For Lisa's birthday, we headed down south to Carinthia to ski for a couple of days and then to Styria to hit up a thermal spa, Bad Blumau, on our return. Although the winters in Austria can be blistering cold (relatively speaking, of course), the drop in the mercury doesn't necessarily mean the snow is accumulating. And if the temperatures are mild -- even warm -- you can easily surmise what the consequences are: resorts rely more heavily on snow-making and the snow conditions become sub-optimal. On our first morning in Bad Kleinkirchheim it was sunny and mild -- better than cold and gray, I suppose -- with a moderately warm day forecast so we knew that if the snow was crispy in the morning, it would warm by the afternoon. I'm not a fan of skiing groomers (bullet-proof or otherwise) all day -- powder, moguls, and off-piste skiing are the norm in Utah -- whereas Lisa grew up skiing on the East coast so she is more skilled and comfortable skiing in icy conditions than me. At any rate, the snow did soften as the day wore on and, for the first time this winter, we found a couple of trails that hadn't been groomed so some decent mogul lines formed. There certainly weren't any moguls on the lower mountain, however: what little snow there was was artificial:
|A ribbon of artificial snow. Not sure if you can tell from the pic, but the chairlift is total old-school: the foot-rest swings around from the side.|
|Where's the snow?!?|
|Perhaps a visor and sunglasses instead?|
|Oh yes, there it is...on the other side of the resort|
|Dear Goulash soup and beer for lunch, I love you. ~me|
We considered snow shoeing or cross-country skiing on the second day but since the snow was so spartan and the weather so warm, we decided to run instead. A nine mile loop with 719 meters (~2350 feet) of vertical climb began right near our hotel -- we actually stayed in a neighboring town, Feld am See, rather than in Bad Kleinkirchheim -- then spent the afternoon binging on cheese, bread, and beer. A damn fine day, to be sure.
On our way back to Vienna we stayed at what may be, arguably, the most unique and swankiest thermal bath/spa in Austria: Bad Blumau. The resort was designed by the Austrian architect, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who, among other things, sought to harmonize life with nature in a light-hearted, non-stuffy way. It was cloudy and overcast when we were there so the pictures, unfortunately, don't really do it justice.
|Smooth, child-like lines are the norm.|
|Not your typical resort/hotel room bathroom.|
|The steam rising from the baths.|
|Maybe Mr. Hundertwasser was a fan of psychedelics?|
|Not quite a yellow brick road...|
|So how 'bout it, one last dip in the thermal pools?|