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“Got kitesurfing on the mind, mixed with some search & classification tech, and a dab of political ranting”

Wednesday is “Ski Safari Day”…

Posted by direwolff on February 16, 2006

…well, at least that’s how our hotel bills it.  Lil’ Pinot and I had been convinced by my dear friend Steve, that this was worth doing.  So sure enough, we got psyched and showed up at 10:00am in front of the hotel to meet the group.  As Steve & Lil’ Pinot were running a bit late, I was tasked with getting the group to wait a couple of minutes.  Once there, I notice that every one was giving me one of those dissappointed looks for no immediately apparent reason.  Well, it all became clear when our guide, Manfred Hartl, turned and half jokingly said, “so you’re going to join us for the ski safari with your snowboard?”.  Oh-oh, off to a bad start.  So I apolgetically suggested that I may drop off from the group once we get started if things got too hairy for me.  The bigger concern was the potential for traverses across flat sections.

Fortunately after seeing a few of the skiiers snicker, Steve and Lil’ Pinot arrived in time to save the day and provide me some much needed support.  Of course, it didn’t take long for the group to find out what they were getting into with me.  I wasn’t some snotty nosed reckless snowboarder out there threatening their lives.  As soon as we made it up the first lift and made our way to first gondola the group got a lesson in why snowboarders can rock!  It was our faithful guide, me, then the rest of the group bringing up the rear.  There were eleven of us, but with the exception of one other skiier, the pecking order always had me in the second or third slot behind our guide.  Frequently, we ended up waiting several minutes for the group to arrive…though by mid-morning, the first arrivals included Lil’ Pinot who was also rocking the house in fine form.

As lunch approached, Manfred took us to one of the mid-mountain restaurants where we could indulge in local Austrian delights.  Unlike the cafeteria style lunch spots at U.S. resorts, here all the mountain restaurants are individually owned and operated.  This means that the food quality is high and the menus unique since they’re all competing for your business.  Lil’ Pinot and I shared a “grolsch” which is basically roasted potatoes with sausage pieces mixed in and a fried egg on top…YUM!!!  The picture above is pre-lunch with the crew, including Manfred (2nd on the right), awaiting the goodies to come.  Lunch came and went, then it was off to finish the safari which effectively meant that we had circled both the Saalbach and Hinterglemm resorts.  Pretty awesome, but pretty tiring, but most importantly, the guide confessed that it was nice to see a snowboarder that could actually keep up and ride with the skiiers.  I returned the favor by saying that it was nice to see a guide who could actually give a snowboarder a run for his money.  We ended the day with a couple of shots of tea with rum and schnaps, and we all became fast friends.

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