Thursday, January 7, 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow (please).

Well, irony of ironies, despite the snow that almost prevented us getting to England, & despite the thickly iced Alps we flew over, & despite the fresh fall of snow in the UK this week closing schools, making tobogganing a temporary national sport, there was no snow in Macedonia. At All. The whole week. Zip. Nil. Nowt. Europe has been in the grip of snow except for a little pocket of warm weather 5000ft up in the Macedonian mountains

It rained instead. Difficult to ski when there’s no snow. So we didn't. Difficult to find things to do in a ski resort with no snow. We hadn't brought swimming costumes, sports clothes, nothing. I had one play to read for school, which I finished the 1st day.
We did find small patches of snow to have snowball fights & we walked, forded streams turned into mini raging torrents, visited a waterfall etc.

Turns out this was the first time in SIXTY years that there had been no snow in Mavrovo this Christmas/New Year week. Bad timing. Bad luck.

To add insult to injury, the night before we left, it snowed. And snowed. And snowed. From nothing, we went to 18cm of snow. The resort was transformed into a wonderland overnight. So we decided to stay & ski for half a day then travel home.

But despite the fact that the shops rented us ski gear, the lift operators were not going to let us on the main chair lift WITH skis. In case we skied up there on the snowy mountain. After half an hour they did let us up with skis (I think the ski rental boys had a ‘word’ with the lift operator boys & they came to an agreement.) But once up there, there were no drags or button lifts open so you could only walk up slopes, (hard work) or ski back down (on a black run) and then pay to go up again etc etc. I had skied it last year, but not really what I wanted to do on the first run of the holiday on an unpisted black with heavy fresh snow on it. My husband & son of course did. My son is already beginning to leave me behind, certainly in terms of ‘bottle’. So that was that. I walked up & skied down one slope & skied half way down before hopping back on the chair lift, before the scary bit started.

The only similarity with last year was that the journeys were equally ‘eventful’. On the way, our friends in the other vehicle had just had a roof rack made & fitted for this trip. This was its 1st rd test. It was stacked with food & bags. They were behind us so we didn’t get to see the entire roof rack lurch & lean to one side as the struts holding it buckled under the weight & wind resistance.

Very fortuitously they swerved off the rd right into a little garage, where the guys there obligingly sawed up an old metal window frame & braced the legs with a support. This is Albania in microcosm. The initial work was poor quality & shoddy but the ‘fix it’ was real ‘make do & mend’ resourcefulness. And worked very well.

On the way back, we were battling the snow, icy roads & treacherous conditions we hadn’t had all week. Another example of this Albanian resourcefulness; we saw a normal 2 wheel drive Albanian car going up the very icy pass, with a guy lying on the bonnet of the car. We gathered this was to weigh down the front & stop it skidding. Dangerous but ingenious…. The Albanians coming into Macedonia were driving in their usual mad dash way. We don’t have enough snow in Albania for anyone to know how to drive in those conditions. (Bit like Britain in that regard I guess. Only in the UK people slow down to a crawl. In Albania they speed up)

We saw accidents, cars skidding into each other, 2 crashes; we skidded ourselves right at the start, almost into 2 parked cars at one point. It was quite hairy until we went into 4WD then it was fine. Our fellow drivers in their Land Drover (of wobbly roof rack fame) hadn’t managed to get the right 4WD because the manual was in German. We didn’t know they were having problems & they clearly had forgotten I speak German… though whether, once translated into English I would have any clearer idea of what to do, I'm not entirely sure...So they had an anxious drive home. The scenery though was stunning.

So that was the ski holiday that wasn’t.


nappy valley girl said...

Oh that is really bad luck. Hope you get an opportunity to ski later in the winter?

I remember my second time skiing...we went for two weeks over Christmas to France with the Doctor's parents and the snow was absolutely crap until the last day when it snowed heavily. Infuriating.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Apparently there isn't very much snow on the Bosnian mountains either... last year there was stacks this time of year. Such a shame though, will you try again later in the year?

BTW - I think we might be living weirdly parallel lives. Not only are we currently in the Balkans and come from the same city, but now I see that we have the same IoW holidays! If we bump into each other in real life I shall insist on calling you Paradise.

Iota said...

Vorsprung durch technic.

See, I'd have been very useful if I'd been there. (Though I'd have drawn the line at lying on the bonnet of a car in sub zero temperatures.)

Anonymous said...

er, sorry to be pedantic but it's Land Rover, not Land Drover...! that's just how we say it... and very sorry the snow was a no show... Cityfriend..

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

NVG, we hope we might be able to go in Feb halfterm but w eonly get 2days+ the w/e.
Brit, yes it's weirdly parallel, I'll have to think of other obscure things that might also run parallel. By all means call me Paradise, it's my bloggy name/alter ego so I wd probably look round and answer if I heard it yelled across Ryde beach.
Iota, having told me you are now considered an "Expert in Snow Driving" by 'he who shall remain nameless', even though I don't think he reads my blog.... what I want to know is, where were you when we needed you?? & plse note, anon's comment. I fear you're losing yr touch, it's usually you who corrects my blips & typos, of which there are always many.
Anon- I think I know who you are, commenting on a car kind of gives you away, even tho it wasn't a Ferrari... And yikes, can't believe it, I KNEW that, no really OF COURSE I did. I mean it was written across the back of their car in front of me all the way home! Land Rover, LAnd Rover. Write out 100 times....

Anonymous said...

I think you must be very disappointed for raining after purchasing the ski travel packages. I am sure it will be snowing after some time there.

Iota said...

I've tagged you on my blog.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

A meme for you over at mine. x