A modern twist on the old adage could go like this: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is, especially if you found it on the internet.
A search for a place to go cross-country skiing near Bonn last week turned up disappointing results. Most trails were closed because of a lack of snow and the few places that were open didn't rent skis. It wasn't looking good. And then, a few pages into the search results, an obscure website popped up promising snow, trails and rentals a little more than an hour drive southwest of Bonn. Not only that but it claimed to have a hut with a wood-burning stove and volunteer staff serving up hot chocolate and home-made cake. It seemed too good to be true.
We headed out yesterday morning with low expectations -- the website was probably out-of-date, surely there wasn't enough snow to ski on. But the place was close enough that we figured it was worth driving down to check it out and maybe, just maybe, it would turn out to be as good as advertised.
After a white-knuckle ride on the German autobahn (where the "recommended" speed limit is 130 km per hour, which drivers in the left lane interpret as the minimum speed rather than the maximum speed making the whole experience more terrifying than exhilarating) we arrived in a winter wonderland.
Located inside Eifel National Park, it seemed to have its own microclimate. A short hike through a snowy trail brought us to a hut in the middle of the woods where the use of the trails, skis, boots and poles for the day cost a total of nine euros. And taking a break to drink hot chocolate and eat home-made cake in front of the wood-burning stove in the hut? Indescribably good.
The trails went in and out of silent forests, and up, down and around Mt. Ernstberg (which at 698 metres is more of a bump than a mountain). I could tell you more about it but I'll let my photos speak for themselves.