A second chance at a winter wonderland.
Last week, despite going to school on Wednesday, I was quickly sent home sick and was unable to take part in the winter birthday festivities with the other teachers. They were going to Oberhof to go tobogganing together. The track is the best part of 3km long and specially designed for ‘rodeln‘ (it’s not often that the German word is both easier to say and spell than the English alternative! It was reluctantly that I turned down their repeated invitation and stumbled back home to bed.
Sometimes, you get a second chance at things though. It turned cold again this week and Ramona suggested that we go so yesterday, we did! I am not feeling totally back to my normal self yet but I’m no longer ill, just tired and I wasn’t going to pass up this opportunity a second time. I met Ramona at school and we headed (very fast down the autobahn) to Oberhof which is in the Thueringen Wald, about a 45 minute drive from Erfurt. To get there, you have to go through a 8km tunnel which goes through the hills. It’s amazing the change you find when you come out the other side. It’s like entering a winter wonderland.
Oberhof is the exit immediately after the tunnel, so we arrived quickly. It all seemed a bit quiet though and we were worried that it might be closed for some reason. Our fears were unfounded though and all was good to go . We rented toboggans and paid for bus tickets and got going! Last week, the snow was fresh and fluffy so they couldn’t go exceptionally fast. Yesterday though, the snow was crushed and compacted and made for a pretty terrifying experience. It was brilliant. The sledges required a certain knack (which I will admit I didn’t have) to be controlled and it got some getting used to. I spent most of the first run screaming loudly as I tried not to plummet to my death by toppling off the edge of the track.
By the second run though, I had developed a rather successful technique whereby I applied gentle pressure to the floor with my foot on whichever side I needed to move towards. This had the added bonus of slowing me down as I catapulted towards the bottom.
Second run down, this quickly perfected technique ran into some problems as Ramona decided I wasn’t going fast enough and so went down directly behind whilst crashing into me to make me go faster. It was hilarious, especially when she fell off . Don’t worry, I fell off too, but it was a gentle crash and I could unfortunately see it happening a long way off. This didn’t do much for my nerves but at least I was able to brace for impact.
All in all, it was an absolutely fantastic experience. This feeling was heightened by the fact that we didn’t actually end up having any tickets taken to go down, so we didn’t pay! It was a cheap trip and one I will never forget. It was great to get some fun and enjoyment out of this horrible cold weather and go against the British instinct in me which was desperate to batten down the hatches and never leave again until the temperature was at least 5 degrees. Out on the slopes, it was about -7 but we were moving and it didn’t feel cold. I was concentrating far too much on other things (like not breaking bones) to worry about that anyway! My bum however, was very quickly numb and I must have been sitting in a bad position because it’s pretty sore today! All worth it though and I would highly recommend a trip to Oberhof for Rodeln! Ramona tells me that my next winter experience must be skiing but I fear that I severely lack the coordination required to do that, especially having seen a certain man’s attempt yesterday! Very funny indeed .
The winter is becoming tiresome now. Spring seems to be inching ever closer, teasing us. I am desperate for it to get warmer but it is nice to have seen some of the merits of the cold. Snow would once have led me to do nothing and just live off whatever was in the house until it went away again. Now, I don’t not do anything because it’s cold. I would have run out of food a LONG time ago if that was still the case anyway! Oh Germany, how you’ve changed me!