Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ski Trip To Filzmoos, Austria

With all of Filzmoos below us...

Daisy, Emma and I recently returned from a short ski trip to the small Austrian village of Filzmoos.

I'd never heard of it either.

Turns out it's a few kilometers southeast of Salzburg, way up in the mountains. It had been recommended by a friend, who had regaled us with stories of its mountain splendor.

Turns out he was right.

It's a quintessential alpine village, nestled below an oddly shaped mountain called the Bischofsmütze, or Bishop's Mitre.

Sadly, we never got to see much of that mountain, or any of the surrounding peaks. The village was enveloped in clouds for our entire visit. Which meant that it was snowing. A lot.

My morning exercise.

I used to live in Syracuse, New York, considered to be the snowiest big city in the United States. On average, Syracuse gets about 3 meters of snow each winter season. I'm pretty sure that Filzmoos received almost that much during the four days we were there.

Simply put, it never stopped snowing -- morning, noon, and all night, for all four days. The car was covered with a half-meter of snow each morning, and with a half-meter during the day, while we were on the slopes or wherever. It took a good 45 minutes each morning just to dig the car out.

Of course, that meant excellent skiing conditions, if not horrific driving conditions (thank god for my chains!).

We had a lovely time.

Amazingly, the ski rental shop had ski boots in my freakish size (14 in U.S., around 49 in European), so I was able to ski (although I had to ski in my jeans, since I hadn't counted on them actually having my size). We took a private ski lesson and had a great time in the deep powder.

Sleigh ride through the mountain forest. The driver shared a bottle of his homemade apricot schnapps with us on the journey.

We swam in a cool indoor/outdoor pool in the village; drove to a nearby village for the Rodelbahn, a four-kilometer-long toboggan run through empty mountain forests; and took a very long (and very, very cold) horse-drawn sleigh ride (in a real sleigh) up into the mountains to the Oberhofalm, a 300-year-old restaurant that I'm imagining is magnificently located, with views of the surrounding peaks.

All we saw were meters and meters of snow piled high, and its most welcoming lights in the dark woods (right).

We enjoyed some wonderful meals of pork and liver dumpling soup and sauerkraut and dumplings, and drank about 10 liters of weissbier.

We stayed at a cute little pension on the outskirts of town, the Pension Hochkönig.

We're actually thinking of spending Christmas in Filzmoos, with our good friends Momchil and Tanya and their son, Victor, who were supposed to accompany us on our ski trip. Unfortunately, Victor got sick at the last minute and they had to stay home.

And maybe at Christmas the sun will come out and we'll be able to see the mountains.

Daisy negotiates a deceptively tricky stretch of the Rodelbahn.

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