With week 3 of teaching under our belts, it was time for more weekend fun and games – this time featuring real snow, glaciers, the Austrian flag as bobble hats, and me making friends with multiple children on random public transport.
Friday night and, as usual, I was on the train to Linz for a night of debauchery after planning next week’s lessons. I was sitting with my headphones in (bad practice as I should be eavesdropping on Austrians for new German vocab, but I was tired) and a group of kids came into the carriage dressed in suit and ties. After about 5 minutes I became aware that they were trying to talk to me, so took me earphones out. They offered me a beer and at this point I realised they were on their way to a Maturaball, which is a huge dance a bit like a prom that all students celebrate before they take their final exams and is taken very seriously. So I drank a beer with them amidst delighted cries of ‘Prost!’ and some strange Austrian drinking songs that I’d never heard, and they make me say ‘Oachkatzlschwoaf‘, an Austrian slang word for ‘squirrel’s tail’ that foreigners supposedly can’t pronounce properly. Personally, I think I’ve got it down.
They wouldn’t let me leave the train station until I’d had another beer with them and introduced me to their friends – ‘Look, we’ve got a new English friend – AUS LONDON!’. I tried to draw the line when they got out shots of Jäger, but they drowned out my cries of, ‘Nah, ich kann das nicht!’ with hearty ‘Doch!’s. This is how I arrived at Emma’s a little tipsy and with several new Facebook friends.
Then it was time to head to Sölden for the weekend to catch the opening of the Alpine skiing world cup! Despite being a truly terrible skier, I really love snow and at least trying to ski – and I actually felt like a pro because this was my second time watching the Alpine skiing world cup, having been once before in Wengen (ooerr, get me). I’m still far from being an expert though, and spent most of my time distracted by the actual snow, finally! more than the actual skiing.
Saturday began with a long train journey to Roppen, where we found our Air BnB with a lovely hostess and amazing views.
We caught the bus up to Sölden in the evening in time to catch the parade, which involved a crazy man waving a chainsaw around and several hairy men dressed up as nurses, feeding people shots from fake syringes. #austria
The next day was when the real skiing began, and we headed back up to the glacier on the bus where I managed to make another best friend, this time called Eddie who insisted he was twenty one – ‘and a half!’. Not a chance mate.
Despite our frustration at not being able to ski ourselves (and by ‘ski’ I mean waddle about with skis strapped to my feet, alternating sliding around a bit and screaming a lot with falling on my arse), watching the skiing from the sidelines was so much fun. They go so fast! It being the opening, the atmosphere was great and the DJs really went for it during the break. This, coupled with our first Glühwein of the season, Austrian bobble hats, free flags and real snow pretty much pushed us over the edge of excitement – hence the barrage of selfies that followed (sorry not sorry).
Heading back to reality was a disappointment after laughing so much all weekend, but the knowledge that more road trips were less than a week away was enough to get me through just two days of teaching before Austria began its string of national holidays and I began my string of exhausted international train travel.
Until next time, auf Wiederschauen!