BEST DAY EVER!!! We left the Contiki group for a day today and ventured into big wide Europe on our own. After many hours of research we decided to head to the closest snow resort - Zau:[ber:]g - Semmering (and the Germans tell us English is a crazy language! What kind of a word is Zau:[ber:]g?). You have no idea how hard it is to navigate your way around a non-English speaking city. We left at 6.45 and caught a tram to Vienna. From here we found a lovely English speaking person who organised a train ticket for us, however, we couldn't read it and had no idea which train to catch! After a stranger told us that we had the right train, we couldn't work out which carriage to get on. There was one with food, one with large chairs (first class?), one with its lights out and perspex doors seperating the walkway, etc. Eventually we sat in a carriage that looked 'normal' but then worried about whether or not we were supposed to be in special seats. We couldn't relax until the ticket lady stamped our ticket and mumbled something in German. We don't think she asked us to move so I guess we were in the right place.
We made it to Semmering an hour and 15 minutes later (a beautiful drive through the white countryside), expecting to see some ski lifts and a mass of people lining up for them (as we were told to expect) but the place was deserted and there was no sign of a ski resort. We took a walk around the white village but couldn't read any signs or find any people to ask. After about 20 minutes of walking around aimlessly we found a town and a few hundred metres later we saw some words we could read - ski rental. Yes! We were in the right place!
It cost 50€ to hire boots and boards and I hired some goggles for 2€, but I'm not sure we ended up paying for them in the end. Bargain! Scott didn't need goggles because he bought some back in Switzerland with his Christmas money (thanks Deebs and Div). Our lift passes cost 36€ (about $44), a huge difference to the $105 they charge in Oz!
Now, I am not exaggerating when I say that I had the best snow day I have ever had. Bluebird skies, absolutely no lift lines, huge stashes of untouched powder, gondolas instead of lifts, little jumps and no people to run into! Some runs we'd go the whole way without seeing anyone else! The restaurants were also empty. Ordering lunch was funny because the only items on the menu we could read were spaghetti bolognaise and schnitzel.
We didn't stop long though as there was lots of fun to be had! No need to stress now though Diiid, because we are back safe in our hotel. We are about to top off this fantastic day with a swim in the hotel's luxury heated pool! I love holidays!