European Travel

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Skiing in the Alps

One of the great joys of living near mountains is skiing in the winter!! There is something so majestic in a landscape brimming with Alpine scenery. This trip is to Germany Alps in Garmish. The US military has a brand new hotel located here. It supplies our cravings for home a little bit. We really enjoyed the little cabin we called home for the long weekend. The boys "bunked" together in a loft area. We cooked in the little kitchen and played card games.
We drove down Thursday night and settled in just fine. On Friday morning we headed for the first day on the slopes -- and for Joe and the boys I mean THE very first day on the slopes ever! Remembering back to my first day on the slopes at Sprint Mount (or Spring Bump as the locals called it) I can only wonder at having MY first day in the shadow of the Alps! We arrived at the mountain, after driving around the town a few times -- this seems to be a Joe and Melissa special excursion package on most trips. We park and sit down on the bumper of our Honda to gear up, but wait a minute Colin's boot will NOT go onto his foot!! Oh hell, how can he grow so quickly in a month? This is impossible. Okay. We reassess and decide to go up to the ski lodge and rent Colin another pair for the day. Ca ching $$. Ouch that's a lot of money we already spent to turn around a spend some more! But, I kept thinking, his foot is just so close to fitting in the boot, let's just try it one more time. As we are squeezing our crying child's foot into his ski boot, this Germany ski instructor approaches our unhappy scene. He looks at the boot, he looks at Colin's tear smeared face, and then he asks, "Is that boot cold?" Now I'm not great at speaking German, but does that seem like a logical question? I thought, maybe he's asking if the boot is too small and got his adjective incorrect, but NO he IS asking me if the boot is cold. Because now he's rubbing his hands together in an attempt to wipe that blank look off my face. What does he mean, “Is the boot cold?” Okay, so I decide to play along with this line of questioning, I put my hand inside the boot, and yes, it is rather cold, so I nod to indicate this to my new German friend. He shakes his head as if to say, "you silly Americans don't you know that the plastic contracts on the ski boot and shrinks it if you leave it in the car over night?" But maybe I am reading into things. Actually, he does something completely amazing; he takes the boot and stretches it to its maximum. He then places it on the radiator for 20 seconds then, just like butter melting on the stove, slides Colin's foot into the boots. Instantly, the tears stop, Colin's big toothy smile breaks out and the day is saved! So, lessons learned today. If you rent skis the day before do NOT leave the boots outside in the car over night; especially if you have Colin's size feet. Additionally, if a Germany asks you a question in English that you don't understand, then your English needs work, not his ;).
Off to ski school we go....

 So, as you can see the kids have an interesting first morning, but that is nothing compared to watching Joe and his ski instructor Stephen. Stephen is a fiftyish Austrian, excellent skier sporting all the cool equipment and a hoop earring to boot. He speaks broken English mixed in with a great deal of German expletives. My favorite Stephen remark is "Javol!" @ me and "Emmer, emmer, emmer" @ Joe's knee. So I stand around in my skis and watch Joe do 'our' lesson with Stephen, which may not seem like much fun given my opportunity to ski the Zugspitz, but it was fascinating to watch. So Stephen sets up a little slalom ski run using our poles. He goes first, greatly exaggerating the ski moves, explaining to really bend the knee, look at your hand and turn the way your eyes go and your body will follow. I go next. No problem. I get a "Javol!" Joe goes next. He has some trouble. He looks like he's in pain! He gets an "Emmer, emmer, emmer." With a fiftyish Austrian’s hand pressed onto his knee and shoved into his lower back.

 So, the ski instructor's opinion is that Joe must turn his knee MORE and bend from the hips NOT the waist. Joe's opinion is that this guy can't speak enough English to teach him and he better start doing a good job because he costs a fortune. 

The next day is round two, minus the ski boot drama/trauma. Stephen is our guide once again and we each have improved enough to go up to higher ground; yes the first day we didn't even make it off the bunny slope. This day is more fun and snowier. The flakes are coming down and so is Joe. He rolls with though – ha ha. As we finish up with the ski school and have some lunch, we decide to try the slopes on our own WITH the kids! CRAZY! Well, no, we just didn't leave the bunny hill.

Highhill Homeschool
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