On Sunday afternoon, the time had come for Indy, Jacqueline and I to head to the continent for the first time in 2018. When planning for the trip, I had asked Indy what she wanted to see in Europe, and the only response I got was “stars” and “snow”. Combined with Jacqueline pushing for some more Canadian activities, we had arranged to head to the alps for a few day’s skiing.
Unfortunately, the start of our trip was slower than anticipated. The rail service to Stansted Airport was once again not running, so instead we had to catch a rail replacement bus service. There was a little confusion as to where the bus would pick us up from, rather than from the car park of the station, the bus was operating from the main road, but we were eventually on board with a somewhat whimsical bus driver on our way to the airport.
Flying budget airlines is usually cramped, and Stansted airport was busy as usual. Fortunately the security lines were not too long, and the wait in the terminal was bearable. We departed from a part of the airport I wasn’t too familiar with, which had recently been redeveloped and actually looked kind of nice. The seats on the plane were, however, cramped, and the flight in to Munich wasn’t the most pleasant one.
We arrived in Munich airport and disembarked over the aerobridge, a rarity for a budget airline, and made our way through the concourse and past the German immigration desk. Soon enough, we were on a train heading for the city centre. Most of the way, we were staring out of the window at the passing Bavarian countryside, with it’s unique industrial yet rural feel. Our train took us all of the way through the centre of the city and on to the inner suburb of Laim, where our hostel was for the night. The hostel itself was a short walk from the railway station. We checked in to our room; fortunately we would end up having a room all to ourselves. Hungry, we headed back into the city in search of dinner, especially for currywurst, which we obtained at a small deli just to the south of the city centre. As it had fallen dark, and without much else to do, we retired for the night, ready for our early train the next morning.
Our alarms rang early; we lumbered out of bed and back in towards the Munich Hauptbahhof. Because the DB app didn’t know what time zones meant, we ended up having an extra hour with which to grab a snack before our train left. It was a rather comfortable Austrian Railways train, in which we were sat in a compartment to ourselves. Our train took us to the town of Wörgl, just over the border into Austria. There, we changed trains in the snow, onto a smaller, regional train that took us to the ski resort of Kitzbühel. The town had two railway stations, but the main one is further from the centre of town, meaning we had to haul our suitcases through the snow to our hostel. It was one of the few cheap places to stay in the town, and the proprietor was a grumpy old guy who wandered around the place very slowly owing to the four ribs he had broken the previous week. He showed us in to our rooms, where we left our stuff and went out to the slopes.
Jacqueline had arranged ski hire for us, so we went up to the ski hire shop and got fitted out in helmets, boots, skis and poles. We took some of the stuff back to the hostel, where Indy stayed behind due to the cold. One of the attractions of Kitzbühel was the free practice lifts in the valleys. We put on the very uncomfortable ski boots, which were shaped such that I couldn’t really straighten my legs when I walked. They were very tight fitting. We headed for Mocking (A9), a magic carpet for the most basic of ski practice. Jacqueline, with her years of skiing experience in Canada, insisted that she wanted to teach me. We started with snow-ploughing, a technique where you angle your skis together in a pizza shape. The magic carpet was essentially a travelator like at an airport which you stood on and it brought you up to the top, which wasn’t very high. The first attempt was awful, had little control and ended up with me falling over several times. We regrouped at the bottom, went up again for a much more successful second run. We repeated a number of times before I declared that my boots were too tight, and so we went down to the ski shop to exchange them.
On the return, we headed up for the next level: the Rasmusleiten (A5), which was a t-bar roughly three times the length of the magic carpet. It was essentially a reverse flying fox; where you put the seat between your legs and the cable drags you up the hill. There were two runs to go down, the first one we tried was far too busy for such a beginner, people were coming down the very bottom of one of the main long slopes, but the second was much quieter. We went up and down dozens of times, and I crashed on most of them, unable to handle the steeper slopes. Fortunately, the snow was nice and comfortable, and Jacqueline was there to gather up my skis wherever they went flying.
We continued going up and down until 4 o’clock, when the lift closed. We dropped our skis back with the ski shop and returned to find Indy in bed, still sick. The proprietor of the hostel recommended that we check out a burger pub close to the ice hockey arena, and so we did. It was essentially a sports bar, but the burgers were big and juicy. After that, we retired to our room and slept the night.