I was invited to talk about The Perfect Winter on Segunda pele, an action sports show at Sport TV. I was honoured by this invitation – after all, this was a personal project that I wanted to share with people, and to think that it was interesting enough to get media attention is very rewarding!
I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did being there. Talking about the trip and showing videos and pictures is always good, makes me be there again somehow. Thank you Catarina Faustino for this opportunity to share The Perfect Winter with you.
It’s a wrap, as they say. Spring has arrived to the Algarve, all the snow gear is washed and stored until next season (or, who knows, some glacier shredding sometime in summer), and all that’s left of winter are the memories. It’s a good thing that Youtube is around the almighty internet so that we can store and share moving images of happy times. Because, you know, even memories fade unless you exercise them.
I would love to have more of these videos to watch again and again, and every time I watch them I think I should have filmed them differently. Fear not, because a proper video campaign is being planned. Maybe, just maybe there will be yet another Perfect Winter.
In the meantime, enjoy the playlist of this year’s edition.
While browsing through my stash of pictures, first starting with the Perfect Winter facebook page and then through my own archives, I realized how there seems to be a thread linking apparently unrelated events. It’s amazing how people, music, ocean, waves, mountain, forest, beach are all part of this universal Love ride that is Life. There is so much beauty out there, so many things to be experienced, so many people to meet and know, so much to learn, so much to teach.
This trip has been just so enriching in so many ways, far more than I expected – and all it took was to leave my comfort zone and do it. Solo traveling is never so. In fact, it’s the only way to really travel without being solo, without being bounded by your own expectations. When you travel in a group from the start, you always tend to be closing your circle, and you bound your experience of your trip by the collective perception, that already is there in the first place. But when you travel alone, there is no boundary, you open yourself to everything and everyone around you. Unless you don’t want to, but then again it’s always your choice.
In the end, either traveling or staying, there is only one that you are always with. It’s you. It’s your ride. Make it count.
The Alpine landscape has a strong effect on the beholder, especially if one comes from a relatively flat country such as Portugal. The magnitude of the features in front of you, the harshness of the weather and the speed at which it changes is nothing short of wonderful.
So excuse me if I tend to get a bit philosophical here. But after two months traveling around in the Alps alone (OK, not all the time, but still) it’s easy to start wondering through the mountains within, just as much as I do in the peaks and valleys out there.
As I was writing about here, the purpose of this trip was not only to discover the mountains of Tyrol, but also (and mainly) to feel the mountains. Because, let’s face it, most of us are tourist when it comes to high altitude. The usual week crammed in a room in some resort with a group of friends eager to ride hard and party even harder doesn’t allow much space for deep understandings of anything. I mean, it’s always a blast and if that’s the only way to go above freezing level, super. But I wanted more. And so it just happened that I got more than I bargained for: going out (and staying out) in the wide open valleys, forests, glaciers and snowy peaks made me go deeper inside my own mountains. As if instead me looking at the Alps, it was as if the Alps were looking at me – and I got as overwhelmed as it sounds. As so many songs, books and even more unwritten journals of travelers described better than I could possibly do, this overwhelming happens often when you step into the unknown. And, according to oriental philosophies, it serves a quite curious purpose of cleaning your mind of conscious thought. Just like those ancient chinese riddles ‘what is the sound of one clapping?’ or ‘if a tree falls in the woods and no one’s around, does it make a sound?’, only nicer and much more expensive.
So, as I crossed the Gerlospass and witnessed the beautiful valley of the Salzach river as it showed the north facing slopes covered with snow and the south faces completely barren, as if winter and spring met exactly there, I had one of those moments.
It gave me a sudden realization of some deep universal meanings – which I am not going to tell you, obviously, they’re mine.
So, what’s the point of all this? The point is I am so glad I came and did this, despite the money and other associated costs, despite the ‘saudade’ of so many people and things, and also despite the uncertainty of what will happen next. This is quite a claim, but this journey made me a better person.
At the risk of sounding even more cliché (is that possible?), but not giving a damn about it, I’m going to leave here a song that has one of the best descriptions of what traveling is all about. It is in Portuguese but there’s bound to be a translated version of the lyrics somewhere.
Stoked is the word! We drove 2600km during 4 days, crossing 5 countries and we made it! How freakin’ cool is that!!?
Spain and France were easy, as we found hardly any traffic and good weather. But as soon as we entered Switzerland… full on traffic jam from the border onwards. We were heading for Lausanne to stay at a good friend’s house and came across friday rush hour traffic, combined with the first real winter weekend this season, where every Geneva inhabitant seems to drive their oversized over-luxury car to their chalets in the mountains. Seriously, the density of Jaguars, high end Mercedes, BMWs and many other seriously expensive cars (that unfortunately I do not know the name) per square meter on those roads was just mind-boggling. But eventually we got to Lausanne, where our friends Sergio and Marylin had prepared us an amazing raclette. Tank you for that great dinner and company, for the nice beers, bottles of wine and for a great night sleep.
(no pictures though…)
And it was good that we woke up nice and relaxed because after a fantastic breakfast with snowboard master André Pisco in Montreux (next to the Freddie Mercury statue – we will rock you, baby!) we were in for a treat.
The. Worst. Traffic. Jam. Ever. Which lasted for the whole of Switzerland. On its longer side. With rain. And no views, for what would eventually be one of the best scenic routes of the world. Thank you, relentless capitalism.
Eventually we got to Bodensee, which in any other day would be a mandatory stop. But we were so fed up with the road that we just passed by and aimed straight into Austria. And what did we find as soon as we passed the border? This.
Heavy rain, fog, and by 4pm it was already so dark we could swear it was midnight. And yet we had still more than 3 hours of driving ahead. And lets not forget we are crossing the Alps here, and we’d been driving already for 4 hours. Did I mention we got heavy Lexus, Cayenne and Jaguar traffic jams throughout?
Anyway, we made it. The FreshPipe Snowmobile got us through Central Europe and we were ready to roll into The Perfect Winter, my first day of the season, and my 39th birthday.
And this was the view as I woke up in Gerlosberg:
And my birthday present to myself was this: a season pass for the Tirol region!
And with this card and a stupid smile on my face we went up the chairlift to find a fabulous day on the slopes of the Zillertal Arena. While the valley was covered with clouds, there was sunshine above 1000m. The slopes were fantastic, not many people and we just went cruisin’. Hey, just see for yourselves.
But this was just the beginning. The Perfect Winter is not about being a tourist in a famous resort, is about going deeper into the heart of the Alps. But give me some space to enjoy a bit of time out before I go on that deeper side. And speaking of which, the forecast for the next days is up to 50 cm of fresh powder. I’ll let you know all about it in the next posts, stay tuned!
Nope. Still on the road. Today we covered 825km and eventually landed somewhere with hot water. I know, call me bourgeois.
Tomorrow we’ll aim towards Lausanne, with a forecast of good weather for the French part and the skies getting more and more overcast as we approach Switzlerland. Another day covering asphalt. Really looking forward to it. Or not.
The Perfect Winter caravan is on the road! We set sail this morning with a “light” load and arrived safe and sound to… Somewhere in Spain. It’s freezing outside but in here it’s nice and cozy. Forecast for the rest of the trip is good weather with occasional rain. More posts soon, now it’s time to get some sleep – tomorrow is another day on the road. Hopefully we’ll make it to France.
Winter is finally making its move. More than 2 meters of snow are forecasted to fall in the coming week – it’s about bloody time!
It’s been hectic around good old sunny Algarve. There are absolutely no signs of winter and yet all my energy is going packing into gore-tex jackets, insulated pants, gloves, thermal layers and snowboards, while trying to tie the loose ends regarding my scientific duties, that are to be paused while The Perfect Winter is underway. Combine that with one of the best swells this year on the south coast and the arrival of the hoodies and t-shirts… Maybe you get the picture.
One of the accomplished tasks was changing into winter tires. Again, this puzzled the guys at the workshop. But now the van is all ready for snowy roads!
I’ve also been working on my equilibrium with the customized board made by One Love EcoSurf products. Never too late to start!
While all that happens, I am still soaking in the fact that The Perfect Winter got the cover on the Algarve Informativo magazine (see previous post). And this is all happening as 2015 comes to an end, as does a very worrying mild winter start that was driving everyone crazy.
The fact is Global Climate Change will be rendering our seasons further and further unpredictable. I might as well enjoy this winter and this project to its fullest extent – who knows when and how could this come together again?