… and there was a lot of it. After not travelling much at the start of December, since I was studying for my CISSP certification, I’ve had a nice week in Austria, snowboarding. I guess we just got lucky, but right now Austria is probably the best country for snow. Other places are just starting to get decent falls, Austria has had snow for weeks. There was over 75cm in town, and probably 100cm on the slopes. We stayed in Kirchberg, which is very close to Kitzbuhel, and they share the same slopes, with free buses between the various lifts and cable cars.
There are over 160km of groomed slopes available, with something like 6 cable cars, and countless chairlifts. Some very long lifts up (e.g. Fleckalmbahn rises from 800m to 1800m), meaning some very, very long runs down. It tended to be suited more to skiing than snowboarding (e.g. narrow runs), with even some “blue” slopes pretty steep, and could be busy, but there was that much available that you could pretty easily find some more or less empty slopes. On the last day, we got up early, and were the first ones up Hornbahn, so we had a huge expanse in front of us with just no-one there.
The first couple of days I wasn’t too flash, but by the end of the week I was getting the hang of it, and was doing OK, hardly falling at all. Not sure that I’ll become a committed snowboarder, but it was good to give it a go for a few days. It was pretty damn cold though – as low as minus 18°C on our last day.
Austria was great – the food was perfectly suited to the cold, and they have fabulous weissbier (made with wheat). We had about 7 different varieties, all of them good. My German, while needing a lot more work, seems to be improving. I was feeling much more comfortable about asking for things, and usually understanding the response. It was a good thing too, since Kirchberg is not a large town, and English is not understood by everyone. Still, with my bits of German, and their bits of English, we could usually understand each other.
If you ever pass through Kirchberg, call in at Schaki bar, and have a weißbier. There is a nice Turkish guy there, who makes you feel right at home. Wear a Che Guavera T-shirt for bonus marks, it’ll go down a treat.
Happy New Year to everyone, hope you don’t have to go back to work as soon as I do.
PS Dragoman has cancelled the trip I was booked in for from Cairo to the UK, so it looks like my travel through the Middle East is going to be independent the whole way – probably a good thing for me anyway.