Friday 18th January 2008

Day 2 – Saturday 5th January As I had not been to sleep, (neither had Emily or Pav for that matter) it slipped my mind that it was actually Saturday now. Our coached dropped us right by the south terminal, Em grabbed a trolley and we dashed all our bags on and headed for the departure check-in area. Sure enough waiting around the corner were Adele, Mel and Paul. They had to the airport about half an hour earlier than us. Pav handed out the tags so we could label up our luggage. Only the girls carried pens. I think it is a bloke thing to never really carry a pen, particularly when you are in casual clothes. We headed to the empty check-in counter. At first we were going to check-in individually but we checked in together as a group. Em badgered everyone else to put on their t-shirts. While we waited, the queue behind us built up and continued to do so. Once we had our boarding passes we went around the corner and waited. Pav went and handed in the boards through to the ski gear. Emily was not feeling well, so she went out side for some air. Meanwhile we got in the queue for security. The queue was building up now and while we waited we noticed a guy walking around with a boarding pass. It belonged to Paul, he had dropped it a few minutes earlier. The reason for the long wait was only one guard was working on gate. Typical, after we passed through, a second guard was instated and the number of people being going through jumped up. Once everyone was through security and got their shoes back on, we headed around to get some breakfast. I was not hungry, but opted for a cup of tea. Most of the cafe places were closed and I would only go to McDonalds as a last resort. We took some seats at the coffee place. Geoff and Foxy went fell for the lure of the golden arch but the rest of us had tea and some light snacks. We had plenty of time on our side before boarding. We could eat and drink at our leisure. I was not really hungry, tea was enough and we would be served breakfast on our flight. Time to go out about and explore. We headed for the duty free stop downstairs. Pav was looking for some glasses. I went to the toilet and afterwards checked how much XD cards were in Dixons, sorry Currys Digital but the prices were not very good. I called home to let my Dad know I had got to the airport okay and that I would call back home once I got to Kitzbuhel. We then gathered by the entrance to all the departure gates, waiting for everyone to get together. Two people were missing, Geoff and the t_dogg. I watched them disappear upstairs. I went after them, in the direction they had headed but couldn’t find them so headed back to our departure gate thirteen with everyone else. Foxy had text Pav, Geoff had lost his boarding past and gone to find it. Our flight was being called. We went through and found out that they could reprint the boarding pass at the desk, so the worry was over. We went through the tunnel and queued to get onto the plane. Just behind us, Geoff and Foxy finally joined the queue, they were the last to get on as far as I am aware. So we had a good little bit of banter winding up Geoff. Paul pretended to get out the misplaced boarding pass from his pocket. I enjoy flying, perhaps because I was thrown onto an aeroplane at such a young age (two and a few months). We were sitting towards the front of the aircraft, I had seat 5F by the window, fantastic. Pav sat next to me in the middle seat but moved into the aisle seat once the air stewardess let us know we could move around into spare seats. I got my Zen out to listen to some music and watch some music videos but should not have really bothered. Moments are we were in the air they served a hot breakfast. I must say, the cup of tea did go down well. In the end, there was no point even having my Zen on the plane, as we were due to land quite soon after eating breakfast, so I packed it away and enjoyed the views out of my window with Pav. I must say the scenery was breathtaking. We dipped under a blanket of cloud and could see the mountains layered with snow. Fantastic. Click. Another point for me to realise that within a few hours I would be out on the slopes. As we made our descent into Innsbruck, we suffered quite a deal of turbulence. Now, I’m a regular flying and have no problems with this sort of thing but Paul was the rather nervous flyer among us. He took a whole row to himself and looked out of the window for much of the landing. I think he was okay, although he did look nervous the few times I caught glimpses of his face. Our Thomas Cook flight arrived minutes before a Monarch flight from Gatwick also, so as you can expect the small baggage collection area was packed, it only had two carousel as far as I could see. Rather strange operation, we were driven the two metres in a coach from the plane to the terminal building. It would have been quicker and much easier to walk! Eventually our baggage arrived, while Pav & Em went to collect the boards. They are just dumped outside the terminal building, for anyone to come along and help themselves to. However, winter sports being quite expensive in their nature, you would assume that theft would rarely occur if at all.

Innsbruck View

A cigarette break for the smoking members of our party (exactly half with Em, Mel, Paul and the legend that is t_dogg). I took the moment to take a photograph of the amazing view (see above). It was cold but not too bad. We walked around to our coach, loaded the bags and got on. There was only one other small party on board, so pretty much could sit wherever we wanted. Time to get the Zen out and listen to some music and relax. The resort was about an hour and half away. I had checked on Multimap back at home and the first hour was mainly a motorway drive but the last forty minutes was winding A-Roads (or the European equivalent) through the mountains. I settled in for the drive, noting the time at the front of the bus. It was 9.10am – what would I have been doing at 8.10am on a Saturday back home? Most likely sleeping. I tried to take a few photographs but most of them came out quite bad. We made one stop to let the other party leave before heading on towards Kitzb├╝hel. We stopped about forty minutes later at a train station and our bags were removed. We were greeted by our Inghams rep, Marc. He informed us that the final leg of our journey would be made by taxi to the hotel. The reason for the change of transport was the fact the coach is too high and it would know the gondola out of the sky if he headed up that far. A few minutes later, a VW MPV of some description arrived and it was loaded up. We bundled on and March jumped onto his red quad bike. Who said there are no perks to being a holiday rep? The ten minute journey took us up through the up through the mountain range to our hotel, which sat directly underneath the main lift, the Hahnenkamm. The hotel, for some strange reason was booked under my name. I do not know why. While they sorted out the rooms, we booked our ski hire, lift passes and in my case lessons with Marc. It was here his talent as a comedian suddenly came out. He told me he could get me into a group with some Swedish women, “How good is your Swedish?”. “Rubbish” I replied but Mel stepped into say that I would learn bloody fast. As he totaled up my bill, he said, “Right let me work out the damage for this guy!” Yes, it was some damage but definitely worth it and looking back I am glad I took the five days of lessons instead of three. Once I had my stuff, I headed upstairs, dumped my bag in our group (26). Geoff had taking the small bed, so I was left to share. No let me correct that, sleep in a bed beside Foxy. The three of us decided to go straight down to Intersport and get kited out, while the rest of the gang sorted out their bits and pieces with Marc. The system in use at the rental store is quite clever. Enter all your personal details into the computer, take a print out ticket, hand it to a member of staff and wait while they get your kit. Within a few minutes, I had boots (which were perfectly comfortable), skis and poles. Right, all set. I thought we might have to use the lockers next door but there was a garage next to the hotel to store all our kit. We dumped our kit and decided to get changed and head out for a few hours on the nursery slope. The ski passes were only active from 3.30pm, so not really useful until tomorrow. Before heading out, t_dogg thought it would be good to get a drink, so we did before waiting for the others outside on the table.

FoxyFoxy, Emily, Paul & PavEmily & Pav

Emily, Paul and Pav did eventually arrive, all geared up and with their boards ready to go. We were just waiting for Mel and Adele. A few minutes later (or maybe it was ten or fifteen) the posse was together and we walked over to the nursery slopes. Now this part you will love. We walk down the road around our hotel and through he small car park. Onto a small side road, which leads down onto the main road into town. We cross the road and our feet are on snow. Yes, that is how close we are to the white stuff. We trek across, through the Kindergarden area over to the nursery slope. This is the finish area of the world famous Hahnenkamm run which takes place this weekend. After getting my skis on I headed up the t-bar lift, but only got half way up before losing my balance and coming off at a small hut. Eventually I got up and got going down. Before crashing again. Emily came to help for a bit but gave up after a few minutes (I do not blame her). I made a little progress before crashing again and then Adele came to help. Eventually I made it down to the bottom, how I do not remember. I was not going to give up, I headed for the lift again and this time made it right up to the top, although almost clipped my jacket on the bar as I let it go. Right, at the top, I had a big audience, (Pav, Emily, Adele and Geoff). I had crashed coming off the lift but by taking off my skis walked around to the flat area at the top of the hill. My memory is patchy now, almost two weeks on. I think Geoff headed off and Adele waited for me to start and then went ahead only for me to crash while heading towards the route of the lift. Rather than go into excplit details, this was the pattern for the rest of the afternoon. Adele went down to the bottom, meanwhile Pav came and tried to help. One on crash I lost my poles and he snow boarded down grabbed them and exclaimed, “I’m ski-boarding!” I got my poles back (Thanks Pav), got back on my skis and made a little more progress before crashing. I have to mention a rather painful episode when it took me between fifteen to twenty minutes for me to put my right ski back on. No, before you ask, the lock was not up! (I save that stupid disaster for the last day). If it was painful for me, trying to get the ski on, imagine the blood draining out of the face of my friends (particularly Adele) as they watched me try and fail to clip on this one ski. Several crashes later, Geoff came to my aid, “Right, let’s get you down this mountain”. Mountain is a major exaggeration when you consider we were just on the nursery slope at the end but with his guidance we took it one section at a time. Must have been an hour to travel a couple of hundred yards. I would go down, crash, Geoff would find me and then we would take on the next session. Slow progress but I was slowly getting used to the slopes. If you can call it that. We did eventually make it down to the bottom. It was about ten past 3 in the afternoon. We had got out onto the slopes around 11am (if not a bit earlier). I thanked Geoff for his patience, offered him a beer back at the bar when he came back. I took a few photographs before I heading back in the direction of our hotel. It was quite busy on the slopes, rush hour if you will.

GeoffHahnenkamm Run

At least everyone in the gang was having a good time. (Well with the exception of Mel, but will cover that topic later). I got some great photographs of Paul whizzing down the hill. Don’t those shades look so cool? I grabbed Pav plus also the Fox, back on his feet after yet another spectacular crash. Is the man made of steel? Well he is certainly made of stern stuff as he had some of the most insane crashes while on the slopes (from what I’ve been told by the rest of the group).

PaulPav

Heading back to the hotel, I put my skis and boots in the garage. Well technically it is a big shed, so I will call it that from now on. Retired to my room, had a shower and got changed. Here is where I made a big mistake to annoy my room mates. There were only six hooks (three main, three small) but I used two big hooks to hang up my ski jacket and ski pants. This would be reported back via Emily on the following night. When the others arrived and got ready, we decided to venture out and check out the local facilities. We walked into the town centre and a small bar in the local square. We rang Pav to let him know where we were. We then moved onto the Londoner. (Marc had mentioned it as we were leaving the hotel). It was lively, they had a band on, it was busy but it was not what we had traveled so far for. We wanted some authentic Austrian nightlife, not manufactured, over commericialised, British ex-pat rubbish. It was okay for a while (one round) before we headed out to a bar across the road. Here the atmosphere changed to almost the opposite. They were playing YMCA by the Village People, it was relaxed, not too packed and we settled in a corner. We then decided to head back to the hotel for dinner. During dinner we planned a night out. More to explore than a big night out afterall, I had my first lessons in the morning and everyone else was keen to get up early and onto the slopes. The night out itself was hardly anything to really talk home about. We went to a few bars, one with glass balls in the ceiling. (Known as the Das Lichtl Bar) We then headed back to the same bar the boys had been in, earlier in the evening. The barman came over (as we were seated at the back) with a spin dial. “So ladies, what drinks would you like?” he asked as he span his rather rushed drinks selector. We let the party piece finish before ordering our drinks, completely ignoring the barman’s game. The classic moment was when Geoff put on Mel’s jacket by mistake and headed for the hotel. It was only when they were half way there, he realised his mistake and came back. Here he is posing for the cameras!

Geoff

When we got back to our rooms, I got changed and into bed. I got my N73 out and tried to make some notes for the blog. The T snapped, “What is that tapping?”. It was just me, so I stopped and put my phone away. I think I would switch back to good old fashioned pen and paper the following day. It must have been midnight when I drifted off to sleep (maybe even later). Tomorrow was a busy day, my first lesson. I was nervous but perhaps it did not show.

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