My new favourite past-time: Shoveling snow after a night of heavy snowfall. Just me, the shovel, a parking area that needs clearing, and a huge amount of satisfaction.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Today we visited Machovo Lake, about 60km North of Prague. Usually there is little snow in this area, but as we drove through the narrow road winding through the alpine forest surrounding the lake it was evident that an unusual amount had fallen. The ice on the lake groaned and creaked as we walked on it and prepared for skating. This was quite an unsettling experience for this Australian who was preparing for cracks to run through the ice and to be swallowed alive by the freezing black water underneath.
Having learnt the basics of the classic style of cross-country skiing, I had my first lesson in "freestyle" skiing. There is nothing free or liberating about being told to "feel the balance" when all the skis are doing is sliding out from underneath you. And to make matters worse, you land on your bottom just as a group of German tourists slowly ski past, each one of them yelling out jovially "hopla."
Luckily the surroundings are stunning - we start from a small village called Jizerka, tucked away in the middle of the Jizera mountains, and head on skiing trails through the pine forests, finally ending back at the town and in an old pub for some well deserved dumplings and tea. This is an excellent way of finishing!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Continuing with my introduction into a "real" winter, I have stuck with the skiing and have been out on two more trips. The first in the mountains around Harrachov, and the second across the border in Poland (only 5km away). Many falls later, and only a few bruises, I am becoming more"aggressive" with my skiing. Now, I feel like I am gliding, rather than walking, on the snow. There have been two minor incidences involving gravity, momentum and an unlucky Czech in my way. Fortunately the excuse "I am Australian" or "It's only my second time on the skis" has been wonderful for damage control. I have also had one woman gesture at my face and tell me "you have nice colour!" With the lack of sun, and the amount of clothing I am covering myself with, it definitely won't last.
Not even a a full day in the Czech and I was thrown onto the skis and out in the snow. I dressed for the cold only as an Aussie can (few layers and all of them thin), resisting the temptation to put on my thongs. I was given a pair of fluoro, banana colored Salomon ski boots and my cross-country skis - thin little strips of wood that I had no idea how to attached to the boots, let alone how to glide gracefully on. Out in the snow, I soon lost all hope of dignity and ballet-like elegance. I just keep repeating the mantra: "It's like riding a bike, it's like riding a bike..."