Category Archives: Skiing

The best skitrip

Now that was a holiday. I just got home from one of the best snow holidays ever, a trip to Switzerland with the Frankfurt Ski Club. The club consists of American, British, French and Germans ski enthusiasts who work in Frankfurt and take a coach south to the mountains at every possible opportunity. (Yours truly got involved through a very good friend – I go as often as I can as the trips are always really well organised).

The trip got off to a great start with a gala dinner on New Year’s eve in our hotel on the shores of Lake Geneva. Although I moaned about having to bring a full tuxedo in my ski baggage, I must admit it was nice when I arrived from Zurich to find everyone at the hotel reception dressed to the nines and quaffing champagne. It really added to the occasion and it was great talking to old friends over dinner and making new acquaintances..

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Next day we were bussed to Villars, the nearest ski resort. The conditions were fantastic, lovely deep snow from a recent snowfall and beautiful sunshine. One of the best day’s skiing I ever had. Incredibly, these conditions continued for the next four days as we visited resorts like Verbier and Portes du Soleil. I hooked up with some other off-piste skiers in the club and we had some very challenging skiing, including the famous Wall on the Franco-Swiss border in Portes du Soleil.

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More FSC photos at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/album.php?aid=71716&id=587171690

At the end of the trip I  took the club coach back to Frankfurt – a first as I’ve never been there! I’d heard it said that the coach journeys are one the best features of the FSC trips and it was certainly true on this occasion – it was more like a mobile bar full of friends than a normal bus journey. When we finally got back to Frankfurt, a few close friends decided to celebrate my arrival in their city, so the party went on til late..

This morning, I woke up in a strange city covered in snow. I made my way into the city center to meet a friend for lunch and then took myself on a mini-sightseeing tour of the city. Frankfurt city centre seemed surpisingly nice – an interesting mixture of beautiful old buildings and impressive new skyscrapers, not unike a large version of the financial district in London. Fantastic public transport of course, like everywhere in Germany.

Frankfurt in snow by Max Heidenfelder

Then it was on to the airport and back to reality. There’s no snow in Waterford and it’s too cold to surf. Sigh. Why can’t I live in a civilised country like Germany? Maybe I should apply for a job at CERN – I’d settle for Geneva alright…

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Winter wonderland

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.

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