Monday, February 27, 2017

Alpine Adventure!

We spent this weekend skiing the Alps in Austria!  We racked up a long list of firsts this weekend including the first time to ski in Europe, first time to see (or ski) the Alps, first visit to Austria, first gondola lift, and first time to ride an escalator with skis!

Jackson had a long weekend from school for Karneval, so we headed out of town after his class party.  We opted for the train since we heard traffic heading to the Alps from Germany could get lengthy. Plus, you can't beat the benefits of a convenient no-stop-required bathroom, onboard restaurant, and room to move around on a train.
Here we are walking the 2 blocks to the train station from our house. Packing for skiing takes ALOT of luggage when you take your own gear!  3 suitcases, 4 shoulder bags/backpacks, 2 ski bags, and a small duffel for Brandtley's food.

Our first train was just a subway to another station where we would board our longer train. The train was packed with Karneval partiers dressed in costumes, playing music, drinking, and singing to the kids! :) 

Our journey

Alpine skiing was a fantastic experience!  Instead of "Green" "Blue" and "Black" runs, here there are Green, Blue, Red, and Black runs. Except the mountains we skied started at Blue and there were no greens.  I wouldn't classify these two mountains as great for beginners since there were very few "easy" slopes and those were isolated, but there was plenty of intermediate & upper intermediate level.

Since we've only done this once, I don't know if the following is "normal" or just the area we were skiing.

The runs are LONG!  This can be awesome if you're on one you like! Or if you happen to choose poorly and find yourself on something a little above your skill level, could make for a really long hour of hard work.  I might be speaking from experience... ;)

However, the views from the top are spectacular!  The lifts are also long...thus a lot of gondolas. But we didn't encounter long lift lines.

This kid tore it up! He skied nonstop and didn't want to quit!  He took 2 hours of lessons each day in addition to skiing with us before & after.  

Gondola lift

One of Jackson's first runs this year...a little hesitant but already loving it!

Skiing with your dog is acceptable. We watched this guy ski all the way down the mountain with his dog on a leash.  There's a sport called Skijoring in which dogs (or horses) pull skiers, but this dog just ran beside his owner.

Not the gondolas we rode in :)

Repping CB in the Alps!

Gorgeous views from the gondola

Inside one of the buildings at the base of the mountain. Also pictured are the escalators.

Break to eat lunch & watch the ski World Cup 

We stayed in a town a few kilometers away at a "Familienhotel" which caters to families.  The nearby towns are all serviced by a ski bus (Schibus) which is free if you have on your ski gear, and so we rode it each day to the base of one of the two nearby mountains.

The hotel was all inclusive, which seems to be somewhat normal here. And included a KidsClub, Wellness spa with saunas, and 5 course meals each night. Brandtley chose to play in the KidsClub instead of skiing, which we went along with since he was SO happy. After all, it was his birthday. And he LOVED it.  The kid seriously needs to start kindergarten.

Playing in the indoor whirlpool. Pictured outside the windows is one of the 4 saunas.  Hands down the saunas & pools are the best apres ski activity ever for sore muscles.

I wrote ahead to the hotel to let them know of Brandtley's dietary restrictions and they went out of their way to make sure he had something safe to eat.  The chef made him a separate dinner each night and he was served gluten free rolls in the morning at breakfasts.  It was clear not all staff understood the full restrictions of gluten-free at the level required for Celiac, so caution is needed, but the chef seemed to be knowledgeable and everyone was extremely nice. We highly enjoyed our stay at the Kesselgrubs Familienhotel in Altenmarkt im Pongau.
The playground outside the building our room was in.  The hotel has a number of summertime activities too - from hiking to kids pony rides & petting zoo.

The train ride back was beautiful and we were able to see the views of the Alps that we missed on the ride down at night.  This is a little town just outside of Salzburg. Not the best picture, taken from a train window, but beautiful.

The Hills are Alive! 

Lastly, I'll leave you with this little gem... taken during a Hamilton dance party in hour 7 of an 8 hour train ride in the same little compartment the entire time.


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