Once our late winter finally arrived, the mountains that outline our valley, transformed into an even more breathtaking view! Bavaria always seems to have so many things to do throughout the year. But experiencing winter in this part of Germany has been the first time I’ve truly enjoyed the entire winter season from start to finish! Taking advantage of all of the different things to do, we planned an afternoon to go sledding in the mountains with a couple of friends. When I think of going sledding, I envision a short to long hill, taking no longer than 30 seconds to sled down the entire run of a longer hill. I’m used to either walking up on my own, or taking a flat treadmill or rope, running along the path, pulling me up the hill. But sledding here is on a complete different level and extremely intense! We went to a ski resort called Winterrodelbahn Hocheck, located in a town close by called Oberaudof, to experience our first ever real toboggan run! Apparently, Oberaudorf has a long tradition holding national tobogganing championships – who knew that was even a thing?! We rented our old fashioned, wooden sleds and made our way to the top of the seriously intense 3 km toboggan run by taking the long, chair lift up the mountain!
This toboggan run was the only TÜV-tested winter run in Germany which was given a toboggan test pass rating of "very good" yet the run is not considered the property of the ski resort to avoid being liable for any major injuries! As we walked towards our first run, we noticed many “toboggan at your own risk” signs and also saw many people wearing helmets which none of us had! Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into! At first, we were blown away looking down at this long, windy path that we had to somehow manage turning our large wooden sleds around the 180 degree sharp corners! The first run down, if you weren’t hearing us scream, you would hear us dying laughing. We eventually were able to get the hang of it but also had many wipe outs along the way! It would be interesting to find out how many people actually get injured on that toboggan run because during the short time we were there, we witnessed a girl nail into a large wooden wall that sat in front of a sheet of ice! We also witnessed some crazy parent attempt to hold their baby as they went down this insane run! It was definitely an experience to say the least!
The day we decided to go sledding was the day the temperature substantially dropped for the first time! We lasted a couple of runs before needing to stop, due to us literally loose feeling throughout our bodies! Wade and I decided to make this the night we would head into Chiemsee and check out the pool that overlooked the lake. We had walked past this place multiple times and were intrigued to check it out since it was calmly lit in colorful LED accent lighting with a large outdoor hot tub and other various hot tubs and saunas within the building. It was going to be the perfect way to relax and warm up while recovering our sore muscles. We quickly threw on our bathing suits and practically ran to the outdoor hot tub. We dipped our feet... and it was lukewarm! We were so confused because we would always see steam coming out from the outdoor hot tub – or so we thought that’s what it was! We still enjoyed being outside, especially since it was such a romantic setting outside - but come on! How can they not understand how much better it would be having the hot tub hot?! We went inside to try the other hot tub but same thing – lukewarm! Wade and I quickly hopped from pool to pool to hopefully discover an actual hot tub and warm up but had to settle on relying getting warm in the steam room! When we bought our tickets, the woman at the reception asked if we wanted to use the sauna. We said yes with no hesitation and she asked if we knew how it all works. All she explained was how to access a locker which seems pretty straight forward for anyone. She left out explaining to us Canadians how their Saunas worked. After failing to find a hot tub and being done with the steam room, we decided to check out the Saunas which was in a separate section. After entering through the door, I quickly felt the need to cover up with a towel since the room was filled with men. I asked Wade, “Is this a men’s club or something?” almost turning around but relieved spotting a women sitting in the back of the room. I hoped we would find the “hot” tubs as we walked through what we thought was an odd set up of a bar area. We saw the saunas but also noticed many bathing suits hanging outside the doors. As I took my first look into one of the saunas, the first thing I saw was an old naked man laying down with his legs up for me to see everything perfectly clear – you can understand the visual! Wade and I didn’t have to say a word before we both turned around to exit the room. Little did we know this is a common thing in Europe: going into public saunas naked – no thank you! We both had a good laugh after leaving our first pool in Europe!
The highlight for me this winter would have to be Snowboarding in the Alps! It was something I have always said I wanted to do but never thought I would travel to Europe during the winter! It was something on my bucket list and was the perfect way to experience it! We went with 3 other couples and it was the first time Wade & I both were able to snowboard together! Our friend’s family from the team owns a chalet in a town called Brixen im Thale, located in the Alps. His chalet was along one of the main slops, so after we went about halfway down our first run, we all decided to first check his place out! It was absolutely gorgeous overlooking the valley, surrounded by the mountains! His stunning, log chalet was a place that would be incredible to visit anytime of the year as the view alone makes it so special. We all took some shots of homemade moonshine to loosen us all up with our rusty snowboarding and skiing abilities before heading back out. The Alps don’t have many easy runs as they seemed to be for mainly intermediate skiers as moguls almost appeared everywhere! Ski runs that were considered mid-level, seemed more like a black diamond to me, yet there were so many small children racing down the steep slopes whizzing by all of us with the mogul’s barley fazing them!
This was an experience I will never forget! Every hill and side of the mountain you snowboard or ski down has endless epic views of the Alps that will forever be embedded in my memory.