17 January 2010

Last day in Kuhtai + Hochoetz skiing

On our last day in Kuhtai we took a trip to the next ski mountain, called Hochoetz, farther down the valley. Our tickets in Kuhtai were also valid at Oetzal and there was a free bus ride that took us 15 minutes down the road to the cable car.

Oetzal is not as high up as Kuhtai, but it feels higher because the valley floor is so much lower. If you could ski all the way down to the valley it would be a nice long run, but unfortunately the snow did not go that far down. This year, Tirol is not been getting as much snow as the rest of Austria.

After returning from Hochoetz we picked up the kids and brought them back to the apartment for lunch. This is usually their favorite time of day as they get to run around and squeal for an hour and a half before heading back out again.

Elora and Oliver are starting to become good friends. If they're both in a good mood that is. When either of them is grumpy, that spells trouble if one of them wants to play with the other. It usually ends in Elora shouting, "No, Ollie! Now I'm not going to marry you." We try to encourage that line of thinking...

Finally! On Elora's last day of ski school, and after some hands on work from us the night before, Elora is starting to snow plow. She did such a good job that her teacher had her practice carving turns on her edges by shifting her body weight.

Elora is very smart, but she's still learning the whole body coordination thing, as you can tell from this picture. She's supposed to be leaning from side to side with her arms out like she's flying. Instead she just turned her head sideways a lot. But it made for an adorable picture. You can't really see her instructor's face here, but I wonder what he's thinking.

A little bit of off-piste skiing on a steep powdery section. Most of the Austrians tend to stick to the groomed runs. They worhsip downhill ski racers here in Austria, which is nice because it means the powder off to the sides of the runs lasts longer!

On our last afternoon, we decided to take it easy and stopped for some hot chocolate at one of the many "Huts" (or Hutte) on the mountain. These are places where Austrians traditionally go to get completely drunk  on beer or hot wine before skiing down the mountain in the evening. It's not at all like the typical America ski lodge with a huge cafeteria inside. Just a little mountain restaurent. Many of them actually have beds in them and people will ski-hike from mountain to mountain sleeping and eating at the different Huts.

The menu had this interesting statement in it that we had to take a picture of. It's a quote from the Emperor Maximillian I in 1512 and says:

Ich leb, waiss nit wie lang,
und sturb, waiss nit wann,
muss fahrn, waiss nit wohin,
mich wundert, dass ich so frehlich bin.

Which roughly means:

"I live, and know not how long
I die, and know not when
Must travel, and know not where
It's a wonder that I'm so happy."

Personally, I don't need to wonder very much why an Emperor would be so happy...

After the hot chocolate we got a desert called Germ Knoedel. It's a huge puffy dough like pastery with vanilla sauce and ground up poppy seeds on top. What we didn't know was that inside of it was some kind of funky mixture of fig pudding flavored with gluhwein (hot, spiced wine).

These sunning chairs are really common at ski resorts in Austria. People will just pop off their skis, lay down in a chair facing the sun and order drinks from the waiter. It's a bit strange to see people lounging around in the sun when it's freezing outside, but Karen said she enjoyed it.

After our snack at the Hut, we skied down to pick up Elora. She was very excited at how good she had done. Her instructor Jonnas was just as happy, after going 4 days in a row with little progress. But Elora can finally make a few turns and control herself (a little) on her skis. She's excited to go to ski school again next month.

Before returning Elora's skis, we put them on Oliver. His kindergarten room overlooked the hill, and he loved standing at the window watching people ski. So when we asked him if he wanted to ski, he happily said, "Yaaa!"

It's pretty much impossible to tell a 23 month old to "bend your knees and lean forward in your boots". So we just had to push him around and try to hold him up the right way. He really enjoyed it as you can tell.

Oliver seems a little bit more coordinated than Elora, and if we buy Elora a set of skis in Vienna, we'll also let Oliver practice on them as well. As long as he doesn't get scared, he could probably start sking a year earlier than Elora did. But we'll see...

One last picture of our little skier. If you see the bruise on her cheek it's because one of the instructors who helped fill in one day put her up at the top of the hill a couple days ago and just let her go down and crash into another kid. We didn't see it happen, but just saw him hugging her afterwards and carrying her over to the side. Elora, surprisingly, didn't mind to much because he filled up her goggles with gummy bears and she just sat their eating them. That was the day we stopped skiing early and helped Elora work on her snow plow skills.

By the time we got back to the apartment, Oliver was so tired he just laid down on the chair in the middle of eating and went to sleep. We should take him skiing more often!

On the last day we posed in front of the Auf Wiedersehen Kuhtai sign before the long bus & train ride back. Overall the trip was awesome. Karen came out unscathed. Elora got a bruised cheek. Chris got a black eye, smashed knee (with rocks embedded in it), torn hole in his ski pants, ripped coat, gouged ski base, and a blown-out ski edge. That's what happens when you ski out of bounds kids... We also lost a camelbak bottle and sippy cup... But it was a great trip!

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