Y’all, we had the best weekend. Really. So much fun packed into such a quick, almost last minute, trip. It all started about a month ago when we finally got around to shopping for our ‘extreme cold weather gear.’ You see, in less than two weeks, we’ll be headed north- WAAAAY north- for one of our true Bucket List trips. Yep, we’ll be headed to the Arctic with high hopes of catching the Northern Lights! SO excited. More on that closer to time. 😉 But we knew we needed to get ourselves prepared in the clothing department since A) all the Northern Lights tours happen overnight, B) the climate where we’re going is almost guaranteed not to even reach above-freezing temps during this time of year and C) they’re still in their ‘endless night’ part of the year (I think I read they’re currently getting 2 hours of sunlight a day?!) So yeah, this Southern family had to take some steps to avoid potential disaster in that department! Ha!
Well then John started talking with some friends about some (almost) nearby ski resorts that they’d been hitting up on the weekends this winter and we decided to take our own little quick adventure- for the fun of it, and to test our new gear. We ended up choosing a small resort, Ehrwalder Alm, just inside Austria- about three hours from Stuttgart. Perfect distance for a quick little getaway- we drove down after dinner on Friday night in time to crawl into bed at the hotel, skied all day Saturday, then drove home Sunday morning. Easy peasy.
Headed to the slopes early Saturday morning…
If you’ve been a longtime follower of our adventures, you may recall John and I going on a ski trip back in 2009, to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. It was John’s first time ever on skis and it was a disaster. He hated every minute of it, couldn’t get the hang of it (a problem for an athletic guy who is great (seriously) at any sport he tries within just a few hours, and ended up spending the majority of his time either backtracking to retrieve the skis he lost on the way down the slope or just drinking beer by the fire in the lodge. Ha! So this time, he was excited to go about it the way most folks do- with ski school. He and Neve both started the morning off in (separate, of course) half day classes, while I spent those hours getting reacquainted with my own (fairly minimal, but surprisingly decent) ski skills and working my way around all the slopes in search of the best views of the Alps. ❤
The Ehrwalder Alm Resort
You can see John’s class in the foreground- he’s in the green jacket. Neve’s is in the distance- if your eyesight is awesome, she’s to the left of him in the turquoise pants.
As the morning went on, I was pleased to be reminded that skiing is alot like riding a bike- you may be a bit rusty, but it comes back pretty quickly. Being from the South Carolina Lowcountry, I certainly can’t say that I ‘grew up skiing.’ But we went on several different vacations, both in the Appalachians and in the Rockies. It was during a week in Park City, Utah, that I took several days worth of ski school and really laid the foundation that I’ve been building on ever since. That being said, I could definitely benefit from a good intermediate/advanced class if this is a sport we’re going to pursue longterm. More on that in a sec.
You can almost see from the pictures as I started getting further and further up the mountain- the clouds were thicker, the skies were greyer, the wind was howling and it was FRIGID. Coincidentally, I actually ended up up there by mistake the first time. Here’s the face you make when you realize you took the wrong lift…
At that point, you’ve got no other option than to just roll with it. Plot twist! Ha! From that point on, the rest of my day was spent vacillating between, ‘Wow, I’m pretty confident in my abilities- way to go, girl!’ and ‘Wow, I’m pretty confident that I’m gonna die at any minute.’ Ha! And I’ll just add that the labeling of slopes appears to be different in the Alps than at home- the resorts tend to have one ‘bunny slope’ where all the classes start off and that’s the only ‘easy’ at the entire place, then they go blue, red and black- only the blues are not equivalent to easy US blues! Blues are what most of us would dub ‘intermediate,’ so don’t even get me started on blacks!
Proud to say that I skied every slope on the map minus the very top black one…Because a girl can only have so much confidence! John and Neve both skied the entire lower blue slope from the center yellow X. Yeah!
Made it to the very top and getting ready to work my way down. Furthest out of my comfort zone all day.
View from the very top ❤
By early afternoon, I was so pumped to reconnect with John and hear all about his morning. I’d spotted Neve a few times as I went past the ski school area- sometimes she was having a blast (doing the pull rope lift solo, skiing down the hill solo, etc.) and other times she was laying in the snow like one of the sea lions along the San Francisco pier! Ha! But since her class got out a bit later than John’s, that meant we’d get to warm up together first over a late lunch.
Perfect way to warm up- and some of the best goulash I’ve ever had! Homemade from scratch at the lodge!
First words out of John’s mouth when he saw me: ‘I. Am. So. Exhausted. And I’m just not a skier. I just don’t like it at all.’ Poor thing. Although he’d enjoyed his morning, really liked his instructor, learned lots of the basics and did plenty of actual skiing, he said that he just couldn’t settle into any of it. He wasn’t comfortable on the skis, he felt out of control going too fast and awkward every time he’d fall. Most importantly, he just wasn’t motivated to learn more because he didn’t find it fun. Bummer. And so odd because you- literally- never see John not excel at whatever he’s doing. He’s just one of those people that picks up everything- and I mean, everything- so quickly.
These three shots pretty much sum it up: frustration overall, seeing the silver lining, being happy it’s behind him and he’s in the lodge having a hard-earned beer. 😉
And here’s the thing- I actually came away from the day with a similar perspective. Granted, my journey to get there was different. I thoroughly enjoyed my day of getting reacquainted with my ski abilities- of proving to myself that I still had it and that I could do it. I got in one helluva workout (my calves and shins are still reminding me!). And I embraced the challenge that comes with getting out of my comfort zone and out of my own way. In fact, that’s exactly what I told John- that I spent the entire time outside of my comfort zone- not just brushing up on my skiing, but with all of it. Being alone, navigating the lifts (getting off the lifts at the top the first few times is downright unnerving, amiright?), reading the signs, not being able to talk to people because of the language barrier, pushing myself to do the harder slopes…I came into the lodge that afternoon feeling proud and accomplished. But I also felt relief to be at this stage of the day. Like John, I just didn’t love it. Once I’d gone down a slope, I didn’t see any need to do it again. I couldn’t see the appeal of the ‘going up the lift, down the hill, up the lift, down the hill’ cycle that is a day of skiing. I relate it to a day of waterskiing and boating. I LOVE all water sports. I can do that cycle (ie. ‘ski, sun, swim, ski, sun, swim…’ for days on end. But this one? Meh, not my bag. And that’s perfectly OK! We had a new experience, we had a fun day, we learned alot (including that our winter clothes are on point and good to head to Norway!)- and that’s all that matters! We left feeling really good ❤
John joked that these little kids were already infinitely better skiers than him. I joked that I was going to caption this picture with ‘Here’s John acting as the line leader bringing in his class for lunch.’ Ha!
And with that, we spent a bit of time just playing around on the slopes just us and then it was time to go get our girl. Couldn’t wait to hear what she thought!
Yep, that’s the face of a girl whose pretty pleased with herself! 🙂
Turns out that Neve had a marvelous day skiing with her class! She was nothing but smiles and stories when we picked her up. She’d skied all by herself, she’d ridden the pull lift all by herself, she’d snapped her skis on and off all by herself…And her favorite part? That when she fell, her skis came off and she log rolled ‘over and over and over’ to the bottom, laughing the entire time. 🙂 That’s our girl! Regardless, we were so proud. But like us, she was happy to call it a day, saying that she’d like to do it again sometime…’maybe next winter.’ Ha! Either way, it definitely made a lasting impression on her because she’s still taking about the day today!
Headed down the mountain. The resort is up at the top, so you take a gondola from base camp, then start with the regular lifts.
Back at the bottom of the mountain, thankful to be out of her snow clothes.
And you know how I say that the Universe always provides? Well, Saturday night it was if the Universe was telling us, ‘You guys rocked it today and you all three deserve a little treat!’ It turns out that the hotel was having a Kid’s Night Out for a few hours and Neve was all too pumped to forego dinner in favor of spending the evening with other kids (all Americans!) playing in ball pits and doing laser tag. Which meant that Daddy and I got an impromptu night to ourselves <3- at what has become one of our favorite restaurants ANYWHERE. Yeah, that’s how good it is. It’s called Vaun and is owned by a husband-wife team. The menu is fresh and organic and changes weekly, which says even more because we’ve now been there multiple times, never had the same thing twice and LOVED every single bite that’s crossed our lips! If you’re even in Garmisch, you MUST dine here. (*Reservations are a must as there are only 9 tables in the whole place!)
It really was a perfect little weekend getaway that went by all too quickly. And I’ve got to say, it still amazes me how close everything is here. I mean, three measly hours away and we’re skiing in the Alps with views like that! Jeez. Even the drive home is pretty. Just more reminders of how blessed we are to be having this opportunity- never want to take any of it for granted. ❤
Hope everyone is having a good week! Talk soon!