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We left St-Anton on Saturday, heading for Freising. The morning sun was just kissing the mountains as I laid my last attempt to cook the perfect soft-boiled egg on the breakfast table. I packed up the left over fruit for our journey and made sandwiches out of the last of the meat and cheese. We were heading to Freising, a new town, for our last night in Germany.

Freising is home to the Weihenstephan Brewery, the world’s oldest continuously operated brewery. It’s also a state-run brewery, and linked with Technical University of Munich. In fact, it’s known as the Harvard University for brewmasters. The population is just under 50,000, and most of them seem to like to cycle. We knew we’d picked a winner! This town was alive, not like the dead silence of Neufahrn. Read the rest of this entry »

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It snowed most of last night, but we could see the hill by morning. Still, we weren’t really in a rush because we knew the light would be flat. Instead, we ate a leisurely breakfast (still haven’t cooked the perfect soft-boiled egg yet!) and then did some surfing about ways to combat flat light while skiing. Read the rest of this entry »

These are two of my favourite things: the White Ring at Lech and Zurs and tobogganing on a Thursday evening. And today we got to do both.

After driving to Sonenkopf yesterday, we decided to drive to Zurs today. It’s just a lot less hassle than skiing over to Alpe Rauz, waiting for the free skibus, and wondering whether I’d get a seat. I had to think about my back and be strategic. By taking the car, we were able to leave later and not have to wait for buses.

ImageWe started the Weisse Ring on the Zursersee lift.  As we were going up, we noticed a dog (yes, that’s right!) running around on the ski piste below. A skier stopped to try to shoo him off, but the dog seemed to be having great time. No sign of the owner.

To warm up our legs, we took the 18 down to the Seekopf lift. You can take either of these up to the Madloch lift as part of the Weisse Ring. We did both. From there, we took the slow two-seater to Madloch-Joch (2438m) and the skiroute 33 to Zug. I’m so glad we started where we did. While the morning had started off sunny, it quickly clouded over. The light was flat, and it was hard to see moguls, which were plentiful once you hit the true “wild ski route”. From there, we took the Zugerberg lift and then skate-skied along side the not-functioning Balmengrat rope toe.

We took a small detour on the #43, which took us to the Steinmahder lift, a heated, 8-seater chairlift in the middle of nowhere. It took us up to Zuger Hochlicht at 2377m. From there we took the 35 down to the 34, and had a quick lunch sitting in a bubble chair positioned outside a restaurant in Oberlech. Then I forgot what happens to do the Weisse Ring.

Read the rest of this entry »

DSC06692We’ve seen it on our Arlberg trail map. It’s down the road past Stuben, straight instead of right to get to Lech and Zurs. And because when we checked the lift status this morning and learned that one of the Weisse Ring lifts wasn’t operating, we decided to try out Sonnenkopf.

NosyNeighbour did his research. Yes, there was a free ski bus from Stuben. But it didn’t run nearly as often as the ones to Lech and Zurs. I finally convinced him to drive, which is definitely the best option if you have a car. At least that’s what Hanni said when we saw her as we were leaving. Wednesday is quick cleaning day for her. It’s mostly a stock up of things getting low in the apartment, like toilet paper and paper towels. I’m sure it was killing her that we weren’t all out the door at 6 a.m. so she could strap on her skis too.

Today really was beautiful. I can still feel the wind and the sun on my face. I’m sure I’ll return home with a raccoon face from my goggles. Sonnenkopf reminds me a bit of Sunshine in Alberta. The snow is all natural, and it’s neat to see no snow guns anywhere. They do a decent job grooming too. The only down side is that you do have to take a couple of T-bars. They’re not for very long, but it is a pain in the ass. We also noticed they have a Rodelbahn. It looked groomed (unlike the one at St-Anton), but we didn’t see anyone going down. And we assumed because the hill had few skiers, that they were all locals and there wouldn’t be much English.

Sonnenkopf doesn’t have a lot of runs, but what they have are good for strong intermediate skiers and people who want to try powder without overcommitting. You can ski through powder as a short cut along beginner and intermediate runs, which I did twice.

We skied non-stop from 9:30 to 2:30, only stopping for photos and short leg breaks. Lunch was eaten in the Gondola, after we skied down to the bottom from the very top. The top is at 2300m and the bottom at about 1000m, so you can go for a long time without seeing anyone. The snow coverage was awesome at the top, and the #1 was a bit rough about 3/4 of the way down. But once you’ve done it a couple of times you know where you can take speed and where to check it.

Tonight we’re eating in. It’ll be leftover pizza from last night, plus soup. Then we’re going to head over to the Wellness Centre for a much deserved soak in the outdoor hot tub. In the meantime, I  may take a nap.

When we woke up this morning, we couldn’t see the gondola. Not a good sign. NosyNeighbour also wondered whether he’d snored last night and decided to let me sleep for a while longer. It was a good call because the visibility really sucked this morning, but was much better in the afternoon.

We walked down to the grocery store in town to pick up a few supplies. Prices there are crazy though and the selection isn’t great. If you’ve got a car, it’s worth taking it to the one on the highway. We’ll definitely have to head back there soon with the car.

ImageWe were on the slopes just after noon. I’d had a really hard time with the liner in my gloves. I decided to ditch the extra pair of gloves since it really wasn’t that cold. But still, my left thumb kept getting caught up on something inside my glove that restricted my grasp.

We started off on a blue run to do the leg check. You know, the one where you wonder if your quads will work again so early in the season. Check, quads were felt. My shins were really sore from the banging they took on day one. The quads got used to working again, but I had to mess about with my boots a few times to try to relieve pressure on my shins. Read the rest of this entry »

ImageOkay, I admit it: I needed to rest my legs yesterday. The twinging back really did interfere with my ski training. My quads weren’t screaming “take a rest” but they suggested it might be a good idea. So that’s what we did yesterday.

One of my calf muscles was also pretty sore. I think I overstretched it at the bottom of the last run. I didn’t want to seize up completely so we decided to take a walk up the Rodelbahn to the Rodelhutte part way up the Nasserein Hill.

Just after the start of the trail, we saw multiple fresh ski tracks going down the hill to the village. Hanni had told us that the toboggan run was the best way to get back to her place so our walk was also going to check the conditions. But after we got to the sharp turn near the bottom, we noticed that the ski tracks veered to the right. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s been a while since I’ve gone skiing. The last time was at St Anton am Arlberg and I was dealing with nosebleeds, which got worse at altitude. This time at St Anton I am trying to recuperate from back problems.

For the past week I’ve been taking naproxen and doing cobra stretches every two hours. And it seems to have paid off. Yesterday wasn’t a full day, but it was three and a half hours of non-stop skiing. And when I say non-stop, I mean there wasn’t a line up at any lift so you really were constantly moving. Read the rest of this entry »

After our visit to the Documentation Centre, we took the tram back to the Hauptbanhoff. NosyNeighbour had to pee, and didn’t want to pay to use the Toiletten in the train station so we returned to the hotel, which is only about a 5 minute walk from the station.

After we’d freshened up, we walked back to the Altstadt in search another adapter to charge all of our electronics and to check out the market in the evening. Our search took us to a department store, where I was able to use my broken German to explain what we were looking for. It was more challenging trying to understand the woman’s German instructions. Eventually we found the electronics store, which didn’t take major credit cards. But we managed to get our adapter. Read the rest of this entry »

Today we visited the Documentation Centre and Nazi Party Rally Grounds. Before we visited Nuremburg the first time, all I really knew about its past was the Nuremburg Trials. Then, as I learned a big of German, I found out about its Christkindlmarkts. It was only planning this trip that I learned about its importance to the Nazis. It must be hard to be a Nuremburger with that in your past. The city has also been told it must preserve these buildings. It’s not that I think the past should be buried, but still it must be hard to see it every day. Read the rest of this entry »

A vacation is more than just the destination, it’s also about the journey. And our journey so far has been interesting.

My journey started a few weeks before vacation when I threw out my back, but only just. I though it would fix itself, but a few days before departure, it was still bothering me so I saw my doctor. She recommeded 5 days of Naproxen and referred me to physiotherapy Read the rest of this entry »

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