Good morning! It must be yet night or even previous day in your part of the world though. But I am writing from incredible Hong Kong.
So many impressions I have already received after first day here. Wanna share asap! But there are still three more notes missing from other trips. So it’s my luck that jet lag woke me up so early and I can try to catch up a little bit before going for my breakfast dim sums 😉
The valley of Gastein in Austrian Tyrol was the first place I visited in Austria. We loved it so much that came back again several years later; I switched from skis to snowboard that year. So I can thank Bad Hofgastein not only for introducing me to the Austrian culture but as well for supporting my beginnings in another winter sport that I mostly picked up from instructors there and still enjoy so much.
Who could have thought back then that I would be coming here again as a long-term inhabitant of Austria myself. It’s amazing how time flies and how unexpected our lives are. The owners of the hotel recognized me when we were checking-in and melted when found out I speak German now. We went to the same hotel as two times before, absolutely gorgeous Klammer’s Kärnten. Coming back as a grown-up to the place which I remember from 14 years old felt cool though.
This time I was without our huge squad of skiers that all hotels we have ever stayed at remember for another couple years. It was just me and Ksenia who finally got introduced to the alpine culture. Endless slopes, nets of funiculars, hot chocolate or Aperol Spritzer sitting in the chair catching some sun; people dancing in skiing boots, hot springs and marvelous views. I can imagine how impressed she was! Seeing this for the first time in life wouldn’t leave indifferent even someone who had traveled the world. And I was happy to be her guide.
Bad Hofgastein is one of small towns of the Gastein Valley. We find it the most attractive because of our favorite hotel, but the neighboring villages like Dorfgastein or Sportgastein (slopes only for professionals, be careful when booking!) are no less cozy. If you want more party – chose the town of Bad Gastein. As a beginner Ksenia was sent by skibus to the area of Angertal, I caught up with her by having snowboarded through the mountain pass from Bad Hofgastein side of the mountain which I then repeated every morning – a decent exercise to start a day with! So she was successfully learning skiing while I was like crazy exploring whole Schlossalm area with no map and brain to later catch up with her in a mountain bar and share impressions. Mountain peaks with strong wind and no people, unexpected black slopes popping up on the way, fear and then pride for having accomplished the descent and grabbing a deserved drink at the bottom – how much I love all that, ahh! I found Angertal quite satisfactory for beginners in comparison with more complicated slopes of Courmayeur where we took my sister earlier this season. So, if you are yet a beginner, be very careful while choosing the area and pay attention to the heights: if it’s less than 1800m then you are risking to observe all the blue slopes at the bottom being covered with grass.
Another good thing about Gastein valley is it’s accessibility. Very few spots can be reached without having to pay 500euros for a taxi. Here you can get by train, from Vienna there is even a straight connection, takes about 4h. So whole trip for us was very easily organized and comfortable. We came back to Vienna with the best impressions, definitely willing to continue exploring the Alps together another season.