Travel

Home swap skiing edition, Pt. 2: ‘I finally find the Winter Wonderland I was seeking’

(Editor’s note: This is Pt. 2 of a two-part post. In Part 1, Maryna Kryvko and her family have embarked on their second home-swap vacation, this one a ski trip to the mountains of the Czech Republic. A sick 4-year-old, broken equipment and a tiny house with one bedroom have made this a less-than-perfect getaway. Can it be saved?)

A buckle on my husband’s eldest son’s snowboard decided to break in half, and the dream of a great day of skiing was fading.

“Now what?” they seemed to ask.

You are up the mountain; you can’t just go to the rental and exchange the snowboard. It’s not just a trip down the mountain; the snowmobile would only take your young adult to the parking lot. He can’t drive, so he won’t be able to use the car to get to the ski rental. And anyway, even you would be afraid to drive because your car has all-season tires and it’s snowing hard.

Your younger kid might be getting sick and your husband refuses to leave him to go with the young adult for the exchange. It’s only the first day, so it’s not an option to leave the young adult stranded with no ride for a week.

You’re a problem solver, you say? Go solve this.

And so I went into the problem-solving mode, taking the matter — and a phone — into my own hands. In a few minutes, I managed to call the gear rental and convince them to bring the replacement snowboard to the parking lot that the snowmobile would be able to reach. I asked them to be there in two hours. Then, I directed the young adult to make a call to our building management and ask for a snowmobile ride for him down the mountain to make the switch.

In two hours, the exchange was done and our oldest could snowboard again on the following day.

Our younger kid could happily spend hours making tunnels in the snow. © Photo from the author’s archive

Each following day brought better weather. Our young son still had a runny nose but was otherwise unaffected and happy to spend days plowing and excavating the snow, playing in a playroom and eating dinner in the building’s restaurant, often visited by a house cat.

We had some good skiing and snowboarding done as we adjusted to our vacation schedule. On the last two days of our stay, the sun was shining, the heavy snow stopped and the views were breathtaking.

Snow cannon fixing the slope. © Photo from the author’s archive

The sun was shining, the snow canons were making up the snow in places where the skiers made the piste too hard, and I finally found the winter wonderland I was seeking. Skiers usually don’t like spending time on the lifts, especially on the rope tow. But I was inhaling the crisp clean air and drinking in the perfect views and felt like at least for a few hours, I had no care in the world.

In this hushed whiteness, I was finally at peace.

View of the high peak. © Photo from the author’s archive

At the end of the week, we paid our check and took our last snowmobile ride down the slope, to the parking lot. It was snowing hard for several days during the week that we spent at the slopes, so our car was completely hidden in a huge snowbank. The parking lot had a big snow shovel handy, and we spent half an hour digging out the car.

Riding in the front seat while my husband was driving, I was mentally evaluating our experience:

One of the lower stations. © Photo from the author’s archive

Did we save money?

Probably yes.

We stayed five days for guest points and paid for the weekend so the final amount was 205 euros for the accommodation, including the final cleaning. The ski passes for six days cost us 700 euros and the gear rental, around 300 euros. The bill for the snowmobile services and food that we had from the restaurant was about 300 euros, but we mainly just had dinner there and lunch a couple of times, because we brought a huge backpack and made our breakfasts and sometimes also lunches. We sometimes had food on the slopes, but that wasn’t often and only came to some 100 euros.

Did we have a good time?

Not in the beginning. But mainly it was our fault, and the last couple of days were pretty great after we adjusted our expectations.

There are a few important takeaways from this:

• If a host tells you that the logistics are a little complicated, listen to them. And know that they are probably very complicated.

• Traveling with a kid, you should have a Plan A, B, and C for daily activities. And also a Plan D for any kind of medical emergency and a bag of medicine (we only had Nurofen, some cough medicine, something for food poisoning, and nasal drops). 

Next time we attempt skiing with the young child, we will probably take the easy way out and look for a family hotel with childcare and a children’s ski school on site. Such places are expensive, though, so … not this year.

But as my sister said on hearing our sorry tale, “In a few years, you will probably forget all these small mishaps and remember it as one big and beautiful adventure.”

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Read more about skiing here in Dispatches’ archives.

See more by Maryna here.

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Read more about skiing here in Dispatches’ archives.

See more by Maryna here.

Maryna Kryvko

Maryna Kryvko is a software developer in Germany. Maryna also writes a programming blog to share her knowledge. She sometimes speaks at conferences, though being an introvert, writing comes more naturally. Maryna says she’s not a professional writer but writing is something she likes, “and I think I can do it pretty well.”

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