Usually around mid February, Chris and I like to get away somewhere warm for a bit to escape the seemingly endless New England winter. Last year, we explored the gorgeous country Nicaragua. However, this year brought about a change. A childhood friend of mine from home (that’s England, in case you didn’t know) Steve, is expecting twin boys in a couple of months – well his wife Sam is, but you know what I mean!
Living so far apart now, we don’t get to see each other nearly as much as we’d like, and with the little ones on their way we decided we needed to see each other before his life became consumed with dirty diapers and round-the-clock feedings!! So, we decided an action packed ski trip in the Alps was in order. It was a quick trip, just 5 days in St. Anton, a quaint ski town nestled in the Arlberg region of the Austrian Alps.
The big difference between skiing in the Alps and skiing in the US is that in the US you are typically confined to one mountain, whereas when you are in the Alps you have a whole mountain range to explore. For example, you can ski to a different town in the next valley for a mid morning coffee, zip over few peaks to another town for lunch, head to another town further up the valley for a afternoon hot chocolate, then make your way back to camp before the lifts close and leave you stranded somewhere in the middle of nowhere!! It really is an amazing experience. Because of the vastness of it all you never really have to ski any run twice in one day! And with our friend Owes in charge of the trail map we didn’t!
I started off my trip by flying into Zurich, Switzerland where I had the pleasure of spending the day before my friends showed up later in the evening.
Called the “little big city,” Zurich is a beautiful and very walkable city, which was great since I only had one day to spend there. After picking up a very helpful walking map from the tourist office, I headed to the popular and beautiful Bahnhofstrasse, or Old Town. My walk took me through picturesque alleyways, past beautiful churches, impressive 16th and 17th century houses, quiet courtyards and of course, the infamous shopping district, where some of the world’s finest watches are made.
Next, I headed to the Lindenhof, a peaceful square that provides a great view of the whole city and the very distinctive Grossmunster church:
The Lindenhof is a haven for serious chess players. These guys found it quite amusing when I lay on the floor for this one, although you’d never tell from their faces. Deep in thought!
Here’s a cool view of the Old Town. I just love the rickety bikes everyone cycles around on.
After Steve and Owes turned up we jumped in our car rental an drove over the border into Austria to St. Anton in the Arlberg region. And the next morning we hit the slopes bright and early!
I am the lonesome snowboarder on the lift!
Everywhere you look are mountains. It is so peaceful. These red arrows can be seen on several of the peaks. From what i gather they are to warn aircraft that there are lift lines crossing the valley. Now that would be frightening seeing a plane heading for you as you dangle from 500ft!!
One of the many cool little restaurants dotted around the mountains:
Morning coffee for Steve as he plans where we will be heading to next. Lech, Stuben, Zurs?
Taking a breather and soaking in the sights
If you are an extreme skier or boarder, which we are not, you can take a small cable car that holds about 4-6 people to the top of Valluga (9400 ft). If you feel like trying this crazy venture you must be accompanied by a guide. Fortunately you can head up to the top unaccompanied to chill out and take in the views and watch these daredevils! Thats what i did!
Steve and Owes ripping it up!
By the end of the first day, I was beat. There was more snow than I knew what to do with and trying to adjust my riding to off piste runs was exhausting. By the end of the day, it was hard to stay vertical…..
Ahh, thats more like it! The apres ski was worth the wait! And the Weis beer … lovely! Steve thinks he’s getting all three! Think again mate!
For those of you interested in seeing the trail map, check the Arlberg trail map here.