Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Getting Piste’d in Austria

Getting Piste’d in Austria

A ‘group’ of 3 intrepid Hashers met at 10.00 am on Sunday, 1 March by the Giant Sand Clock near Hosok Tere, to begin an adventure with the skiing Club from Budapest University of Technology and Economics, in the Austrian ski resort of Hochkar. The merry band comprised that venerated skier, Hungary’s answer to Jean-Claude Killy and Franz Klammer (Rabies); the doyen of the N. American ski slopes (BangCock) and a ski virgin (Pussy Willow).

We arrived in the sleepy village of Hollenstein – sleepy because we later discovered that everyone was in bed by 6 pm, via a beer-stocking stop at Tesco; a bus tour of Vienna and a motorway service station break in Austria. The first shock came when BangCock and I were told that we were not staying in the main hostel with the rest of the party of skiers, but had actually paid extra for the 3 of us to share a room in a chalet down the road. We both looked accusingly at Rabies who mumbled something about his email telling us this, but we decided that whatever button Rabies had pressed on the keyboard, it had not been the ‘send’ one.

The second shock came when it was announced that we needed to get-up at 6.30 each day. Now, since my enforced retirement in Hungary, 6.30 to me signals the time to start preparing dinner; the reminder that there is another, earlier one was a cruel blow. So the days began with being picked-up at the chalet to be taken to breakfast in the main hostel and at 8.15 boarding the coach for a 45 minute journey from Hollenstein to Hochkar. By the time we arrived it seemed as if the day had already passed but, of course, the ‘fun’ was only just beginning. Each day Rabies was a blur of speed on the black runs; Jack regained his form after a few years break from the slopes and I pottered about trying to figure out why the instructor called the slope flat when it looked like the north face of the Eiger to me.

I was one of three beginners alongside a really fit 36 year old and her fearless, rubberised (he just kept bouncing back off the ground when he fell over), 5 year old son. By the end of the week, the little boy appeared to have been born with skis on his feet whilst I was still trying not to be frightened if I went more than 5 mph on the nursery slope. At the end of the day I had no idea I had so many bones in my body that could ache at the same time. Thankfully, Rabies son Adam and daughter-in-law were on the trip and she led us through some excellent stretching exercises that at least ensured I could walk to the dining hall for dinner.

After dinner one evening, Rabies and BangCock decided, in the spirit of true Hashers, to ‘hit the town’ and seek out the night-life of Hollenstein. Sadly, they were only to discover that the small supermarket stays open longer than the bar and in fact after 8 pm you have more chance of buying milk than a beer. They did find ‘Sinatra’s’, the only two people in the village who did that night, but discovered that he did indeed do it ‘My Way’ and closed at 9 pm.

I am, of course, far too discrete to disclose details of the nocturnal habits of my bedroom buddies. Suffice to say, they were many and varied. Things got a little heated over the noise made by someone’s clock ticking, the repost being that it was impossible to hear the noise of the clock over the snoring. Touché. Rabies and BangCock were perfect gentleman though and come highly recommended as roommates.

Well, thinking about the week now, I can at least reflect that when I am in that home for the bewildered somewhere on the south coast of England, the zimmer frame parked in front of me and eating lunch through a straw, I will never think ' I wonder what it would have been like to go skiing'. The trip was brilliantly organised by the university; the skiing conditions, I am told, were excellent; the company was very friendly and helpful; I don’t feel in need of counselling or therapy after sharing a bedroom with Rabies and BangCock, and I have just about recovered from the shame of being pitied by a 5 year old as I lay in a heap on the ground. I liked the 45 minute coach journey to and from the ski resort; sitting in the chair lift admiring the scenery and eating chips and red sauce at lunchtime. Occasionally, I even ‘enjoyed’ the skiing when I stayed upright for 100 metres but overall, I think I am better suited to other hobbies such as knitting and synchronised custard eating. And would I do it again? I think absolutely and categorically never, never, ever again, as long as I live. Well, not this year anyway.

Finally, here is a quiz. Whilst away I took a call from my landlord who wanted a reading from the water meter in our apartment. But what connects this request with the romantic life of our very own ‘Love God’ – Rabies? The sender of the best suggestion will win a candlelight breakfast for two at the KFC restaurant at Nyugati.


P Willow

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