, but I don’t think Josh would complain about getting out of bed either.
With a stop at the Patisserie, we were ready to hit the Alpine slopes of Isola 2000. A lot of hair pin turns and some car wooziness later, we had left the Mediterranean far behind and into some weather that Josh insisted would “blow over” but battered us for the rest of the day.
Dom’s beard did its best Scott of the Antarctic impression and we stopped for lunch in a little hut that had a sign saying it had Sleeman’s beer on tap (this was a ruse! There was no Sleemans!). Adding to the Canadiana of our trip, it flew a Canadian flag outside. Despite the bitter wind that did not blow over, the snow was dry and powdery and some of the best snow I’ve seen in years.
At the end of the day, we came back to the car and the waether had iced it into the ground. I felt about that cold too. But after an apres beer, the car rolled free of its icicle stakes and we made our way back to the more-agreeable Mediterranean climate.
Once back again, we ate Raclette, one of my most favourite things to eat, ever. It involved melting cheese with meat to melt over potatoes. Fuelled by our day on the hill and drinks in celebration of Dom’s birthday, we ate a lot. It was a food coma that night.
Like I said, Saturday was the day that made it surreal. Instead of a second day on the hill as orginally planned, we went to Antibes. As we walked around the multi-million dollar private yachts, explored 15th century fortress walls and looked out onto the Ocean, it felt very hard to believe that our stinging cheeks were the fault of a cold wind and not sunburn. It was a gorgeous little town and once again, we ate well and, yes, bread and cheese was involved.
Some of our group left early to watch some sort of big-deal rugby match, but us cool kids hopped on the train to Cannes. In just a 15 minute train ride, we left little Antibes and found ourselves on the shopping streets of Cannes. A walk up and down the promenade past hotel-owned beaches made it all feel like a very different place. The kids fill the benches along the seaside, showing off the fact they have a scooter by resting their feet nonchalantly on helmets. I’m also pretty sure that wearing some sort of animal print is required for the older women patrolling the promenade.
Our trip ended on the promenade of Nice, waiting for our flight to check-in. We got a ride to the airport with the rest of our friends, whose flights left earlier. We took a walk and ate a pain au choclat as we watched unlucky fishers and brave swimmers. Josh took a handful of the Mediterranean and our feet crunched over rocks sea-swept smooth.
Finally, we boarded our flight from Nice, which was more like a scenic air cruise as we flew over the French to Swiss Alps, but I’ll let Josh post about that since he was really excited about it. He was really happy he got the window seat on that one.