One thing we love about living in Europe is the accessibility to skiing. Not just skiing, but great skiing. I have to admit that the great skiing part really doesn’t matter a whole lot to me because I am more of a “I ski for après-ski kinda gal”. I do love being in the mountains, the beauty and fresh air. I am not yet a great skier but am determined to work on it because I know that my boys and Scott love it. We try to hit the slopes as much as possible and with the generous holiday breaks here we get plenty of opportunity.
This year for Fasching Break we decided to ski in Saalbach-Hinterglemm in Austria. It is a pretty massive system of pistes with a variety of levels which we need for our family. Well, really just for me because I am still the granny on the blues. The drive from our house in Germany should take around four hours, however, we made the mistake of leaving on the first Saturday of the break when everyone else also decided to travel so it took us around seven. Lesson learned! Driving throughout Europe is super easy as the borders are open but some countries do require vignettes to drive on their roads. Austria is one of them. We always start discussing stopping to get the vignette about an hour from the border and it never fails that we always forget and everyone ends up yelling at each other about where we should stop to get the damn vignette! After finally stopping to secure our “driving pass” and of course to paying to use the toilet (all toilets in Europe cost money to use but that is an entirely different post!) we finally made our way into the mountains.
We stayed on the Hinterglemm side at the Alpin Juwel Hotel. It was super close to perfect for our family. The hotel has onsite parking which is huge win, equipment storage, ski rental next door and access to several ski lifts within a five minute walk. This trip we chose do do half board which everyone voted as a great decision and that’s not always easy with two teens and an eleven year old who thinks he is a teen. We have always been hesitant of the half board because we do like to venture out and enjoy different restaurants. This trip it was key because the boys skied all day for six days and the last thing we wanted to do in a sold out ski town with three super hungry kids was wait for a table. The breakfast was amazing with all locally sourced produce and bio options and they did a nice job mixing up the dinner menu. The hotel was super cozy with indoor/outdoor pool options, sauna (yes naked of course, we were in Austria!), and a welcoming front desk that took care of all of our ski passes and booking lessons.
Ok, now getting into my area of expertise! Saalbach-Hinterglemm is known for après-ski and it did not disappoint! At the base of the Unterschwarzachbahn lift there is a bar called Der Schwarzacher that starts hoppin’ around 3:00. It does get very crowded fast so if a table is important to you get there early. We of course never made it early so instead enjoyed relaxing in their lounge chairs and the bar area. We also ate there for lunch a couple of times and it is pretty tasty Austrian fare. If you want to go to the Granddaddy of après-ski you will need to head over to the Goaßstall which is located right above the base of the Reiterkogelbahn lift. You can access it from runs 70a or 72 or if on foot walk up Hasenbachweg and go through the tunnel. There is a great hill where the kids can sled after the runs are closed, the music is great and the drinks are definitely flowing.
On day five of skiing we decided to take a short road trip to meet friends in Zell am See about a 30 minute drive from Hinterglemm. Zell am See is a great ski village located on a gorgeous lake and worth visiting year round (we were there in the fall at the tail end of our Slovenia trip). We parked at the areitXpress Talstation where the parking is free and pretty easy with big lots located within five minute walk of the lifts. We had purchased the “Skicircus Pass” for Saalbach-Hinterglemm and that also included Zell am See. We have been so amazed how reasonable it is to ski in Europe. The boys’ pass for the whole week that included a very large ski region was 139€. The last time we skied in the States we were in Vermont and it was $100 per day to get on the mountain. Crazy! Anyway, I decided not to ski this day but did head up to meet the crew for lunch at the Schnapshansbar. I was able to take up the Areitbahn 1, 2 and 3 gondolas and then hike up to the restaurant via a nice winterwanderweg (hiking trail). I felt with my steep uphill hike I at least earned my lunch Prosecco!
We had an amazing time in Hinterglemm and will return. The ski town has just about everything there is to offer with more ski runs than you can do in a week, a charming village and most importantly a super solid après-ski! Cheers!