Kerry's first Ski-trip (The Ardennes, Belgium).
Skiing in the Ardennes. More accurately put : falling not so gracefully, thinking 'please god don't let me die now'. So the snow had hit the Ardennes in a big way and ultimately, Corneel and me decided to hit the road an make our mark. Ovifat, in the south of Belgium was where all the fuss was happening. Ok so it was a big deal, there almost a meter thick layer of the white stuff. People were excited. REALLY excited.
If it wasn't for the snow blocking your vision it was people and their cars queuing to be a part of it. After a couple of hours driving, we found our home for the night (Auberge de Jeunesse de Malmedy), nothing special, but still a cute hostel good enough for the trip, before we contemplated Skiing.
Now i won't lie - the first time i looked down that slope i thought - 'how am i going to survive that?' People hurtling down at ridiculous speeds. Oh boy. Sweat and shear panic all over my face. Thank god for Corneel and his confidence because there was no way i was budging.. I almost completed going down on my bum (pre falling and knowing i am going to spend most of my time on it anyway) Corneel on the other hand - hurtling himself down (definitely 100mph) oblivious to the world, comfortably flying down in repetition. Me - no chance. But... i give it it's due.. After Corneel held me the 1st time ( he must have been so embarrassed! ) by the 2nd i felt 'Ok' to attempt it slowly... 3rd time - I'm going for it. Ok so a few people knocked into, knee smashed at obscure angles - but i'm thinking - i have got this in the bag.
Couple of hours later i cant walk, i change my mind.. I don't have this at all and i am desperate for warm clothes and to never see snow again...
Corneel loving it but now realizing maybe 6 solid hours of skiing - for a novice, is quite enough. Few photo shots & a couple of beers later we hit the hostel to rest. Oh boy, bed never felt so good. The skiing was a success - no broken bones - meaning, we could head out and do so more exploring being the outdoorsy people we are. Or so we thought, in between battling bruised and sore muscles (because 6 hours of skiing really takes it out on you!) - the car decide to not start (story of our lives!) Luckily a guest at the hostel saw our desperate plea for help, and resolved it pretty sharp, so we packed up and got on our way. Next stop: High Fens National Park. Not too far from the hostel, we could enjoy a lovely snowy scenic drive, where we reached (what i am guessing is..) 100-150sq.-km conservation area bordering Germany close to lac d'Eupen. Which might i add, was absolutely breath taking. The whole of the reservoir was frozen over and it made this sound, which can only be described as a deep whale bellowing from within. Amazing. Now we were told that its beech forests are home to wildcats, red deer, eagle owls and other wildlife (but the most exciting thing we saw was maybe a half frozen fish jump out of the water desperately trying not to freeze its but off.. hmmm) Who knows, pretty exciting thought to think we were walking in snow white jungle and wild scary animals are close by. So anyway, we meandered through wilderness trails and cycling paths that ran past rivers and valleys filled with mass white blankets of snow.
Again no injuries (winner) Couple of amazing photo shots, snow ball fighting (who doesn't throw balls when it snows huh) and falling on arses later; we decided to leave this lovely region and make our way home. On route we stopped off at a place called Aachen. Aachen is a spa city near Germany’s borders with Belgium and the Netherlands. We have been here before and had quite a cool stay. The place seemed to be bustling with life because there was always something going on in the city. No exception this time. Although interested a bit of the history -it has a Cathedral that was founded around 800 A.D. and a Gothic chancel was added later. Its Domschatzkammer (treasury) has medieval artifacts including the shrine of Charlemagne, who was buried here in 814 A.D. Other than that, naively we didn't know to much about the place other than we liked the feel of it. The hostel we stayed in... Where to begin. It was a converted old police station, so as you can imagine it was big, old, very cold and in desperate need of some TLC. The guy who greeted us at the door (which we hope was the receptionist) could do with the same. A kind of slim but scarier santa look a like (you know the type) who was adamant in telling us stories about his life and the war. Maybe because being in the room with an English and a Belgium didn't happen very often and he felt the need to air his awkwardness; to say the least the whole set up was strange. Eat, drink, sleep - LEAVE.