Thursday, April 18, 2013

Skiing for the 1st time in Europe

Now that it has finally gotten warm in Berlin, I am waxing poetic about our time in the snow. Go figure....

80s winter ski clothes

It sounds so bourgeois to say "the first time we went skiing in Europe", but it takes it down to about the right level when you hear it was actually in a discount resort town of Liberec, Czech Republic and it was our first time skiing ever so we fell...a lot.

When our friends mentioned the trip we were all in without even considering the almost inevitable harm we were welcoming on our frail bodies. But as soon as details were finalized and hotel booked, I could see our horrible fate. Mangled bodies lying at the bottom of a slope. Parents receiving pieces of us intermingled with rented ski gear . Our friends exclaiming "We didn't know they would be that bad!"

Liberec , Czech Republic

 Czech towns winter

Just like that - we were off on ski trip. Bohemia (the western two-thirds of the Czech Republic) the Guardian describes as " Bulgaria before Crystal Holidays arrived." Liberec was our destination, nestled in the Jizera Mountains and Ještěd-Kozákov Ridge. Originally settled by Germans, the town had become well-known for it's textile industry and was nicknamed the "Manchester of Bohemia". Today, it is a little run-down, and totally amazing.


Somehow we made it through and it was amazing. I don't mean unharmed. I'm not joking when I say we fell a lot. It took a solid 10+ runs on the short blue hill for me to make it without totally wiping out. Ian had it worse, failing to grasp the delicate balance in turning until about the last hour. But it was still magical! Serious winter wonderland loving. So you can do it too, here are....

8 Tips for your First Ski Trip

Czech Republic Jested
  • Only go with true friends. You are going to look ridiculous and you want people around who are going to laugh at you, but not too much.
  • Invest in gear. All the moving around paired with having anything seasonal still in the US meant that we had practically nothing ski ready. We simply couldn't buy all new clothes so we prioritized. We both purchased water proof gloves and snow pants as those seemed a necessity. I got pants discount at Humana (second-hand store) for 7 euros and Ian shelled out 25 for his at Real. I found 20 euro snow boots at Real that were a great find, while both of us used jackets we had. Ian searched and failed to find snow boots. 
  • Find a mountain/run/spot without pros. I think it would be hellacious to go somewhere crawling with pros to run you down and yell at you. Our fiends had cleverly scheduled the trip so we skiied on a Monday and the vibe was pretty low-key with the people around us exhibiting extreme patience with our novice skills. 
Skiing Czech Republic
  •  Get lessons...maybe. We were told to get lessons and clearly this is a good idea, but we didn't. Our friends patiently helped us down the hill and explained that converting someone to skiing was a pleasure in itself. They are saints. 
  • Keep your knees bent. Ian swears this what helped him finally stay up. I could swear they told him that the first 20 times he fell down...
  • Bring some money/food. Skiing is tiring. You are going to need a re-charge.
  • Just keep trying! I was surprisingly persistent and felt myself getting better with each go. It reminded me of riding horses and I just needed to practice reading the cues and controlling my reactions.
  • Choose a soothing after activity. When we heard there was a water park in the town we knew where the after party was being held. It. was. glorious. And beer. Beer helps.
Czech beer


 Bonus Side Trip: Bautzen

Since our fabulous friends come bonus with car, we got a bonus trip to lovely Bautzen, land of mustard. We had to watch out for killer snowfall from the many beautiful rooftops, but the city was pretty enough to warrant the risk.  

winter destinations Germany

snowy Germany
Avalanche Danger!

wood tower

snowy Europe

snowman on bench

snowball fight
Perfect snowball weather

Bautz'ner Senf (mustard) 

An East Germany specialty, the restaurants and cafes of Bautzen proudly advertise their spicy sauce. Available at just .35 a small container in every grocery store, the little shop in the center of the town provides a thorough history, postcards & trinkets, and at least 12 different varieties of mustard. We sampled a few before I tasted orange senf. Sold! By far, the most delicious (and expensive at 8 euro per large container!), we are just finishing our delicious jar 2 months later.

 mustard shop in Germany

mustard shop in Germany
delicious mustard - senf

More pics of us looking ridiculous on skis, lovely Bautzen, and some other fun places to stop can be found on our album "skiing for the first time".


~ cheryl said...

Sounds like it was a wonderful trip - - however, I do NOT want to hear about mangled bodies - or even potential mangled bodies - when you're on the other side of the world!

Tessa Approves said...

I loved Liberec but was only there in the summer briefly - will have to go back. Great post!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!
ebe & ian at Yak-toberfest 2008