Toboganning in the Alps

One of two things I wanted to be sure to do while in Innsbruck was to go sledding. I had inquired about it at the hotel before we came, but when we stopped by the front desk to get more information this morning, the receptionist was only kind of helpful, and when we got to the bus stop she directed us to, we found that the route number she gave us didn’t go to the right place. So, we took a gamble and picked another bus. We asked the driver, who was very patient with our Germenglish, about sledding (“rodeln” in German — my new word for today) and he assured us he could get us there and then helped us load the stroller in the bus. Off we went.

The route wound steeply up the southern side of the valley where Innsbruck sits, and then into the next, higher valley. The views were beautiful and the slopes were steep, and we had no real idea of where we were going. But, after a bit, we unloaded and the bottom of a ski lift — stroller, preschooler, toddler and all.

We went inside and cautiously asked — success! We rented sleds, bought lift tickets, suited up, and headed out. We wrestled the three sleds (Dan & I each shared with one of the boys, and Krishana had her own) onto the gondola lift and were rewarded with more spectacular views.

As we ascended, I started to worry a little — the slopes were pretty steep (this is a ski area in the Alps) and we just kept going up. We saw tobogganers below us, going pretty fast. What had I gotten us in to? Before I had a chance to really freak out, though, we were at the top, safely off the lift (sleds included!) and into the dazzling sunlight.

We found the beginning of the path and peered down it, through the trees and away down the hill. With more than a little trepidation, we set off.

It was wonderful. We could go pretty fast (and did, at times) but we got the hang of controlling the sleds very quickly. We glided through the snowy woods, around bends and over bumps. The sun was bright and the air was (relatively) warm. We encountered other sledders and skiers, and said hello as we went by. We got another beautiful view every moment, and we laughed and shouted with the fun we had. The boys had a wonderful tine — Liam only cried when Dan would stop, and Benjamin was very upset at the end of our first run, because he thought we were done.

After our first run (which took about 40 minutes) we went again, and we took the longer option the second time. Then, we returned our stuff and climbed back on the bus, where we enjoyed a long (if unexpected) tour of the huge slopes around Innsbruck, while both of the boys took naps. We saw more amazing views, including an icy, slushy waterfall and a couple of ski lifts that actually carried people up and over the top of the mountains.

It was a great day. We had help from so many people, and had an amazing adventure. It was, truly, one of the best things I’ve ever done. The pure joy and thrill in Benjamin’s laughter as we flew through the wintery forest is something I hope I never forget.

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