|Sitting in the aisle of the packed train|
The journey to Austria itself was pretty evenful. Firstly, the taxi arrived early so everyone went into a panic rushing around to get ready to go, but then we couldn't fit everything in it and we had to work out a way of taking the car as well and leaving it somewhere. Then the train was late, and arrived with only half of the carriages, we don't know why, so we had no seats and ended up squashed in on the floor in the aisles. After a few more stops the train was packed and it was very obvious that we couldn't fit more people in, so we sat on the tracks for ages until enough people were persuaded to get off and take a second train. Hauke renamed the German rail system 'Fail Rail', as it was clear the conductors just couldn't cope with the situation, their announcements were quite entertaining. We were standing and sitting on the floor for most of the way to Munich.The delays meant we had to really rush to get on our next train into Salzburg, Austria.
|Train station at Göttingen|
The landscape changed quite a bit in lower Germany and Austria, there are more mountains and snow, and the houses are made with more wood but with no framework, with the bottom story or two made of I think plaster and the top story or two and the roof made of wood. We somehow made it onto the next train within about ten minutes, which is quite impressive when you are carrying all of your bags and skiis and have to go underground to reach different platforms. It has become quite apparent that Germans are not as relaxed as New Zealanders, Hauke (who has spent a year in NZ) and I have been very chilled out about all of the problems and rushing around and just accepted that there will be delays and we will cope with things as they happen, whereas everyone else has gotten quite stressed out and angry about it all. Hauke gave me German lessons on the train, much to the delight of all the Germans sitting around us, especially because the sentances he considers most important include ordering drinks and explaining that I am drunk or have a hangover! Finally, we took a bus-sized taxi for about an hour to Rauris, through all of these mountains and valleys with a river running through, it was absolutely amazing but the light was too bad for photos.
|Church in Rauris|
|The ski-hire man giving us scnapps|
Rauris is a small village that seems to exist only for skiing in the winter! It's nestled in a dead-end valley in the Austrian Alps, perched in amongst these amazing mountains. The church in the village amazes me, it is really tall and thin, and sticks out above everything else. Sara and I hired a couple of bits of gear from the ski shop in town, the guys there were really cool and gave us all shots of homemade Austrian scnapps. As well as Hauke's parents (Karin and Georg) and his brother Arne and Arne's girlfriend Sara, there is another family with two boys, aged 11 and 15, staying with us. The youngest boy is learning english at school and is really cute, and his father really cracks me up because he is always saying things to me in english, usually in the context of a german conversation that I wasn't following, that make absolutely no sense! I have perfected the "No idea what you're saying so I'll just smile and nod" again.
|Carpacio, raw beef|
After everyone saying what an epic failure I was going to be at skiing, Hauke and his family didn't have high expectations of me but after some lessons from Hauke and Georg I managed a red slope before lunch on my first day. By about 2pm I was in absolute agony and really tired so I headed back to the hotel early to nap. My sleeping patterns seem really weird since I arrived in Europe, no matter what time we go to bed I always wake up a hour or so before we planned on getting up, but I never feel like I've had enough sleep. We went to another village for dinner that night, in a fine dining but really old resturant where I tried Hauke's raw beef fillet (carpacio) and calf's liver. Karin said I am pretty brave, not being scared of skiing, trying different types of food, and also doing things by myself like catching the bus back to the hotel, which again might be a reflection of the kiwi can-do and eager to try new things attitude. Hauke and I went for a drink after dinner that turned into several drinks and meant I was even more tired skiing on day two!
|Me in the bar in Rauris|
Day two was more or less pretty similar, we stuck to the same slopes and I just focused on improving my technique. I had morning tea with Georg, the way he speaks with his limited english is really cute, he speaks really slowly and thoughtfully, wanting to get each word perfect before he says it. For dinner we headed into the hills to a resturant they have visited every year for over 20 years, run by a hunter turned fisherman who cooks amazing almond-baked trout. It rounded off my first week here in Europe, but unfortunately my mood wasn't fantastic, I was just too tired to be upbeat and therefore sick of not understanding what people were talking about, not being able to read a menu and pick my own food and of constantly making an effort to smile and follow the conversation even though I can barely make out what is being talked about, instead of just staring at the wall the whole time. Georg and Karin picked up on my mood and kept asking me if I was ok, they are really lovely, but that just made me feel guilty! I am really grateful to Hauke because he is looking after me all of the time and doing things like ordering food that he guesses I am going to like and translating a lot, and then the 11 year old boy perked me up a lot asking me "would you like to play with me Uno" (taking boardgames to resturants is quite common), so I finished the evening on a much better note, and this night Hauke and I took the 15year old, Constantine, for a couple of beers in the same bar - the first time I ordered drinks and was actually understood! The legal age for drinking and smoking is 16 here in Austria, and they are pretty relaxed about things.
|Main street in Rauris|
It is now the morning of our third day here, and it is snowing! I am really tired, so I had breakfast in bed and am now just sitting here watching the snow fall over the Alps, everyone else has already headed up to the skifield but I will go up around lunchtime. They've set up a big ramp thing for a ski jumping competition tonight, so we will go and check that out later. If it stops snowing I will take my camera up the mountain today, so I should hopefully have some photos of the view and us skiing next post!