Not an easy journey to Schladming…

Yes it’s that time of year again to don the big boots, big coat, gloves, helmet and cover the face to the elements, strap a slippery board to the feet and throw ourselves off a snow covered mountain…It’s the long awaited and exciting Snowboarding time!

This time we flew off to somewhere totally new to us, Schladming, Austria.  We have been a few times to Austria and the journeys have been easy peasy, but this particular area was new to us and it certainly didn’t disappoint, but the journey there was not the best…  It started with our flight being delayed for 4 hours. It was just one of those things, can’t be helped and we finally took off and ended up landing at Salzburg airport in a snowstorm which was a little scary, (well I was very scared, but I’m one of those flyers who thinks it’s an added bonus just to land at the other end.  I still do not understand how a big lump of metal like that gets off the ground never mind flies with all those people and luggage in it!) anyway, we landed safely, said thank you to the Captain as he nodded to every exiting passenger, (little did he know that as I thanked him calmly with a smile, I was really a gibbering wreck underneath) and headed to our coach for a leisurely hour transfer up the mountain, not knowing that this next particular journey was to be a lot scarier than the flight!

The coach driver didn’t seem to realise that there was A LOT of snow on the ground and snow continued to fall heavily, (great for snowboarding in, but I particularly hate driving in it) and settling thickly on the roads, which if it had been in England the whole country would be at a total standstill, but being in Austria, this was normal at this time of year and we were now hurtling along an Austrian motorway!  As I hid my head underneath Jon’s armpit I asked quietly, “Do they have special tyres??” The answer came back a little too fast for my liking, “I’m sure they do love”  I stayed under his armpit.

We stopped around 30 minutes later at what seemed to be an unusual pull off point next to a lumber yard and our rep came over the microphone, “A few of you will be meeting a taxi here to take you along to your final destinations”  While I dared look out from underneath Jon’s armpit, all I could see was snow and lots of it.  I couldn’t even see where the roads were! “Taxi?! Please don’t say us, please don’t say us” I thought with eyes shut…

Can all people heading for Schladming please make sure you take all your belongings as you’re transferring to the Taxi

Ahhh Shit!” My first thought…my second thought, as I was watching 6 people plus ourselves get off the coach with all theirs and our luggage, “how the hell are we going to fit into that?!” There was a people carrier type of car waiting for us, but for 8 people plus the driver with what must have been at least 2 pieces of large luggage each? Oh and I have to add that myself and Jon had 2 rather large snowboard bags…Suffice to say, the poor taxi driver battled very hard to push every piece of luggage in there and when he thought he’d squeezed every last bag in the car, he turned around to see our snowboarding bags which were still on the ground getting whiter.  This is when he disappeared out of earshot, (he didn’t particularly have to though, as we didn’t understand a word he was saying) to call the Taxi company, hopefully to send out another car, but I don’t think all his arm swirling and exasperation in his voice worked because he came back, got everyone out of the Taxi, all the bags out of the boot and began to start again with a little help from Jon and a couple of the other passengers, by doing a little magic manoeuvring with the back seats and clever distorting of the luggage.

We did all fit in the Taxi eventually, in fact quite unbelievably and we set off on another very snowy, scarily fast ride.  Myself and Jon were in the front seats with the very young driver and again….he drove so blooming fast! It was snowing! Hard! The roads were heavily covered! He was also playing with his phone, although I realised it was his SatNav he was trying to set up.  That’s when he said to me in broken English, (as I was sat next to him), “You have SatNav?” as his phone obviously wasn’t working.  He continued to say, “I new to job, don’t know way”  My expression must have been a picture, bearing in mind it was already midnight, (we should’ve arrived around 6pm), we were knackered, our snowboards were probably bent double in the back somewhere and we had only just survived landing in a snowstorm (okay, so there’s a little drama on my part there), lack of food and now being squeezed tightly in an inappropriate vehicle being driven at speed in the pitch black with heavy snow spiralling fast at the windscreen …I tried my phone, but it didn’t get reception, Jon’s thankfully did, so the driver gave us the various hotel names, which the passengers sat quietly behind us were eager to get to and we put them into Jon’s phone hoping it would work…It did and after getting to know the Taxi driver fairly well, directing him with regular arm movements as he didn’t understand our English speaking SatNav, dropping the other 3 couples and their luggage off, we saw the relief in his expression as he left us, (his last passengers) finally at our hotel and I must admit I almost got onto my knees in front of reception and kissed the ground! We’d arrived…Hotel Ferrienalm in Schladming – Phew

As it was just coming up to 1am, we’d missed our evening meal and reception was locked up, but there was a very nice, apologetic rep who met us there, gave us some instructions and key for our room and off we went to find our beds for the night and in fact for the next 7 days.  We didn’t particularly read the instructions properly, we just happily got into the very small lift in reception with our luggage including 2 large snowboarding bags, (have I mentioned those?) we looked at the numbers on the buttons in the lift to find our floor, but we couldn’t find the button which should’ve corresponded with our room number, so we piled out of the lift and studied the instructions again, our patience running out and realised we had to walk out of the hotels front door, (“is someone having a laugh?” I asked whilst looking round for a camera) turn right, walk along the front of the hotel, up some wooden (very slippery) stairs, (whilst still carrying the luggage and, you guessed it, the bloody snowboarding bags), then the room will be on your left down the lane.

It actually turned out to be a great little self catering studio, which we weren’t expecting at all and in the fridge was a very welcoming, complimentary plate of cold meats and cheeses.  We dropped the bags, collapsed on the chairs, ate and found our bed.  We didn’t say much at all except, “Tomorrow is another day :-)”

Well, we got there safely in the end in fact we are able to laugh about it now and Hotel Ferrienalm was great.  I’ll be introducing you to Schladming and the real reason why we were there in my next post, hope you’ll join us 🙂

Have you ever had any scary journeys to your holiday destinations?