10 Things I never knew about Winter

winter austria

Winter in Australia is… well… somewhat mild compared to Austria. And while there are some absolutely freezing days in Melbourne, especially when there’s a cracker of an icy wind blowing, it’s definitely not on the same scale. So here are 10 things I never knew I’d have to learn about what a real winter involves.

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Schneeschuwandern – the winter hiking alternative

Winter in Austria is cold. I think I’ve reiterated that time after time, and will probably continue to do so… because… well… it just is! I hate the cold – my body’s not made for it. But I do like exercise, I do like sun and I do like fresh air. And just because it’s snowy outside, doesn’t mean that physical activity has to stop.

Since hubby and I are not exactly dedicated to all that’s required to go skiing on a regular basis, we found a great alternative – Snow Shoe Walking.

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The moment I realised I’d become a ‘social skier’

I’ve always been an avid skier. In my younger years friends and I trekked to New Zealand multiple times to experience ‘real snow’, as well as undertaking yearly mandatory trips to nearby (ok frigging 5 hours away) mountains.

skiing new zealand

When I moved to Austria and realised I’d hooked up with the only Austrian who couldn’t be bothered going skiing anymore, he put aside his prejudices and organised a number of trips for me.

And that’s when I realised.

I’d become a social skier.

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The Death Pass – an excellence place for an Aussie to learn about snow driving

My job is conveniently located (despite quite a long drive) just off the autobahn out of Graz, which means I have an easy run every day with no traffic problems. The only problem is that it also requires me to drive over ‘The Pack’ which I have affectionately renamed: the Death Pass.

It's not surprising it's always snowing on the pack
It’s not surprising it’s always snowing on the pack

It is one of the higher parts of the Austrian autobahn, climbing up over a mountain range and being notorious for heavy snow and ice. With my minimal snow driving experience, the thought of driving the Death Pass in winter scared the crap out of me. I was sure I was going to be stranded overnight in my car as thick snow slowly built up around my car turning it into an icy death den… ok so I was being a little bit melodramatic.

So now that winter is finally over, here are my more realistic reflections on the Death Pass.

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Terror on the roads – my first snow driving experience

My first winter, I had exactly one.

In retrospect, it wasn’t that bad. Though at the time, pretty traumatic.

Ice on windscreen
First thing you have to do is scrape the ice off your windscreen

I scraped the car windows and drove out of the slippery, ice covered parking lot. So far, so good. The weather conditions weren’t bad, but I had a 45 minute drive on the autobahn… and as I found out, conditions can change a lot.

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The endless search for sun in winter – hiking & sledding

Living in a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains is very scenic, but it does have its downfalls. In winter we don’t get much wind (bonus), but that also means that we’re often shrouded in clouds, with no wind to blow them away (anti-bonus). But if you know that somewhere up there the sun is shining, all you have to do is jump in the car and drive up a small mountain until you pop out!

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See the blanket of clouds… I live under them 😦

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The ultimate Austrian winter sport – Skiing

Despite the fact I’m from Australia, I am an avid skier. So skiing was on my list of ‘must-dos’ for winter. Unfortunately, I seem to have shacked up with the only Austrian who ‘doesn’t really like skiing anymore’. An oversight on my part. However, he was still willing to take me, given he knew how much I loved it.

In Australia it's basically the same price to fly to NZ to ski... so that's what we did
In Australia it’s basically the same price to fly to NZ to ski… so that’s what we did

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