Sunday, March 15, 2009

Austrian Alps: Skiing my way in Gerlos

Sad to say the winter sport holiday last January in Gerlos, Austria wasn’t really the best ski holiday I have had. Strange but I was less awed with the Austrian Alps this year. The winter a year ago in France was much better even if I suffered a sprain after being launched like a NASA space rocket when I accidentally skied over an obscured hump. Ugh, that was such excruciating pain =(

This is a Red Piste in Gerlos taken from the ski lift going up.

It might also be that I have had enough of the nightlife and party scene. Gerlos has quite a notorious reputation of staging “gezellig” and sometimes on the wild side Apres Ski parties, but helaas, we sadly realized we are damn too old to be bouncing our heads up the wall. At some point our harassed selves retreated to somewhere quiet, where we could breathe and be ourselves. Away from the noise. Away from being squeezed between huge Dutch people I am only seeing shoulders! No more loud music. No more boisterous laughs. No more dancing and waving your arms up in the air singing the done to death Apres Ski jingles in Dutch. Trust me I cannot face another winter sport like this! Oh dear lord, I am so getting old, ha-ha.

The Umbrella Bar and the sun worshippers. It can get very hot in the Alps when the sun is out.

Next year we will probably go back to sober France where restaurant owners chase you off by giving their best frowning exemplar (and they do this best by the way). If the cheap we-know-what-is-right Dutch sucks at customer service, well... try the chauvinistic we-know-better French. Or maybe we will try boring Switzerland. Too much neutrality and secrecy makes this Alpine country very, very dull.

This is cafe-bar in the Piste. Nice for a quick stop-over or lunch. Foto taken from the ski lift. And of course, that is me skiing =)

Here are a few highlights from this winter sport holiday:

We drove to Austria with normal tires (no snow tires!), however we have the reserve snow chain at the back of the trunk. When it snowed nonstop on the 3rd day we let go of the car and took the ski bus instead to the ski lift and village center. Regrettably, yours truly is too lazy to tie the snow chains on the tires while Dutchman couldn’t even be bothered. One evening we stayed up late in Gerlos bar hopping confident there is a night line bus service. Well, well, what a surprise, the night line bus never came! We cursed the hell out of Austria as we walked in the dark, and this is past midnight, going back to the chalet. Thank heavens a cab passed by and for €5 we got home safely.

Dutchman caught me on film skiing, ...erm slow skiing, lol. I need to develop my technique and do something with my speed. He always complains why I stop when he films me. He wants to see me go swooshing by at the speed of light. I wish I can do that! Maybe next winter.

We got snowed under. We ended up having a snowball fight with the neighbors. The father and his two sons were cheating. They took a bucket load of snow, singled me out and poured the cold stuff on my back. Bastards. I squirreled back to the safety of the chalet with the coward Dutchman following behind me, lol.

While on the ski lift going up to the piste, we were overtaken by a trauma helicopter that eventually landed on the piste. Someone below was already strapped down a stretcher. I hope the person did not break some bones. We actually had a 1-minute footage of this.

The 1-minute footage of the Trauma Helicopter in Gerlos Piste. Taken from the ski lift.

I crashed 3x. Well, 3 people crashed on me on different occasions. The last one, a snowboarder caused a sprain on my neck that I only discovered later on in the evening when suddenly it became too painful to move my head sideways. The next day I elected to spend the day not doing anything and was too tempted to shop -- um, I did administer the shopping drug by treating me to a new pair of white snow boots, to which Dutchman mockingly announced, “Snow boots you only get to wear once in a year during winter sport”. Men will never understand fashion. SIGH.

Can you see the nice piste (slope)? I scaled this piste from all the way up which you cannot see in this foto down to the ski lift below. This is the new piste Gerlos developed which is adjacent to the old slopes and the only way to get here is through a Black slope (gasp!) but I did not dare so we took the lift going down which is permitted as not many skiers and snowboarders can do Black.

From Hollanda, we brought with us a few packs of the ready-to-eat microwavable Dutch stamppot to help cure those homesickness during the winter nights. Some evenings we ate in the chalet, other evenings we ate outside. Honestly, it was an awakening: Stamppot and the Alps don’t go hand in hand in my kitchen! I have never felt so grossed out with stamppot. Officially, I now am traumatized with anything mashed and this phobia might even last several months!

Chilling out with Stroh - actually this is gluhwein in a Stroh mug. Stroh is an Austrian spiced rum liquor.

One afternoon, Dutchman and I were having drinks in this café-restaurant where one can have an excellent view of this very steep and very narrow slope. I was mostly entertained by skiers and snowboarders stopping before they dive down, the skiers, most of them advanced skiers skillfully jump from the right to the left and so on repeating the same series, right-left-right-left, as they glide smoothly down the precipitous hill. While I, look in horror at the incline and told myself, “I am never ever going to take this slope!” Well, little did I know that 2 days later I will be standing, fraught, on the same slope because I failed in basic communication?

We decided to ski down to the village and Dutchman was ahead of me giving me the signal to go via the arena where the ski school is located but I cannot recollect how I managed to detour to the piste I so feared!!!

You know, when you are up there, you only have 2 choices: (1) STFU and just do it (2) get off your skis and walk.

Dutchman here in snowboarding action...

At this point the fright that swept me has turned to bitter fury. To myself for being such an ESTUPIDA, ggggrrr! Because this fiery soul is not the type to give up easily, I mustered my fear and skied downhill the uber sheer, horrifying, tapered slope. I think it took me ages to get down, lol.

I never had enough of Jagermeisters.

For the first time, I skied alone. Dutchman wanted to go to another mountain and I was not in the mood, so shooed him away while I sat down relaxing in a bar with a gluhwein. Later, I skied down to the lift that will bring me back to the other mountain where we started. It felt a bit eerie to be sitting on the lift alone.

The ski and light show in Gerlos was nothing near spectacular but it was quite nice for a change to be standing outside in the snow with everyone, in the evening, and with a warm cup of gluhwein while watching the program. As the Dutch would always say during times like these – Oh gezellig, wat heerlijk!

Travel Period: January 2009
Destination: Gerlos (Tirol), Austria

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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