After Bavaria’s warmest Christmas on record, we finally have a decent dumping of snow. And a great thing to do with all this white stuff is to sledge on it. So this weekend we took to one of the local hills for some winter fun. Well, I say fun. That’s what sledging is right? NOT IN GERMANY. Turns out even sledging is taken deadly seriously in the country renowned for its deadly seriousness. In England we have the best fun ever sledging on hills the size of road humps only lightly dusted with snow because we are that desperate to sledge. But Bavarians are spoilt. Not only do they have big hills, they also have lots of snow (most years). They even have the German Alps with special sledging tracks to play with. However, for the Germans there is no use going sledging unless the conditions are absolutely perfect. And that means the right type of snow and a hill almost the size of a mountain. Yes that’s right. A few snowflakes definitely won’t do for this hard-to-please bunch!
As we arrived at the bottom of a perfectly snow-covered hill for our first sledge this weekend, my Bavarian boyfriend took one look and announced: “The snow isn’t the right consistency.” “But the hill is covered in snow!” I correctly observed. “Yes but it’s too powdery and there isn’t enough of it,” Markus replied. “Looks fine to me,” I quipped back, getting annoyed. “And besides this is just for fun -we’re not participating in the bloody Olympics!” But apparently the slope didn’t slope right either, so we “had” to move on. Three seemingly adequate hills later we finally found one suitable for sledging, with the right type of snowflakes and the correct amount of ice that had compacted in the required direction and at the correct temperature and at a 60 degree angle to the sun. With the number of people there it was clear everyone else had also spent their Saturday afternoon seeking out The Most Perfect Sledging Hill in Bavaria. Now there was only one other aspect to tackle before successfully completing our German sledging experience. SERIOUS CLOTHING.
In England we sledge in whatever we happen to be wearing that day. Then we deal with clothes soaked in freezing ice patches after. It’s part of the fun. But in Germany the words clothes and fun are never to be uttered in the same sentence. So here sledging calls for salopettes. Yes, those unflattering waterproof trousers most sane people only wear for skiing and snowboarding. “Can’t I just go in my leggings?” I pleaded with Markus as he changed into full on waterproofs in the back of our car. “You’ll get them all wet!” he exclaimed. “And everyone else is wearing them,” he correctly pointed out. Word of The Most Perfect Sledging Hill in Bavaria was clearly spreading. BMWs full of Germans decked out in serious ski wear kept pulling up. Some even had goggles on. We didn’t have time to waste. So I conceded defeat, put on the salopettes, and trudged up to the top of the hill, adjacent to a forest of tall trees.
Of course I didn’t just trudge up any part of the mound. Some clever clogs had marked out a track with twigs running up the right side of the hill, which everyone diligently stuck to. But admittedly it was my best sledging experience ever. The hill, snow, and that all-important compaction of the ice were 20 times better than what we have back in my home town in Essex. Plus I didn’t have a soggy wet bum afterwards! I may laugh at the Germans, but annoyingly there is always a method to their madness. Just don’t tell my mates back home about the salopettes.