Jenny's Blog


Leave a comment

Obertauern

IMG_5826_Facetune_16-03-2019-13-44-36And another new snowboarding location follows!

Despite not having much time off this season to properly go to the Alps for the regular 2 weeks trip I have been doing couple times per season since 14 years (ahh, amazing school/uni years!), I have managed to see surprisingly a lot of new slopes this year!

This trip was an amazing combo of everything, because we first went to Slazburg to celebrate Ruby’s Birthday, which was followed by an amazing skiing and apres-skiing weekend in Obertauern.

For the dinner (which we had en blanc, since it was indeed an outstanding culinary experience), we were invited to Stratmann. It’s one of those places no tourist has never found, and it’s just incredible. It’s one of those cases when I don’t write “if you happen to pass by – definitely check it out”, but “you have to GO there!”.

 

About Obertauern itself I’ve heard a lot, but had never been before. It’s a place for young crowds who want to party, but the slopes are great, too! A wide range of easy routes marked blue (but we found some black adventures as well, so a rider of any level won’t be bored there), and the coolest thing – slopes interconnected in a way that enables a round-trip through the entire area, somewhat like Sella Ronda of Italy.

We were there more to party than to do sports, but I am very proud of us that we actually managed to start at 8 a.m. and were killing it on the slopes until the lifts were closed. Then the apres-ski comes, and it’s amazing there! I lived the place called Kingsalm the most. It’s so rare to hear good techno music on the slopes! Most of the huts play traditional Austrian/Slovenian (depends on the area) music that is made solely for apres-ski and isn’t always the deepest lyrics or the best taste melody, I admit. That place had a great dj every day and even live performers, so cool! The vibe itself is also incredible, already during daytime it turns into Ibiza of the mountains.

There are plenty of traditional huts, too, and they are open all night long, whereas most of the resorts die around dinner time. Here one can surely go crazy! Even fancy restaurants, eg. Peakini, turn into crazy party places that keep the neighbours up all night long. You go, Obertauern!

The season of this year is over and despite loving snowboarding with all my heart, I can’t wait for this spring to start!


Leave a comment

Stuhleck & Nassfeld

Processed with VSCO with m5 presetThe mountains! I haven’t spent as much time as I usually do every winter in the Alps this year. The closing of the season is yet to come, though!

We opened the season at Stuhleck: slopes area in Semmering, ca. 1,5h away from Vienna. It is the closest to the capital skiing area which I never even knew existed. I expected 2,5 short slopes for beginners and old-school lifts which throw you down in precipice not slowing down at the stations. So I was quite surprised when discovered a decent slopes map, modern infrastructure and even the convenience of getting there: timetable of a bus that takes you directly to the funicular is adjusted to train arrival times. I liked it and I wish I had another free day to go, since it is a place for a one-day trip (I mean, there are some hotels around, but it’s not necessary to sleep over when Vienna is so close).

The only frustration was the lack of apres-ski – something essential for proper mountain lovers. We did find delicious sausages, Mohnknödel and even musicians singing awfully loud and playing an accordion there; but a classy hut where everyone dances on benches in their skiboots was missing a bit. We still managed to get so drunk that we missed the last skilift load and had to walk 4km through the forest though, so the experience was complete!

My next trip was longer and took me further: to Nassfeld. It is convenient for us to meet up there with my parents when they drive from Lignano. The town of Hermagor where we stayed is relatively small but there are no tourists, only Austrians and some Slovenians. They know how to party Alpine style, so apres-ski was on point since midday already. The slopes area itself is satisfying: suitable for all levels, with nice views over the peaks and a few restaurants to chose from.

But the size matters in this case and I admit that 5 days is max. lenght of stay in Nassfeld if you don’t want to be deadly bored. It is not a loud fun town with a lot going on and all places booked out every night like Sölden or Ischgl. Great for family vacations and for those who seek to have some quite time, but too still for those who can’t sit at home in the evening. So, I would recommend choosing a different location if you are a large group and wanna go for 2 weeks. But for a few days the place is perfect!

Try beef tartar at Bärenwirt and book a table for dinner at Mari e Monti, if you ever come to the place 😉

Meanwhile, I am very excited for the next weekend and our trip with friends to Obertauern! March is my favourite time to be in the mountains. Sunshine and sparkly snow, here we come!


1 Comment

Pasta, Wine & Snowboards

Снимок экрана 2018-03-22 в 18.27.38This is the last tribute to the mountains this season, and I really hope spring must be somewhere very close to us on its way!

Our ultimate skiing-snowboarding tour took us to Madonna di Campiglio, Italy. I have been there before, so just click the link for my first impressions. This year I got convinced that the slopes are one of the best. Very long, wide and with quit stable and steep incline, they would be perfect for the beginners, as well as they remain enjoyable for the advanced riders. There is always some extreme to be found, if one is looking for it, too. The weather was extremely cold for Italy when we arrived, with the lowest of -20, but thanks to large amounts of snow precipitation, there was no ice on the slopes at all. Great powder and even low temperatures didn’t ruin the experience, as most of the funiculars are either closed cabins or modern heated chairlifts. We traveled on skis to the regions of Pinzolo and Marilleva. Definitely take a lift to Doss del Sabion for the best view ever!

Regarding to the town, I expected a little more. In Italy, I am always sure to see greatest shopping and dozens of cozy trattorias with delicious food. In Madonna, it was good, but not the broadest variety of restaurants and shops. We were really happy to have booked a full board hotel, since it seemed we would struggle with finding a place for dinner for a big crowd each time. Shopping was very limited, too. It didn’t matter since we came there to ride and I was happy to ride whole days long (as the 12 o’clock skipass isn’t really a thing there), but if you don’t rush to the slope every morning and would like to have more entertainment in town – choose some place like Cortina d’Ampezzo or Selva di Val Gardena.
Some food up on the mountain was delicious, though. I would highly recommend Chalet Fiat: we remembered this place since 2 years, after they were cooling wine down throwing bottles outside in the snow 🙂 Reservation few days in advance is highly recommended! But my way of coming saying I will take the next free table and am willing to wait 40 minutes at the bar worked, too. Restaurants are never booked put to its real capacity since it’s impossible to predict how long people are gonna spend there, so the reservation time slots are always longer than the real time of tables being occupied (unless a reservation specifies a very exact slot), so this way very often works in fancy-always-booked-out places; the hosts would be happy to have extra orders in the time left before the next reservation, just ask!
In town, there are two places which we also marked two years ago and enjoyed again: Belvedere and Antico Focolare. Open for lunch as well as for dinner, it’s a pure pleasure to eat the best Carbonara at Belvedere or truffle ravioli and risotto from A.F. coming down to town straight after an intense day on the slopes!

I am more than ready to welcome spring now, it’s taking too long this year, so we may probably hope for a very hot and dry summer. But the snowboarding season’18 was awesome: Austrian Lech, Italian Madonna di Campiglio and even Russian Sochi – what a great combination! See you next year on the slopes!


2 Comments

Sochi

IMG_3984Remember, I finished the last blog entry with the news of continuing the snowboarding season in a very unexpected place? Here it is, welcome to…Sochi!

We haven’t skied outside Alps in many years, I actually only have been to the Pyrenees and USA-Canadian mountains besides the alpine experience. So, going to Sochi’s Olympic facilities was quite thrilling! But not only did the mountains excite me, but the city itself.

For those who don’t know me since childhood: I spent a big deal of it in Sochi because my grandparents live there, so sending the kids away to the sea for the hot months was an annual practice. I could take friends and cousins with me, my grandparents loved everyone around and it was always such a blast! At some point, as the summers started getting hotter, grandma and grandpa would go to the north to escape the heat, and we would get an apartment for ourselves, yay! Still being underaged and not being able to travel abroad alone, this was luck of a lifetime! My real adult parties started on Plotforma of Sochi. Nostalgic I get!

I had not visited Sochi in almost 7 years, though! So I did not see how it had changed after the Olympic Committee decision to run the Winter 2014 Games there. I was expecting something spectacular, of course. Considering that in my childhood Krasnaya Polyana was just a field of donkeys’ poop with 2 old funiculars where you had to lock yourself to an iron chair with a chain that would end up hanging on the level of your knees. The facilities turned out to be even nicer than I expected. Everything is modern and good-looking. It surprised me, though, that even on the days with crowds of people the lifts were still running at their lowest capacity level. That caused very long lines, of course. I guess this typical Russian “protocol above common sense” did not pass Sochi by, either. Some areas like the Southern Slope definitely lack 2-3 additional lifts to eliminate Disneyland-in-China-like lines. But there is night skiing which is absolutely a cool thing not that common for Europe! In general, everything is open until late, which is normal practice in Russia, but unusual after Alps where even apres-ski bars often close down before dinner.

The service, despite desperate attempts to be on the highest level, also suffers quite often. We stayed at Rosa Springs Hotel, which obviously lacks simple vertical management. Too much staff on the same operational level causes pure chaos. They would smile at your as bright as the sun, but no requests can ever be met – only following the protocol, again. The hotel itself is also just too big. Taking it 15 minutes of walking in a bathrobe to get to the swimming pool as a bit annoying. Especially if you learn at the end of the journey that the spa area is closed out of the blue. It was not that bad, don’t take me wrong. I just really prefer small cozy family hotels of Tyrol.

The food is decent taking into consideration Russian sanctions against edible foods. The restaurants “Груша” (“Pear”) up on Rosa Khutor where we stayed and “Шале” (“Chalet”) down in the village were quite good, with few remarks from my foodie self.  We celebrated Ksusha’s Birthday at Harat’s Pub and it was a total blast! Such good life music and vibe! I haven’t danced this crazily since St. Petersburg’s Dumskaya street, if you know what I mean 😉

The best thing was the weather! +15 in the sun? – yes, please! Too warm to ski? No! On the peaks it stayed cold enough, and the snow getting soft and wet closer to the bottom wasn’t annoying at all as it is so heavy that it doesn’t get lumped into mogul-like bumps. Snowboarding was very pleasant, so was our time there in general, because we were a big fun crowd with a lot of champagne and good mood!

I couldn’t wait to see the city of Sochi. On a nice Monday afternoon we drove down. The new roads are awesome! No traffic jams which used to be so typical in my childhood, all modern junctions, we made it there like on a rocket! My grandparents live away from the touristic center now, in a very quiet beautiful area close to the beach. So much had been built in Sochi, it’s unbelievable! And I don’t mean just the new skyscraper hotels; the suburbs are full of unfinished condos. I can tell that the construction fever swept over the area big deal. A lot of companies obviously went bankrupt and countless projects remain abandoned, wondering what their destiny is going to be. Th city changed its face completely. We even took a small city bus instead of waiting for a driver to look around a bit. Some areas remain untouched, but all downtown is framed in modern grandiose constructions now.

Me and Ksusha stayed in town for the evening to walk along the famous promenade which I must have walked more than thousand times in my life and grab dinner. The promenade looks the same, I wonder if the same camel Yasha still sits there in summer. Everything is, of course, quiet during the winter time, but there were still a lot of people having a slow romantic walk glazing at the sea. I liked it even more than the crazy summer with a lot of noise and fuss. Market tents where I used to buy every single bracelet made out of shells when was a kid are now replaced with less authentic, all in the same style, townhouses, on the ground level of which are still same souvenirs being sold. but it looks more classy and harmonious than those random tents were. I loved the tents, though! The main entertainment for little me when in Sochi with grandparents or aunt was to take a walk to the promenade and persuade them to buy me something useless but urgently desired.

When I go to the city where I don’t know a place for dinner, I always check on Instagram, 2018 is so straightforward. Sochi doesn’t have a city foodguide account which came as a big surprise to me. If I moved there, I would develop one myself right away! So if you are from Sochi and you know food, please create a guide asap, it’s gonna get famous at one point anyways 😉 I picked 3 places to chose from: Marinad, Old Boys “Pirs” (why the hell are there no normal websites?! this needs to be fixed by the local food society, too) and Syndicate. The first two seemed proper just for the warm season, so we went to the Steak House “Syndicate”. A bit Russian-style-wanna-be-posh in my opinion, but good! Quite a decent wine selection incl. per glass, which is not very common for expensive restaurants in Russia; indeed good meat with a fine understanding of what I mean under “I want this raw, please”; nice service and a cool design, too! I just remember from my childhood that the selection of where to eat was either an outdoor grill place with karaoke and drunk tourists after which you smell like a kebab more than a kebab does, or an awfully decorated with all glittery restaurant so expensive that it would be ridiculous to go there even for a coffee, which always left those empty or rarely hosting drunk crowds of some nouveau riches. It was good to see that the city developed quite well gastronomically. I read good reviews on quite a few places, and just walking on the streets it seemed that the resort managed to attract some gastronomes with good taste. My overall impression of the new Sochi was very positive.

If I lived in Russia, I would probably love to live in Sochi. Hope to come back in another 7 years at least!

Meanwhile, Vienna is still cold; looks like this year we will have a proper long winter which didn’t happen the past 5 years since I’m here. My snowboarding season is far from being over, and next week I will already ride on in a new area. To be continued! 🏂


3 Comments

Lech am Arlberg

Снимок экрана 2018-01-24 в 21.26.37Season’18 has officially been opened!

Those who know me are aware that I am a passionate snowboarder. Paradoxically, that didn’t make me any more passionate about winter – I still extremely dislike the cold and I am a Grinch. But the Alps make me happy. Because it’s usually sunny here. It’s not exactly the low temperatures that annoy me but rather high humidity and lack of light in winter. The mountains are dry, clean and sunny – and even more amazing when you can observe them on a relatively high speed that the snowboard gives me. Under the hashtag #snowboarding there are some of my alpine stories, but the history of my relationship with mountains goes back 15 years.

This year we started out adventures at a new spot where had never been before – Lech. We know Austrian Alps the best I assume but there are always new slopes to check. I liked the snowboarding possibilities in Lech: there are relatively wrong connected routes to neighboring valleys, the lifts build up a comfy chain without many horizontal crossings. Apres-ski choice is just awesome! But there are not many young people since this resort is quite expensive. Be ready to pay starting with 35 Euros for a bottle of simple wine at a regular cafe (in comparison, at Bad Hofgastein you’d pay 14 for it). If you want to have more younger people and party around – chose St. Anton which is next to Lech. We went there couple times and enjoyed the food, shopping and the choice of entertainment. But the slopes must be more crowded there, whereas Lech was very easy-going with no queues even on the weekends of the high season. 

I can’t tell much about gastronomy of the town. We had dinners in our hotel and found out that was a better alternative after had tried few places in town. The two Italian restaurants (Olympia and Don Enzo) were ok, but they are still Austrian Italian restaurants, if you know what I mean. It’s not the dinner you would eat anywhere in Italy, honestly. The traditional Stube Handl Tyrol was nice – affordable real Austrian food, if you are a fan you gonna be satisfied. Still, nothing special in town. However, there are better restaurants in Oberlech! Hotel Sonnenburg has very delicious tartar, for example. 

Verdict: a good compromise between a fun town and good quality slopes, shift towards the slopes. Better for families and people with income above average than for the students. Was a very warm and cozy vacation for us because we stayed in a nice family hotel and went as an entire family ourselves.

…the season is to be continued in a few days! In the most unexpected from me place 😉


Leave a comment

Cortina d’Ampezzo

 

 

 

 

Juhuuuu the skiing season to be continued! Several years ago we started with a tradition of going in the mountains more than once, and me getting into the university with quite flexible schedule possibilities helped that move a lot. This year our next spot was old famous Cortina d’Ampezzo, where the 1956 Olympics were held.

The town is absolutely stunning. Something different from all those similar alpine villages. Maybe because it is not in Tyrol we are used to see in winter. It actually even reminded me of Courmayeur, maybe because both Aosta and Friuli Venezia Giulia were independent regions at some point and managed to develop their own micro cultures differing from the typical Italian ambient.

I want to warn you about the facilities, though. As the resort is very old, the lifts are not modern either. For the skiers it should be no problem but as a snowboarder I sometimes was finding it quite challenging to get off the lift as it doesn’t slow down at the unloading point. There are some newer areas further away though, you just have to get there having struggled trough 1-2 old-fashioned funiculars. Don’t let it ruin your experience and just look around once on the peak – you will forget everything!

 

There are two separated zones in Cortina itself and the famous Cinque Torri 16km away. All three slopes networks are worth trying out! The Cinque Torri area is a place where events described in “All Quiet on the Western Front” are described and one can still see what’s left from Austrian and Italian troops’ tunnels and mines. It’s a breathtaking beautiful, too. Hard to imagine there were terrifying bomb explosions sounds there once.

 

Back to my beloved topic, food. Cortina differs from typical Italy here as well. Sometimes it’s a bit confusing and finding just regular al dente pasta is not that straightforward. But there are good places, definitely! I’d point out 5 Torri (simple and delicious), Stella Polare (marked by Michelin Guide, so a bit more elegant), pizzeria Porto Rotondo, Ra Stua, Beppe Sello is also said to be outstanding but we didn’t make it there – so try and leave me a feedback, if you ever find yourself there 😉 If you are ready to wait a bit longer but to get the best seafood you can find there – reserve a table at il Vizietto!

 

If you want to leave the mountains for a bad weather day and have a roadtrip around Veneto – you can of course go to Venice, but that would take you around 2,5 hrs. There are some small places closer to Cortina too, though! We tried Belluno – nothing new for Italy experts, but definitely very authentic for the new country visitors. Look for  restaurant (it seemed to be the only restaurant there at all, and it’s good).

 

The last two weeks of this winter sports season were sunny, very warm (what I love about snowboarding in March so much – plus 8 on the slopes feels just right) and just right for me to get distracted from Viennese life, spend some time with family, friends, good food and wines. Now let the spring come and see you again next year in the Alps!Processed with VSCO with g3 preset


Leave a comment

Ischgl

Ho ho ho! img_5094

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a blast!

I spent my winter break together with my family at a wonderful location in the Austrian mountains – Ischgl. We had already been there before but that time serious injury made us cancel our plans. So we though why not come back this year?

Ischgl is indeed an amazing place that I would highly recommend to skiers and snowboarders because, first of all, it’s quite easy to reach from airports of Munchen or Innsbruck or by train from anywhere in Austria/Northern Italy/Bavaria and, second, the resort suits for any level of skiing. That’s quite a rare combination. Most of the trips to the Alps we end up spending 4h in taxi to get there or pray on black slopes. Ischgl is really comfortable in any sense and also offers a lot of activities apart from skiing.

So, the season is opened!

 

Every morning we would go up on to the highest point, have a look at the beauty and then cross Swiss boarder to go down to Samnaun and have a route there. Come back to the Austrian side in the afternoon when the sun is there, have lunch and snowboard more and more. And, of course, the saint tradition of après-ski!

 

The places that I highly recommend for après-ski aroun Ischgl would be Pardorama restaurant  with literally the best view one can find; also suits for non-skiers as the location is reachable with cable car A2. Alpenhaus is a great one for the ones who prefer to take their skis off and have a drink right away on the mountain. Idalp is fine if you book lounge on top in advance. We started celebrating New Year’s eve at Mountain VIP Club which offers really high class cuisine – but make sure to make a reservation really in advance!

If you prefer to have your final ride back to town and have an après-ski drink there – then Fire&Ice (don’t go in, stay outside, they will soon be dancing there!) and the bars around it suit perfectly. There are also a few as you go down red route number 1. Plangger Delikatessen is a must-visit for a drink and some snacks/oysters outside or at the bar upstairs as well as for purchasing some rare alcohol, salami, cheeses, spices, oils and chocolates. Last time we lived on the other side of the city tunnel and I remember one hell of a party there every evening as well. Ischgl is very cool for young audience – you won’t be bored after having taken your boots off 😉

What else I love about my family other than we all share passion for mountains – another passion that is a very important part of any experience for us. And that would be food.

Austria is not as exciting with food choice on winter resorts like France and Italy. Sometimes you can find yourself in the village where there are only sausages and schnitzels available for dinner. But Ischgl is great there, too. Restaurants choice is impressive. From all the places we have eaten at I definitely stand up for La Candela (we ate there 5 times which we never do!!!) – it’s cheap and delicious, but they don’t take reservations, so make sure to come before 7 if you don’t want to wait in a long line; La Nona is another good Italian one which is very special for us now as my sister’s fiancé proposed to her there ❤ ❤ ❤ ; for Christmas dinner we booked Sunnalm and it was so good that we made a reservation there 2 times more; Bära-Falla I find a good choice for lunch as they have good pizzas and röstis, everything there is fast and you can come in wearing skiing boots; Trofana was our choice for New Year’s Eve, the dishes on the fixed menu weren’t as creative as at Sunnalm, but they offer amazing Thai food and the best tartars at the restaurant downstairs (be ready for long waiting times, though). There are definitely many more remarkable places for meat-lovers and, in general, for those who love to eat well, but I mentioned the ones that left a trace in my heart stomach.

To conclude with, Ischgl must be beautiful during any time of the year. There wasn’t that much snow as we just arrived – and the slopes with grass and small lakes in between them were nevertheless gorgeous, so bicycle riders should also consider the spot!

Vacation is now over, I have been working like crazy and taking semester exams at the same time since I came from my trip (which was one hell of an achievement at the end). But let my next post be devoted to what I am up to now. And now I’d just thank my family again for being such amazing travel partners.

Happy New Year! Follow us to 2017 and let it rock!Processed with VSCO with a5 preset