4 countries in one day….

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8am   Switzerland.

It seemed like a very good idea to show the Johnsons just how close everything is here….

10am   Without any real plans we jumped in a couple of cars and headed to a very vague destination in Austria.

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Imagine how happy the kids were when we arrive at Bregenz on Lake Constance and see the best-ever swimming pool extravaganza (that we didn’t know was there) and they haven’t brought their swimmers………

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11am   We attempt to bribe the kids with food and pathetic lines like “look at how pretty the lake is” and “you are in Austria”.  EPIC FAIL.  We have to walk past the best-ever swimming pool extravaganza to get back to the cars.  (A little research wouldn’t have hurt……..)

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1pm   We arrive at Lindau, Germany.  Tired, hungry and it is so hot we are all thinking about the best-ever swimming pool extravaganza.

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We bribe the kids again with food.  They are happy.  The wood-fired pizza is really good.  (Of course we are eating Italian in Germany).  It was the first restaurant we saw and we just about ran in there.

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Lindau is pretty.  The girls are happy because they see a statue of Poseidon and all is good again.  Thankyou Percy Jackson books.

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We wander around and realise we have to get moving if we are going to get out of the country before peak hour traffic hits.

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4pm  We arrive in Liechtenstein after a few close calls driving there.  I may have started to lose concentration and think I am in fact a passenger looking at the sights and not the driver of the car.  No-one is harmed.  We look everywhere for the Prince of Liechtenstein but he is probably sitting poolside at his castle enjoying a cocktail.  It is really that hot.

5pm   We decide to head across the border and go back to Switzerland for ice-cream.  The kids are happy.  The adults need a drink.

Yeah, that was a good idea Jen.

 

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Gliding not falling

IMGP0059We have been for a wander through the neighbouring village of Schruns.  A quaint old town like those found in so many villages in Europe.  No glorious sunshine today.  Delicious fresh-baked brezels.

IMGP0060A museum that looked promising but was closed until 4pm.  Perhaps they wait for the skiers to return from the slopes.

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We ended up here.  This circus tent is the local ice-skating rink.  Someone had dreams of pirouettes on thin blades.

IMGP0066From the rink looking out you can see that it is open to the weather.  It was freezing in there.  It took a while for my legs to defrost enough to move but eventually we were gliding around on the ice.  No big falls to report today.  Thank goodness!  And there may have been a pirouette or two.

Two down, one standing

DSC_0159The last couple of days we have been battling poor visibility and snowflakes the size of saucers.  But today this…. hello gorgeous blue sky!

DSC_0161The gondola ride was beautiful today.  You can see the dam that is part of a massive hydroelectric power station.

DSC_0174One of us skied beautifully…..

DSC_0182One of us had a strained neck after a spectacular crash yesterday and took photos and sipped hot chocolate….

IMGP0056One of us enjoyed ‘Diabolo’ in the glorious sunshine – this is a new black run that skiers like me will never see.

IMGP0052The very same one of us then crashed on another slope and is now wearing a sling I fashioned out of a pair of green stripey thermals…..  oh if only you could see!

DSC_0176But thankfully none of us required this….

DSC_0177And there was more than one emergency chopper landing on the slopes today.  Hope they are ok.

Keep your goggles on

IMGP0047It is hard to take good photos in some conditions.  Ditto skiing.  I can’t really blame the weather though.  We have been taking lessons at Golm.

IMGP0048Franz did his best.  He spent two hours teaching me and spoke English in that endearing way Europeans do.  Goot, look me.  Centric.  Knees bend.  Bottom facing slope.  Chest facing downhill.  Look up. Tilt shoulder.  Ski only with legs.  Arms out wide.  Need relax.  Follow me please….

I watched the skiers gliding effortlessly down the slope, gracefully weaving their way down.  God it looks easy when it is done well.

And then there was Mrs Gumby.  Body rigid with the fear of shooting off the side of the mountain out of control.  I might add that this is not a totally irrational fear.  You know when you are lacking control.  I am the girl that was a good runner at school.  A good high jumper.  Not too shabby at ballet.  But the minute you put a stick of any sort in my hands it is like the co-ordination switch has been turned off.  Tennis – forget it.  Softball – you want me to hit that tiny little hard ball with this skinny little bat?  Ski poles…. oh god.  I can’t co-ordinate something on my feet and in my hands at the same time.  Are you kidding me, Franz?  Follow me please.

I’m sure you can see that this was all heading to a crash of spectacular proportions.  I don’t fall quietly on a slope when no-one is around.  I have to go cartwheeling down the hill, legs and bum in the air, past two large groups of stationary skiers, and then face the ultimate humiliation of having the kindergarten ski class swish past me with a minimum of fuss.  One small saving grace was that Franz was not around to witness his student fail so miserably (I really deserve an F for that effort).

No, it was my husband who patiently helped me to my feet, dusted me off and encouraged me down to the bottom of the hill.  I may have been crying behind my googles – who will ever know???

IMGP0051Later that day he took a more competent skier out for a run on the slopes while I drowned my sorrows with a large hot chocolate with extra cream.  It was the blizzard that made me do it……

Sledding and a gross schnitzel

IMGP0030We were unable to organise ski lessons for today so headed to Silvretta to go sledding.  There are really cool sled trails there.  You take the gondola to the top of the mountain and sled down a 5km trail.  It can be pretty hairy until you get the hang of steering because the sleds hurl along at a fast pace once you get going.  We all managed to stay on the trail and I think I have discovered my inner speed demon.  These sleds are heavy and steered with the poles at the front or with your feet if all else fails.  If you have never sledded on a proper trail I highly recommend it – it is a lot of fun.  A Spanish man at the end of the race {I mean trail} declared me Women’s World Speed Champion.  I blush!

IMGP0031Do I need to say any more?   Actually I don’t think I really captured the sheer size of it.   We ordered a Wiener schnitzel for lunch {as you do after a morning of racing} and this came out.  ‘Gross’ is the German word for large.  Large apparently means the size of the plate not an adult serve.  A man seated at a nearby table asked me if he could take a photo of it.  True story.

Montafon

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I know, I should be too old to snicker.  I don’t care.  I still think ‘gute Fahrt’ looks hilarious on a billboard.  Actually it means ‘have a good trip’ and I am laughing as I type this.  And I will probably laugh the next time I see it.

DSC_0151We headed to the Montafon Valley in Austria on the weekend for our ski holiday while all the tourist buses were heading to Innsbruck – more room for us on the slopes I say!  It was a ridiculously easy drive and took us only an hour and a half.  I took these photos while we were driving so excuse the quality of them.

DSC_0156We are staying in Tschagguns and the village was decorated ready for Carnival on Sunday.   Carnival or Karneval or Fastnacht {as it is known in Switzerland} is a time of celebration in Europe.  Many towns have colourful costume parades and parties abound.  The origin of it is thought to come from a last feast or party before 40 days of fasting {for Lent} begins.  Fastnacht in our town will be celebrated in February.

DSC_0158We arrived at our accommodation to find a bottle of champagne waiting for us.  It wasn’t chilled so we popped it in the European fridge.