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Serlesbahnen Mieders, Waldrasterweg 1, Mieders, Stubaital, Tirol, www.serlesbahnen.com, +43 (0) 5225 62 7760.
Karnety dzienne: od €17,50 do €30 (dorośli); od €8,80 do €15 (dzieci); dzieci do 10 lat gratis; wjazd gondolką na wędrówkę lub z saneczkami: €8,70 (dorośli); €4,40 (dzieci).
Today is a day without skis. Instead, we have a hike along a mountain trail to a distant monastery and a downhill track for the sleds slithering down the mountainside.
The deep Stubai Valley begins under the huge three-thousand Schaufelspitze mountain and stretches several dozen kilometers to the suburbs of Innsbruck. One of the last towns before the capital of Tyrol is Mieders. We turn there and after a few minutes we drive up to the lower station of the Serlesbahn. We quickly borrow two pairs of sledges and jump into the gondola, to the top station which is 1566 meters above sea level. In the Tatra Mountains, we would be somewhere in Hala Gąsienicowa, already over the upper border of the forest. But here, more to the south, gentle hills are still covered with fir-spruce forest.
A 6.5 km long toboggan run starts right at the cable car station. We will take it later. And for now, we are going along the ridge of the hill for a two-kilometer walk to the XV-century monastery of Maria Waldrast.
The history of this sanctuary reminds Polish holy place, Święta Lipka. Just like on the border of Warmia, the local boy saw the image of the Mother of the Savior in the branches of the tree. And a church was erected there, with the statue famous for mercy in it.
We are walking slowly down a narrow path trodden in deep snow. We pass skiers on ski-tours on the way. Ski-tours have over a hundred years of tradition. Famous Polish artists from the beginning of XX century, Mariusz Zaruski and Mieczysław Karłowicz – pioneers of skiing in the Tatras – took winter walks trips on similar equipment.
We look around with interest on the right and left. A high forest rustles around us. Here and there, the meadows covered with a thick layer of snow glistening white. And when we look up, we will see rock walls of two-and-a-half thousand meters. On the beautiful route, passing travelers greet us with their cheerful: Grüß Gott! Chruczek is delighted to walk among the resinous forests, sun and snow. He loves his sledges, which he comfortably rides, pretending to be Santa Claus.
We are returning to the upper station of the gondola. Willi is hungry, so we sit down in the regional restaurant “Koppeneck”. It is quite crowded, but somehow we find a free table, to which after a minute a nice guy sits next to us with his wife and two small children.
He barely sat down, and the head of the restaurant arrives to greet him. And of course, accept the order.
Thanks to this, we will also order Tyrolean Spätzle with cheese and homemade broth for the baby.
Our neighbor is greeted all the time, everyone comes up to wish him Frohe Weihnachten, which means Merry Christmas. After a few minutes, he also gets ordered food.
We are not so lucky. We will be sitting for almost an hour with a dry mouth. Fortunately, the neighbor catches up the hungry look of Willi and takes a few french fries from his daughter’s plate, and hands them to our child. Then he turns to the crowd in the ski-Tyrolean costumes queued around him, and with the smile of a film star, he receives wishes and leads casual small talks. At last he looks at us and shakes his head in disbelief. He snaps his fingers and the waiter immediately appears at our table. He gets a short reprimand, and after a minute on our table, there are not only Spätzle and broth but also glasses of white wine and crunchy Apfelstrudel – as an apology for long waits.
We thank for intervening and exchange business cards.
– Oh, well … journalists – he nods.
– Well, yes … Mr. Mayor – we shake our heads in disbelief. – We are lucky.
Mayor of Mieders, before we return to the hotel, will find us on Facebook and send a nice letter wishing us a pleasant stay in his town.
As you can see, there are also cool politicians … – with this reflection, we get on the sledge and from the restaurant “Koppeneck” start the downhill ride on the 6.5 km long toboggan run.
There is a beautiful sun, the mountains around us are white with snow and black raw granites. I try to remember when I last sledged down. Maybe when I was 7-8 years old and at the school, on the P.E. lesson, they joined class A with B and C and ran out of the ski from the school magazine? We went to Lipki hill with a teacher, Mrs. Cwiklinska, who, apparently in primary school in Wilcznik, still taught my mother in the ’50s. From school to the hill, which for the majority of Zakopane inhabitants was the first place for winter sports, we had five minutes. All you had to do was go through Kasprusie Street, at the height of the Karol Szymanowski Museum in the Villa “Atma”, where my father worked.
I always preferred skis, but it was easier to go uphill with sledges (in Lipki there was no lift yet). And then we went down, usually “herring style”, means lying on the stomach, head down. Only I can’t remember how to stop them?
More and more frantically I try to dig out memories of this one, the most important information at the moment. And my sledge on the alpine slope is getting faster and faster. I sit straight, with my legs stretched forward and desperately try to break with my heels, but although I stir up plumes of snow, on a slippery track I go faster and faster. If it only was a track … On one side I have a wall of forest, and on the other – a steep cliff. The path, three meters wide, meanders quite sharp turns at the edge of the hill. With unbelievable speed, I pass Magda with Willi and squinting at the sunshine and the ice crumbs, which gushes from under my feet, I look for some kind of patch in the forest wall. There it is! I move the balance to the right and the sledge twists and they drive into the fresh fluff with impetus. I’m going on, almost no slowing down, banging painfully on pieces of ice, finally land in the snowdrift.
My hip hurts me so that I can hardly breathe. I do not move, trying to calm my heart rate. I have a great view of people who pass by with a laugh. Loose five-year-olds are brisk, without any problems controlling sledges, just like their parents. After a moment, Magda and Willi pass by me. They are relaxed and singing a song. What’s wrong with me?
With a blush of shame, I am getting together and, slightly limping, I find a sled in the snow, and then I return to the route.
Six and a half kilometers is a monstrously long toboggan run. I must admit that the views along the way are beautiful. But stress levels take away all the driving pleasure. All the time I swipe my feet in the snow, and when the speed of the toboggan starts to get out of control, I run over to the side of the road, or I am looking for a path leading upwards, in order to slow down the speed.
The most important thing is that Willi is delighted. How fortunate that he went with Magda and not with me! We pass by several times along the route and I look with envy at how they control the sleds without any problems.
Finally, I see the end of the route! At the bottom station of the cable car, a narrow gutter is closed by a metal fence. And two tall hummocks in front of him. On the first one, there is a large banner with the word: Langsam!, so that you can see from a distance that you have to slow down.
Easy to say. But how does it slow down when the sleds do not have brakes?
Everyone is doing well. They brake against the hummock, they get up and loosely, pulling the sleds with them and they go to the gondola again.
But I can not slow down! The end of the route is very slippery, and sleds instead of slower, move faster and faster. However, I have a choice. I can stick to a metal railing, or enter the hummock, straight into a sheet of material with the inscription: Langsam!. In a fraction of a second I make a decision and in front of dozens of onlookers, I make a wild jump, breaking in-flight the ghostly yellow banner and falling from the sledge in the snowdrift.
People burst out laughing and mercilessly comment on my performance in Russian. “What did I learn Russian for!?” And now I do not even have time to send them a riposte, because I wonder where the nearest hospital is, to put together my broken bones.
– Are you coming, or will you lie like this? – asks my loving wife.
I mean, I’m sure she asks, “Darling, are you all right? Did nothing happen to you? ” – but after the accident, I can hear voices in my head.
– I’m alright – I mumble and peel off from the snowdrift.
– What do you look like … – says Magda.
Well, that’s not my biggest problem now.
Magda and Willi want to go again, but they look at my wet clothes and sore face and agree to return to the hotel. Thank God, there, for poor skiers and tobogganers, as every evening, there is a hot sauna, a steam bath and soothing bubbles in the jacuzzi…
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