Three days after we got home from Dubai Scott says to me “I think we should all learn to snowboard this weekend”. Scott doesn’t sit well and that will become pretty obvious throughout all of my posts. Really, learn to snowboard? I can barely ski with any dignity. Half of the time I follow what we call the “Minions” down the mountain. The “Minions” so you know are the kids in school ski classes usually around three or four years old wearing orange vests. I find peace in the fact that they always find the easiest way down and I have no problem attaching myself to the back of their chain. The kids don’t seem to mind and I think might even like to show off for the old lady in the back. I see it as a win-win.
Not super excited about the idea (I was still dreaming of hot weather and umbrellas in my drink not quite ready for snow) we decided that if Scott did the research and planned it all that we would go. Normally I am the one who plans all of our holidays so it was a bit tough for me to let it go but honestly I had no desire to dive into the details.
Scott came back to me with a pretty solid plan. We were heading to the Großer Arber ski resort on the border of Germany and the Czech Republic. It would be about a 2 1/2 hour drive to the the largest mountain in the Bavarian forest and the snow looked decent. He reserved five boards and booked our hotel. I was a little worried but rolling with it. Again, not a great quality of mine!
We left our house around 8:00 on Saturday morning and got to the mountain around 10:30. The drive was super easy and really beautiful through the Bavarian forest. We went straight to the Skiverleigh Großer Arber (mountain equipment rental) which was located at the base of the ski lifts. The parking is super easy, free and plentiful in the lots or along the Brennesstraße. There are two separate ski rental places both run by the mountain located within a two minute drive of each other. The only difference is if you are wanting to be closer to ski school and the bunny slopes or by the steeper runs.
We parked (of course in the wrong lot as we needed to be near the bunny slopes) and grabbed our gear. Scott had ordered everything online and the ski shop was super organized so that was a big plus. I don’t know if it is just us or if it is a painful experience for everyone getting ski/snowboard equipment. My patience are always tested and the drama that comes with the boys and their boots/boards/skis/poles is definitely Oscar material. We made it through the process with only a few f-bombs being dropped and actually no tears this time and made our way back out to load our gear into the car to drive over to the other lot.
I was mistakenly under the impression that we were going to get proper lessons as I have heard how difficult learning to snowboard can be and I didn’t want to just jump in and be on my behind all day. I was quickly overruled. The boys were determined to get on the mountain and teach themselves. At this point I made a game time decision. I exchanged my board for my book and parked myself at the nice cozy restaurant Thurnhofstüberl at the base of the bunny hill. I had a lovely lunch sharing a table with a German family and thoroughly enjoyed my book and quiet time.
We were staying in Bodenmais a village about 20-25 minutes from the ski runs. Scott booked us at the Appart-Hotel Wildererstuben a family run wellness hotel in the middle of the village. The reception was in the bar and the older woman who checked me in spoke no English but we managed to get things sorted out with my bad German and lots of pointing to my phone. The hotel was lovely and charming and very typical German. Traveling with five can be a challenge when it comes to hotel rooms especially in Europe where the rooms are smaller. We normally book two rooms. One “adult” room and one “kid” room. While a bit more pricey to do it this way, we have found everyone is a much happier with a bit more room and no fighting over who sleeps on the pull-out. Scott and I feel like we have a little mini vacation and the boys like their freedom.
I unloaded the car and did a quick drive around the village to get my bearings and then headed back up the mountain pick up the guys. I was nervous about what I would be rolling into. I was fully expecting a broken wrist or tailbone but the only thing seriously broken was their pride. I guess it had been a pretty tough day at the Dad School of Snowboarding. By the end, the two older guys had picked up the basics but Scott and Calvin were ready to turn in their boards for skis. Admitting a lesson would have been smart, they defeatedly loaded up their boards in the car and we headed back over to Bodenmais.
After hot showers and all of the boys licking their wounds, we headed down to the hotel restaurant for a cozy meal. At dinner the decision was made that they would all trade in their boards for skis and that tomorrow was a new day.
We woke up in the morning to fresh snow and recharged attitudes. I dropped the guys at the ski rental shop and made my way back to Großer Arbersee a beautiful lake between Bodenmais and the ski runs. I had a day planned of hiking. The sun was shining and the fresh snow made a perfect setting for my day in the Wald. I parked across from the lake in the large Parkplatz (I did have to pay but think it was only 3€) and headed to the trails. I went on an amazing three hour hike around the lake and up into the mountain. After my hike I had lunch at the Arberseehaus which has views of the lake and a limited but good German menu.
After lunch I headed back to Bodenmais. Since we were so close to the border of the Czech Republic there was definitely a feel of two cultures coming together. Many shops had the beautiful blown glass typically seen in the Czech Republic and was hoping to go home with a new vase. The challenge was that it was a Sunday and in Germany everything is closed on Sundays. I decided to wander the village anyway with hopes of finding a shop open. I headed towards Joska probably the largest glass shop in Bodenmais and excitedly saw an open sign. The store is massive with beautiful glass in all colors and shapes. I bought a gorgeous blue vase and headed back to our hotel feeling I had accomplished my mission.
I went back to the mountain to pick up the guys and was really relieved to see four smiling faces after a successful day of skiing. We decided to eat out for dinner and after wandering around the village for a bit (we were dangerously on the edge of four hangry boys) we were able to get a table at Pizzeria Adria. The pizza was delicious, service was great and everyone was happy. We walked home to our hotel with full bellies and all feeling like we had a successful day.
The next morning we hit the road around 10:00 and were back home by 1:00. Großer Arber isn’t world class skiing but the runs were enough to entertain for a day or two. It is, however, a beautiful part of Germany with numerous hiking trails and charming villages set in a picturesque forest. It would definitely be worth a trip back in the summer months for a weekend away.