Mountains, Sun, Snow

gondola_sun

Departure and arrival of mountain gondolas

Since I have lived here, I almost always have done my writing while sitting at a nice, solid and simple Ikea wooden desk, which allows me to gaze out my balcony window and over the thirteenth district’s old European rooftops.  But today I am writing from the couch.  Why?  Because my arms are so sore from snowboarding that I can’t lift them high enough to reach the computer keys on the desk.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

before_outfits

At least we felt 100% prepared

Györgyi and I had everything planned for our long weekend at Kreischberg resort in Murau, Austria.  We had our cute snowboarding outfits bought, our helmets, pads, braces, goggles, snowboards, boots and bindings rented, and we had satisfactorily read the prep book and watched the videos on idiot’s guide for learning how to snowboard.  For those of you who have never snowboarded…You. Cannot.  Imagine.  how difficult the first day is.  Nor the amount and kinds of muscles you can strain and pull allll at the same time.

car_austria

small Austrian village

We left Budapest early on Thursday morning with Zsolt, Györgyi’s boss, and his fiancé Szilvi.  The trip was really great actually.  After we passed west of Vienna, the landscape  started changing dramatically.  Suddenly there were MOUNTAINS and old castles on remarkably sharp ridges.  And tunnel after tunnel after tunnel as we drove through the mountains.

When we finally made it to the hotel, we found that our room looked right over the lower slopes.  It seemed high and steep from our view, but we learned that what we could see from our balcony was only about 10 percent of the height.  The rest was hidden by the ridge where the gondolas disappear.  In fact, even though we didn’t go to the very top of the mountains that can be snowboarded and skied down (just the part for beginners) it still took us over 10 minutes to ride up the mountain on the gondola.

dscn68051

The hotel, Relax Resort, is Hungarian owned, and it seemed like the majority of the people there were Hungarians, like in our group.  The Austrian presence was felt, though most strongly when the waiters brought us exactly measured glasses of wine (1/4 or 1/8 liters) and then mistakenly tried to serve some of the guys in our group a single short shot of Jägermeister instead of the more generous, let’s say, Hungarian pour.  The food at breakfast and dinner was all buffet style and for the most part quite delicious.  There was a mixture of Austrian and Hungarian classics, and a wide variety to give plenty of energy for the long day of snowboarding, or as we knew it on the first day, falling down the mountain.

andrew_beer

Szilvi and Andrew with much needed Beer

Now, we didn’t go snowboarding unaided.  We had a really amazing guide, Andrew, who is a snowboard enthusiast and adventure store owner who at times, while you were lying on your back face covered in snow and ice, leaned over you and waxed poetic about his snowboard-as-life philosophy that was quite touching and actually quite motivating.

Andrew discussing fundamentals

Andrew discussing fundamentals

The four women I was in a group with were all beginners like me, and Andrew would hold our hands about 25 meters down the mountain and then run back up and get the next person, waiting on their stomach or backs after falling.

andrew_holding2

Here, Andrew is holding both me (just fell) and Brigi

He did this all day long.  I really don’t know how.  And while it only takes him about six minutes to get down the whole lower part of the mountain, it took us over three hours to get just HALF WAY.  Luckily, at the half way point, there is a cute little mountain lodge where you can buy drinks and food and simply rest on a picnic bench, take off your jacket, and relax in the sun before taking the gondola back up for another run.

gyorgyi_wiwi

Györgyi and mountains

It was much as you would expect the first day to go.  We learned how to stop on our toes and on our heals, which is more about feel than anything else.  After you’ve fallen about a hundred times, I suppose your body just doesn’t want to get hurt anymore and you learn how to stop yourself.  And we eventually did.

I smile and wonder if I will be able to get up again

I smile and wonder if I will be able to get up again

The next day the storms of the first day had subsided and the skies opened in a magnificent burst of sunshine.  Though we could barely walk, lift our arms, lift our legs, or move our necks from side to side, we got back up the mountain and finally learned how to do the S turns.  Once I finally figured it out, Andrew, who was finally able to be on his own snowboard, met me toward the end of the first slope, and held my hands all the way as we zigzagged down to the lodge.  He spoke English well enough for me to understand his instructions, though I especially adored his gleeful shouting go, go, go, go, go, and he pointed me down the mountain in a kind of tandem dance.  Suddenly all of my fear about falling and correcting and perfecting left me.  I’ve always considered myself to be kind of a beach girl.  I love to swim.  I love the ocean.  I love water sports.  But after this weekend, I definitely have a new-found passion for snowboarding and I really hope that I will be able to go again soon.  Once I can lift my arms over my head again, of course.

treetopmountain

Regardless of how well or quickly people caught on, or if they did at all, the experience was absolutely beautiful.  As I stopped every fifty meters or so and sat down on the snow to look out at the panorama, I was astonished by the beauty, exhilarated by the view.  Snow-capped mountains.  Ancient pines.  The modest, almost sleepy town hugging the snow-dusted valley.

The skiers and snowboarders on the mountain in their swaying forms, those just resting in the lodge, others collecting sun on the chairs, and even the guests they brought with them to enjoy the winter rays at the top of the mountain:

This dog had a seriously awesome hat

This dog had a seriously awesome hat

It all made me realize how fortune I am to be here and having these experiences right now.  Not only was I dazzled by the resort and the region, but I feel overwhelming gratitude to Györgyi for inviting me, for the incredible generosity of her company, and for the kindness of her colleagues.

Hovi, Zsolt, me, Györgyi and Andrew

Hovi, Zsolt, me, Györgyi and Andrew

It was truly one of my most favorite winter adventures.

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7 thoughts on “Mountains, Sun, Snow

  1. Jessica:

    You made it home safe and sound….except for a few sore muscles! Thank God and also for the helmet and protective gear! I couldn’t wait to read your blog today to hear all about the snowboarding trip (or as you called it “falling down the mountain”). First of all, I hope you remember me. I am a friend of your Mom’s (since the 6th grade). My daughters, Alison and Sarah and I use to visit you and your family throughout the years! I recently had dinner with your Mom on Feb. 3, and she told me about your blog. Needless to say, I am hooked. Every morning at work, with my cup of coffee, I read budajest.wordpress.com to hear the latest adventures of Jessica and Gyorgyi! For me it is like watching a reality show! I love all your postings of eveything! You are a great writer! I feel like I am there seeing everything with you. You are so descriptive and humorous with all of the places you talk about, and the food…..Ifeel like I am eating it with you too…and don’t even get me started about how much I love “bread”!
    What wonderful experiences you are having in Budapest. I am so happy for you! Looking forward to reading more each day. Also, I have been reading Robert Jewell (under Who I Read). I cannot believe your Dad still runs every day at 5:00 a.m. What a man!

    take care…..love…Karen Holm

  2. Karen!!!!!!

    Of course I remember you 🙂 And Alison and Sarah as well 🙂 And you are so kind to write this comment. Seriously I was just writing a rough draft about some political stuff and I was in such a grumpy mood and I saw your comment I just can’t stop smiling. I’m really glad to hear you like our adventures (and don’t get me started again on the European bread– I could go on for days about it– and probably will again soon!!!)

    I hope that you are well and thank you so much again. I’m sure I’ll be on another adventure again sometime here soon– or as soon as I can regain full use of my post-snowboarding muscular system. CHEERS!!!!!

  3. Jessica,

    What a great trip — and the photos and commentary really brought it to life. But — I think I’ll stick to running. I’d worry that after a day of snowboarding I wouldn’t be able to hoist a glass of beer.

    • Needed to send you the tiny word in order to say tankhs once again regarding the extraordinary methods you’ve featured above. This has been really extremely open-handed of people like you giving publicly exactly what many of us might have sold for an e-book in order to make some dough on their own, certainly considering that you could possibly have done it if you ever considered necessary. These guidelines also acted to be a fantastic way to comprehend someone else have the same keenness really like my personal own to learn a whole lot more with regards to this problem. Certainly there are lots of more pleasant occasions ahead for many who read carefully your site.

  4. This post was great. I loved the pictures and your commentary. What a lovely trip and so many memories. Now that you know the technique you need to go again.

    It was sunny here in Ohio. That’s the most positive thing I can say compared to your trip to the mountains. But it made me feel a little better.

    Love m

  5. And m,

    Why doesn’t Coco have one of these Austrian ski hats yet? It’s practically animal abuse, I believe, not to knit her one.

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