A skiing trip to the beautifully serene mountains for four days? Sounds like a perfect trip if you ask me!

And initially, those were my thoughts exactly! But let’s not forget a few minor details. I’ll start at the beginning:

On Friday, January 13th, I received an event invitation entitled “Zakopane” on Facebook. After doing some digging I found that none other than my beloved friend, Pepico, created the event. The details of the trip were all written in Spanish, but Google Translate didn’t offer much help with clarification. Of the original invites sent out, 23 recipients had responded that they were indeed going. Now let me clarify that 21 of the respondents were Spanish Erasmus friends, one was my friend Sofie from Belgium, and one was from myself.  I later discovered that we wouldn’t be going to Zakapone (Southern Poland in the Tatra Mountains) but rather to the mountains of the Czech Republic!

Over the next week and a half the Facebook event served as a perfect forum for everyone to contribute his or her fervent thoughts and opinions…in Spanish that is. There were even two meetings to discuss the fine details of the arrangements that were to take place in the stairwell of out beautiful dorm. (Officially there was only one meeting because I was the only one to show up to the first slated gathering). As the second meeting ensued, and people came and went as they pleased, it was decided how much everything would cost and who would pay for what. It was one of those meetings that was anything but diplomatic.

At one point the bellowing in Spanish got so obnoxious and bounced off of the concrete stairs with such intensity that I forced myself just to smile delicately and tune much of the noise out. I began to realize that there was an argument about something between everyone. So I asked my roommate what was going on. She replied that someone needed to make the down payment on the three vehicles that were being rented for the trip. I gladly told her I would volunteer since I wanted to be able to contribute in some way towards the planning. So with that, it was set and everything seemed like it was all going to work out just fine! (You may by now be able to tell that I won’t be getting my entire deposit back).

The 23 of us were to meet downstairs at 9 am on Wednesday, the 25th to load the vans and head to our house in the mountains in Horni Branna, Czech Republic. The drive was to only take 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Loading up the vans in front of the dorm!

5 hours later…we finally arrived. Minus a few setbacks:

-A few people backed out the trip last minute so we waited outside next to the vans until replacements could be made

-The GPS being used for the trip didn’t have the exact address of the house we were renting. But it would get us close enough to the town where the vehicles of our group would stop traffic, block people in while in parking lots, and even pull into people’s driveways while the owners of the homes would eventually have to sit in traffic waiting for the vehicles to disembark so they could get to their home sweet homes

This is most definitely not our "home"

-Each opportunity that allowed for the vehicle to come to a complete stop meant a smoke break for all of the smokers on the trip (which included all but 5 of us : )

Taking a "break" in the middle of the road

-After waiting at the nearest gas station, for what seemed like forever, the owner of our little vacation home (who spoke no English) came to the rescue and allowed us to follow her to the rental home

-The 14+ inches of snow that covered the entire village and mountains made it almost impossible for our 9 passenger vans to pull into the driveway with ease. Needless to say…the vehicles got stuck plenty of times in the driveway

Digging out a path for us to get through the driveway

After claiming my room and bed for the trip I was really looking forward to getting to know everyone a little bit better! Living under one roof with 22 other people provides that perfect atmosphere too! Here are just a few things I learned from this “all-inclusive” vacation:

-Hot dogs should never be allowed to be consumed in any sort of pasta, nor will they ever be a part of my diet again

They boys making pasta with...you guessed it...hot dogs!

-My time as President of the Transportation Club in high school really did pay off! (One afternoon we went to the store to get some necessities i.e. bread, cheese, cake batter, chips) and the van started filling with smoke once it was parked. I did a quick synopsis of the engine and even checked the oil…which I found to be the culprit! Extremely low oil!)

-Car alarms will always have a mind of their own. One must take the approach of not giving much attention to them and they will eventually hush up. (The alarm on the van would not stop sounding once the key was in the ignition and none of us could figure out how to get it to stop. So we called the car rental company and told them the problem. They responded by asking us the routine questions of: Who’s name is the vehicle in? What is your location? When we told them we were in the Czech Republic they had us know that our paperwork did not indicate at all we were leaving the country. Looks like someone forgot to depart that information…)

-Never expect a group this large to be on time (or relatively close to on time) and make sure to where the all important “patience pants/snow pants” at all times

-Try to make sure that there is always a “handy man/woman” near by at all times as something is almost always bound to break. (In our case it was the bathroom tub nozzle, which broke off turning the faucet into an out of control fire hydrant. In addition, it was also the over flowing kitchen sink that made Niagara Falls look like a kiddie attraction).

Notice the towels on the floor from the overflowing sink...what a mess

Despite the minor obstacles throughout the trip, being able to stand on top of a snow covered mountain, over look the stillness below, and breath in the crisp fresh air made it all worthwhile.

Isn't it just lovely!?

The mountains of the Czech Republic are absolutely no comparison to the bunny hills of the Midwest. I ate plenty of snow on my many face plants and tumbles down the slopes, had ice cycles frozen from my strands of hair, and had numb toes and fingers most of the time, but the thrill of making it from the tops of the highest peaks to the bottom of the mountain (regardless if I spent more time on my skis or behind) and wanting to do it all over again, was hands down thrilling and fulfilling!

With Sofie before conquering another slope!

A huge thanks to Pepe and the crew for putting together such a great mini-vacation! I feel so lucky to have been invited to attend!

When my sister asked me today: “So all in all was it a great trip?” I cheerfully responded:  “Ya…it was a great little vacation…with lots of learning opportunities : )”

Love the blessings of Mother Nature!

I cannot wait for my next skiing vacation! This time it will be the beginning of March with 3 of my best guy friends in Italy! They are getting their Master’s Degree in Architecture from Ball State and are studying abroad in Milan this semester. I am so excited to conquer the slopes of Northern Italy with them!

With Joy,