Christmas, Austria, Skiing, and New Year’s Eve!

January 3rd, 2011

So, I’m awfully sorry I haven’t written a post is such a long time.  Truth be told, I’ve been on vacation with my uncle and his family, and where we were vacationing, WIFI cost money.  It really wasn’t worth it for me.  I spent a very wonderful Christmas with my Uncle, Aunt, and two cousins.  We celebrated on the 24th, Christmas Eve, just like real Europeans!  That was because we were planning to leave for Ischgl, Austria on Christmas Day, where we would be skiing, skiing, and skiing with another two families, who were really nice!  Both of these other families were half German, half American, and one of the families lived in Abu Dhabi during the year!!!  Actually, the daughter of the family from Abu Dhabi went to high school with one of my brother’s friends who’d moved to the UAE last year!  Can you say small world!

Anyway, I am so grateful to my Uncle and Aunt for taking me skiing with them, for helping me rent equipment and arranging for me to have skiing lessons.  They even got me Christmas presents, which touched me very deeply.  I had resigned myself to the fact that I would be celebrating Christmas quite late with my family this year, but I even got a stocking on the 24th and opened many presents alongside my cousins!  It was probably one of the best Christmases ever!  I don’t know if I’ve already said this, but Christmas in Germany is great.  Why?  The Christmas Markets and Gluhwein.  They don’t seem to be worried so much about political correctness over here, which is refreshing.  For example, nobody insinuates a “War on Christmas” because someone wishes him or her “Happy Holidays” and nobody gets offended from a “Merry Christmas” either.  At least, that is my observation.  I could be completely wrong because I’ve barely spend one month in Europe in total, and a good 10 days of that were back in August before I went to Morocco.

Where was I?  Oh yes, Ischgl.  It’s a cute little ski town in the Austrian Alps.  It seems to be comprised entirely of hotels, and during the day the streets are completely packed with people schlepping skis, poles, snowboards, helmets, and any other winter sport equipment.  One of my favorite parts of the day is the gondola ride over the mountains every day.  You get in a little gondola, put your skis outside the pod in a special ski holder, and you get pulled up and over the mountain to the top of another mountain where all the skiing is.  One important thing I learned, Alpine skiing is very hard on the body.  I could barely walk at the end of my 5-day ski school.  Every part of my lower body ached as well as parts of my upper body from poling around the flat parts of the ski area.  As someone who’s only ever done Nordic skiing, Alpine was a little scary.  It is especially scary if you are someone like me who is both scared of heights and of going really fast.  Unfortunately there are a lot of high places when you’re on a mountain, and gravity tends to make you go fast.  However, I learned to face my fears (a little bit) and managed to make it down several mountains without falling (too many times).  Let me tell you, you feel quite proud of yourself when you reach the bottom of a run.  I’ve also learned to love chair lifts, and hate T-bar lifts, which I cannot seem to get off of smoothly.  I usually end up falling down.  A T-bar lift looks like an upside-down T and two people stand next to each other, and the T-bar comes behind them and pulls them both up the mountain.  Your skis remain firmly on the ground too.  You wouldn’t think it would be that difficult to get off of, but trust me it is.  Even my Uncle, who’s an experienced skier, hates the T-bar.

One of the coolest things I did last week was go sledding…down a mountain.  It was 7km of tobogganing down a mountain.  It was so cool!  It was definitely the longest sled ride I’ve ever been on.  You ride a gondola up the mountain; you then get a sled at the top, and then head on down.  The path is full of twists, turns, bumps and ditches.  There was one spot where it was so steep I slid down on my butt, holding the sled beside me.  I wasn’t in the mood for another hospital visit.  Additionally, I was the only girl from our group who went sledding, so I could pretty much count on one of the guys to have some glorious sledding story to tell, and I could sit in the corner and listen with much amusement as they recount the thoughts that went through their head as they flew through the air after their sled hit a bump.

Another cool thing is Europe is New Year’s Eve.  It’s crazy man!!  People start to party in the early afternoon, and everyone and his mother get their own fireworks and shoot them off in their back yards.  I must have watched three or four different amateur firework shows as well as the official town fireworks from the balcony of one of our apartments.  I did get nervous at one point as a bunch of drunken German-speaking peoples started lighting fireworks right under our balcony, and then they would light fire crackers and throw them at each other, real smart don’t ya think?  It was still a really cool way to usher in 2011.  I can’t believe it is already 2011 already!  Where does the time go!!!

So, now that leaves me off where I am now.  I took a train early this morning from Landeck to Vienna.  Now I’m sitting here in a hostel in Vienna.  I have three very nice roommates from Genoa, Italy.  They’re leaving tomorrow morning though, so I won’t have gotten to spend a whole lot of time with them.  I was supposed to meet a friend, but circumstances didn’t work out and she couldn’t end up meeting me.  So, I have planned out an entire two days full of cool stuff to do.  I’m going to go see St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Mozart’s house.  I’m also going to see if I can go to see an opera for 2 Euro.  Sound like fun?  I think it does!  Then the next day I’m going to see the Palace and then take a night train to Berlin to meet another friend!  Woot!  This is going to be a pretty cool week I think.  Some things didn’t work out exactly as I had planned, but that’s okay.  It’s all part of being flexible, of going with the flow, like I learned in Morocco.  That’s a country where flexibility is key!  In Europe things are a little timelier, but it’s still important to be flexible and to have a good outlook on life, especially if you’re a poor college student traveling around Europe!  Alright, I will go now so I can eat dinner, and prepare for my excellent adventures in the days to come!

One Response to “Christmas, Austria, Skiing, and New Year’s Eve!”

  1. Lauraon 05 Jan 2011 at 8:10 pm

    That’s my girl!!

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