When you are working, it seems as if you will have all the time in the world to do what you want to do when you stop working. Sorry to disillusion you all (or at least those of you who are still in full time employment) this is false. I think that when you are working, time becomes a well-stretched elastic band. When you stop working (or at least in the full-time employment way) the elastic contracts a little to start with and then it becomes stretched again.
Priorities have to be discussed, commitments put into the calendar and then, if the will is there, a holiday has to be marked on the calendar as well. We had a free week at the end of February – yes this was the only time we were both going to be free of various commitments for a period of seven days from either a Saturday or Sunday. We decided to go skiing. What kind of skiing should it be? In the end, after a lot of brochure and web-browsing, it turned out to be downhill and cross-country skiing.
I had thought of going to Norway and was looking at various resorts. For some reason that I am unable to recall, I then found out that we could go to Seefeld in Austria where there are over 200km of cross-country ski tracks and a load of blue downhill runs coming into the resort. This would mean hotel accommodation and we went a little bit up from the basic one on offer. We would have to fly from Edinburgh but this was not a problem. Press the computer button, holiday booked and credit card charged.
We spent the night at an hotel in Livingston as our flight was 06:50 on the Saturday morning. On arrival at the airport just after 5am we were astonished to find it packed with people going on ski holidays. Booking in was smooth (we had no skis), the flight was fine and even breakfast on board was OK. At Innsbruck there was a wait for about an hour while a flight came from Gatwick and then it was off to Seefeld, a very short transfer of less than an hour.
At 1pm we were sitting in a bar having out ‘Welcome’ meeting and lunch. I was really pleasantly surprised by the cost of food in the bar – very reasonable. We had a walk around the town with another couple and then it was off to the ski hire shop for our cross-country kit. I tried on about three pairs of boots, much to the disgruntlement of the guy who was serving me. He seemed to take a bit of a dislike to me. We were then able to go out for an hour or so on the skis to get our legs working – great!
Sunday was cross-country skiing all day. We headed for a red run which was generally OK except for one quite long downhill. I managed to get down OK and then watched from the bottom. By the time Paul joined me, I had christened it ‘Carnage Hill’ and he had made it live up to the name! After lunch (a sandwich from the supermarket, really tasty) he decided to stay on the local blue runs so I went out on the red again.
Monday and Tuesday were downhill days. Another trip to the ski hire shop, where again I was not happy with the first pair of boots so requested another pair. They were so different and I could forward flex them reasonably. We started on the ‘Nursery slopes’ for the morning and Paul progressed well. Monday afternoon and Tuesday were spent skiing various runs on the Gschwandtkopt. He only had one major wipeout and I was uphill so was able to ski down and collect the bits! The snow was in extremely good condition with very little ice; in the late afternoon it became a little heavy as it softened. There were no lift queues so the only rest was on the chairlift.
Wednesday and Thursday saw us back on cross-country kit and taking the bus over to the Leutasch valley to ski the tracks there. Coming out of the woods from one track we were amazed to see (what seemed like) hundreds of people skiing around the flat tracks in the valley bottom! It was like joining the M25!
On the Friday we skied a black track from Seefeld. This track was officially closed but we had learnt that this meant that it might not be prepared and/or might have bare patches. I was glad we did the climb up from Seefeld, rather than ski back down it as there were a couple of bare patches and some icy bits. Generally though it was fine. I had a big flying face-plant when going downhill – yes a bit fast and the bright sun and shadow made it hard to see. My sunglasses managed to bruise and cut part of my face but I had also landed on my chest and was winded. Turns out I must have cracked a couple of ribs as they are still sore two weeks later and turning over in bed is still a major undertaking.
After the ‘crash’ we arrived at Wildmoos which had a lovely feeling about it. There was the traditional horse-sleigh, people walking or skiing, blue skies and picture-perfect snow. We continued on a red track - officially open - which took us through woods and meadows before completing the circuit on another ‘closed’ track which was either red of black (it seemed as if they could not make up their mind about the grading of this one). I had not learnt from my crash and so skied it all while Paul was bit more cautious and walked a couple of the dodgier hills. This run took us out to Carnage Hill and he found it easy this time!
The skiing was good but the hotel was fantastic! The food was lovely and very well presented. We were spoilt with a four course dinner every evening and this was after coffee & cake when we returned from skiing in the afternoon. Breakfast was a buffet and suited me down to the ground – lovely rolls, cheese, ham, variety of jams, tomatoes, cucumber . . . I felt almost sorry for Paul who had only about four cereals to choose from. All the staff spoke excellent English and were welcoming; at our breakfast table each day was a sheet with the weather forecast, a daily saying, local activities and skiing information. We always had something to look forward to on our return - how would they have ‘arranged’ the beds today? Here is one way!
All too soon it was over. Skis returned, last meal eaten, bills paid, bus boarded to the airport, back to Edinburgh and collect the car. Aahh well, another year?
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