Mommy Explorer: Skiing In Europe Part 2

On The Piste

Mom was wrong. The best thing you can do for yourself is travel off-season. I’m serious, it’s that great. JFK was empty, we glided through, I even volunteered for the full body scan, thought it might be kind of fun, but they turned me down. Said I didn’t look like a terrorist, to which I replied, “that’s racial profiling,” and they DID NOT laugh. The NTSB is not known for their humor. Anyway, international is the way to go. The terminal is so much nicer compared to domestic, the restaurants and bars feel like something I’d actually want to go to. My Husband kept pulling me away and reminding me that on International there is actually FOOD and DRINKS! I kept reminding him that with the handy dandy BTS seat picker, I knew we’d all be together in the same row so there was NO rush to board.  The kids brought their pillows and the people at British Airways were so lovely and polite, it felt like a holiday already.

But this didn’t last. Mom was right, I suppose. Some things are just too good to be true.  First of all there was a rowdy group that never met a bottle of schnapps or an Austrian anthem they didn’t like. The kids couldn’t sleep, so guess what? They joined them. Within hours, somewhere over the Atlantic my oldest son was drinking schnapps and thought he was Austrian until he threw up. All over his sister. But then when we landed in Innsbruck and took our first fresh breath, it was like we’d been transported into another atmosphere. The air was so clean. So clean. It felt hard and crisp, like frozen water. I could feel my face come alive. And the sky was so purely blue, the snow dripped white on the radical peaks.

Then not so good. And waited. My husband gave me the look, “I told you we shouldn’t have hired a cab, we should have rented a car.”

“Please, you’d kill us all.” But after another hour of waiting, and redailing good old

Taxi Lami 0043 5446 2806 .

We gave up and dialed good old Taxi Harry 0043 5446 2315

Minutes later, Harry came up with possibly the smallest car I’ve seen outside of a cartoon.

“Two hundred Euros each way for this?” The kids laughed. But when we all got in, shoved in, the trip was an hour of site-seeing. The mountains alone and the passes through them are like a trip back in time.

And the village of St. Anton was all that I hoped it to be. It looked like a perfect postcard of Christmas. A line of little shops, covered with snow, lights draped over their pointed roofs, so small and so full of life. When the driver dropped us off  in a large square building next to town I thought he was mistaken.  I looked at my husband, “Wasn’t it supposed to be a chalet?”

“Yeah,” he said.

“This is correct.” Our driver pulled up and his accent sounded so rigid, I was sure there could be no mistake. The doors opened and suddenly there was a flurry of activity as they came and helped us up to out fifth floor set of rooms. Apparently our chalet was the Austrian version of a penthouse.

“Wow, Mom!” My daughter giggled. The views were incredible. The tall spires were black and white outside and beneath the town was alive with shoppers, locals and tourists alike doing all that those of us who don’t die to ski every day do.

“This is great for you,” my husband said right away, “you won’t be locked out in the mountains waiting for us all day.”

“No question!” I could hardly wait.

“Anyone who wants to ski today, my son will take you to get started.” The innkeeper pointed to his son, “his name is Klaus, and he is an expert skier and guide. He will stay with you until you feel good, ja?”

I elbowed my husband, who then pulled out some Euros to tip, but this man would have none of it. “Good-bye.”

While my daughter and I stayed behind to hit the pool and spa, the boys went out with Klaus and came back with the basic rundown.

“St Anton is known as the birthplace of modern skiing!!!” Were the first words out of my son’s mouth upon his return. His cheeks were bright red, so were my husband’s. They were so excited.

“Oh, baby, it’s so incredible! It’s like the biggest, best adrenaline rush you’ve ever had.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. They were out of their minds happy. “I seriously, for the life of me, don’t know what an adrenaline rush feels like.”

“It’ll take us months to ski all of this!” Apparently the ski area is huge.  “The new lift up Rendl makes that side of the mountain a very good option to start, plus there’s the ski schools there.”

“And if you go to the bottom of the Valfagehr lift there is a free bus to Lech. At the bottom of blue 8 there’s this great place for lunch called the Hospiz and guess what?”

“What?” My daughter and I, both in or white fluffy robes, stared at them.

“You slide down to the toilets.” They laughed.

“So when we’re tired of it over here, or the snow’s not great, you can catch a bus to Lech and Zurs.”
“There’s night skiing, and we’re totally doing it. And there’s a sled run that’s like two miles and it’s at night.” My son peeled off his jacket. “We’re so doing it, we’ll take you both for ski stuff in the morning, the people at Ski Fauner, are great.”

We stayed in the first night, it was so hard to leave my duvet, I think I’ll try to bring it home with me, I’m that attached. But the next day we were dragged out for some incredible hot chocolate and rolls at a small bakery near the ski shop, I didn’t catch the name but I will. So yummy. Inside everything smells of chocolate and butter, windows are fogged, and then outside it’s cold and crisp.

After renting our skis, boots, helmets and poles for about one-hundred Euros for the whole week! What a deal, right? We headed out. It was one of those days, wind was gone, sky was blue with trees covered in snow. Must have been around fifty degrees. And no one was out, no lines at all. We skied the morning, and it felt like I had been flung back in time. Stopping for hot mulled wine in actual glasses, real food served on a plate while everyone there pointed their oiled, tanned face to the sun as if they’d just been told sun cancer was a myth. That goes for cigarettes as well. Anyway, it didn’t matter, it kind of lent itself to the feeling that we were in the nineteen twenties.  We skied until three when we decided to hit a place called Moose for a little après-ski. I have to say it is far healthier than the scene in many American ski resorts. Whole families sitting together, listening to music, so unlike the beer-drinking drunken scene many American ski resorts have become when the lifts shut down. strength building workouts

Later, after taking a short nap with my incredible duvet, we went to Piccadilly’s, one of the town’s most popular night spots, and listened to a man called Andi play. He was amazing and the place was full of red-faced, happy skiers drinking warm wine.  Then we went to the Train for Fondue. Cheese fondue, beef fondue, chocolate fondue, you name it, we ate it. I think the cold weather burns more calories too, because really none of us felt too full. The ingredients here are so pure, the cheese, beef and chocolate all come from local farms.

All I wanted though after our long romantic walk back was my duvet and incredible penthouse suite. The next day I planned to take off for Innsbruck, only an hour and 15 minutes away by train for about 23.50 euros round trip. My kids also want to go to the next town over called Bludenz, there they tell us you will find the scent of Chocolate wafting through town…It’s Nestle!

Tell me, what could be better? At least that was what I thought until the following day when you’re never going to guess what happened. It was awful, so awful, in fact I can’t write anymore. Let me just tell you this. Austrian hospitals aren’t quite what they’re cracked up to be. And their doctors are nuts. I’m serious.

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