Saturday, March 24, 2012

Borovoe with my Mom - Day 2

After breakfast, we borrowed cross country skis and ski boots from the hotel. (When we paid that evening, we learned that the rental cost 1500 Tenge -- $10 -- per person.)

We put on the boots and went outside with the skis. We spent 30 minutes trying to figure out how to put them on. Mom & I got our on, but we still couldn't get Sophia's on hers. Finally, I saw some staff on a smoke break, and called out to them. They had her skis on in 2 seconds. There was a button that we had missed, that made them snap into the boot.

Now, the hill wasn't that steep, but it was still a hill, and it was covered with fresh snow. It wasn't long before Sophia fell and we spent perhaps another 30 minutes trying to get her back up, during which time her legs and ankles twisted and pretty soon she definitely wasn't in a good mood. She still wanted to try skiing at the bottom of the hill, by the lake, but before we got there, she fell again and gave up. We took off her skis and let her watch while we tried.

My hunch is that people who really want to ski don't ski at this hotel; they rent a taxi and go to Borovoe and ski somewhere there. The hotel didn't really have trails or paths for skiing; we were going down what is the boat ramp in the summer, and then we went back and forth by the lake. The thick snow made it hard. Plus, I've never cross-country skied before. And I've only down-hilled skied a few times before, over 15 years ago, and I was awful then.

Still, it was fun, and I definitely got a workout. I was sweating when I finished.

We went inside and had lunch--we were getting tired of the restaurant's food by now! Plus each meal cost us about 5000 Tenge -- about $33 -- except breakfast, which was free.

We went to the 3rd floor and played pool. The pool table there was bigger and higher than one in the US. The openings were narrower, and so it was next-to-impossible to get a ball in. It was Sophia's first time playing, and she did as well as can be expected, perhaps even better--she didn't pout or whine.

As we left, the staff woman asked us our room number--we later learned that playing pool cost us 2000 Tenge (about $13).

Then we went back outside with the sleds. We discovered that if we started at the very top of the hill, we could go quite far, almost all the way to the lake, and we spent the next several hours sledding and otherwise playing in the snow. We went onto the frozen lake and I buried Sophia in the snow. It was a clearer day than yesterday--still cloudy, but we could see across the lake. The sun came out as we started heading indoors, and the snow sparkled.

When we checked out, we saw the fees for ski rental and playing pool, but they didn't charge us for staying until 7 pm. (On the phone they had told my assistant that it would be an extra 8000 Tenge to stay that late.)

The taxi driver took us the long way around the lake. He also was a cautious driver, which was nice, but that meant that our trip to the train station took more than twice as long as our trip from the train station. We got plenty of nice views of the lake, though! (And more than once worried that he was taking us to some deserted place to abandon us or demand extra money...)

At the train station, we ran into some co-workers and their children. We were in the same car in the electric train on the way back. The electric train is much cleaner and nicer than the other train, with seats instead of bunks. The toilet, though, is a squatter.

We got to Astana around 11 pm, our home around 11:30. What an adventure! Someday, though, I'm really going to cross-country ski!

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