Sunday, April 27, 2008

Skiing in the Swiss Alps - 19th to 23rd March 2008

Del and Estelle had very kindly invited Jim and I to stay at there new home whilst we were over in Switzerfrance on what has now become our annual ski trip to the Alps.

A four hour drive down to Liverpool airport lay ahead when Jim picked me up. This turned into almost a six hour drive as we got lost and ended up in Manchester and Jim's car was running on fuel vapours as we arrived at the airport with not very much time left until check in closed.

We made it, just. However, no harm was done and a short time later we were airborn, playing cards with Jim ordering two double vodkas, a beer and munchies each!

Del met us at the airport and by 9.00 were at his beautiful new house to be greeted by Estelle and given a quick tour. Sam and Lea had long since went to bed so we would have to wait until the next day to see them.

Del had a beer machine in his kitchen which took a bit of a battering as we chatted away before finally going to bed at 1.00 for a nice early start in the morning.

The next morning we were up at 6.00. After a quick breakfast we were on our way to Engelbert and a couple of hours later we were in the gondola to Stand and straight on to a red run down to Trubsee.

We carried on doing various red runs for a couple of hours before stopping for lunch at Trubsee and of course, a couple of beers too. After studying our piste map we decided to take the cable car over to Jochpass for some more red runs.

It was time for my trusty Action Cam to be strapped to my baldy head to get some interactive skiing footage for your pleasure! Please see below...

To finish the day off, I suggested that we head up to one of the highest points at Jochstock. As we got higher up in the cable car the weather really closed in to the point where we could not see the ground or even the cable car in front of us and suddenly it did not seem like such a good idea!

We need not have worried as the run was pretty straightforward and none of us died, which is always a bonus!

After returning our hired skis and having a lecture from Uncle Del about why we should invest in our own skis, we headed back to Del's place for a couple of hours sleep before heading out.

We ended up in some of Del's haunts in Switzerland including the Piano Bar and Reilly's which were pretty good, but only spoiled by the fact that the Swiss have not banned smoking in bars yet. I had forgotten how bad it is having to stand in a smoke filled bar. It is awful! Thank God that we do not have to put up with that shit in this country any longer.

The three tired bunnies were home for 2 am and rolled into bed for a nice long lie in the morning. That is except for Del who would be up bright and early to change dirty nappies. Nae luck, Del!!!

Friday was just a big lazy day and I was glad about the decision to have a day off skiing, even though I had initially been disappointed that we would only be skiing on two days. However, it was a victory for common sense!

Del, Estelle, Jim, myself and the kids went for a long walk, including a trip to the swing park for Sam to have some fun. We then headed into the town and it was good to see some familiar sites from when I had last been there for Del's wedding.

It was slightly disappointing to see that 'Jakie's Corner' had gone. Mind you, after our exploits when we were there, the town mayor had probably called for urgent action to stop it happening again!

We then headed over the newly constructed bridge into Germany. Del and I chatted about recent events and my friend, Le Dobber gave me lots of advice as only Del can! However, he did make a lot of sense and I guess he isnt as much as a big arsehole as he seems! Sometimes!!!

Back at the house, Del informed Estelle that we were going out again tonight. I missed it, but Jim informed me that Mr Stevenson would have some serious making up to do to Mrs Stevenson!

So off we headed into France this time, with Del taking us to some nice bars where fortunately, this time a smoking ban was in effect. Much more civilised! We did not stay out too late as we had an even earlier start the next day and further to drive to get to the ski resort.

Saturday morning was a 5.30 start and after the three of us had breakfast we were on our way to pick up Kevin. It was good to see the big baldy twat. I like Kevin. Even though he can come across as big loud-mouthed arsehole, he is actually a really nice guy.

Today's weather was much better for skiing. Not a cloud in the sky with the sun doing its best to heat us up. The drive to Flumserberg took a couple of hours and as soon as we arrived it was straight into the hire shop for skis.

Jim and I were in and out within 15 minutes however, Kevin was misdirected by a shop employee and got stuck in a queue behind a large group of people who walked in behind Jim and I. An hour later a very, very unhappy Kevin emerged from the shop, threw down his skis and berated the shop staff whilst the three of us supressed our laughter!

Anyway, after Kev's dummy was returned to his pram, we made our way up from Tannenheim. First of all in the gondola and then in the cable cars until we reached Prodkamm.

Del had told me that Kevin was an accomplished skier, but even I was suprised at how nimble the big guy was as he left us trailing on the way down the red runs. As you all know, I am the best skier in the world and even I had trouble keeping up with him!

The scenery was breathtaking! I thought it was a lot more picturesque than Morzine trip last year. I donned my action cam again and went interactive with my fellow skiers.

One of my favourite things about skiing here is the ability to actually ski right to the bar, take your skis off and order a cold, frosty one. Its fantastic! Of course, we used this facility to the max during the day.

For lunch we made our way up to Maschgenkamm which had spectacular views which we enjoyed while we were dining. I bulked up with a massive bowl of pasta bolognese, chips, a pastry, beer, coke and some water. Its hungry work being the best skier in the world, dontchya know!

We were going to need our strength, post-lunch as we decided to attempt a black run. I have done little bits of black runs before, but skiing one in its entirety was new for me. Kevin probably had the good sense to say, thanks, but no thanks!

I'll sum it up briefly by saying it was very hard, very steep, very fast and at times, very scary. You can see for yourself below in the video clip from my action-cam, which has been heavily edited using Window's Movie Maker to remove most of the times we all fell on our asses!

Ten minutes later and we were at the bottom and I was totally chuffed with myself. It was good to feel alive!

Kevin rejoined us and we completed one more fast red together before Del decided that he had had enough fun for one day. Jim, Kevin and I got one more red under our belts before retiring for the day.

We arranged to meet up in Del's favourite Irish bar, in Germany that night before going our seperate ways. Pizza was ordered and after a beer or two, we were showered and hot to trot.

We walked the short distance into Germany to the Irish theme bar. The only Irish theme that I could see was that it sold Guinness, nevertheless it was good. Apart from being in another country that had not yet had the sense to ban smoking in bars. Del explained to me that cigarettes are so cheap over there that everyone smokes. I just do not get it.

Kevin and his girlfriend joined us shortly after we arrived and we drank and chatted before fatique set in and it was time to head home. We said our goodbyes before walking home.

The next morning was Easter Sunday and Sam had been up early to hunt for eggs, which he had found long before Jim and I emerged from our pits.

Today was a day of waiting for our flight which was not until the afternoon, so we watched Manchester United play in the Premiership and chilled before it was time to go.

Hugs and kisses for Estelle and the kids and then we were off. Del drove us to the airport and after checking in we browsed the duty free shop with Jim desperately looking for tat for presents.

By 8.00 we were back in Liverpool and after retrieving the car, we had the urgent, outstanding problem of finding a petrol station PDQ!

After 20 minutes of driving around aimlessly we finally found one and then were on our way up North, with no wrong turns this time Jim managed to get me home for around midnight.

A top few days away, great skiing and in the company of people I care a lot about.

Thanks guys!

Just a wee footnote. I have removed the comments facility from my blog as some ignoramous was leaving comments anonymously, which I think is the height of ignorance.

You can of course get in touch to pass comment, criticise my storytelling/skiing abilities and generaly tell me what a fantastic guy I am at my email address.

The people that matter know it!