And now to last week, and WHAT a week. After getting in from Munich late on Sunday night, I let Anna sleep in on Monday whilst I went to my seminar. Afterwards, I picked her up and gave her pretty much the same tour of Salzburg as I’d given Kitty and Paddy two days previously, only this time, the weather didn’t go in my favour. Nonetheless, we had a lovely day together, wandering round the city, and I even got Anna her first Kaiserschmarrn from the Christmas market. Later that evening, we made the obligatory trip to Schloss Hellbrunn and, despite the cold, it was as beautiful as ever. Later that evening, we went to Zum fideln Affen for a traditional Austrian dinner, then headed home to watch TV and sleep.
On Tuesday, Anna was less than keen to wake up for my 9am lecture, so I cycled there alone, then went to the gym. As the weather had perked up considerably, I picked Anna up and we walked up to the Moenchsberg for a beautiful autumnal stroll. We walked towards the Festung, then headed back into town to do a bit of Christmas shopping, before heading home. Later that evening, I had basketball, then came back and cooked dinner for us both.
On Wednesday, Anna and I went to one of my favourite lunch spots for a midday Eintopf, before getting the bus to the Eisarena. Having got my ice skating legs a few weeks ago, I was fairly confident on the ice, but the same could not be said for Anna who only let go of the wall right at the end, and then fell straight over! Bruised and cold, we headed back home, via Billa, as that night was our secret Santa exchange and I’d promised to bake brownies. Despite turning out to be more cake than brownie, my goodies went down a treat nonetheless. The secret Santa was a great chance to hang out with the girls again, and it was a really sweet evening.
On a bit of a whim, we went to the Haus der Natur on Thursday, but it turned out to be a roaring success, particularly the interactive Science Centre! After this, it was time to do a bit of Christmas shopping for the grandparents, so we had another perusal of the Christmas markets and picked up some knickknacks to take home. That evening, I had my language course, then it was a quick rush home to change and head to Toni’s to pre-drink for the Erasmus party that night. Whilst the pre-drinks were fun and it was nice to hang out again, the less said about the actual party, the better….
After dropping Anna off at the airport on Friday morning, it was time to have a quick packing session, before getting the bus to Kaprun with Adele, Katie and Bo for our ski trip! The bus journey was only just over an hour and before we knew it, we were in the beautiful ski village of Kaprun to check into our hotel and collect our skis. Then, it was on to dinner, which wasn’t anything special, but being a buffet, we made the most of it. Deciding to shun the Erasmus party in the hotel that night, Bo and I decided to get a very early night and were asleep by 9.30pm, ready to be up at 6.45am to catch the first lift of the day to the glacial ski area of the Kitzsteinhorn. On Saturday, we woke to a beautiful, peaceful sunrise and were on the glacier by 8.30am. It was so empty and quiet and stunningly beautiful. There’s a reason why skiing is quite literally my favourite thing in the world. As Bo and Adele were doing ski school for the morning, Katie and I teamed up to make the most of the early morning powder snow. The weather conditions were perfect and, having snowed just a few days prior, the snow conditions were too. After getting my ski legs back, I decided to venture into a bit of off piste with my special carving skis, all in the shadow of the magnificent Kitzsteinhorn. At one point, we found ourselves a view point over the entire mountain range behind the ski area and, at 3000m, had a breathtaking view of the Austrian Alps. It felt like I was finally home. After four solid hours of skiing, we met Bo and Adele for lunch, and I tucked into my first Germknoedel of the year – yum! Then, it was time to ski together. Bo was quite a good skier, so had little trouble keeping up, but Adele had underestimated the difficulty of skiing on an actual mountain, so I stepped up to be a ski instructor for the afternoon! After another few hours skiing, the lifts were starting to shut, so we headed back down to the final lift, and stopped at a mountain bar for a gluehwein and to watch the beautiful pink sunset over the Zell am See valley. It was truly magical. After getting the lift back down into Kaprun, we all collapsed in bed for a bit then, at 7pm, headed down for dinner. Later, there was another party in the hotel, but we were unenthusiastic to say the least, so popped our heads in for a few minutes before heading to bed.
Sunday dawned even earlier as we had to check out of the hotel before skiing. Adele had decided to do ski school again, so today there were three of us skiing together. Having covered the entire ski resort the day before (including the infamous Black Mamba run on my part), we could explore a bit more today and I took the opportunity to do some more off piste runs and try some tricks. All too soon, it was lunch time and we met up with Adele – this time I had an Ofenkartoffel and shared a Kaiserschmarrn! The weather had started to close in by this point – snow was forecast for the evening – so we had to keep to the lower pistes where the visibility was better, but the skiing was still incredible. We had to be back at the hotel by 4pm, so at 3.15, we caught the last lift back into Kaprun, collected our bags, and headed back to Salzburg. It was an amazing, surreal weekend. The idea that I only have to drive an hour from where I live to ski is still so strange, but in the best possible way. Every time I ski, it reaffirms the idea that it’s my favourite thing in the world, and I’m so grateful that I have been able to incorporate it as part of my year abroad.