Published: January 5th 2007January 3rd 2007
Let it Snow, Let it Snow, PLEASE Let it snow!!!
I’m not sure if people back in the states hear as much about global warming as we have in the past 3-5 weeks but let me elucidate quickly on why we have been hearing as much as we have. Germany, Austria and Switzerland have gone for quite a long period without any moisture at all. No rain, no snow, nothing! This has turned out great for us as we have traveled during a (usually) notoriously rainy nasty period of winter without a drop of rain.
The bad part of this is that ski resorts throughout the area have been having real bad times. No cold + no snow equals no skiing. No skiing equals no tourists and little money coming to resorts during one of the biggest tourist seasons of the year. Enough education for right now, you’ll hear more about this in a minute. Driving to Kitzbuhel
We had really wanted to ski while in the Alps but had little idea of the right place. There are some very famous ski resorts in Europe but many of them are very expensive. Kel
started doing research and came across a place that got great user reviews and wasn’t that expensive in Kitzbuhel which is directly between Innsbruck and Salzburg in Austria. Considering we just finished New Years in Salzburg this seemed like a great idea.
As we approached the days we would be staying in Kitzbuhel, a place known for skiing and little else, we were getting nervous. The snow reports were not pretty. The conditions of the snow in Kitzbuhl were not looking good and the prospect for rain was high. As we all know, rain is the death of any snow. Based on the weather report it was supposed to rain all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland from January 1st through January 10th. Not Good!!!
As we left Salzburg on the morning of the 2nd there was a light rain in the area which wasn’t too bad. Due to the decent conditions and relatively short distance we once again took back roads through the mountains to see some of Austria’s beauty.
15 minutes outside of Salzburg we took a few turns and were on Austrian back roads and the rain had turned to snow. The outlook was looking
up; maybe we would be able to ski!
Due the large amount of snow falling and the fact that many people’s vacations were ending the roads were slow going. What was supposed to be hour long trip became a two and a half hour stop and go trip - miserable! Driving a stick in snow and stop and go traffic is less than fun! Arrival at the Alpen Hotel
Finally we arrived at the hotel. It is a beautiful place in the snow as the pictures attempt to show you. With frost covered trees and a frozen lake the site is breath taking. We parked and had to get some lunch while we waited for our room to be cleaned.
While waiting we went down by the lake which was frozen solid. People were curling on the lake and there were tons of locals around the lake with their dogs. We stood and gawked for a few minutes at the hubbub going on around us. Kids making snow men, dogs chasing each other and sliding on the ice, ice skaters, and curling made for a wild sight.
After lunch we walked around the
lake and took some pictures. The walk around takes about an hour at our pace but it was an hour well spent enjoying the beauty of nature. We found one section of the lake that wasn’t frozen that was occupied by a swan. The usually stark white swan looked kind of gray in contrast with the newly falling snow. It was fishing for things to eat under the water, but was beautiful in a way that is particular to swans, very graceful and lithe. How do you say spanked in Italian?
After a rest we went and got the dinner buffet for dinner and then decided to play some games prior to going to bed. We acquired the ping-pong paddles and a ball and headed to the basement for some ping-pong action. After a game or town we were joined by an Italian family who seemed to really want to play. Kel and I decided to be nice and ask them if they wanted to switch back and forth with us playing one game and them playing the next and so forth.
Instead they seemed to want to challenge the crazy Americans who were occupying the
Church in Reith
Church by the Ski School
room. They didn’t speak English and we obviously don’t speak Italian so it was all very interesting - they were really nice so we all laughed together a lot, the true international language. I’m a pretty decent ping-pong player and haven’t been beaten too many times in the recent future. I was expecting (and Kel was too) for me to hold my own but instead I got destroyed. Out of three games I lost all three handily. I was ready to give the table to them when they decided to leave and let Kel and I play again. At this point I was drained of all energy and was ready to head to bed so after a few more quick games we hit the sack. Ski School
I arose excited as today was going to be the first day I had ever skied. I counteracted my excitement with a façade of coolness and went to breakfast with Kel. After a thorough breakfast we drove to rent our skis and then head to ski school.
All of the groups were full so we had to get a private lesson which was surprisingly reasonably priced but had
to wait until 1:30 for the lesson. To bide our time, Kel showed me a few things on the skis and we went down a very small hill a couple of times but grew tired of the crowd so went and got lunch in the area.
Upon our return we met up with our new instructor Aloise who’s in his late fifties or early sixties and incredibly friendly. Aloise led us to the small practice hill and started with the snow plow, and then started teaching us to turn. He was incredibly patient with us and led us up and down the small hill about four times. It was great having hands on instruction. He would show us something and then watch us do it and give us constant feedback.
Then we went up the bigger hill. Here we started doing more turns and a bit of follow the leader down the hill. Kel and I were both really getting the hang of things at this point. Kel had skied a bunch of times before but still learned a thing or two from Aloise which made me happy because I didn’t have to worry about wasting her time
with instruction she’s maybe already had.
Kel decided to take a break which gave me some one on one time with Aloise. I got a chance to dig into his past and find out a little bit about our intrepid ski instructor. Turns out the he has a graduate degree in economics and was a CFO of a construction company in Berlin. He later became finance minister in Germany where he got a chance to meet some cool people. He told me about a time he went skiing with Jimmy Carter in the 70’s. He said that skiing with the Secret Service was wild and a felt a little over bearing. You never know who you’re going to meet in your travels, just another fun person to add to the already group of people we’ve met.
This run down the hill, Aloise picked up the pace and we really got to do some quicker and tighter turns. We were still snow plowing a lot but it made me really happy to have excelled as far as I had in two hours.
Kel joined us the final run up the hill. We were using a T lift that
can take one or two people up the hill at a time. The T section sits behind your behind and pulls you up the hill on your skis. It feels a little strange but as long as you stand up straight you are usually ok. During this ride up the hill, I went first on my own T and Aloise and Kel went on the next T side by side.
I was supposed to meet them at the top of the hill where I would go first down the hill while Aloise and Kel would follow. I made it to the top with no problem but turned around to find Kel and Aloise about half way down the hill waving up at me. I figured they wouldn’t be making it up to join me so I skied down to meet them. There I found out that Kel had managed to fall off the lift and pitch Aloise off with her. Aloise could do nothing but laugh about it because it was the first time in 20 years that he had fallen off a lift. Leave it to Kel to give someone a new experience!!
Kel’s Input: this was
truly a hilarious moment! Poor Aloise was so confused about how both of us managed to be in an easy conversation one moment and the next minute we’re a big pile of skis and boots and poles. He kept trying to find out “why?” it happened - did the skis just fall off me? Was there a hole in the ground or something? He said to Mike “I just looked down and she had no skis on . . .” Oops. To add insult to his injury, one of the other instructors came up past us on the next T and definitely gave him a hard time about how he’s making his students fall off the lift instead of keeping them safely on it. I still giggle a little bit thinking about it - funniness.
We headed back down the hill where we parted ways. Aloise talked us into coming back tomorrow so, if his scheduled appointment fails to show then we will be learning more from him. Next stop expert skiing land!!
Hope you are all doing well! We are doing wonderfully and only a little sore from Kel’s one fall and my three falls!!
There are more photos below