Innsbruck – I smell sushi!

We finished a long day’s worth of driving from Lucca, Italy to Innsbruck, Austria. This began a leg of our trip where we would be doing a lot of driving and staying in hotels until IMG_3876we got to Amsterdam. Innsbruck was cold, around -5C in the evening. Still, we took the 20-minute walk from our hotel into the old town center to find a restaurant for dinner. The entire way in Justin was demanding that we eat sushi. I thought, “Hey, were in Innsbruck, no way we will find a sushi restaurant.” In France they use pigs and dogs to find the hidden fungus called truffles. To find sushi anywhere in the world, we have Justin. We were wandering the old town, and sure enough he spots a sign for a sushi restaurant. The vote was 3-1 to eat Japanese that night. I was the ‘no’ vote. The restaurant was Korean-Japanese, and I continued my protest against Japanese food by ordering a Korean dish. All were happy with the meal.

We left first thing the next morning. Not much to our layover in Innsbruck. The drive out, IMG_3909however, was spectacular. We had blue skies and a fresh coating of snow on the land as we headed for Neuschwanstein in Germany.

My Ski Trip to Austria – By Jordan

IMG_2279Last week me and my family took a (little) Ten hour road trip from Grimaud, France to Obertauern, Austria. We arrived in the afternoon around 2:00 pm and settled into our apartment. Its a nice place with two beds and a bathroom. (our bed, of course, was the pull out couch…). The floor was heated and it had a cosy feel to the place. The man at the counter told us where we could rent some skis and a snow board for Justin. They were very helpful and gave us their time to find the right size of boots for each of us. Dad’s german helped things a little for the lady spoke only a little english. We brought our skis back to the apartment (they have their own separate ski room) and when we were all settled in and dinner was made, I was readyto rest after two long days on the road.IMG_2074

Obertauern is in the Austrian Alps. Driving through the tall white mountains only made me more excited to ski there. The first day out of the apartment was great! We were literally at the base of the mountain and a 100 meters from the first lift. I was kind of nervous because i had not gone skiing in over a year.

IMG_2273Let me tell you, the quality of snow was amazing. Even if the skiing hadn’t been so good, the views at the top of the mountain took your breath away. With the sun shining, each mountain was its own spectacle. After a day of snowing the slope had a nice fresh layer of white powder. that made the snow light and easy to ride.  Because I had a whole week to ski, by the end of the week, my skiing had improved to the point of whizzing down the mountain ahead of the others ;). I was like the wind blowing down the mountain without stop! I really felt this going down the slalom course where speed is your friend. The ride down the slope was fun even if you were a pro or just beginning. They were nice and wide allowing you to go at your own pace; it didn’t matter if you started a the top at the mountain or below, everyone ended up at the same place. When I look back on last week, I remember having a great time spent with my family and recommend Obertauern to anyone looking for a great ski trip you’ll enjoy.

Drive From Obertauern, Austria to Siena, Italy

We had a long drive this day. A cold storm started yesterday and was continuing today. drive south from obert.For this reason, we decided to head south a far as possible to get away from the snow and colder weather. We originally thought of visiting over the next three days Salzburg, only an hour from Obertauern, Verona, and the Ferrari museum/factory outside of Modena before heading to Siena. These places would have to wait for our return trip north to Germany. We did not need chains for our drive out, but for the first 20 km or so I pretty much stayed in second gear. It was normal driving once we made it to the autobahn. We drove out the same way we had come into Austria. A week earlier we were won

drive south overt.

dering when we would get into the snow. Now, we were wondering where the snow would stop. The mountains were covered all the way into Italy, and out on the plains to the south we even saw a sprinkling of snow in the fields. To the north we could see the Alps for several hours. On the way to Austria we had not seen the Alps because of fog and darkness. In the afternoon around Bologna we even got snow again – thick, fat, wet flakes. There was snow crossing the Appenines. Only when we got down by Florence did it seem we were done with snow

drive south obert.

We ate dinner at a McDonalds in Siena (only our second time this trip), and when we came out…snow. It was not sticking, but it was snowing in Siena. We woke the next morning to bright blue skies, cold but not freezing. We were in Tuscany for our second visit.

drive south overt.

1/10 – 17 Obertauern, Austria: Skiing and Snowboarding in the Alps

Throughout the fall we had been on the fence about whether we would spend time skiing skiing austriain the Alps. Cost was the main factor for hesitation: resort accommodation prices are high, ski rentals and lift prices while cheaper than California still add up, and we had to obtain all the necessary clothing. The second factor for hesitation was that Gigi and I just are notenthusiastic about skiing. The boys, however, love skiing (Jordan) and snowboarding (Justin). Upon reflection, and the fact that this week has been fantastic, it seems silly that we ever waffled on the idea of skiing in the Alps. This trip is supposed to be about adventure (and we just found out we will be spending a week in Sri Lanka in March, stay tuned) and having once-in-a-lifetime experiences. A week of skiing in the Alps fits that bill, as all of our Sierra Nevada skiing friends would agree.

skiing austria

Once we decided we would go skiing, we had to find a resort, and there are 5 countries to choose from: France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia (Slovenia had the top rated ‘budget’ ski resort in a Guardian newspaper review). Switzerland was out for the high cost of the country and that the country requires snow tires for all cars during the winter months. We were not buying winter tires for one week’s worth of travel. We looked at the French resorts as they were closest, but we were interested in seeing a different country.

skiing austria

By chance when I was googling ‘family ski resort with indoor pool’ (we ended up dropping the ‘indoor pool’ requirement in our search) I found out about the resort of Obertauern in Austria. We had never heard of it, and once there the people told us that the resort’s clientele was 70% German and Austrian and that it was so well known in these countries that they did

IMG_2040                                                          not do much marketing. Obertauern had these things going for it: high elevation for guaranteed snow, lots of intermediate runs, big ski school for kids, it is a small town, and I speak German. The week we are here is considered low season, so prices are better and there were plenty of vacancies. We found the Aparthotel Steinadler, which has vacation apartments with complete kitchens.

I am writing this blog on our last day in Obertauern, and I can definitely say that from a skiing standpoint the week has been outstanding. Temperatures have been in the low 20’s Fahrenheit, and we have had fairly consistent light snow for 5 of the 6 ski days with 1 ½ days of blue skies. The area has gotten about 100 cm of fresh snow in the past 10 days.

skiing austria

With the light snowfall we have skied on fresh packed powder every day. The runs are long and wide, the vistas are expansive, and lift lines are short to non-existent.   There are 24 lifts in the valley, and you can ski around the whole resort clockwise or counterclockwise in a little over one hour. They call this the ‘Tauernrunde.’ We put Justin in two group lessons over two afternoons to help him with his snowboarding. Due to low season, he got a 1:1 lesson the first day, and a 1:2 lesson the second day. Now, he has mastered getting off the ski lifts and can snowboard any run I can ski on, although I have to stay behind him and stop often. That is fine with me. Jordan, on the other hand, has become fearless and fast in his downhill decent. On any run, he completes 3 runs to my two runs. By the time I get to the lip of a steep part of the run, I see Jordan’s blue jacket at the bottom, the boy keeps his skis pointed downhill. We thought about putting Jordan in ski school, too, for a few days, but I found I was enjoying skiing myself and skied everyday as his partner instead.


It snowed fairly hard this last day, but the wind was calm. The boys discovered off-piste skiing. They skied/snowboarded through knee-high powder, tumbling and laughing as they fumbled their way down the hill to meet me back on the groomed piste.  They don’t know how to ski in powder yet, but they sure enjoyed trying.

skiing austria