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netnpete’s Travel Diary

Friday, 22 Dec 2006

Location: Hopfgarten, Austria


22nd December 2006
Yay - xmas trip finally arrived! I was actually let off work on the Thursday beforehand as we were so dead. So I was able to head out to Heathrow and meet my bro, Shaun from his flight - Luckily his flight actually arrived because on the same day 250 flights had been cancelled due to heavy fog!

Anyways on the Friday we headed to the Royal National Hotel in Russell Square where all Contiki tours leave from to meet up with Mel, Rats, PJ and Donna - a group of mates we have met over here. We were booked on a Contiki package, basically they drove us to Austria and we stayed in a Contiki resort and it's all inclusive. So we didn't have to worry about meals or any extras except for lunches daily.

So, back to the Royal National, dodgy hotel I tell ya! We met there and there is heaps of people around and you have to check in and have ur luggage weighed before putting it on the bus. We put our rucksacks down next to the bus and the contiki guy warned us not to leave anything unattended cos there are thieves in the area. So once the bus was all loaded we all got on and found out that a chick had her bag stolen with her whole life in it - wallet, passport, ipod and camera. So luckily we were alright and headed off on what we had been told was a 12 hr bus ride, which actually turned into a 22 hr bus ride! The first case of Contiki giving the wrong info!

So we left London at 7:30pm and arrived in Hopfgarten at 4pm the following day. The bus ride was average and we crossed over on the ferry from Dover to Calais with no hassles. Upon arrival in Hopfgarten we were taken to the snowboard hire place to be fitted with boots and boards. The town of Hoffy is a very pretty quaint village at the bottom of the mountains, a very sleepy place. We were then taken to Gasthof Schoneck, our hostel for the next 2 weeks.

It was a nice place with lovely Bunk beds in our rooms (Note the sarcasm!) It would have been a great place if the heating in our rooms worked! But we made the most of it anyway!

The first day up the mountain was interesting - considering most of the snow was actually man made and they hadn't had any snowfall for a couple of weeks - I basically learnt to board on ice! Rats, having been an instructor at Whistler in the past gave me 1 on 1 lessons - basically holding my hand while I learnt about the falling leaf and getting the edge! For anyone who has never boarded before - you use every muscle you have never used before so u end up completely knackered! But it's great fun as well.

Lunch up the mountain is pretty good as well - lots of Goulash and schnitzels to fuel u up for the arvo of falling over! I got a bit annoyed with being the useless one up there while everyone else is flying past you, but by the second day, xmas day, I was able to get down by myself and was beginning to like it! And the boys were getting in a few fresh powder runs off piste as well.

Xmas dinner was pretty special at Schoneck, lots of food - prawns and roast, then lots of alcohol consumed as well!

On the 3rd day up the mountain I was feeling a lot more confident and we ventured over to another area called Brixen which had nicer runs and a bit more snow. You have to go on a Gondola and a few different chairlifts but once there its definitely worth it. After another hearty lunch we headed off again and Rats was teaching me to go from heel to toe so I could do some turns. But disaster struck as I was getting a bit tired, I was heading straight along a track when I clipped the front of my board and went over forwards , but my board went in the other direction and twisted me around and I heard a crack in my knee. I was screaming in pain! Pete and Rats were with me and we got a german guy to go for help, I was crying in pain but could still move my leg so knew it wasn't broken. I did manage to get a ride on a skidoo - snowmobile though! They took me back to the Brixen Gondy, by then it was still sore but I could limp on it so had to wait for Pete to board back. We had to get a taxi back to Schoneck and that was the end of my boarding for a few days!

That night we all headed into town for a meal, then a few of us headed to a Pub called the Silver Bullet, owned by an aussie! We got pretty trashed and there was a few karaoke performances as well! I had to just stay sitting cos of my knee but drunk the pain away!

So everyone else kept boarding for the next few days, while I stayed off my knee, then a few of us got a case of the Contiki cough - which went around the village and knocked a few people down here and there.

The boys discovered a fireworks store in town selling all sorts of trouble in preparation for New Years Eve, so they stocked up and started setting off fireworks most nights. Shaun was especially excited and even managed to have a slight run in with the local cops on one of our last nights!

Most of the days moulded into one, we had a few messy nights at the schoneck bar. New Years Eve we headed in to a street party in Hopfgarten. It was freezing but we were surrounded by people setting off fireworks everywhere - it was pretty amazing. They celebrated New Years on the night of the first as well, where all the locals came down the mountain that night with Candles and lit a big 2007 on the side of the mountain, then a huge firworks display afterwards.

Shaun and I managed to do a day trip to Salzburg - the home of Mozart and The Sound Of Music. Its a pretty, medieval town, surrounded by mountains and towering over the town is a massive fort that was once occupied by Hitler. It was good to get out and see something different as well. A beautiful little town.

Well, after 2 weeks of the snow, we were pretty much ready to come home. On the 6th Jan we had to get up and board the bus at 4am for our epic drive back to London. The contiki drivers were crazy - we almost took out a street sign at one point! And we finally arrived back in London at 9pm Saturday night, absolutely knackered, but also kind of glad to be home - well temporary home anyway! So now it's back to normal life again, time to start planning the next trip!