Photos from Tasmania

The Roadkill Capital of the World

One of my least loved things about this trip of Tasmania is the amount of roadkill we’ve seen. The roadsides have been absolutely littered with the struck (and in some cases scavenged) corpses of wallabies, bandicoots, possums and a few rabbits. We noticed it the first day we got here and every morning in particular there have been constant reminders of how close wildlife lives to human habitation here – and how often it’s killed for the misfortune.

Most of the wildlife we’ve seen this trip has been of the dead variety. This is probably because we haven’t been doing much driving at dusk and at night. When we returned from the Kermandie Hotel in Geeveston after dinner, we did see a living animal on the road. It was either a bandicoot or a potaroo. Glen was driving and doing so slowly enough to spot it and give it time to hop off the road. While it survived an encounter with us, I wonder how much longer it would survive if it likes to hang out on roads.

While each drive has been distressing, on Easter Monday I realised I had an opportunity to get some photos that may come in handy for work. So, after spotting a dead wallaby, I pulled over and got out to take photos. Glen anxiously stood on the side of the road, keeping a watch for cars (the drivers here are pretty shit and don’t stay in their lanes…much like most Australian drivers), while I took photos of the deceased. I won’t know if they’re any good until I get home but I’m hoping there’s something useful that can help encourage people to slow down and watch for wildlife on the roads.

I also took the opportunity to pick and eat some wild blackberries that were growing on the side of the road.

Bruny Island

We drove to Kettering and then waited for the ferry to take us across to Bruny Island. The ride took 15 minutes and we arrived in good time, getting onto the island at 11:30am. We drove north to the lookout point, which wasn’t much to look at, and then headed south through the island.

Our first important stop was to get some oysters. Bruny Island is famous for its oysters and I’d been seeing oysters on the menu for days but had abstained from ordering. Today was the day. Glen hates them so I got a plate of six to myself. The disappeared down my gullet pretty quickly. They were tasty. I didn’t get food poisoning. We moved on.

Next was the Bruny Island Cheese Company for a cheese platter and a ploughman’s lunch, sitting outside and playing Exploding Kittens. The cheeses were all very “subtle” (which is to say there was barely any flavour at all). We ate them. They weren’t our favourite but it was a nice spot to stop for lunch.

We then drove to the isthmus, walked up the hill to the lookout point to for 360° views, and then down to the beach in the vain hope of seeing Little Penguins in the rookery. It was the middle of the day; the penguins were out at sea, eating. They’d return at night but we wouldn’t be there to see them.

With plenty of time to spare, we drove to the very southern tip of Bruny Island and checked out the lighthouse and the views. Along the way was more beautiful scenery than you could poke a sharp stick at. Mabel Bay was particularly stunning. It’s a shame the water is a little on the cold side.

Once at the lighthouse we went for a walk along the rocks. I saw a spotted lizard disappear. We left and drove back north. Again there are plenty of walks on Bruny Island, as there are on the mainland, but not much time to do them. This time around.

The Search for White Wallabies

It rained on our drive to Adventure Bay but stopped once we arrived at our accommodation. 43 Degrees is eco-based accommodation. We’re staying at the waterfront units at the southern end of Adventure Bay; there are two others at the northern end.

They’re Nissan hut style buildings, tastefully decorated with a kitchenette, two rooms, bathroom and a living area. There’s a deck outside overlooking the bay (which is where I’m typing this). It’s luxurious without being pretentious and is multiple steps up from where we were staying the night before.

We unloaded the car. I went for a walk down to the beach and put my feet in the clear and chilly water. There were lots of conical shells washing up on the shore. After I got back, the owner of the property arrived and welcomed me and talked to the couple who are staying next door. They asked about the white wallabies that live on the island and where to see them; I benefitted from their enquiries. Once they’d all gone, I grabbed Glen and we drove up the road to one of two locations where we could see these white wallabies.

We saw regular brown wallabies first, which suited me just fine. The couple from next door showed up. They didn’t stay long. With no white wallabies readily available they weren’t willing to wait and heading off to the other location (they saw them in the end). I looked around and saw a white mound in the distance. A white wallaby!

It was down towards another accommodation which said, at the entrance to the driveway, “guests only”. I defied them and walked down the driveway…but didn’t get too close to the wallaby (who was hanging out with a regular one) for fear that someone would come out and tell me to bugger off. I don’t know why I worry so much. I should have just gone closer.

Anyway, I saw it clear enough through my camera lens and then found another near a fence. Meanwhile, truckloads of regular wallabies are bounding by, no doubt wondering why these freaks are getting all the attention. I wondered why there’d be so many white wallabies around, considering it’s a genetic defect, but with few, if any, predators on the island, they’ve probably been breeding quite happily. I wonder if they’re easier to see on the road; they’re quite bright.

We’d stopped at the general store on the way in and discovered there is only one place to eat dinner on the whole island and that’s back the way we’d come. As there were cooking facilities at 43 Degrees, we bought some chicken and vegetables and other supplies and Glen cooked a barbecue. It did nicely.

After dinner I walked down to the jetty where a bunch of people were fishing. The sun was setting. The light was amazing. It was oh so beautiful. The fishers were pulling squid out of the bay, all of which were being scooped up and taken home for cooking. They inked a lot. I felt sorry for them.

We’re now settled in for the night. Wallabies are bounding out the back of the property. The TV is on. It’s getting dark. It’s a perfect night for our final evening in Tasmania.

Hastings Caves and Cockle Creek, Tasmania

Easter Sunday we woke at 8, giving us enough time to have breakfast at the B&B at 8:30. We stuffed ourselves with a cooked breakfast of poached eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast. There was also a selection of stewed fruits (rhubarb, berries, nectarines), which I couldn’t help but have two helpings of.

We ate breakfast while ignoring the other two couples in the room, who also ignored us. Glen absolutely hates having to socialise in these sorts of situations so if it weren’t for the “and Breakfast” bit, I’d probably be strongly discouraged from booking a B&B at all.

After breakfast we packed and then walked down to the creek for another attempt at seeing the local platypus. Again, nothing. This isn’t really surprising considering it was early and if I were a platypus, I’d still be in bed somewhere.

We left Geeveston to continue our adventures south. Having seen part of Mt Hartz the day before we skipped it and travelled to Hastings Caves. Karen, our host at Cambridge House, suggested we take the scenic route around Police Point on our way to the caves and I’m glad we did. It hugged the coast, providing spectacular views of the bay with fields and forests too.

After a while we headed in land. Next time we plan a trip to somewhere that’s got a nature element, I think I’ll just book a big car, a 4WD perhaps, because our drive around southern Tasmania has involved a lot of gravel roads.

Our little hire car has survived them but not without going super slow (a real trial for me who likes to get wherever we’re going asap) or being shaken to bits (I think Glen got quite car sick at one point). We took roads that seem to be frequently travelled but are nevertheless unsealed and arrived at Hastings Caves in time for the 11:15am tour.

Hastings Caves

Being Sunday and Easter there were a lot of people there so they put on three tours at 11:15, spacing them out enough so we didn’t fraternise with the group ahead or behind. Our group of 26/27 descended into the caves, led by our guide. We went down steps and stopped at various convenient locations to look at stalactites, stalagmites, columns and other formations. We also got to touch the insides of one of the columns.

Despite being on holiday, and therefore not required to think of work, I can’t help but do so, particularly when it relates to guided tours and presentations. While we were given some interesting facts, there was nothing to hold them all together and no overarching message that emerged at the end of it.

I wanted to ask, “Why should I care about these caves?” or “What are you trying to tell me that you think I need to know?” I think if there had been something to tie it all together, something with a great hook as well and a message that TasPaWS wanted us to know about the caves, then it would have taken it from a good tour to a great one. I suppose it’s just front of mind for me at work right now that I couldn’t just enjoy what was presented.

The most interesting thing I remember is something we didn’t even see: cave spiders. Our guide told us about them right at the end of the tour, saying the females are 18cm in diameter (males much smaller) and they build horizontal webs to catch insects that fall from the cave ceiling. Wow! What a fact! But because it was at the end and almost a throw-away line, Glen thought it was made up. I wondered why that should be the last piece of information to handover, especially as it’s about the only thing I remember. Anyway, enough about work-related topics.

After the caves we went to check out the hot springs, where you can swim in a 28°C heated outdoor pool that is filled from the hot springs in the area. It looks like a regular garden swimming pool so it wasn’t really something we felt we had to do. We didn’t swim, instead heading off on the walk to find the source of the pool and to look for platypus. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any platypus but the walk was nice and we got to dip our hands into slightly cooler-than-luke-warm water. After our walk, we got back in the car and headed south to the Ida Bay Railway Cafe for lunch.

Cockle Creek

Replenished we drove on more unsealed roads to get to Cockle Creek, which has the honour of being the southernmost point in Australia that you can drive to. It rained as we arrived but only sparingly so we walked to a point to see the whale sculpture and then to Cockle Creek itself.

A streak of turquoise ran through the middle of the creek, so blue you think you were looking at a tiled surface beneath the water. We took out time taking photos of rocks, the water, the bridge, the bay, mussels on rocks and birds also on rocks. It’s a beautiful spot and well worth the bumpy drive.

From here you can set off on any number of hikes, one of which lasts seven days. Perhaps one day we’ll attempt the four hour one as it would be something to see the untouched wilderness of the southern forests.

We drove back the way we came, heading for our accommodation in Dover. It wasn’t as nice as Cambridge House in Geeveston, and considering Geeveston wasn’t all that far down the road (a poor bit of planning on my part), it would have been better to spend a second night there. Nevertheless, it was comfortable, had heating and was reasonably priced.

We ate at one of two restaurants, the Post Office (the other being the RSL club), and had pizza for dinner. Then it was back to the accommodation to watch Doc Martin and then the second half of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It was relaxing and quite holiday-like.

Hobart at Easter

Glen and I took advantage of a family wedding in Sydney to plan a getaway to Tasmania for the Easter break. Despite Glen’s sister, Miranda, having lived in Hobart for a few years, we never made it down to Van Diemen’s Land. Now she lives in Sydney.

Sydney to Hobart

After yum cha with family, we flew on Good Friday to Hobart. The flight was short (only 2 hours) and we landed in Hobart’s dinky airport. Despite its size, it’s classed as an international airport – yet we can’t get to Perth directly.

I’d hired us a car from a company called Sixt, which, because of the cheap rate, was not at the airport. I left Glen to collect our one piece of luggage while I went in search of the shuttle bus. I called the company to find out where they were but as I chatted to the operator, I saw the bus and was whisked away from the airport to the rental.

The process for collecting the car was slow. There was only one guy on duty, which was fine, but it took a while to process the booking for the couple before me. Then the internet connection stopped working so it took even longer to get that sorted.

When it was finally my turn, there was a lot of manual entering, which seemed strange considering the booking had all been done online and confirmed. I was then told the price would be $973 for a five-day rental. Luckily I had the confirmation sheet with me and could show that it was, in fact, not this ridiculous sum but a much more reasonable $243. More data entry and I was then given a car. It has very little power, is manual (I just assumed it would be automatic – lucky I have a manual licence) and has little suspension.

I zoomed back to the airport, collected Glen and we drove into Hobart. We checked into the hotel – Fountainside – then went for a walk around the harbour. Not much was open, what with it being Good Friday, but it was a pleasant walk.

We looked at the old buildings of the Salamanca area, wandered around Princes Walk, through quaint streets that at one time reminded us of Halifax, then St John, then country England. All the while, we were looking for a place for dinner, and we settled on Monty’s of Montpellier.

Despite the outside appearance, the restaurant is tastefully decorated and comes with all the fanciness you’d expect from any other city with good fine dining available. I had salmon and mussels for entree, while Glen had asparagus. For mains, I had gold band snapper and Glen, the beef. We also wine and then dessert. It was all really good food, interesting combinations and all up a pleasant experience.

Hobart to Geeveston

Saturday morning saw us walk down to the Salamanca Market, which got busier the longer we were there. Most of the items on option were craft or clothes with some food stalls in between, though I didn’t quite fancy curry or kim chi at 9am. We strolled along each aisle, buying Danish pancakes and cotton/bamboo socks. We resisted buying knick-knacks, such as decorative wooden pears or glass mushrooms.

As I had planned a fairly laden schedule for our Tasmania trip, I was glad we were able to get through the markets earlier than expected and get on the road. We headed out to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), which is such a drawcard for Hobart. The museum is built down so you start at “ground floor” and then descend to “B3”. There you are given an “O” (an iPhone device with gallery and artwork interpretation on it) and a set of headphones.

There are no panels next to the artwork so the device is how you find out about it, offering the bare facts (who made it, what’s it made of, where it came from and what’s it called) to more in depth interpretation, questions to prompt discussion, and also insights from the collector/curator.

While at first I struggled to want to use the O, I found not having interpretation there in front of me very freeing. Where there’s a sign, your eye is drawn to it, away from the artwork. By not having these panels, you’re given the freedom to look at what’s in front of you, the thing you’re actually here to see. A robotic voice can then read out the text to you from the O so you don’t “miss” the information but otherwise it’s quite relaxed in how you experience it all.

My favourite piece in the whole gallery was the White Library. This was a room lined with shelves and with a couple of tables and chairs, arranged to look like a library. The shelves are then stacked with books of varying sizes and thickness and there’ll all white. There’s no writing whatsoever. I can’t remember what the interpretation said exactly but it was about how if no one reads the books in the library (or any books or any thing), then they may as well be filled with blank paper. /mindblown. I got such a thrill from having “got” the piece.

Other favourites included the “Fat Car” (a stylised Porsche that has been made fat) and “Kryptos” (though more because of the collector’s down-to-earth attitude about the artist’s commissioned work that if it were crap, he could just close up the door and no one would know it was there). We finished exploring the galleries and ended with lunch at the cafe, looking out over the bay and watching a brush turkey with its chick.

Scores more people arrived as we left so we were glad to have gotten there so early. I then drove us south for about two hours, heading into Geeveston then to the Tahune AirWalk. We drove through a “working forest”, something that the signage was very clear about. The Tahune AirWalk is a suspended structure that takes you into the treetops. We have something similar in Walpole, Western Australia, though I think this one is bigger, and there’s also a pretty epic cantilever looking over the river.

Glen was white-knuckled through most of our time in the air, while I was calm and enjoying the height. He couldn’t understand why, considering how terrified I was doing the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb and that came with safety harnesses. Perhaps I’ve become less afraid in the past 11 years. Throwing my gold coin donation off the edge, however, did make me go weak at the knees, as if I was throwing a piece of myself over the edge.

After the airwalk we took the track to the two suspension bridges. I LOVE suspension bridges. Glen DOES NOT love suspension bridges. I’m afraid I couldn’t help but jump up and down, causing Glen to get very annoyed, but he survived, as did I. The walk on terra firma was lovely and we saw lots of different types of fungi, reminding me of the time we were in La Mauricie National Park in Quebec and there was fungi everywhere. (More photos of the airwalk when I get back to Perth; forgot to bring the cable.)

We finished the walk quicker than the recommended walking time, jumped back in the car and headed out of the forest to our accommodation at Geeveston. We’re staying at Cambridge House B&B, a beautifully restored heritage building built in 1870. There’s a creek next to the property which is home to platypus. We’ve been told they’re out and about any time of the day (unusual for platypus) but we haven’t seen them yet. There’s still time!

Blue skies for blacks, reds and greens

On Saturday we woke up thinking we might not going skiing until later in the day – if at all – but one look outside at the clear blue sky with no cloud in sight and we were out of the house by 9am and waiting for the shuttle bus. Glen and I headed across to Hanazono, a side of the mountain we hadn’t yet explored. Behind us sat a family from Perth whose kid made us laugh because he thought they were going to ski back to Australia. Adorable!

Hanazono doesn’t have a lot of runs on it but there’s a long green (about 3.3km) and a red (about 1.8km) which looked good. There hadn’t been much – if any – snow overnight so the slopes were icier than we’d experienced on the other days. It felt just like being back in Ontario.

We caught the lift up and then both took the green down. This green was insane. It had a couple of incredibly steep sections followed by long stretches that were practically flat. I found the steep bits thrilling (if a little intimidating first time around) but Glen wasn’t so keen. When we reached the bottom, he stayed while I got back on the lift and went to do the red.

Now this really was fun. Steep, wide and long, I couldn’t wait to do it again once I reached the bottom. As Glen was nowhere to be seen (he’d gone back to do the green and felt much better about it second time round), I jumped back on the lift and did the red again. Technique wasn’t too bad though, as I said about yesterday, next time I’ll definitely have a lesson or two to iron out the kinks.

Glen and I met at the bottom, our ski runs coinciding perfectly, and then went back up the lift before catching another to get us further up the mountain. We were attempting to make our way to the next side of the mountain and had to go up to get across. Glen was anxious as there were a lot of reds but only one green and if we missed the turn then we’d be committed to a red. Of course, we missed the turn.

Our first black

We were the committed to a red (Jumbo, 34°/17°/1200m) which was fine until it turned into a short, steep black. We both paused at the top of this. I said we could do it, Glen wasn’t so sure, but I was keen to give it a whirl. It took a lot of effort but it was so much fun. For me at least. Once Glen got to the bottom, he wanted a rest so we pulled into King Bell Hut at the bottom of this black and took some time out to consider our next move.

Glen was keen to get to the side we’d been at the day before, with the Niseko Gondola and some runs of reds and greens. To get there we took a lift up, then skied across the base of the peak. I then decided that now was the time to do one of the ungroomed black runs at the top of mountain. Glen wouldn’t go near it so waited at the bottom for me.

The run was called Large (32°/19°/650m) and it was by no means the steepest on the mountain. It also wasn’t the highest point (lots of people were walking up to the peak and going out of the resort boundaries…maybe next time). However, catching the lift up was a terrifying experience as I got higher and higher and wondered if I’d really made the right decision. At the top I seriously doubted it but there was only one way down.

I took the run slowly, traversing across the mountain a lot more than I would have liked. Ideally I would have liked to have pointed my skis down the hill and ever so coolly and with much awesomeness, skied down the slope with control and no fear whatsoever.

While it wasn’t with as much grace as I would have liked, I did manage to get down the majority of the slope without falling, only taking a slight tumble when I was about ten metres from Glen. I didn’t lose my skis and it was more like I had decided it was time to sit down. My legs were extremely tired by the end of it, but I was proud of myself for giving it a go. However, I didn’t have any burning desire to repeat it so Glen and I skied across the slopes (avoiding the annoying bit where you have to walk between the two sides of the mountain) and then attempted the reds and greens again.

Having just done the black run, the reds were that much harder today. My legs ached, I did have all my weight on the downhill ski and I was putting all my energy into making sure I didn’t fall over (which I didn’t). At the bottom of the hill, we skied into the Hilton and met Bec at Ezo Pub where we had another bit of food and rested up.

A rest and then a red run

All three of us took the gondola up to the top. The sky was still clear so we got some excellent views over the mountain and the volcano in the distance. We really couldn’t have asked for better weather.

Before we got to the top of the mountain, Glen and I thought the greens weren’t so bad up there but once we were there, we realised that they weren’t as easy as we remembered. Glen skied with Bec while they took it slow, while I zoomed off to do an almost non-stop run of the reds from the top to the bottom.

My legs were jelly by the end of it and I think the only way I made it down without injury was to order myself to put all my weight on the downhill ski. Even then, it wasn’t as much as it should have been. I made it to the bottom, however, caught a short lift up, did the red run, then had a toilet break before catching the gondola back up to find Glen and Bec.

Bec had managed the first green run but the rest really were a lot harder than we’d expected. Luckily the snow patrol saw her slow descent and stop and came to her rescue. Glen continued on. I took the green runs this time, hoping to catch up to them. The green runs were actually quite hard at this time of day because the snow had been wiped out, leaving behind ice, my legs were shot and the runs were narrow and curved. I was freaking out that I was going to off the edge! I eventually caught Glen at one of the junctions and we skied Banzai together to the Hilton.

Onsen!

We then went to the onsen in the hotel as the view of the mountains was a highlight, as was the koi pond. This one was nicer than the one at the Prince. It was also quieter. The inside onsen felt hotter than 42°C, while the outside one felt cooler than 42°C. It was nice to sit in the outside one and look at the mountains, taking it easy and feeling our muscles relax. We were probably in there about twenty or thirty minutes, then showered and got dressed. As we’d come from off the ski slopes, the worst part was having to put our ski boots back on.

Glen and I sat at the lobby bar and had a drink and slice of cake while waiting for Bec to come out of the onsen. We then waited outside for the bus to take us back to Hirafu. Once back in town, we split up so Bec could return her stuff next to the Vale and collect her shoes, while Glen and I went to the other ski shop nearer the bus stop, returned our skis and went grocery shopping.

We didn’t stop for long at the apartment, changing our ski boots for comfy walking boots and then heading out to get crispy bread from the bread and fondue place. We met Bec along the way, bought some stuff, then decided that instead of leftover soup (for which we’d bought the bread), we’d go to the sushi and tempura place on the corner.

Bec and Glen ordered tempura sets while I had a sashimi set. All of them came with a wide variety of things included miso soup, rice, veggies, tempura and sashimi for both of us, a custard thing and a slice of orange. I wasn’t so keen on the raw squid so left them but all the other sashimi was nice.

After dinner, it was back to the apartment to prepare for tomorrow’s departure. It’s been great to be here, especially ending on such a beautiful weather day (Sunday it’s meant to rain). Perhaps a fourth day would have been nice, then we wouldn’t have felt the compulsion to go out every day to ski or to go out for so long and then we could have gone night skiing, but I don’t feel like we’ve been especially rushed. It’s been a great skiing holiday.

“Whoa, so much pow, bruh”

If you’d said to Glen or I five years ago, or even three years ago, that we’d enjoy skiing and would go on a holiday to Japan for the purpose of going skiing, we’d think you were crazy. I’m sure most of my family and friends can’t believe we’re actually here either. Skiing? Us? But Friday’s day of skiing in Niseko was excellent and reaffirmed how much we actually enjoy doing this.

We headed off a little earlier this morning as the mountain had great visibility early in the day. We caught the shuttle – that thing is sent from heaven – up to the Welcome Centre, and then we caught the lift up to the top of the mountain. Today we were checking out the third side of the mountain, the one we didn’t get the chance to try the day before.

Glen had an awesome fall first up which, unfortunately, I wasn’t filming on my GoPro. He didn’t hurt himself, which was good otherwise the amount of I laughed would have been really cruel. He just disappeared into powder with arms a-flailing. Brilliant!

We took greens down the hill, deviated at one point, caught a lift back up, and then went down another way before catching the gondola back up the top and doing it again. I took a couple of reds going down at one point and while I managed it (though I had two separate falls later in the day on one particular run though luckily Glen came to my rescue) I’m certain my technique is a little off.

Legs aren’t together as much, using too much force yet not having enough control. A lesson would be helpful but with only one day to go, it’s not really worth it this time. Will do next time though.

We had a break at the Hilton and had a ridiculously expensive drink and apple pie before going back up on the gondola and coming down again. I think we did it again because that’s when I had my falls.

We stopped for lunch at the Hilltop Cafe then did the same run again and again before going back up to the top, walking across to the other side of the mountain, skiing down, going to pee and then coming back down to the other gondola. The sky had cleared by then and it was looking magical on the hill.

Less magical was sharing the gondola with two California ‘dudes’, oh sorry, ‘bruhs’, who were talking about the awesome ‘pow’, figuring out how to get around the security cameras so they could go through the untouched bits, and then about elderly patients in the hospital they worked at. When they left, one apologised for being so loud, saying they’d had whiskey. They walked away with their snowboards. I had no idea people talked liked that outside the movies.

At the end of the day, you need to onsen

We did a few more runs and then got to the bottom in time for the shuttle bus back to the accommodation. Bec was home as she’d had a fall during her lesson and had gone home to rest up, which was unfortunate for her because she lost her afternoon lesson and didn’t get to ski again that day. We all then went to the Prince Hotel to have a soak in the onsen – my back was already starting to feel tender.

This onsen was not as nice as yesterday’s and the male side was packed. It was more like a public swimming pool with those horrible square tiles. The only thing it had going for it was the view of the slopes outside. While it was mostly occupied with Japanese men, there were a few white people, including two Brits who’d brought in beer (a big no-no) and another pair who were wearing their board shorts (another no-no). This onsen experience was definitely not a good one. Still, we soaked and stretched our muscles and then left, meeting Bec outside.

Less-than-stellar dinner

We chilled out back at the apartment for a while, intending to eat the leftover soup for dinner but instead choosing to go to Kabuki 2, a teppanyaki and okonomiyaki restaurant nearby that was housed in a yurt. We were expecting the type of showy teppanyaki experience we’re used to in Australia so we took the later booking at the restaurant (9pm) so we could sit at the counter and watch the chef, as opposed to the earlier booking (8:30pm) where we’d just be sitting at a table. We should have gone earlier and be done with it.

As it was, we arrived early, sat a table, started our meal with the edamame and beans and some drinks before moving up to the counter when other people finally buggered off. The experience was lack lustre.

Bored chefs who weren’t in the slightest bit interested in interacting with the customers stood in front of hot plates and cooked the fish and steak we’d ordered. There was no throwing of rice and eggs, no skill required in any of it at all. Hell, even I could have stood there and cooked the damn food. We ate. Some of it was nice, the rest was a bit meh. We finished, paid the bill and left.

We went to bed pretty soon after getting home, what with six hours of skiing having taken their toll. We would have dropped right off if not for the loud music coming from one (or two) of the local bars, and the yobs standing outside smoking, drinking and being generally yobbish. Glen dug out the earplugs, we stuck them in and then drifted off. After all, it was 10:30pm.

Day 1 on the Slopes

Thursday was our first day skiing since leaving Canada so it had been about a year since we’d strapped on some skis. We took it easy in the morning, not heading out of the apartment until after ten. We decided to walk up to to the gondola but this nearly killed us and we vowed not to do it again.

We caught the gondola up and then spend a couple of hours going from down green slopes, then catching chair lifts back up. The visibility came and went (mostly went) as clouds and snow moved across the mountain. Not being familiar with the place it was a little nerve-wracking at times as we couldn’t always see where the trail led and if we were going to go over a sharp drop.

I was pleased to find that it didn’t take long for me to find my ski legs and was zooming down the hill just like old times. Glen took it slower so I got lots of little rests in at certain points down the slopes. I definitely was missing some technique though and my back, which I’d spent about half an hour stretching before we left, was playing up. I was worried I’d end up crippled and unable to move but this, thankfully, didn’t end up being the case.

We stopped off for lunch at one of the cafes up the mountain and then continued skiing. I did some reds (blues in Canada) but not many, keeping with Glen on the greens. We only two two sides of the mountain and then decided to call it at a day at about 3 or so as we really couldn’t see much and we figured we’d done enough for our first day.

Down the hill we decided to walk back to the accommodation. Again, bad move. It took bloody ages to get home. We dumped our stuff and then, because I was worried my back would completely seize if we stayed put, we headed to the onsen at the Vale Resort and soaked there for a while. We were the only ones in there until we left when another man showed up so it was nice to have the place to ourselves.

It’s done up very nicely on the inside, with an inside bathing area and an outside one as well, which was very nice to sit in and have snow fall on us. The mix between the cold of the snow and the 40°C heat of the water was great, and it felt good to stretch out my muscles. Once we were sufficiently relaxed, we got dressed and went via the supermarket to get supplies for soup.

Bec was back at the apartment when we got home; she’d gone to have a day of skiing lessons. Glen made soup, which was very nice for the weather, and then we played two more games of Contagion (Glen won both) and then went off to bed.