After the late arrival the previous night Thursday had got well underway when we finally clambered out of our beds the next morning. Having arrived in the dark every new person stumbling out of their bedroom looked out of the window and gasped with delight at the sight of deep drifts of snow and mountains in the distance. This morning also established a routine. Me, Carlos and Erik would wake up first, make coffee and tea and then sit down for breakfast. Every now and then Erik or Carlos would make an attempt at waking the final two members of the group who would finally emerge somewhat later. This first morning I put on my clothes and went to enjoy the snowy weather and take some pictures while the latecomers had their breakfast. Carlos was too lazy to move far from his coffee, so he took pictures of me instead.
After breakfast we got ready and headed for the ski slopes. By that time it was already noon and after renting equipment there were not many hours of the day left. I had not skied for more than 15 years and was scared as I approached the first slope but i guess skiing is like riding a bike, your body remembers. Admittedly my skiing style was not particularly elegant, but I was having fun. In the beginning I took my time to go down a slope, turning sharply and breaking often. I stayed close to Giuseppe, who was skiing for the first time in his life and getting closely acquainted with the snow.
When the ski slopes began closing for the day we were all extremely hungry and I would like to blame low blood sugar for the cranky mood most of us were in. An argument ensued about a rather insignificant matter, but luckily a late lunch / early dinner helped get our spirits up. We had all-you can eat pizza menu at Norway’s biggest pizza chain, Peppe’s pizza, which we assume was named in honour of our Peppe (Giuseppe).
After filling our stomachs with pizza we headed back for the evening skiing. Lighting slopes in the evening is quite common in Nordic countries, since the hours of daylight are quite limited during winter. One might think that skiing in the dark is difficult, but in fact it is easier to discern the shapes and patterns of the snow in artificial light than in daylight. The skiing was not what was causing me trouble, rather it was the lift. I was unable to get on the button lift. 5-year old children were using the lift without any problems while I found them impossible. The lift operator had to slow the lift down for me every time. I was sufficiently embarrassed about this to feel relieved when we decided to return to the cabin.
While we skied it had begun snowing. This snow was not the wet heavy flakes you find in Belgium, but tiny icy crystals. As they were caught in our headlights on the drive back they looked just like glitter. It was as if fairy dust was being sprinkled upon us from above.
Back at the cabin Erik began lighting “The German”, an outside fireplace. The name of the fireplace comes from a day when Erik’s little brother came home from school after learning about the holocaust and pointed at the furnace: “That is just like the German’s”. I apologize for any German sensitivities, but names like that tend to stick. Once Erik had got the fire going we spread out some reindeer skins on the snow and enjoyed the warmth of the flames in -15C° (5°F). Olga had made me and her hot milk with Baileys and coffee which was a perfect warming drink for these conditions. When the fire died down and the cold got the upper hand we retired inside where Erik prepared a Norwegian specialty: smoked salmon and scrambled egg sandwiches.
After the meal I went to bed while the others stayed up. This was another routine that would last throughout the holiday.