Saturday, February 17, 2007

Obergurgl Skiing / Le Touquet

Obergurgl Skiing

Today is the last of my eight days of skiing in Obergurgl, Austria - high in the Alps within sight (from the peaks) of the Italian border.

It has been a brilliant break, although skiing with a slipped disc in your back is, perhaps, not the wisest course of action.

I have learnt the basics of skiing over six days, heavily sedated with pills and yet still in considerable pain. And not seriously injured myself. My conclusion: skiing is like having big slippery feet.

The ski school here is somewhat chaotic, which can be very annoying, but, individually, the instructors have been brilliant.

Our favourite was Wendolin, a very experienced and meticulous teacher who specialised in the ski dunces. By yesterday, I was amazed to find he had us snow-ploughing down the blue slope, high up on the mountain, albeit very nervously.

My greatest hazard seemed to be the ski lifts.

I managed to fall backwards down the T-bar lift and had to be rescued by the lift attendant.

On the big lifts, I had an even worse experience. One of them was stopped because I failed to get the safety bar down and looked in danger of falling 50ft. onto the mountain side.

At the end I fell over getting off and was hit on the head by the bottom of the chair I had just been sitting in. Not clever.

I was in Oberburgl - a very beautiful place.

That side of the holiday was a success.

We had a great time on a nocturnal Snow Walk, wearing snow shoes like giant white flip-flops, walking down valley and up hill, across frozen rivers and through snow drifts.

The karaoke at the Austria Hotel was also excellent. I did a hoarse (and somewhat tuneless) version of The Rolling Stones' Time Is On My Side, in my Alpine vacation persona of Tiroli of the Mountains.

Tiroli of the Mountains was later called back to the stage to perform a show-stopping version of Elvis Presley's Blue Suede Shoes - aided by three pretty chalet girls as backing singers.

It has been a lovely holiday, though not cheap. Even though I have self-catered in the Obergurgl Garret (with a wondrous view of the mountains), it has cost a king's ransom.

But it has been fun - even getting here, on Eurostar and the Bergland Express, from Brussels to Innsbruck.

Le Touquet Downpour (Flashback to Saturday, 18 February 2006)

I have flown here, to the Le Touquet Garret, in the Hotel Nouveau Caddy, northern France.
It was brilliant flying on the light aircraft from Lynn Airport in Kent (a field).

The pilot requested the passengers did not open the windows during the flight because 'it gets a tad windy'. When we landed, he got out of the plane and flagged down a taxi for us. So much easier than Heathrow.

This is clearly a lovely place with wonderful food - but it is unbelievably wet and cold. I would love to see it in the summer.

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