Sunday, February 22, 2009

Austria: A Peaceful, Easy Feeling

Just rolled back into Amsterdam after a week holiday in the gorgeous Austrian Alps. Our destination for the week was the idyllic village of Obergurgl (which is near Hochgurgl, if you must ask).

We’d been looking forward to this ski holiday for
many months, and it exceeded our expectations. Along with enjoying the time together as a family, we were blessed with ideal weather, great snow conditions, and a gorgeous ski in/ski out hotel. Sunshine soaked the slopes for our first few days, then we enjoyed a massive snowstorm that covered the mountains with 20cm of fluffy powder.We cut our skiing short on the snowfall day, opting instead to enjoy a long day poolside in our hotel's incredible spa area. With a big, warm swimming pool for the kids, 2 types of saunas, a hot tub, 2 steam rooms, an ice room, and foot baths, this spa would rank as high as any I've experienced. Stacey enjoyed a massage on our blizzard day – something she’s making a habit of every time it’s offered on our holidays.

Americans are in very short supply during holiday times in Austria. While we ran into busloads of Brits and ma
ny Germans & Austrians, the only fellow Yanks we encountered were fellow expats/friends of ours from Amsterdam whom we had recently met through mutual friends. Maya had a great time in ski school with her friend Sami, while we had a blast with Sami's parents and a few other couples. Both kids loved the ski school, and we were very impressed with their skiing abilities by the end of the week.

Another nice part of the week was meeting new friends. Dinner was included in the price of our room, so we had an assigned table for the entire week. While the view out the window didn't change much, we were lucky to be seated next to a family with two children (Frederic and Caroline) with similar ages to ours. The kids became inseparable from the moment we returned from skiing each day until bedtime. The Anderson family from Denmark were delightful, and by day #2, the kids were begging to sit together at mealtime, affording us the chance to get to know Christian and Romana better and find out more about their lives as expats in Berlin. And the food in the dining room was superb...absolutely delicious salads, soups, main courses, and off-the-charts desserts.

On the slopes, gondolas and large chair lifts took us to vantage points that took our breath away. It didn't take a genius to understand that the vistas of the valleys and peaks surrounding Obergurgl keep bringing back skiers year after year. The terrain was varied enough that we had fun discovering new runs each day, and the on-slope dining options for lunch breaks were plentiful--serving up spaetzl and other wonderful Austrian culinary delights.

The drive from Amsterdam to Austria at the beginning of the week was a bit rough (traffic, bad weather), but we split the journey into two days to lessen the impact. Maya and Cole loved the return trip...thanks to our portable DVD player!

Click HERE for all of the photos from our ski holiday.

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