Archive for the ‘Austria’ Category

Family Day on Weissensee

Dienstag, Januar 4th, 2011

This morning I got up early even though we did not go skiing. I saw that there were some clouds. When my mother got up she said it looks like the sun is hardly out and I told her that it is slightly cloudy. When we turned on the radio they mentioned the today will be a partial eclipse of the sun. And then finally someone said it is almost over. I rushed to the window and saw the last bits of it. Really nice! If I would have known earlier then we probably could have seen the 80% coverage that had been visible in southern Austria. Well the next full eclipse of the sun visible in Austria will be in 80 years.

The past few days have been very cold which has made very beautiful ice roses grow. I have not seen so many of these. They look almost like a coral reefs made out of ice.

Ice Crystals forming a Reef

We took a walk down to the bigger village. Here is a picture of my mother with the Gailtal valley in the background.

The Gailtal and my Mother

The family went together for a nice local meal at a restaurant a few villages away. They forgot to give me a side dish salad so then we got a wheat beer for free. And I had to realize that coke is more expensive than really good beer. We then drove to the Weissensee, a big lake of Carinthia that is frozen in winter.

Family Picture at the Weissensee

It is very romantic there. They have sleighs pulled by horses running around on the frozen lake. They are really on to lake!

Horse Sleighs on Weissensee in Austria

We heard that we can just rent ice skates at the sport shop on the northern coast of the lake. But as my mother gave me her ice skates we only needed to rent skates for Julien.When we entered the sport store we saw a huge empty shelf and the lady said she has only 1 last pair for rent but they are size 39. She said we could take a seat with teh others and wait for ice skates to be returned. As the sunwas about to set soon behind the mountain ridges we did not want to wait. So Julien and my parents walked on and around the lake.

Walking on the frozen Lake

While I went for a quick spin on ice skates on the 4.2km long loop. That was really nice.

Ines Brunn ice skating on the Weissensee

The rest of the evening was packing suitcases and having a nice last dinner. It was such a great relaxing holiday. And it was so nice to spend so much time with my parents. Looking forward to them coming to Beijing in April this year!

My Skis and Fixed Gear Bikes

Montag, Januar 3rd, 2011

Today was blue sky again. We were looking forward to a wonderful day of skiing. When we reached the top of the mountain at about 2000 meters we had the impression that it was cold. And after a while we realized it was actually freezing cold. I could soon not feel my toes and fingers anymore. But we were looking forward to lunch time with all the sun. I quickly went to a public toilet at the top of a ski lift and partially de-frosted my fingers on the heater. But they were soon frozen again.

Even at lunch time despite all the sun it was still very cold. We found a spot with almost no wind and a beautiful view.

Austrian and Italian mountains

But we could not remove our gloves nor hats nor jackets today. It was around -15 degrees Celcius and there was some wind.

Julien and the view

Ines and Julien at lunch time

I still did not get too many comments yet about my skis. A Slovenian guy pointed at my skis and said stuff to his friends while laughing. One Austrian pointed at my skis and told his friend „Those are skis“. The next sentence was that he got test skis from Fischer. Of course my skis are skis. The difference to the others is that they are completely straight. We spotted a guy wearing a neon orange and neon yellow and neon green ski suit with belt that looked like it was purchased in the 80’s. And guess what? He also had straight skis. Nowadays everybody has carving skis. It is much easier to ski with carving skis. You need much more technique to ski on straight skis. That is why I like them. I think it is like fixed gear biking. Of course the bike evolved from being fixed gear single speed when it was invented in 1880 to coasting single speed to the coasting multi speed we know today. But many people now chose the more technical fixed gear bikes from the old days. Skiing with straight skis is like riding a single speed bike. Closer to fixed gear cycling is skiing with Telemark technique like I did 2 years ago in France. But here in Austria the sport shops did not have Telemark skis for rent. Maybe I will buy some in future.

The wind kept going and the slopes stayed icy and hard. Even the off-piste which was nice the past few days was just frozen and icy today. So we called it a day even before the last lift went up the hill. I will probably not go skiing again this winter, but hopefully back country skiing next winter. And of course my back country skis are also straight. Actually back country skiing (that is walking up the hill and then skiing down) is as pure as fixed gear bike riding. Maybe that is why I love it too.

First Day of the New Year

Samstag, Januar 1st, 2011

Today we had great weather again: Blue sky and sunshine. I like the view from the Italian side of the skiing resort towards south.

Italian Nassfeld View

At the Gartnerkofel top hut we took some pictures. Despite the great weather nobody was in the beach chairs.

Ines in Austria Nassfeld
Ines Brunn in the ski resort

The great thing was that most people were sleeping in the morning so we had the ski slopes for ourselves. It is huge fun to ski on the fresh ski slopes. So we skied a lot. The majority of the people in the morning were elderly locals that enjoyed the great weather with us. I think that on average snow boarders drink more than skiers. And they seem to also be more hung over on New Years Day so they came later or not at all. It was nice to have less beginner snow boarders filling up the slopes.

Of course we again went off the slopes and did some off-piste skiing. In some areas the snow was still like powder but it has been a while since the last snow.

Off piste in Italy

New Years Eve

Freitag, Dezember 31st, 2010

Amazing. Another beautiful day on top of the Carinthian mountains. Here is our shadow of us in a chair lift. I think that looks like 2 birds.

Two birds in a ski chair lift

Handsome snow boarder

During our lunch we heard the helicopter come to the ski resort. And that is usually a bad sign. We were not sure if he was actually picking up an injured person as he was first flying around the whole resort. But it seems there was actually an injured person that probably did have some kind of head or back injury.

Emergency Helicopter

At the end of each day we do the long ride from the far top of the mountain to the valley. Each day we had a great sunset. Today it was really nice with the clouds in front of the Dobratsch mountain.

Dobratsch by Sunset

My mother thinks my hat is funny. Well actually a lot of people think my hat is funny. When I walked into the supermarket in search of my father all the employees of the supermarket started pointing at me and laughing. It is nice to see people smile after looking at me. And the reactions are astonishing as in China it is more normal to walk around with a funny hat, like for example a panda head hat.

Ines and her funny hat

For New Years Eve we had a nice dinner with my parents. Then we watched the very old classic movie „Dinner for One“. Same procedure as last year? Not for us. Then we played cards – that is like „Same procedure as yesterday“. At midnight we opened champagne and cheered. Then in Austria the radio plays the New-Years-Waltz (Kaiserwalzer) so my parents and we danced the waltz in the apartment.

My parents dancing away
Waltzing in the New Year
New-Years-Waltz in Austria

The neighbors had made a snow bar and put some lights.

Bar in the Snow

So we went down and watched the fireworks still drinking champagne. Our neighbor said it is much better to drink with a German physicist that opened a bike shop in Beijing than celebrating New Year with thousands of people in Berlin at the Brandenburger Gate – none of them have a bike shop in the country of the bicycles.

Outdoor celebration

Snow and Sunshine

Donnerstag, Dezember 30th, 2010

Another day of sunshine an blue sky. Perfect for skiing. Julien had switched a longer snowboard then the one he was renting yesterday.

Julien on Snowboard

Actually skiing here in Austria reminds me of cycling in Beijing traffic. You have to assume that anybody will do anything at any time and any place. Someone might suddenly stop in the middle of the slope. His friend might almost stop but then actually continue to ride. You might get someone at high speed coming from the side. Or a kid jumping out of the woods at high speed just in front of you. Or someone that was skiing downhill suddenly crossing the entire slope from left to right side. You have to be very aware of what is around you and anticipate even the most unlikely behaviors of other people on the slopes or close by. It is like people dodging on Beijing streets.

For lunch today we looked for a different remote spot and found something really nice. We had our food and enjoyed the sun and view.

Lunch in the mountains

Romantic rest

My skis are quite old. And I did not give them to service this year. So the edges of my skis are worn out. So I have not much grip on icy slopes and most of the slopes were icy as it had rained just recently even at 2000 meters. So skiing with these skis feels like riding a fixed gear bike at high speed in traffic without a brake. You have to be extremely awake and focussed on everybody around you and anticipate any of their sudden moves.

Skiing in Austria

Mittwoch, Dezember 29th, 2010

We got a 6 day ski pass for the Nassfeld ski resort in the south of Austria at the border with Italy and near Slovenia. That is the biggest skiing resort in Carinthia. There were some clouds today but in general we had sunshine. How nice it is to be outdoors the whole day and doing sport! I am so happy to be here!

Nassfeld Ski Resort

Compared to last time I was skiing in Austria some things changed. And that was only 2 years ago in the same resort. The average speed on the ski slopes has increased drastically. It is great as now more people are skiing at a similar speed as me. But a lot of them are not such good skiers so they cannot control their skis so well. And another part of them just does not look what is going on around them and so stupid unexpected moves on the slopes. There had been quite some accidents in the past years with head injuries so now almost everybody is wearing a helmet. And a lot of kids are required to wear a back protector to protect the spine. The helmet thing is great for the helmet industry. But I believe more people injure their knees or legs where a helmet does not really change the situation. And with the helmet I have the feeling people are more reckless. For example people suddenly just stop at random places on the slope. Or they just start skiing without checking if someone is coming down their way.

We brought our own lunch and found a spot outside of the slopes where we set up the snowboard and my skis as a bench with backrest. There was a nice view.

Ski Lunch

Nassfeld View

In the evening we had a great dinner with my parents and then we all played cards again. O-hell is quite fn with 4 people.