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Published: February 16th 2004
Hargitafürdõ - looking beautiful in the snow.
I never imagined that I would be travelling overnight on a bus with 40 Hungarians drinking palinka on my way to go skiing in Transylvania
. But on Friday 13th February 2004 that is where I found myself. The journey (Budapest - Transylvania) was actually quite easy, I’m pretty good at sleeping on buses and other assorted forms of transport, especially when my senses have been dulled by schnapps.
My image of Transylvania before visiting was ripped out of countless horror films, wolves and bears at the edge of every road, hiding amoungst the trees with evil gleaming eyes. The only thing that would keep the wolves and bears back was that the guy driving the horse and sleigh would in fact be a vampire and was planning on feasting on fresh blood later. Bears and wolves are obviously afraid of vampires and vampires don’t like the blood of wolves or bears. This was completely wrong. We got to the lovely shallet (the green house) we stayed at with no problems, no locals turned into vampires and the wolves and bears stayed well away from the 40 seater coach. After arriving I had a nice cup of tea with some biscuits
Well a map of them.
and decided that stereotypes are rubbish.
The village of Hargitafürdõ
is high up in the Carpathian Mountains
, 1.5m of snow covering everything. It was a really beautiful setting. The shallet was really well equipped, clean, warm and complete with a housekeeper (Eve - lovely lady). We went for food every evening at a local café/pub/inn place. The meals were generally really nice. The best thing though for an Englishman was that the beer (lager) was only 35p a half litre, I couldn’t believe it. Though I drank much more hot wine than beer.
Every evening parties would happen, but I exhausted myself so much enjoying skiing that I only ever made it to one. But at that one party, with the really cheap alchol, I obviously got very drunk, and had a really good time though.
Day 1 and 2 Skiing.
Blue slope, Csipeka - gnome in Hungarian.
My girlfriend Sari is a quite good skier, good enough to teach me and two other friends. After an hour or two we were off the nursery slope and onto the childrens slope. Experts in the Ho Ekit (the snow plow?) we were ready to slowly make our way
the kids slope
down the really steep blue slope.
Skiing is like going down a really steep hill on a bicycle with brakes that almost but just don’t quite work. Brakes are provided by putting your ski’s into a triangle shape, touching the tips in front of you and trying to dig the inside edge of each ski into the snow. At first this seems completely pointless, and seems to make you more unbalanced and therefore more likely to fall over. So the temptation is to not do this, concentrate on staying upright, therefore picking up speed and then falling over. Falling over at speed hurt more than falling over whilst going slowly so the triangle thing seemed less pointless. I learn’t to love the triangle thing on my first day, slowly cruising down the slope with small children rushing past at high speed. My second day I concentrated on turning from left to right using the triangle thing (do we call it a snow plow?).
The ski lifts in Hargitafurdo were interesting. The drag style seemed to be almost impossible for beginners, lunging down to the ground randomly, catching the back of the knees and sweeping away the legs. I fell
more times using the ski lifts than on the slopes.
Day 3 Skiing.
Black slope time. Really - not from the top but from 1/3rd of the way up. Kossuth slope - a famous Hungarian Politician who campaigned for independence from the Hapsberg empire.
Hat falls over face after a hard turn, few moments skiing blind and then crash.
Trying to do the triangle thing and don’t quite manage to turn, really steep slope, gather up a huge amount of speed, somehow manage to stay upright until end of slope. Plow into the virgin snow, for about 20m, snow collapses. Have found a small river under the snow.
Really enjoying a path down from the top of the slopes, nice bit of speed. Path is replaced by rocks and tree stumps. Ski inevitabely hits rock and left thumb is crushed on fall.
Rock on path. Skier swung into the rocks at the side of the path.
The ski lift here was much better, either anchor shaped or plug shaped, on wires that reeled out as needed.
I really enjoyed the day skiing, I looked like a snowman for most of the day and earned a reputation for
Esti es Sari
Sari taught us to ski.
being brave (or stupid). I crashed on the way back to the village, due to being tired and hurt my head, I found the only rocky bit of bank in the whole place.
More from Transylvania soon
Ps. The garlic, wooden stakes and holy water were completely unnecessary. I saw no vampires at all during my entire stay. I hope I haven’t spoilt the suspense.
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