Last week was exam week for our students, so I took the opportunity for a week’s skiing in St Anton in the Austrian Alps. The snow conditions were pretty good as winter came early this year. I also got plenty of off-piste skiing as I was staying with a ski crony who is a guide for the Ski Club of Great Britain. That said, I find a week’s skiing more than enough these days – although I love the snow and the winter atmosphere, skiing itself doesn’t really give me the same rush as surfing, even off-piste
St Anton am Arlberg
As ever, what I enjoyed most was the travel. I flew into Zurich and took the train along the main Zurich-Innsbruck route. You simply haven’t experienced the beauty of winter until you’ve taken this train. The spectacular route through the snow-laden alps has few equals and should be listed as one of the wonders of the world. In fact, it still forms part of the route of the famous Orient Express. If that weren’t enough, I got 3 hours of uninterrupted conversation in my school German with a lovely young Austrian returning from Switzerland to visit her family. That’s why I love to travel in Europe, it’s the people you meet, the languages you hear and the places you see…
Ein Zug im Winter
Even Zurich Hauptbahnhof was a sight to behold, with snow falling heavily outside and the famous Christkindlmarkt in full swing in the great hall. I managed to get quite a good bit of present shopping done before boarding the train.
I read somewhere that the whole White Christmas thing in fact comes from the Alps, got imported to the United States by European immigrants in 19th century, and then got redistributed all over the planet like most American culture. It makes sense, as no-one does Christmas carols, Christmas trees and snow like the German-speaking countries!
After all that, St Anton could only be a let down and it was in a way. There were so many British tourists, I heard remarkably little German. Still, the skiing was good and the journey back a pleasure. Now, I’m back in rainy little Ireland and getting ready to start exam corrrections…groan
P.S. Lisa Lorenz has a nice description of a similar week in St Anton over at her blog Happy Hour. However, I was fascinated to read that she and her party had a totally different experience of the Zurich-St Anton journey. I guess travelling alone is always that bit easier…or maybe I’m the sort of sad person who is never in a rush to arrive at the destination.