Sunday, 19 February 2012

My Mülbach travels!

Well, it is good to be back! Back in good old, greeny, grassy England.

Friday 10th- Saturday 11th

SO. 8...? Yeah, 8/9 days ago, on Friday the 10th, I set out on the school ski trip, headed to Mulbach, in Austria. We arrived at school early, with suitcases and hand luggage, dressed up very attractively in our trackies and hoodies ready for the 24 hour coach journey ahead of us. So, after enjoying half of COCO, us skiers, after the boys had loaded our suitcases onto the coach, went and grabbed seats. Sat next to my best friend who had an enormous food bag with her, just to make sure we wouldn't go hungry, I'm sure it was quite a trying journey for the teachers in front of us. There we were, singing, friend-watching Miss Burnett and Mrs Janson...Yanson? Anyway, they clearly wanted to cuddle; Annoying the hell out of Pierre- that's Mr Deam, for all you guys who aren't as closely acquainted with him as we are; Sat behind Mr Brennan, hiding with fear from his gigantic boxing hands, whenever we called him Mike. Mr Smith and Miss Lamb ("ohh, I say"), didn't have the joys of sitting with us, but Mr Smith DID have the pleasure of Pierre yelling up the coach "Mr Smith! Got any plans for Valentines' day?" causing our favourite Mr Brennan to wail with hilarity, before choking out "You sound gay, Peter!".

It got to maybe, 10 o'clock, and that's when we turned on Orphan; if you haven't seen it, it's about an orphan who's adopted, but guess what? Bad things happen when she's around... Anyway, turns out she's a 33 year old dwarf, with a hormone dysfunction thing, so she looks 10, and she tries to turn the moves on her adopted Dad. Yeah. Beth and I were doing a running commentary the whole way through the film, which I must say was astonishingly hilarious, and that's probably when we fell asleep, very uncomfortably.

 The next 10 or so hours passed slowly, but then we arrived at Mulbach. For the 15 minutes we drove up the twisting roads, Beth and I were just staring out of the window in complete awe. The mountains were amazing, and with clusters of snow-capped trees everywhere. The valleys were huge, with icy rivers, and cliffs, and off these were waterfalls frozen in place, so icicles were stuck in place. We entered the village, which was just as breathtaking as its environment. I can only describe it as a model village, it was so small and perfect. The chalets were in candy colours of pale pink, light yellow and sometimes mint green, all panelled with dark wood, topped with the most perfect, clean snow I've ever seen. It was completely untouched. Then we passed a Spar, and there was a bit of a group annoyance at its out of place feel.

24 hours since we left on the friday, the coach stopped at our hotel, and with a lot of hassle, we got all the suitcases and luggage to the hotel along with ourselves luckily. The hotel was just as magical as the rest of it; four floors high, wider than it was tall, dark brown wood, shiny and polished, with forest green furnishings, and golden lights. There was the "meeting room", where we sat, ate dinner, socialised, ate breakfast, and had meetings. One picture in this room was of Mulbach in summer; lush and green, still with the high mountains, it was hard to say whether I preferred in snow covered, or with the sun shining. We sat there waiting to be assigned our rooms and be given our keys. Ellie, Beth and I were in room 105, which was the same as any other; a double bed, bunk beds and an en suite. Our balcony didn't have any amazing views, just the road which was more sludge than anything, and a few buildings. So, we unpacked, met with the other girls on our floor, and there was a lot of screaming excitement as I recall. Of course, we were under strict instructions not to go on the boys floor *nods solemnly*.

Half an hour later, we were told to wrap up warm because we were off to get our ski equipment. Our coach drivers drove us a few minutes up the road, and we said farewell to them, and thanked them for the journey. The road was on a slope, and we had just driven passed even more chalets- my favourite one of the holiday was a warm yellow colour, with a wooden balcony, and white shutters on the window, with a swing covered snow in what would be the garden in summer.

After getting off the coach, we could see what was clearly a ski mountain, because of the cable cars, ski chairs, slopes that looked vertical and skiers who looked like they were going 100mph. I everyone at that point turned to each other and said "Nope, never going up there. Ever.". So, after waiting one freezing hour outside, we got our ski boots, helmets, skis and poles, and headed back to the hotel on foot, walking a terribly treacherous path, with ice everywhere and a partially frozen river underneath us. That was probably the most miserable day for me at least; the cold had hit me, I was exhausted after the journey here, and I couldn't wait to sleep. Thankfully, it was the afternoon and we had been told that evening would be one of relaxing, eating dinner and going to bed, and I think most of us tried to sum up the energy to cheer when we heard that news. Dinner was nice that night, rice with turkey I think, and a mustard sauce, with onion soup and bread for a starter, and a jug of water on the table. Maria who owned the place cooked all the food, and all week it was incredible. After being told we were waking up for breakfast at 7.30am the next day, and were leaving at 8.30 for skiing, I think, we all shuffled up to bed and fell to sleep.

Sunday 12th
Our alarm at Ellie that week, and she never failed. She would wake Beth and I up in plenty of time, but still not so early we'd die. It was our first morning waking up, and there was certain drowsiness mingled with terror and excitement. We grabbed our corner table, which held the same faces as dinner last night; Beth, Ellie, Megs, Heather, Alix, Ellie B, Carolynn, Tilly, and this was our gang for most of the week. I'd spoken to some of these people a lot before, some once or twice, and many never, but by the end of the week we were and are so close, and it makes me happy that just one week could help me make so many friendships. And moments over.

Breakfast was a mix and match; Cornflakes, Muesli, bread rolls with cheese or ham or butter, tea, coffee, juice, fruit, cream, milk. We made our packed lunches at breakfast as well, and they contained a roll, a carton of juice which, believe me, tasted like heaven after two hours of skiing when we drank them at lunch, a chocolate bar which changed each day and a piece of fruit. Mr Brennan told us our groups then as well; I was in Mr Smiths beginners group (Team Kiwi) with Ellie, Beth, Tom W, Ed, Brandon, Charles, Alex D, Ethan, Dom, Tamara (for the first couple of days at least), Henry and myself. It was a pretty fantastic group really :L

After going down to the storage room, full of our named ski equipment, and collected it and walked along to the bus, which would take us up to the mountain; (this wasn't the mountain near the ski shop, it was Skischule, I think, and this is where we first learnt.) So, within 20 minutes of carrying our equipment, and standing on the pavement, waiting for the bus, Dylan managed to fall over on the ice, crack his head open and had to be rushed to hospital. Nice. So, because of this Mr Smith had to go with him, so for that first day our teacher was Miss Burnett, also a beginner skier, which didn't exactly help Team Kiwi's confidence, but we were alright. It was a great day actually, one of the we had. it was sunny, and clear and it was beautiful. Sitting on the bus, driving up the winding, quite terrifying roads, we could see into all the valleys, we could see the mountains that were everywhere; in fact driving up, my first thought was that the mountains we were headed towards looked like the Misty Mountains in Lord of the Rings.

So we arrived. Before we had our goggles on and everything was tinted orange, it was quite quite dazzling to look at. The snow looked bright blue, and there was so much of it. So much. So clean. The mountains were everywhere, we could see the peaks on some, on others the tops were in the clouds. It was so beautiful. I, remember, Beth and I turned to each other and we said that no one would believe this. Trying to explain the way this place looked, we just wouldn't do it justice, and here I am, no even describing it well enough. We then put on our goggles on our sun creamed faces, put on our helmets, took our skis and poles and marched up the snow, until we reached a tip between two slopes. One was a green slope, the other was blue. Green is the easiest so we started there, at the bottom of the slope. we put on our skis, held our poles in our hands and a lot of us fell over. We met our instructor Jessie (pronounced Jessie, Yessie or Yessa. No one knows...) and for the first two hours we were just going down the small slope, stopping, snow ploughing, turning, going round a pole and then going in and out of poles, which the first time I tried it, managed to get through ALL of them and then stop. Just sayin'.

But then just before lunch, Beth whizzing down the slope, managed to take out Brandon, who fell backwards on her, causing her to go into quite a bad shock, and struggle to catch her breath. Ellie was also having trouble I trouble I think, because after our hour and a half lunch, her and Beth sat out, with Miss Burnett. In the afternoon ours we went to the top of the slope. That meant using the most terrifying invention I have ever seen in my life.

Because the green slope was so small, (imagine the height of a house, but extremely shallow) they didn't have proper chair lifts, oh no. There was a moving cable, which had slightly l-shaped plastic...things, attached to this cable. You would stand next to the wire and wait for one to get close enough to grab, and you would basically hold it to the small of your back, and it would push you up the hill in your skis, with your poles rattling around on your wrist. It went so slowly, but it was the only thing holding you up, and good god, trying to get off it when you reached the top was deadly. Because the cable was in a loop, you had to get off because you got killed by the mechanical cogs basically. When you got to the top, you had to try and ski to the side, but the cable never stopped so one leg or pole or a ski would almost always get caught on the plastic and you would start being dragged up but this machine, usually with the person behind you growing nearer, and there were huge pile ups because of this. It was so scary. We managed to survive this thankfully, and lined up facing the opposite side of the mountain, our poles dug firmly in the snow, as we all felt like we were going to slip and die falling down the slope. it really wasn't high, or steep but it was highest we'd been, wearing planks of wood and I at least was quite worried. Terrified works better. Jessie then told us we had to ski from one side to the other. It wasn't really that bad, but it being the first time we'd done it, it was horrific. I remember, I was stood next to Brandon, cowering and whimpering, hoping that if I fell I'd fall into him. He was exactly the same, cowering and whimpering, but saying if I fell into him he would kill me. Our group was a laugh. Overall, I have to say our group by the end of the day had progressed a LOT from not being able to move, to fairly able movement from across the hill, and then one extreme trip straight down the slope. It was insane.

Then after dinner, which again was really good, and then it was Pizza Night! So, off we drove to a pizza restaurant. Fancy. It was good pizza. We were told the first one was free but if we wanted another one, that would cost us...!? One pizza is great, thanks. It was a great evening, but skiing really takes it out of you.

Monday 13th
Usual story for Monday, apart from breakfast being earlier, to get more time in skiing. We arrived at the Skischule again. If you haven't worked that out yet it's Ski School. We didn't hover so much at the bottom of the hill now, as Jessie was quite keen to get as good he was. Which was very. Ridiculously good. Annoying. I think on Monday we were learning how to turn, and stop, but all the days blurred into one. But we were getting the hang of it now. Beth had come up the slopes with us today, and Ellie had..well, tried. We had our Mr Smith back, as Dylan had come back from hospital fine, just with stitches and a bandage, that Mr Brennan bought to our attention looked like a judo headband. The next time I saw him, it had ninja written on it. I fell over more on Monday, than Sunday, and my falls were awesome. Proper wipe outs.

Then in the evening we had our quiz night. And Pierre decided to add his little bit of fun on there with a sports quiz. Three pages of questions and activities and we knew one, I think. Cheers, Sir. It's appreciated.

Tuesday 14th

I remember this as one of my favourite days. We arrived at skiing and headed to the dreaded Green slope with it's stupid cable. Eugh. But we went down it with ease, managing to turn, and snake downwards. Even though Jessie's never seen a snake. Pah. Then we moved onto the blue slope! Finally! Travelling up that was basically first class compared to the Green one, or as Ethan said "Business." before Beth pointed out First Class was better. Going down this slope was amazing. It was taller and steeper, which meant more turns, more speed and a LOT more fun. I manged to fall over whilst standing still, and I managed to take out Ed whilst speeding down the hill. It was fun.

Then Jessie dropped a bombshell on us, saying we were going up the Red slope. Red is the next hardest type of slope, and it was nowhere to be seen implying it was very high up. It was.

So, Jessie told us that we needed lots of speed going down the Blue hill because at the bottom we were going to turn left, instead of right which would usually do to go back up the Blue Slope lift.. This was the direction towards the exit/entrance, and we were told we were going along another path which would take us to the Red Lift. We bombed it down the Blue slope, bent our knees and turned left. We were going as fast as we dared, and we slipped onto the path. It was a very short trip, only two minutes or so. We arrived at the Red Lift, to find an Austrian Man brandishing a plastic anchor type thing in our faces. Mr Smith, who is a top show off skier, pointed out this is how we get to the top of the slope.

Imagine an anchor. The straight pole in the middle is what we had to hold onto. The two curved edges are basically gaps for a person each, so you stand "in" it, and it pushes you up this huge slope in your skis. I was next to Henry, and the whole trip up to the top of this huge mountain was a lot of screaming and wailing and shouting. We got to the top, and I didn't fall over getting out! I skied over to where the others were standing. Basically we were at the top of a mountain, not enormously high looking back on it, and we were stood by the edge waiting for Jessie. I was freaking out a lot, and Beth was nearly crying, so it was quite scary. Then we went for it.

We were back in snake formation, falling one another down the hill. Because it was steep we had a lot of speed, so we had to do wide curves. I'm not ashamed to say I fell over, slipped down the snow. I was joined by Beth and Alex. I got up as quickly as I could because I hated keeping the rest of the group waiting. We skied over to where the others were, and Mr Smith said we could go first so that he could see us if we fell over. I went first, and I could hear Mr Smith telling the others to follow my example, that I was doing excellently. Then I properly wiped out. It was a huge fall, and I rolled down this huge mountain for quite a while. A ski fell off, as did a pole and there was powder everywhere. It was so much fun, I couldn't stop laughing. Mr Smith told me later that I looked hilarious. After I managed to gather all my stuff together, our whole team went for it. We whizzed down the slopes, and bombed it down a lot of it; we needed the speed though. It was so exhilarating, and so much fun. The Red slope eventually led onto the blue slope, so we were going so fast when we finally reached the bottom. It was one of the best things I've ever done and I'll never forget it.

That evening as it was Valentines Day, it was a Valentines Massacre, so we went to a shooting range. I was so worn out, but I managed to hit Mulbach on the target. Megs half carried me back to the hotel because I was half dead. No fit state to be handling a gun.

Wednesday 15thThis was our last day at Skischule and again a pretty good. We didn't go on the green slope at all, thank god, and spent most of our time skiing up and down to our hearts content, while Jessie helped Ellie. Mr Smith had gone and abandoned us today, so we had Mrs Lamb with our group, who was lovely, and very keen on teamwork. I should say, our team wasn't most teamworky with Ellie as she had missed a lot of our lessons.

Then it was lunch time, and I'd brought money that time, so I ordered nuggets and chip, feeling five years old again. And then things went wrong. Ethan started taunting Beth a little, and he was asking for trouble really, because he doesn't know when to stop. So, she punched him, and it was quite funny really until we realised he was bleeding, then we felt quite bad. Mr Brennan wasn't at all happy, and was threatening to send us home, but he didn't thankfully. Jessie found it hilarious though :') We went down the Red slope again for the last time ever, and I fell down twice. It was amazing, Ed and I were doing the cha cha slide on the mountain, which was such an achievement. Then Ellie got stuck for half an hour and Jessie had to go rescue her and when we saw him appearing out of the fog and the powder, Ed burst into "I need a hero" right on cue. Brilliant.

Then we had a really fun treasure hunt that evening, and we didn't win, but I thought we were pretty creative. It was a lot of fun :')

Thursday 16th
We had finished at Skischule so we went to a different mountain on Thursday. This was an actual skiing mountain, 1900 metres high, so a bit taller than a mile. It was amazing. this one had actual cable cars, which was amazing fun, even though you had to basically run after them to fit your skis in the pockets on the sides. We went down a blue run, which was amazing. It was very flat, with some short steep slopes which we bombed down, but we barely paused at all, and reached the bottom in no time- the first time we did that, I didn't fall over at all. Such an achievement. We Mr Brennan that day as well; I have a feeling it's because he wanted to keep an eye on Beth, but anyhoo we were christened Team Ex-kiwi. So, we went back up and got a cable car on the mountain to the top of the mountain. Inception. It was incredible, we were among the clouds and just pelting down this mountain and we'd barely been skiing for a week. We had say goodbye to Jessie as well :( he left us after lunch, so we have Sabina instead. Her English and teaching skills were better admittedly, but she wouldn't have laughed if someone got punched.

We went to the Spar as well, and we were talking like people who go to Spar talk like "Oh, 'ello! This is lovely, in'it?" we bought lots of Austrian food as well; Ein Pombaar! In the evening, we went Austrian bowling, which was a mixture of Skittles and 10 Pin Bowling. It was really difficult actually, even when Mr Brennan wasn't making ridiculously hard challenges :L we packed that evening which was quite sad really, but the cold made us tired. I could barely speak that evening, I was so ill.

Friday 17th
The last day. Our last breakfast, last skiing day. We headed back up the mountain for the last time, and did a lot of runs and slopes. I fell twice; once going too fast, once losing control, twisting and face planting deep snow, as well as losing a ski. Believe me, when I wipe out, I wipe out. We had a test that day, which basically meant going slalom down a slope in and out of red and blue flags. It looked terrifying, especially as a bunch of little children could do it easily, but it was surprisingly fun and easy. Sabina gave us a test that day as well, because there was an award evening for our last night so we had to get awarded our levels. That took most of the day, but for our last 40 minutes we used the chair lift. It was so much fun, if scary. "It has a lid, we're in a container!" They were really spacious, and I have to say we exited our ride quite gracefully.
Sabina showed us a Red run and offered us the chance to do it; a near vertical slope, and I think our team all in unison screamed no. We ended up doing a blue/red, and I'm proud to say I didn't fall over there at all. This run then led onto the flat, winding blue run which led us to the bottom of the mountain. We were too tired to say a lot, but there was a general feeling of sadness after we had taken all our skis and poles and helmets and boots back to the shop.
Still, we cheered up on the walk home to the hotel, when we had an insane snowball fight. We were running along the icy path, throwing snow all over, Ethan going insane and sliding along the ground, Alex getting covered in snow and Henry getting snow all over my hood and down my top. It was amazing, we felt like a family.
We showered, warmed up, and were downstairs for our last evening. Everyone was given certificates and a badge, and then the winners of the group races were announced. From our group, in third place there was Ethan. In second place was me, myself and I! I was so proud, I couldn't believe it :) Dom was first, and we all received medals. I've actually done something I'm proud of. Then, as Mr Brennan put it, there were the informal awards. heather won Greatest Wipe Out of the Week, which consisted of taking 7 people out.
After that was all over, we gave our instructors their thank you presents (Milka in the shape of a ski) and hugs, and a huge thank you to Maria. We then got on the coach, and waved goodbye to Mulbach.
The coach journey seemed far shorter, although I did sleep a lot more due to Brandon and Dylan stroking Carolynnes' and my hair. We watched the Hangover, Just Go With It which was Miss Burnetts 'brilliant' choice :L Adam Sandler, not my favourite actor. And then 21, which basically blew my mind :L the ferry ride was sleepy, but short and as we left DRAGON (That's Dover to all you non-skiers) I zoned out. I un-zoned as we passed the Vodafone HQ, which meant we were home. We arrived at school, and it was so strange seeing other people because I’d been living with these people for 8 days and they were like family.

Quite frankly, it was one the best things that I’ve ever done. It was an amazing mix of extremely beautiful, astonishing fun and ridiculous laughs. It was well worth doing, and I won’t forget it. Not ever.

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