The Austrian Alps!
Jesse and Samantha stayed in Paris until flying out Sunday. Charles and I for the remainder of our trip had decided to try a Contiki trip to snowboard in Austria for a week. We got to Munich and there was some trouble with our ride to Hopfgarten and so we had to pay the driver even though I had paid Contiki ahead of time. The drive wasn't too long but as it was getting late I was anxious to get to our destination. The lazy ass driver dropped us off at a train station that was two stops and 10 min from our actual city.
Charles and the not so snowy ground !
We managed to get to Hopfgarten but then upon trying to call the Contiki residence we got a busy signal! It turned out they were all at the opening meeting or else they would have come pick us up. We sort of got directions from someone who didn’t speak English well and carried our luggage up a very long hill until we finally found our way there. They were very sympathetic and (eventually) refunded what we had to pay the driver. The room we stayed in was small with two bunk beds making it easy for 4 people to share. Thankfully Charles and I had booked a room to ourselves. We went downstairs to the dinner and managed to meet a few nice people before heading to bed.
The next morning we got up and headed out to snowboard. At breakfast we found that most of the people on the trip were Australian with a few Brits, South Africans and New Zealanders thrown in.
Charles and his snowboard instructor
Thus we became "The Americans" as we were the only ones! This caused us many interesting cultural exchanges. For example, breakfast one morning was French toast. I definitely had a time when some of my table mates put salt and pepper on it instead of all the usual sugary crap. I guess it makes sense as it is just egg and bread but that was weird. The British girls we talked to were pretty floored when we told them how we bought our first heavy coats for this trip. They couldn’t imagine going through life without a heavy coat! One of the guys we were talking to was pretty astonished by how hot it could be in the summer out where Charles used to live (Blythe, CA
). It took us some doing to get 115 degrees F transferred into 46 Celsius so he could understand but he sure thought we were pulling his leg.
The menu at the Mexican restaurant... which this Californian decided was not terribly Mexican.
Meeting the South Africans people was the best. To be honest, they were more like stereotypical Irish pub singing/drinking folk but I can’t hold that against them! After talking to them I just wanted to visit their country even more! One of the nights a group of us went on a sleigh ride to a pub which had all kinds of excellent schnapps and mulled wine. That wine was the absolute best! There was a guy on a harpsichord (?) that started singing songs. I recognized the Beatles song but when he got to one song the whole bar starting singing. Charles and I were the only ones who didn’t know the lyrics. It turned out to be Waltzing Matilda which I had never even heard of. The Australian couple in the next room over from ours thought we might have remembered it from the Sydney Olympics as they say it is kind of the unofficial national anthem of Australia
The back of the menu at the Mexican restaurant.
I tried explaining how time zones made that pretty unwatchable for us. Another night a group of us went to a local Mexican (no not Spanish) restaurant. I was rightly skeptical as the nachos were one of the only things on the menu that looked Mexican. The guacamole was indeed green but watery and forest green is not what its supposed to look like no matter how far away you get your avocadoes.
Snowboarding was pretty fun though Charles had a hard time of it. As I had said before this was a very very warm winter for Europe so this is where that actually became a problem. No snow or very little makes the snow that is there very hard and full of spots that make even an experienced snowboarder trip and fall. We were pretty sore but there was a sauna which helped. Two days we didn’t snowboard but instead went on the day trips to Salzburg and Innsbruck.