This year, our plan was to try out a few other activities other than just skiing. Truth be told, we still ARE mostly skiing, at a dizzying pace. But, we have managed to expand our horizons a little bit.
I had the pleasure of joining my friend, Claudia, along with her mother, Gerti, and daughter, Anna, for a hike right outside our apartment. I should know by now that Austrians are always serious about doing anything in the out of doors. We basically walked straight uphill ~ this time I am talking about a mountain, not a molehill ~ for 45 minutes. Gerti looked like a mountain goat ~ in a good way ~ as she easily and quickly made her way to the top. Our first destination was a chapel built in 1777 … it was so simple, beautiful, and spiritual. Our second destination was Planötzenhof Inn where Claudia treated us to coffee and delicious cake. Actually, Claudia’s mom treated all of us since the Inn only took cash and Claudia didn’t have any. (Good strategy, Claudia!)
I’ve always enjoyed watching ice skating; Kevin, not so much. I was able to convince him to go to Holiday on Ice … right downtown Innsbruck … took us less than 10 minutes to get there. Parking was 5€, beers were 4€ (+ 2€ deposit so they get the plastic cups back for re-use – good idea). It turned out to be a fun thing to do. The skating, dancing, acrobatics, costumes, and music were all top shelf.
Skiing brought us back to the Stubaier Gletscher… it was one of our favorites from last winter. It did not disappoint. We were joined by our friend Heiner and his son, Linus. We all enjoyed excellent gulaschsuppe while sitting outside in pure sunshine. Our day ended with a long valley run via a ski route that ended 8 meters from our parked car.
My humbling skinning experience taught me to try again by myself so that I wouldn’t have to drag Claudia with me … managed to go twice more with the goal of shaving some time off my ascent. I’m happy to report I remembered Claudia’s instructions for changing the ski setting from UP to DOWN, but have to admit I did initially forget to take the skins off the bottoms of the skis. Luckily, this was both obvious and easily fixed. I am always trying to learn new German words whenever I get the chance … I happened upon a sign on this skinning trail. It consisted of many German words and a couple of photos. I figured out some of the wording and only then noticed that the photos were a warning to keep dogs on leash; I’ll spare you the details of what happens to forest animals when dogs run free.
I think we figured out the key to success for seeing waltzing at a Viennese ball ~ watch it on TV! Wow, we could see the whole pageantry while we had our feet comfortably propped up on our ottoman. It’s not quite the same as being there, all dressed up, in person with our friends, but it really wasn’t a bad plan B.
Another key to success … getting friends to cook meals while we’re busy skiing! Anne joined Heiner with her youngest, Linus, for the week. Anne opted not to ski which was certainly to our advantage. This gave her time to create a fantastic Austrian meal of spinat kanoodles (including lots of butter and parmesan, of course), followed by a delicious berry cloud dessert. Anne and I also had a chance to take a few long walks with our hundes, Anton and Schatzi. I tried to get her to consider skinning with me someday, but she prefers to walk on more level ground without all the up and down activity. Can’t say that I blame her. It was fun to spend time with her off the mountains.
Sölden ski area … it was a bear and we have the picture to prove it:
The conditions were actually pretty awful. Due to the warmer than usual weather, the slopes were showing the effects of the thaw/freeze pattern. (Translation: ice.) This was compounded by an overcast day which meant visibility was tough. And this was also compounded by the fact that the slopes were absolutely mobbed. We can thank the Dutch school holiday week for that. Not all was lost, though … the last run down to the valley was amazing due to warmer temperatures and slushy piles of snow. It was a hoot to ski it.
Kevin, having one of his favorite meals at PatscherAlm (a sweet, magical hutte at Patscherkofel) … I should’ve taken a picture with his favorite Austrian chef, Nora. She, of course, was busy in the kitchen. Get the hauswurst with kartoffel salat when you go.
All these fun adventures created a need for us to connect with a woman named Bettina. She is a professional massage therapist. No, I’m not willing to share her contact information; she’s already quite booked up so it’s a challenge to get an appointment. It was a real treat … not only was it much less expensive (about half price) than what we’re used to, but she actually spent an extra 20 minutes on me ~ no charge ~ guess she can recognize a train wreck when she sees one. Thanks to Bettina, we can both move again and live to ski another day or 10 or 20.
We really never have a dull moment … I find myself almost craving one some days! Heiner is staying at Kasperhof for a month … his oldest son, Lukas, and friend, Henry, are now visiting ~ reinforcements showed up! We’ve had a lot of laughs over dinners and card games. The ‘boys’ are avid snowboarders so they’ve been busy flying past us (well, okay just me) on the slopes.
We try to find something interesting to do when we have our ‘off’ days ~ i.e. no ski days ~ we took advantage of the amazingly springlike weather and went to the Alpenzoo which is located on the hillsides just near the edge of Innsbruck proper. Our Marblehead friends, Amy and Steve B visited last year and recommended this place. We were pleasantly surprised by the artful architecture of the enclosures and the meandering walkway ramps. The animals seemed to be well cared for. It was great to see moose, ibex, vultures, pigs, sheep, and other assorted wildlife. My favorite part was hearing the toddlers squeal with delight as they encountered the different animals. My other favorite part was seeing a brown bear waking up from a nap to stretch and take in the sunshine. We enjoyed all of this while taking in a vista of Innsbruck below. Not a bad take for a lazy Sunday morning.
Our initial plan was to spend a couple of days in Venice, Italy while here but, for obvious reasons that plan needs a little tweaking. We hope to explore some other places in Austria before April; we’ll take it one day at a time and see where we end up.