Sunday, March 29, 2009

Heut' ist so ein schöner Tag - Flachau, Austria

We're back from a wonderful week of fresh mountain air, breathtaking landscapes, snowboarding and much, much fun. Except for one day of heavy snow and cloudy skies, the weather was brilliant and the snow conditions were very good.

We stayed at Crystls Aparthotel: Appartments with the services of a hotel. We loved it there and the team of three lovely young ladies made sure we had everything we needed. The breakfast buffet offered a wide variety of local products such as homemade marmelades, local cheeses and cold cuts, 5-6 different breads, eggs - from a nearby farm, I presume -, bacon (ooohhhh, the bacon was delicious!!), yoghurts, cereals, fresh fruit, etc. The location is fantastic: it's about 200 meters from the next ski-lift, most restaurants and bars are within 5 to max. 10 minutes walk and it overlooks the centre of the adorable village of Flachau.

After fuelling up with a few portions of pretty much everything of the above, we made our way to the practise slopes. After a very bad case of the flu in February, another two hours of lessons and a few bruises, I finally picked-up where I left off, and learned to cut short curves and come down the slope in an acceptable manner, which I'm really proud of. Here's a view from the Griessen Kareck peak.

Orange-X, however, has had more practise than I have and has gotten pretty good at snowboarding. After a few runs, I would go warm myself up with a hot chocolate (with rhum) at the Dampfkessel and O-X would take a run down the real slopes. He took a couple of pretty amazing falls, but always came back in one piece.

The Dampfkessel was our absolute favourite après-ski place. The service is friendly and fun, the meals are simple, but very good, the portions large and you can be sure to find the right thing to hit the spot. After 3.30 pm, the Dampfkessel starts really filling up, the drinks flow and the fun really starts. We found it entertaining just to watch the people around us.

Then it was off to the appartment for a nice hot shower and deciding which of the many restaurants we would have dinner at. Our favourite was definitely the Hoagascht, but the Schusterhäuserl and the Per Du were both close seconds. The Schusterhäuserl (Shoemaker's little house) has served an established local Flachau family of cobblers for generations as a residence and workshop. The workshop was on the ground floor and the living quarters on the first floor. This almost 400 year old house and workshop has now been transformed into an adorable steak house. The dining rooms are tastefully decorated, the light yellow table cloths mix well with the old dark wood and give it a really warm and cozy atmosphere and many of the old original cobbler's tools are displayed. The service is friendly and warm and the steaks are delicious.

I would also definitely suggest the Per Du. Very cosy, friendly service and excellent food. Am I repeating myself, or what? To be perfectly honest, if there is one European country (that I've visited regularly) where hospitality can be written in capital letters, it's Austria. Seldom have I felt as warm a welcome in any restaurant/bar/mountain hut as in Austria, no matter whether it's in Salzburg, Vienna or any small village. Sorry, Switzerland, but you can't match that. And where you do, it's often because of the service personel you hire from the neighbouring countries, or because you're a restaurant/hotel/bar that hardly anybody can afford. (Did I just say that??). I keep getting the feeling that Austrians are just happy to be and are willing to share their good mood and love of life. I hear that the Balkan and Eastern European countries are also like that. Must go there, too.

We didn't take as many pictures as we had planned to, but we did bring back something - besides a few delicious schnaps, that is. I usually don't like this kind of music unless I hear it in the appropriate environment, but to be honest, it truly sums up the feeling we had every - single - day of our stay in Flachau. The lyrics are in Austrian dialect, but basically shows (my view of) the Austrian day to day attitude towards life:

I like to lie in the grass

And look up to the sky

(you lazy pig - not sung)

Don't the clouds have funny shapes?

(Looks more like rain clouds to me - not sung)

And an aiplane flies by

and I wave at it

Hello airplane

And if you're also with me

Then I feel great

(I'm so happy for you - not sung)

And I fly, fly fly like an airplane and

I 'm as strong, strong strong as a tiger,

and as tall, tall, tall as a giraffe, so high.


And I'l jump, jump, jump,

Again and again

And I swim, swim, swim,

Over to you

and I take, take, take you by the hand

'Cause I like you

And I say:

It's such a beautiful day



It truly was one of our best winter vacations and we're planning to go back again next year.

So for you all, here it is, our happy song: Heut' ist so ein schöner Tag [in Austrian: Heid is so a schener Tag] (Engl.: Today's such a beautiful day) by "Die Jungen Zillertaler"

Turn up the volume and enjoy as this song really made me think of the snoopy happy dance :-)