Sunday, December 16, 2012

Austria Take Two: Ice Skating and Flying Home

Friday was our last full day in Austria. I wanted to go and find the elusive ice rink, so we ventured out after lunch (when it had warmed up from minus sixteen) armed with a map. We'd almost found it our first day in St Johann, when we went to look at the chair lift, but we hadn't walked quite far enough around the bend in the road.

One solitary boy was skating around the rink holding onto a large plastic penguin for balance. There was a little cottage beside the ice rink, but it looked like a normal house and the hut where I thought you might get skates was all shut up. I tried to ask a man when the rink might open, but he was extremely busy with some kind of flashing-light panel, and refused to talk to me. Luckily a woman with two kids turned up a few minutes later, and when I asked about skates she said 'in der haus'. It turned out the cottage wasn't a private house after all, and when you opened the door you walked through the little foyer and into a changing room, complete with a man at a window ready to exchange skates for 5€. I got some grey skates the wrong size first of all, and had to say 'kleine' and get some bigger, much prettier ones in white and purple. If I ever get any of my own, I think they will look like these.

The rink is outside, with mountains all around. The sun was on the ice and very bright. I hadn't skated in a few years, and was a bit wobbly at first and glad there was only one other person on the ice. I managed to stay upright, though, and The One Who Speaks Russian took some good photos and sat in the sun with her book. It wasn't long before the after-school crowd came onto the ice, but by then I was reasonably confident and even skating backwards some of the time.

There were some very good skaters, and some beginners. There was one boy dressed all in orange who fell over, at speed, almost every time I saw him. I wondered if his parents had dressed him in orange as a warning to other skaters.

At indoor ice rinks I've been to, they have a large lumbering vehicle called a Zamboni that sweeps the ice and makes it smooth again. At this smaller outdoor rink, they had a live Zamboni instead, a boy who looked to be about eight and pushed a scraper broom thing around. I think the broom changed hands a few times, and the kids looked like they were having fun.

The sun began to sink behind the mountains so I surrendered my beautiful skates and walked back through the town to the hotel, passing through the little Christmas market on the way.

There was one goal I had not yet reached for the week: building a snowman. I found lots of good untouched snow in the park next to the hotel, so I storked to a good spot and started.

Only I didn't really want to build a traditional snowman. I didn't have a carrot, for one, and snowmen always look a bit gauche. So I made a snow maiden instead. Unfortunately snow upon snow doesn't tend to make a good picture, but here are my best photoshopped efforts anyway.

She didn't come out exactly as I'd imagined her (and when I had the bright idea of taking off my gloves to get more definition and intricacy and such things as hands, it didn't turn out to be such a bright idea. More a very cold idea) but I was still pleased with her.

We got up early the next morning and prepared for minus sixteen on our way to the train station, but it didn't actually turn out to be that cold. I drunk in the mountains for the last time on our way into Salzburg, found the trolley bus to the airport and were on our way home.

One thing I really liked about Salzburg airport was passport control. Salzburg airport has only 9 gates, and passport control consisted of a smiley man at a little window sitting right next to the woman taking our boarding passes at the gate before we walked out onto the runway (into the first rain we'd seen - it really was warming up). Passport control at the UK border was not nearly so nice, but then it's generally not the most enjoyable of experiences.

One more week of work, and then Christmas!

Where did the year go?


1 comment:

  1. Wow! the Snow Maiden is beauuutiful :-) what an elegant gown...


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