St Anton (2)
But I was only on Day 4 when I had a pretty bad fall, and after insisting that I'd be ok, I had to give in and see a doctor. That was complicated. He had no English and I had no German. But I mimed what had happened, and showed him and his nurse where I was hurting. (My ribs.) They took an X-ray, and fitted me up with a kind of corset affair, which held me in very tight, all around my middle. The doc said no more skiing. But I wasn't about to waste my money and I was back out again the next morning. They gave me the X-ray to take home and I still have it upstairs somewhere. It clearly shows a safety pin that I didn't know I was 'wearing'.
The town was full of young people and the craic was mighty in the evenings. I had my guitar with me and, having ditched two Germans (who seemed to be interested in literally nothing only getting us into bed) we hooked up with a couple of Czechoslovakian lads who also had a guitar with them. I have lots of snaps of crowds of us out on the street, in the snow, singing, and in one I'm wearing a French Foreign Legion Hat which someone had plonked on my head. (My friend suggested that the corset had given me a somewhat military bearing.)
The Czechoslovakians had no English, but they did have German, and we made innovative use of the English-German-English dictionary. They took us up in a cable car to the top of the nearest peak (and I do mean 'peak') where amazingly, there was warm sunshine, a bar, and deck chairs out on the heavily packed snow. We spent the afternoon there with the two guitars and sang every folk song we knew, and some we didn't. It emerged that the guys had either left or been thrown out of Czechoslovakia after Dubček was expelled from the Communist party, and that they couldn't go home. So they were working in Germany. They were only young, like us, and I found the idea that they couldn't go home terribly sad.
We left them on our final night about 2am, and they promised they'd come and say goodbye in the morning -- although our coach was due to leave at 6.30am. We really didn't expect them. But watching from our balcony at 6.15am we spotted them trundling up the pathway, ankle deep in snow. It was a warm and lovely ending to a great holiday.
PS A year or so later, we decided to try skiing in Aviemore, in Scotland. And found ourselves sharing the training slope with a bunch of British SAS men and their very voluble CO. More about that later, perhaps. It's not often you get to laugh at the SAS.