I recently returned from a week of shoop, shoop, shooping down a mountain – that’s skiing for the non-f.r.i.e.n.d.s. loving of you out there (and if that’s you, stop reading my blog immediately.).
An amazing Christmas present from the boy, he whisked me away to Austria for our first winter holiday together.
We flew into a surprisingly sunny and not very snowy Innsbruck with a group of friends and arrived in the resort of Mayrhofen just after lunchtime on Saturday.
We dumped our bags at the Fernblick apartments where we were staying and took a walk down to Gasser, an amazing little cafe/restaurant/deli – directly opposite the ski lift – here we grabbed some meaty rolls and beer to refuel. This place is always heaving and when you see their enormous gamon baps, you’ll know why!
Sadly I don’t have a picture for you…so you’ll have to make do with some pics of our our home for the week, below…
And the view from our room…
Properly fed and beered up we then popped in to see Ian at ‘Rent for Fun‘ (you said it!) to hire our skis. Having only skied once before (after winning a competition with Thunder Vodka I might add – which is a whole other story) and the boyfriend never having set foot on a mountain; we snapped up their bargain beginners offer – €50 for ski and boot hire.
What a steal!
We did add an additional €25 for some slightly more comfortable boots and trust me when I say, that is the best decision you’ll make – ski boots are literally the most uncomfortable footwear known to man!
Skis sorted and being eager beavers; we rushed home to change into our gear to head up the mountain and get a quick hour in on the nursery slopes.
Not before our first ski-selfie though!
He was so excited!!
Penken is the main mountain in Mayrhofen and you reach the top by hopping on a cable car up the side of the mountain. And it goes really, really, really high!
I know that sounds obvious but I had no idea I was remotely scared of heights before jumping in. However as we edged up the mountain I had to divert my eyes to the floor – what a wuss hey? If you can swallow your fear the view is well worth it…
Am I riiiiight?
Once at the top, again possibly another obvious statement, it is so much colder! I totally sweated it up on the walk from our apartment to the ski-lift but up there in the clouds, man I was finally glad to have my thermals on.
Prior to our arrival it hadn’t snowed for weeks in Mayrhofen so our eager little hour session was on somewhat slushy and icey snow but we were promised a big dump of the white stuff the next day so after a little practise and another beer (starting to see a pattern here?) we headed home to get changed for dinner.
For our first night out we went to Grill Kuchl. We were welcomed by a slighty stressed out waiter and showed to a very kitsch table.
This place feels like a really traditional Austrian restaurant (well to a tourist) which I loved! The food is great too – the boys ordered the traditional schnitzel whereas I opted for lamb chops. They were divine and the portions were huge.
After dinner we headed straight home to bed – having been up since 3am that morning to catch our flight, we were absolutely shattered and of course we wanted to be up bright and early for our first day of skiing!
We awoke the next day to a misty Mayrhofen and as promised a huge dump of snow!!!! Yay!!!
We downed some tea and croissants that we’d bought at the local Spar and raced to the Gondola (fancy name for the cable car) as fast as our ski-boots would allow us. We wanted to make sure we were first up the mountain and making the most of that fresh powder!
My boyfriend and I had booked a private ski-lesson with one of the instructors from SMT, we thought this would be better value than doing a ski-school for the week, we hoped that we’d pick it up pretty quickly and be able to head off on our own.
We met Bo at the top of Penken and he took us over to the nursery slopes. We had a 2 hour lesson in the morning where we picked up the basics of turning and traversing. It was a bit scary to begin with…especially when your skis are pointing downhill and you’re wondering how to stop! But Bo was really great at teaching us how to ski.
We the stopped for lunch at a hidden away restaurant, even more hidden with all the snow – and it turned out it’s a hostel too.
There must have been a foot of snow on the ground by the time we stopped and more fell as we ate. It was really magical and so quiet. We couldn’t see more than a meter in front of us, and it was wonderful to experience such a snowfall!
It was also lovely to be in the warm after a morning of icy cold snow pounding our faces. Gloves, hats, neck warmers, thermals – we needed it all.
After a good helping of food we trekked back out into the snow and conquered our first blue run! The fresh snow on the ground meant we didn’t pick up too much speed, in fact the powder was that thick we did a bit of a red run (not that we realised) in order for us to get moving and learn quicker.
We finished up absolutely shattered but delighted with our progress. I was so happy that I wasn’t completely useless and even remembered some of the techniques from my first time. We rounded off the day with, of course, another beer at the Pilz Bar which is where you can begin the apres ski if you wish or just admire the view some more.
Too tired for apres ski we headed home and changed for dinner. I have to tell you too, that this walk home, in your ski boots and skis on your shoulder…this walk, uphill really isn’t fun. In fact it’s the worst part of skiing and almost enough to put me off. I mean the boots are just so annoying to walk it.
I just made sure I was well rewarded with more beer when we got back to our apartment. I’d encourage you to do the same, go on, you deserve it!
For our second night we dragged our tired behinds to the Laendenhof restaurant which was right next to our apartment and recommend by Bo, our ski instructor. He told us it was the best restaurant in Mayrhofen so it had a lot to live up to!
Obviously the dress code was grey for the restaurant..
We pretty much all ordered the chateaubriand to share – we were also told by our waiter, who looked amazingly, exactly like Elvis (Uh huh!) that we could help ourselves to the salad bar.
I absolutely fell in love with the salads in Austria. Sad I know. But the choice, variety and amazing dressings…man, that was good salad! Even sadder, as I said, I don’t have any pictures of any of the amazing food so you’ll have to make do with pics of my holiday pals.
Anyway when our huuuuuuge mains arrived we were, once again, bowled over by how good the meat was. The steak was perfectly cooked and the selection of sides that came with verged on ridiculous. Mash potato, roast potatoes and chips, some sort of amazing cheesy, bacon brocoli…it was a good job we’d been exercising all day hey? But not only was the food delicious, it was amazing value too. We went back again on our last night for dinner which I think is endorsement enough.
The Laendenhof is also a hotel, and if the food is anything to go by I’d imagine it’s a great place to stay.
Now more skiing!
My boyfriend perfecting his posing style on the slopes…
Day three we headed out sans instructor and tried to master the slopes on our own. We skied around Penken trying our best to remember how to turn and stop and did pretty well I have to say – reward beers followed!
In the afternoon we decided to head over to one of the other mountains in Mayrhofen, Ahorn. We stopped off at Gasser (again) on the way and grabbed yet more meaty buns, (seriously good meat!) we then jumped on the huge ski-lift up to the top of Ahorn. The views were unsurprisingly spectacular.
Ahorn seemed a lot quieter than Penken – perhaps it’s because both times we were there it was later in the afternoon and the lift only runs every 15 minutes as opposed to Penken’s lift which has constant access.
At the top of Ahorn there’s an igloo which is actually a cool bar. Outside we pulled up a couple of deck chairs and made the most of that early spring sunshine. And with the house tunes blasting, beer in hand, sun blazing down on your face, you could be forgiven think you’re in Ibiza…then you open your eyes and remember you’re on top of a mountain…pretty cool!
Inside the walls are carved with polar bears and there are cool neon lights and fur draped over the icy seating and booths cut into the walls.
I really loved it up on Ahorn and we spent probably a little too long sat on those deckchairs in the sun…well, at least that’s what my reddened nose told me the next day.
The rest of the week passed in much the same way as the first few days – up early skiing, stopping to eat at the top of a mountain somewhere, drinking beer, skiing more, eating more, drinking even more and collapsing in the evening.
After the huge snow dump on the first day we were treated to the most amazing weather. Superb sunshine over the slopes. It made being on top of the mountains and skiing all the more amazing.
I was gutted to come home and have totally caught the skiing bug! Although in a couple of years once I’ve mastered the skiing I’ll definitely try snowboarding as those guys look cool as f***! I can totally see myself as a boarder – Jenny Jones watch out!
Although maybe not when you see me in my helmet and realise what a dork I look – but, meh, safety first!
As I mentioned earlier, a big part of skiing is the Apres Ski and for that you want to start in the Pilz bar on Penken – it involves getting really drunk on beer and jagerbombs and everyone is in such good spirits.
People of all nationalities sing along to the crap euro-trash music and ‘cheers’ strangers. There’s a lot of fancy dress and generally a lot of laughter. You definitely have to have the ‘can’t beat them, join them’ attitude as it can feel a bit tacky and stupid and it’s definitely a start early, finish early kind of evening. Heading to bed at 3am to get up at 8am to hit the slopes is not what a ski-holiday is about!
We obviously had our ‘join them’ hats on and got into the swing of things…
Probably a few too many for these two…
Still we carried on drinking and the night got a lot hazier!
The next day there were some very sore heads and we certainly didn’t race up the mountain to ski! That said, there’s something about the fresh mountain air that really kicks a hangovers butt!
Mayrhofen was a great first, proper, ski holiday and somewhere I’d recommend and go back to. My sister is headed there next week for Snowbombing (something I’m really keen to do too, although with the serious party lineup, I’m not sure how much skiing I’d get done.) but I couldn’t be more jealous, simply to be back in Mayrhofen…living and working in London it’s refreshing to be somewhere so naturally beautiful.
And just incase you’re wondering, my ski-jacket was from Primark! It was amazing and is actually 4 years old from the first time I went skiing…I also leant it to a friend so it’s been put through it’s paces and is still good to go. Showing you, you don’t need to splash on really expensive gear. It was also great going at the end of the season as a lot of stuff is a lot cheaper so if you wait you can bag some bargains in the sale! I’m looking now for some new gear for next year…I literally can’t wait!