Winter hols: The Schwarzwald

1. Saturday: Travel to Hinterzarten

Up at 5 am. Leave 5:30 am. Airport at 6:10 for  a 7:40 am flight. But its snowing in Germany. And they are de-icing at our airport too. The flight is delayed. And again and again. Three hours of waiting [1]. Eventually we arrive at Hahn [2]. Pick up our little rental car. Unpack ski bag and cram everything in (jigsaw!). Then kids get to sleep for two hours as we drive the three and a half hours to Hinterzarten. Make it there after Oma and Opa get there via train. Its too late to organise anything other than dinner. Put D and the kids to bed.

2. Sunday: Skiing

Small admission: I have been quietly prepping (or more honestly, carefully subliminally reprograming) A&R to be into skiing for some days. They are now desperate. Which is just as well; it takes absolutely hours to organise their lessons and ski equipment. Eventually their first lessons are booked for 1:30 pm.

After all the organising we have time to build some snowmen. And for D to go pick up Opa and Oma. And then for me to feed A&R an inordinate amount of sausage, pasta, and fries for lunch. Perfect preparation : -). Insulation! Energy!

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Technically the ski class wont take under 4s. But whilst Alfred may only be 3.5 – he is quite fit. And way more importantly, he is more than capable in the tenacity department: probably more so that any other child (4 to 7) in any of his subsequent classes. He is allowed in.

D & I watch their class for a few minutes. The teachers are great. And then we head off for an hour and a half of Nordic skiing. The Schwarzwald is wonderful for this. Many many routes with beautiful views and gorgeous woods.

The closest ski loipe is a black one – I am rather wobbly on those tiny flimsy loose heel skis for the first 15 minutes. But it’s a nice route and soon enough we both competently enough skiing down the first steep sections and slogging up the many little hills. Nordic skiing fantastic on many levels – its full body exercise – cause of the pole use. But the lovely rhythm is perhaps one the main reasons its feels such a nice movement.

Back to see the last 20 min of R&As class. R can now balance well enough to ski down a short (15 m long) slope on his own. And both A&R have been climbing again and again and again from the bottom to the top on their own. At the end both seem elated. And both are asking to do more.

On arrival back at the apartments, A pleads to do more skiing, despite hardly being able to stand up because he is so knackered. I take him out for 20 min – but persuade him onto the sledge. We have a good laugh. Dinner. Bath. Bed.

3. Monday: Feldberg Village

Hinterzarten ski area where R&A had their lessons yesterday is closed during the week. So we take the kids and Opa and Oma to the higher Feldberg area. A 15-20 min drive from Hinterzarten. Very busy ski classes. Feels a little chaotic compared with the previous quiet area in Hinterzarten. But both kids seem as keen as yesterday to learn.

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I am proud of them both for their sticking power. Other children may whine, cry, or sit down and refuse to try. But my children (or my reprogramming?) are (currently?) surprisingly effective. Even Oma cant stop going on about how impressed she is with them in their classes.

After class and lunch – we decide we will walk/sledge to Todtnauberg or Wilhelmer Hutte 250-300 m higher. In practice this means that I and D pull R&A on sledges 3 km up the hill. Then I pull both for the last 1.5 km – with them both shouting, em, useful encouragement.  I was a bit worried about not getting any exercise today. Good to have that worry laid to rest. (Faster Mama – Run – RUN!). Apricot strudel and plenty of apfelschorle at St Wilhelmer Hutte.

It is now 4 pm. We decide to sledge down via the quickest route – it’s a hair-raising 5-10 minute fast sledge down about 400 m (2-3 km?). Alfred and I are on the faster sledge. Then R&A&I spend another 45 min building snowmen and playing with the sledges whilst D trots the 1.5 km back up the road to pick up the car for us. Drive back to Hinterzarten apartments. Dinner. Games. Bed.

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4. Tuesday: Titisee and Night Skiing

Another morning lesson at Feldberg Village starting at 10 am. D and I head drive up to Feldberg Hof, aiming to ski (Nordic) up to the Todtnauberg or Stubenwasser Hutte for Studel. Sunshine. Gorgeous conditions. Make it most of the way to Stubenwasser – but given we are due to have lunch with the kids and Opa and Oma – turn round and come back to Todtnauberg Hutte for 11-45.

Opa and Oma decide to head back to Hinterzarten by bus and train. We take the kids to the Titisee Baden [3].The water slides are outstanding, the wave pool okay, and the bath pool just about warm enough to keep me happy.  (Though +2 degrees more would have been better.) A fun couple of hours. Back for 5-30 ish in Hinterzarten. D & I decide we’ll do a bit of night Nordic skiing. Last day. Last chance for a while.

Out onto the black loipes which are now icing over in the twilight. Slog up 250 m and a few kms for 40 min. I am then quite worried about skiing back down in the pitch dark. But our head torches are good. And I have now spend long enough on these skis that I am relatively confident, even on these rather roughened and now icy trails. And just maybe I might ski difficult sections better in the dark. Its a bit like being blinkered. A reduction of vision to the well lit 20 m probably reduces anxiety.

5. Last day.

Wake up. Pack and take back the Nordic equipment whilst the kids have breakfast with Opa and Oma. Last ski lessons for the kids. Probably as well. Alfred is unflagging. Robert’s resolve to learn requires a little reinforcement at day four, but he is not difficult to convince.

But both can now snowplough – Alfred can ski backwards (possibly intentionally?). And both can make turns. Sort of.

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D&I take our ski touring equipment up to Feldberg Hof – and leave the car there. Skin up and then ski down to take pics of R&A (and a chance finally for me to have my first holiday beer) before their lesson ends. After R&As last lesson ends we have lunch. Then get a 50 pt lift card- enough to take them up the longest lifts three time (about 30 EUR). D&I have our ski touring skis – which are okay enough for this sort of thing. Then we ski down three long runs with the kids. Alfred loves it. Its bloody hard on my back to ski in this position (Down Dog position skiing?) for an hour – a laugh though.

All are knackered by 2-30 pm. We head back together in the car to give back the kids skis and to pick up the rest of the stuff that had been left in the appartment boot room.

Drive to Stuttgart airport. Loads of traffic. 1 hour delay. But we have left enough time. Airport on time. Staff don’t like our hand luggage bags – Euro/Germanwings are stricter than Ryanair. I end up in my ski boots again to attempt to placate them.

On landing at Stansted – then I have to carry at 8-00 till 9-00 pm (10-00 pm German time) four (heavy!) hand luggage bags through 1 hour long (1 km?) passport queue in ski boots. D is carrying A who is nearly asleep. It’s a hard end to the trip for all. Why cant airports do better for wee kids? There are several children (not mine) in tears or outright howling – through tiredness – and being made to queue and walk so far at this time at night. When we get to the passport control there are just three attendants. I tell them that this is not okay for small children. (As probably does every single other person in the queue.) Home by 10 UK time. Could have been a better end. But our weather and trip (air travel aside) worked out well.

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At the top.

Footnotes:

[1] The kids are not bad at the waiting. Especially considering the miles that they have to walk and then the waiting in small overcrowded gate areas. D is a bit less good. But he has had flu for 3 weeks now – and is still out of sorts.img_20170214_170323432

[2]  Hahn was chosen because it was 110 GBP for all flights and luggage versus 350 GBP for a slightly closer airport.

[3] I am quite amused by the Titsee logo. Woman with hands mostly covering her breasts. But well, just possibly I may be relatively easily amused :-).

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