Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Alpbach: Austria's most beautiful village

Over winter break, Ed and I returned to Austria for another few days of skiing.  After our last trip to Kitzbuhel, we decided that we should get them most out of our new skis and boots by heading back to Austria one more time this winter.  I don't recall why we picked Alpbach but we figured that a place voted 'most beautiful village in Austria' in 1983 had to be alright.  It is at a lower elevation so I think we both were a little bit worried that we would arrive to find no snow....we couldn't have been more wrong!  There was more than enough snow and we had a memorable week!

We arrived on Monday around noon after spending the night somewhere in Germany.   We checked into our hotel and decided to relax the rest of the day.  At first, everything about our room and hotel was great. 
Not a bad view right?
 The room was large, clean and had a nice view.  It did seem a little cold though.  Ed discussed this with the front desk and they explained that the temperature went down during the day when everyone was out.  Fine. I understand that. They brought us a small space heater to warm the room up for us since we were staying in the room for awhile.  So after cranking up the space heater and turning the radiators to high, we kicked backed to relax and surf the internet for a bit...but there was no internet service to be found.  Ed made a return trip to the front desk to inquire about the lack of service, to which they replied "We've never had a problem with your room before but we are having an internet specialist come tomorrow so if you need the internet tonight, you may use the 2 hour internet voucher (that we paid for at check in) here at the lobby computer"  To skip to the end of the story, we ended up checking out of our hotel in the morning because of that pesky heating issue.  They turned the radiators off (yes, completely off--they came back on at 7a.m.) at night as well so by midnight, the room was so cold that even the thin cotton duvet didn't offer much comfort. In the night, while we were huddling under our duvets in attempt to stay warm, Ed found a nearby guest house with a 2 person room available.  The cost for the remaining nights was a third of what we were paying at our first place and our room was about 100 times better.  It was cozy, warm, had fluffy down duvets and a great view of the valley.
After checking into room number 2, we went skiing.  Alpbach has a great little ski resort. I think that if I didn't know how to ski, this would be where I would want to learn--which is probably why there were hundreds of ski school attendees on the mountain while we were there. Our first day of skiing was nice, uneventful, pleasant even....Enter: day 2.   I guess that it began snowing at night.  When we woke up, our car looked like this
and it was still snowing.  We have winter tires but did not have chains so we ended up walking to the ski bus and leaving our car in the safety of the parking lot.  Day two of skiing was a bit different than day one.  It was really windy and nearly white-out conditions.  After lunch, we left the restaurant to find no one on the slopes (which was very strange-feeling to me) It was snowing and blowing even more than before lunch so we decided that we should just ski to the bottom of the hill and call it a day.  We found a run that we both thought we had skied before lunch and headed down---I would never make this up--the entire run was untouched powder to our knees. As it was even more white than before, I was nervous that I would lose Ed in the storm.  Every time I would fall in the powder I would try to keep my head up so I wouldn't lose sight of him.  I will add that falling in powder is definitely more fun than a normal fall on skis :)

The next morning, we planned to drive to Innsbruck and walk around for the day but upon attempting to drive down into the valley, (and sliding on very slushy, and icy roads with no snow chains) we turned around and thankfully made it back our guesthouse parking lot without being involved in any accidents.
The most snow the mouse car has ever seen-we never did find out how much snow fell but apparently it was a lot even for Alpbach
 It was still snowing so we opted to go tobogganing instead of skiing.  We walked uphill for over an hour to reach the start of the run.  The trail hadn't been plowed yet, so we were walking in several inches of snow and following a set of footprints from earlier in the day.  I have been warm while skiing but I have never been so warm that I wanted to take off my jacket.  I guess walking uphill is an entirely different animal because I would have been happy in a tshirt!
I can imagine that in the summer, Alpbach would be a beautiful village

Ed did make it into a tshirt
We finally made it to the lodge at the top of the hill where we had lunch and visited this friendly fox.  When preparing to leave, we discovered that they only accepted cash as payment for meals.  Ed pulled out his wallet to find the cash clip..empty.  Fortunately, I had left my little cash purse with 20euro in it in my jacket pocket so after scraping all of our coins together, we had enough to pay for lunch and our toboggan rental. 
We collected our toboggan and set off down the hill.
Ed, the one with a cat allergy, stopping to make a friend...

 We had no prior tobogganing experience before our trip down

The snow had finally stopped, but the low-hanging clouds stayed
And look, a video!  Taken by yours truly as I screamed...possibly cried down the mountain.

The tobogganing turned out alright so we continued to sled for awhile after we made it back to the main road. It was my first time to use one of these disk sleds--they are fast on a steep hill!

We left the next day.  The roads had been cleared so we had no problems. I would like to just add one more thing to this post...if you ever visit Alpbach, I would highly recommend that you stay at G√§stehaus Larch.  It is owned and operated by a family.  Most rooms include a kitchen (ours did not) so it would be a perfect place for a family to stay.  They serve breakfast only.  Other restaurants (and the ski bus) can be reached by an eight minute walk. 

1 comment:

  1. I just want to say it is so fun reading your posts. I really think you are a gifted writer, you are so captivating!! I think you should write a childrens book some day :)