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St. Anton, Austria

Date: January 29-February 6, 2010
Trip Leader: Laura Gugliotta
Trip Assistant: John Kelly

(Pictures are clickable for high-res images)

Groomed Trails?  We don't need no stinkin groomersOn Friday, 1/29, we packed up the bus and left the Piscataway parking lot before 3 PM. We arrived at Newark Airport at approx. 3:40.  There was no group check-in available, so we all checked in individually.  Dolores, Ted and Heidi met us at the airport.  A nice surprise was that no one was charged the $50 for the second bag because we booked our tickets the previous summer, before the per-bag charge was instituted.  Our flight took off on time, without incident. 

We arrived in Zurich Sat. morning.  Everyone was able to get their luggage and pass through customs quickly.  Kit and Daniel met us just outside of customs.  We met our driver, Lombardi, loaded the bus, and headed to St. Anton.  Lombardi did not speak English but we were able to get by with some Italian speaking Club members.   There had just been a snowfall, so Lombardi had to take it slow on the roads.  Along the way, we stopped at a rest area for a bathroom break and to purchase some snacks at probably the most elegant and savory cuisine that any of us experienced at a roadside rest stop.  We arrived at the NassereinerHof around 12:45. 

Upon our arrival at the NassereinerHof, we brought our skis to the ski room, which was in the basement of the hotel.  Not all of our rooms were ready for check-in, so some people had to wait a short while before being able to go to their rooms.  Most people then took a walk into town to check out the area and get some Euros. 

At 6PM, the hotel staff held a welcoming party for the group, where appetizers, beer and wine were served.  The staff discussed general points of information; a representative from the Ski School was there to discuss ski classes and guided tour options.  We were given the choice of having dinner as a group each night, or separately; everyone opted for the group dinner option. 

The breakfast buffet was open from 7:30 – 10:00 AM.  The buffet included scrambled eggs, soft-boiled eggs, homemade breads and jams, cold-cuts and cheeses, yogurt, fruit medley, dried fruit and nuts, coffee, tea and juices.  Most of the group ate breakfast at the same time, at adjoining tables.   People then broke up into subgroups and made their plans for the day.

Nipple deep hole - hop like a bunny.  God I hope my skis are still attached.The Nasserein Bahn (gondola) was a short 2-block walk from the hotel.  In Austria, the local custom for lining up for the ski lift/gondola was the ‘funnel method’ where everyone pushes like a mob to get to the front of the area where the gondola doors open.   There were no lift attendants to guide who should go into which gondola.  If you weren't assertive, you watched as everyone pushed their way in front of you.    The same held true for the approaches to the handful of central lifts that tended to attract a lot of people.   For the most part, the outer lifts were empty with none of the funneling issues.   The Nasserein Gondola took you to the center of the St. Anton ski area.  The un-groomed ski-routes had a huge amount of powder on them; the groomed trails varied from good snow coverage to ‘east coast like’ conditions at times.    We had one day of an all-day snow that dropped between 8" to 4' of snow.   All in all, there was an incredible amount of snow.

St Christoph - is that a real town?Getting to the Lech, Zurs, or Stuben ski towns required that you either ski to Alpe Rauz  to board a free bus or you hire a taxi (8 person van) for 48 Euros.   Riding the bus gave new meaning to the term “packed in like sardines”; the taxi was a nice alternative for a group of friends who wanted to take the trip together and split the cost of the taxi. 

Town of LechEach of the ski areas had their own special charm and natural beauty.  In the upscale shops in Lech you could buy a ruby for 1.4 million Euros, skis made of granite, or a T-shirt for 296 Euros.  You could walk through town, or take a ride in a horse pulled wagon.  The view of the mountains from the top of Lech was absolutely breathtaking.  Some people chose to ski from Lech to Zurs, enjoying the rolling, sparsely populated trails. The Rendl ski area was separate from the other ski areas, but was accessible by gondola from the St. Anton ski area.  This ski area was smaller and better for beginner/intermediate skiers, but the mountain views were equally as spectacular as in the other areas.  The people who didn’t ski every day or at all got together and went on several sightseeing trips during the week. 

Extreme bar sing along in multiple languagesThere were several bars on the slopes that offered real party-like aprčs-ski.  One day several folks went to the Heu Stadl bar where there was a live two person band.  The lead singer played several different instruments and sang songs local to several different countries.  There was singing and dancing, and everyone had a blast.

The NassereinerHof hotel offered a complementary after-ski snack, daily from 3 – 5 PM.  This was a nice time for folks to gather at the bar and discuss the adventures of the day.  There was just enough time after the snack to take a quick nap and be ready for dinner at 7.  Dinners consisted of typical Austrian style cuisine, consisting of pork, sausage, and speck (similar to ‘thick’ bacon).  Each night there was a full salad bar with bread.  One night we had an Italian buffet, while on another night we had chicken and beef fondue.  

The driver arrived at the NassereinerHof hotel at 4:15AM Sat. morning for our return to the Zurich airport.  The hotel staff put coffee and juices out for us, and also made a ‘bag lunch’ for each of us.  At Zurich airport we went through several security checks in addition to checking in.  The news of a blizzard hitting the US eastern seaboard was on everyone’s mind.  The flight left Zurich on time and actually arrived at Newark roughly 45 minutes early.  We were very fortunate in that the snow did not reach Newark airport and we were able to land without incident.  Unfortunately, the bus that was to pick us up from the airport was leaving from the Trenton area and was delayed slightly by the storm.    After 40 minutes the driver arrived we quickly loaded the bus and drove back to Piscataway, where there was hardly any snow on the ground.  

Bye Bye from Laura - our trip leaderEveryone said good-bye with hugs and smiles, surely a sign of a trip that was enjoyed by all.

 

 

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