Sunday, January 2, 2011

Salzburg, Stiegl, Sancho, and a Ski Vacation


Rather than hang out in Vienna for the Christmas Holiday, Lisa, her father, and I motored out to Salzburg (~4 hours by car) to see the sights then due south to Bad Gastein (a ski town, more or less) to ski.  This trip marked my first bona fide "ski vacation" (growing up in the Salt Lake valley -- less than an hour from world-class snow and slopes -- made it difficult to justify the expense and time of a ski vacation).  At any rate, we didn't have much of an agenda when we arrived in Salzburg -- the fourth largest city in Austria with respect to population -- except to wander around, browse the Christmas Markets, and hike up to the castle perched on a hill overlooking the city.  (A trip to Salzburg in the summer, however, would also include a visit to the salt mines since the city is renowned for its salt mines -- "salz" is salt in German.)  The mountains bordering the Southern end of the city are magnificent.

The view from the top of Salzburg Castle
"Do you think those are easy or intermediate ski trails up there?"
Amazing.  Just amazing.
The city itself is quaint with a bit of commerce mixed in. 

"I think I see a McDonald's down there."
"Found it!  Thumbs up for a McFlurry!"  (See the McDonald's sign above?)
When we discovered that Stiegl brewery is headquartered in Salzburg we decided to take the tour of the brewery and sample the beer.  The Christmas Ale was delightful.
Stiegl:  The largest private (family-owned) brewery in Austria
Let the sampling begin!
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." (Benjamin Franklin)
An afternoon well spent!
After a couple of days lounging around Salzburg, we headed about 90 minutes South to Bad Gastein.  We were hopeful that the increase in elevation coupled with the cold weather would mean solid snow cover.  Our hopes were tempered when we arrived.
I imagine this place is even more beautiful in the summer...
But Sancho's Mexican and Austrian Restaurant cheered us up (or at least me) where corn was listed on the menu as "porn" and both fajitas and Wiener Schnitzel were available.   Things were looking up now!
Fajitas and Coronas available in an Austrian mountain town.  Who'd a thunk it?
We skied thee different resorts over four days:  Dorfgastein on the first day, Bad Gastein on the second, and Reiteralm (near Schladming) on the fourth.  Although all three days were good days on the hill, the second day was epic (uncrowded AND fresh powder!). 
First Day, First Run. 
Second Day:  New snow on Christmas Day.  It's a, a...Christmas Miracle!
"The snow felt like it was THIS deep!"
"Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way, turn." (Charles De Mar, "Better Off Dead")
Best.Day.Ever.
On the day we didn't spend on the slopes, we trekked up to a Mountain  Hut -- Alpengasthof Prossau -- about five kilometers in from the base of the mountains.  You could either walk/snow shoe, cross-country ski, or ride a sleigh to the hut.  We walked. 

The hut is about an hour behind me.  (Thanks for the jacket, Sundance!)
I think this one should be framed...
Sleighs are for...sissies?

Almost there!


Beer (of course) and Apfel Strudel on the other side of that door!