Heaven and Helles.



This weekend the gorgeous girls organised a fantastic two day trip to a sleepy Austrian village, with the help of Niklas. It was absolutely brilliant and a well-deserved weekend of R&R. We rented a chalet and managed to get a good deal because it was out of the ski-season. A celebration was called for as last week because Niklas “Finnished” his internship ahead of starting his final year at LMU. We knew whatever happened it was going to be a good weekend. And it certainly did not disappoint.

Hopping down to Hopfgarten.

Straight after work we met outside the office and divided into two groups. We took a load of essential supplies as well as warm winter clothes. Amongst the mandatory items were food, alcohol, biscuits and alcohol…to name but a few (not to mention some good quality Bavarian beer). Like a good British tourist, I was overdressed from the start and stood grinning at everyone in my clumpy snowboots. “Marcus vy are your vearing your Schnee-boots? Are you making a trip to zee Äntarctic, or samsing?”  I wasn’t too worried about enduring a bit of ridiculing, because I secretly knew that I’d be the one laughing in the end!

Ready for the weekend!

So we ventured off in Prince Charming’s Ford Fiesta and Inglorious Ingo’s Škoda Fabia to Hopfgarten im Brixental, a snoozy little alpine village not far from Kitzbühel. Looking out of the window, I began to understand the raw beauty of the Bavarian landscape, the evergreen pine trees and foothills of the mountains. After less than an hour on the Autobahn (Richtung Salzburg)  we were away and enjoyed a cheeky bit of racing and overtaking before quickly making our exit. After a pleasant stretch on the motorway we were soon accelerating up winding roads singing along to Robbie Villiams – Angels at full volume.

Chateau or Chalet?

After a remarkably short journey we were suddenly there. The chalet did not disappoint and we unpacked immediately. The plan was to find a restaurant in the village below. At first this proved tricky, but because Niklas’ family have a flat in one of the neighbouring villages, he was able to orientate himself and we eventually found a rather swanky restaurant called “zeitlos”. Having had more than enough beer for a lifetime in the past couple of months, I decided to become a sophisitaced red wine drinker. The meal was equisite and although paying seperately turned out to be a complete nightmare, the ambience and good conversation and great company more than made up for it.

All the interns: Thomas, Sisom, Niklas, Jean-Remy, Selina, myself, Ingo, Juliette, Lena and Anne-Charlotte.

After a leisurely pudding we went back to the chalet or Ferienwohnung (holiday house) for a few more drinks and  we drank the night away. We played Ludo. Twice. And me and Juliette lost both times, despite rolling a fair amount of sixes. Shortly after the second time of playing JR was so bored that he actually went to bed – who could blame him, to be fair.

The following morning I woke up last out of everyone and was still in the shower when everyone was ready. Thinking that no-one would have noticed my absence, I carried on singing and scrubbing away, much like I would with the Fabian Family in the Isle of Wight.  I opened the kitchen door and I saw all these civilised Europeans. I was like…what? They were all poised holding various cutting implements and I began to think that they had lured me to Austria because of my juicy thighs and that they in fact intended to eat me. (Who could blame them I would fetch a fair few steaks). But that wasn’t the point. No, instead they were waiting for me. Waiting for me. So I sat down and pretended that this was a normal experience for me and we began to eat.  The massive European breakfast was delicious, of course. Then it came to plan the rest of the day. Since the sky was just giving us an outline of the mountains due to the heavy fog and sleet, we decided to remain inside for the day. But at the same time we didn’t want to spend the entire day in the chalet itself. Niklas then suggested that instead of hiking (which the Brit and the Finn were up for) we should instead go swimming! The French and Germans couldn’t handle the poor weather, as a Brit I tried to explain that if we decided not to do anything when the weather was bad then we would never get anything done. This unfortunately fell on deaf ears.

Instead we spent the day in this luxurious Thermalbad which was sort of like a leisure centre similar to Latchmere (which has a wave machine by the way) but also had a salt bath where you could lie back and float, whilst listening to gentle music played from an underwater speaker system. Then I noticed the slides…Everyone was being really mature and pretending they didn’t want to go “rutschen“. As I was deciding whether or not it would be weird to go by myself, it occurred to me that Jean-Remy would be up for it! Being almost as immature as me he practically jumped at the opportunity to get some serious sliding in. After a little more relaxing in the various indoor and outdoor pools, there’s only so many times you can be excited by the concept of bubbles going on and off, sos we decided to retreat back into our log cabin. At this moment I began to notice the sheer cliff face and the trees as the fog cleared. What I saw was simple yet amazing. I could see the mountain freezing from the top down as a white mist engulfed its tip. Such a simple sight was very beautiful to witness.

We arrived back to the house and it was early evening so we decided to get the drinks in (obviously). And then it started snowing. This evening was to be effectively like the video of Wham! – Last Christmas. The girls had managed to procure two Raclette sets (yes “racleeeeeeeeeette” – joke for Granny) and we tucked into yet another feast. Having got battered inside on the Swedish equivalent of Bailey’s we were all ready for the snowball fight that then ensued. Yes, that’s right, unable to contain ourselves, the excitement had just got too much and we ventured out into fairly deep snow at two in the morning.

On Sunday we woke up maybe a bit later than usual. We woke up to the most amazing snowfall you could possibly imagine. Literally a blanket of whiteness engulfed the mountain. it had now been snowing for around 15 hours. The snow just made everyone feel great and what better way to get into the Christmas spirit than a bit of free white powder?

Sisom and Lena on the balcony.

Another view from the 318 balcony.

We are all missing Niklas at work now and it’s definitely not the same without him. We struggle on though and look forward to meeting up with him soon. Here are a few more photos of us lot from the weekend.

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So today is the 31st of October…and what does that mean? Hallowe’en! But what I find brilliant about Bavaria is that they will be introducing a Tanzverbot (literally a dancing ban) from midnight tonight onwards, meaning that bars and clubs will have to shut early. You can imagine an angry mad Bavarian King declaring “Zee act of dancing is currently forbidden!!” And since the Germans only really go out at around midnight…bars and clubs may as well not open at all. Religious holidays are taken very seriously and citizens have the right to call the police if you make noise during a Feiertag. And they often invoke that right. Allerheiligen or All Saint’s Day is a day of rest, relaxation but most importantly reflection. There are no amount of pumpkins or trick-or.treaters that can change that. I have to say I do admire the Bavarian ability to withstand American culture, perhaps us Brits could take a leaf out of their forest.

That was all for you own information – it bears no relation to my plans whatsoever because I won’t actually be in Bavaria for Hallowe’en. This evening I am travelling to a land far far away to surprise a very good friend of mine. If you are reading this blog…we are coming to surprise you tomorrow!


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