You know your onto a classy restaurant when the greeter, in response to queries about opening hours makes comments eluding to Chicki-Chicki.. which it subsequently turned out has something to do with the local prostitution industry.. Probably should have made an effort to move on there and then, didn’t … it was late after a long day of traveling and would only later come to appreciate the delights not immediately apparent from the relatively pleasant look of the place.
Food offerings and the propensity to attempt to offload various forms of drugs (and such like) – aside. A fine and enjoyable skiing option.
The resort basically consists of two pistes , four if you divide them at the midpoint. One down either side of the mountain ending in Black 9 and Red 12. Its not challenging but neither was it busy (mostly), so these moderate run can be fairly well enjoyed without impediment – and they are fun runs.
The food on the piste is ok – Sausages aside, STICK WITH THE PROPER RESTAURANTS EVEN WHEN BUSY!!!! .
The town is not the nicest, alot of semi built things, with people approaching you whenever you venture out of an evening in a most persistent fashion. So there is either ignoring that, taxis or a hire care. If i was to go again & its certainly not out of the question for a long weekend, i would have an apartment not a hotel and a hire car for the transfer on hand there after to get about accosted. I would also be able to cook for myself as aside from the average-decent standards of the Irish harp the rest was a mixture of something you never ordered, cold / tepid (not salads – meat and chips cold) & chewey .. It really seemed all about the cook yourself as the way forward.
My boots had a very itchy way about them, slipping off their designated resting point on my shoulder in a most repeated fashion, where they were put they simply would not remain. Having dumped it all off i headed back to the hotel Birkenhof.
It wasn’t the finest preparation and cleanliness, gathering up some fresh clothing i headed into the toilets by reception, i had a sink for water and old used clothing to dry myself down with, something of the sparrow having a dust bath about this effort at cleaning up.
I’d become familiar with such limited efforts during my two cycling breaks, first during my trip away with Oscar (https://journaloftrips.wordpress.com/the-holiday-chapter-1-setting-off/arrival-day/) and then ever more so during my time cycling around in Europe as i took a mini career break. It may have made me a little to accepting of limited levels of clean and being somewhat minging in a public forum.
There was no sign of Damon and well over an hour of time to fill in, i sat myself in one of the breakfast rooms with a mind to backup and sort through some holiday photos and videos. I had only gotten a few moments into this when an alternative thought occurred to me, food.. Between here and home there was only the limited options of Innsbruck airport and quite a number of hours, making dinner a distant and uncertain concept, so food, there should be about time if i was to get up and go now. More than this the nearest and most opportune restaurant was the one we’d visited on the first night, the one that had arguably been the best of the weeks restaurants…I packed everything back away and headed out.
Yesterday i’d thought about ordering Kaiser Spaetzle, both during the day and as i studied the menu.. Opting eventually against and there was rational for this dating back to a night out in Isghl many years ago, I’d never been one for believing that cheese at night could or would amount to nightmares during sleep but that was one thick cheesy affair and went on to find myself tormented by the sight of mettle spiders busying themselves throughout one point of what was roundly a poor nights sleep. Plus as the years past one cant necessarily consume ones own weight in cheese or even pursue the lofty challenge of doing so.
But a thought once had such as this turned out to be a thought only delayed and with no particular care required for the Sunday, it was a thought that had found its moment.
There had also been no orange Fanta on this trip, all that time spent on Jägertee and cider, Fanta Orange that was the original ski drink of choice, St Anton back in the 90s and actually i really rather preferred it. Okay not all the time, not every day but the need to drink alcoholic beverages is really quite unnecessary and no less tedious than anything else done with rigorous repetition.
This was a not such a Kaiser Spartzle, it was relatively light by the standard of such things and came with a salad, that had a most suitably strong Italian style vinegar sauce which worked as a most suitable counterpart to the cheese rich main course. Though I’d been slightly concerned about time there had been no need, it was all cleared down and gone in very good time, to allow me to pay and meander my way once more back, those none too many steps, to the hotel. There was even time for a little checking and backing up of photos on my return.
Damon turned up in good time for us to head outside and await our coach, a coach which surprised up when it didn’t stop off to pick up the others. We caught up with them at the airport after we had already managed to deposit our baggage, their coach had been accompanied by the same crystal rep who had impressed us so a week ago on our inbound journey and had told them that the flight was expected to be quite delayed. Something that the airport seemed to be unaware off, given the departure screens and the pilot had also gone unapprised off as it later transpired the flight was actually expected to head off early. Milton gave this some thought and came up with a theory predicated largely on the observed genius of this Crystal ski chappy and secondarily on a little bit of mathematics.. he deduced that if one was to not fully appreciate the grand complexities of the 24 hour clock then one could come up with precisely the delayed departure time that crystal man marvel had advised.
I was looking for a place to store my passport and paperwork and only realised half way into the drop deposit that this plastic sleeve did not represent a solid choice being far too deep, narrow and solid to allow subsequently for something of passport size to be successfully retrieved. This could be a real problem, i had one last finger clamped against the corner of the passport as i realised this, brilliant contemplating there with the plan, and tried to edge it back up the way without loosing that critical clamping traction which prevented its decent to the problematic narrow depth.
Ultimately by using the spare of my hands to empty out all the other contents, magazines, safety card, vomit capture paper bag (which never quite seems like the ideal material for something a little bit liquidity in the majority of instances & arguably thankfully so) i was able to free up sufficient space to get a better hold and finally drag it back out. Still on this occasion at least the lesson went learnt, not forgotten within some absentminded couple of moments, so that was something..
Rating the Zillertal ski areas:
Lots of space, good and cold providing a higher quality of snow – but very few pistes, little more than enough for a half day or one day with quite a bit of repetition.
Mayrhofen Penkenbahn Side:
It has lots of little areas to explore and a variety of pistes. Like most of the areas it suffered from over congestion of pistes, it also has a limited sense of travel about it with a lack of taxing runs.
Mayrhofen Ahorn Side:
Again – very few pistes, little more than enough for a half day or one day with quite a bit of repetition – smaller than Hinterux and without the quality of snow.. An additional sort of distraction but little to offer in its own right other than the very long good run from top to bottom.
Zell Am Ziller:
The best area in the Zillertal – a real sense of travel and variety in the skiing stakes, it also has two lifts from the valley which limits the queues and efficiently moves people up the mountain. It doesn’t have much in the way of challenging pistes but its reliably fun.
A place with night skiing and like Mayrhofen around enough KMs and runs to fill two days of skiing without too much repetition.
A response was not long in coming,my advise to think twice before heading over had come too late, they were already over this side and by the nature of the day hadn’t gone far, they were headed down and we’d meet up by the station.
They told me about the Ahorn area, how easy it was to find the Cablecar and how close it was to the Penkenbahn sitting just behind the familiar brückenstadl bar. There was along run open all the way down into Mayrhofen, a black that went from the top to the bottom which sounded already a whole lot better than sticking where i was. A run being open back down into the every greener Mayrhofen must have been taking some nursemaid, I’d seen something run like over there, from across the valley while heading up in the morning. With the others recommending it as worth the visit, my own inclinations and the lack of a way to spend the time, other than some peaceful mountain sitting, over here, i headed off, back down to Mayrhofen.
As i wondered from the valley station a ski bus arrived with the word Ahorn across the top where the destination name was customarily found. Perhaps its wasn’t the longest walk but none the less this seemed rather better and pleasantly convenient.
This was a full sized cable car and it was leaving just as i’d arrived, as untimely in its departure as the bus had been timely in its arrival. Thirty minutes until the next one, the lift attendant told me, there was a bench over to the side, as the first to get here in time to watch the cable cars departure there was space upon it, i sat myself down and thought about time, likely arrivals, probable descent durations, estimated arrival times, impact on previous ski depositing intentions.. quite why is unclear, there were not the facts available upon which to base such contemplations but then there was the time to indulge in them, so swings and round abouts.
It was nicer up on the Ahorn, the skiing was limited to one side of a single mountain, so somewhat limited but no more so than the piste map would make abundantly clear to all who study it. The cable car ended at the top, no further lifts were required so skiing could immediately recommence.. I took the most interesting looking route down, it was not it swiftly transpired the right way down, coming to a dead end at the base of a drag lift.
After the rains of last night the weather had become all together too warm in the day, it was not that other ski resorts do not suffer so much from the sun, however the lack of altitude, the rain and now the warm, it didn’t bode well for those due to arrive today for the next weeks skiing, unless something changed starkly and shortly.
I headed down, about half way back to Mayrhofen and it was going no easier than it had earlier, no second wind had come as the day had gone on. There remained time to head back up again, from here two chair lifts would see me returned to the very top, so that it what i now did.. Once more up, once more down and that will be it for the Mayrhofen 2015 ski holiday.
Once back at the top i went to the loo, there was one conveniently placed at the summit and allowed me to focus solely on the last run. Always a disappointing time, still on other holidays i had always thought upon another day, here i had for the first time had that extra time and in fairness my physical condition had limited my enjoyment of it. The lesson being either that i need to get into better shape, a lesson i had no need to learn only a need to do something about it or alternatively that six days will do… at the time i may have seen it as both, retrospectively i’m inclined to reconsider, seeing the lesson belongs more to the former.
The run down was notable for two things, the number of breaks i was taking and the number of times i was overtaken by the same whippet intent on underlining not only how i struggled today but how far i had to go in terms of skiing ability even on far better days. This was of course not there intention, a perfect stranger intent only in skiing their way down who’s only thought were they to have one might have been on quite what this familiar obstruction was attempting to achieve here today. The skushed down the run with the types of long sweeping super giant style approach that i would like to call my own, not all that unnecessary swishing about and making an unnecessarily fanciful deal of things, it was quick, controlled and worse than neat very very neat.. worse still they were only a smidge, a small person, a semi-smurf, whats a person meant to do with that.
After countless moments of taking pause, catching breath and trying to go again, i eventually arrived at the bottom. To be clear its a good run, not overly taxing or rather it had no right to be taxing yet it had proven so and its run, you get some good amount of skiing out of it. Though it was shown as a black it wasn’t really and looking at older piste maps on the internet its clear that it used to be a red all the way down.
The only but significant downside being that, to tackle it one must be prepared to wait on the cable car, the only route back up and with that meaning a potential 30minute wait, you have to be dedicated to the cause or like me not thinking of skiing on from there.
My skis came off. As i sat on a semi step even my boots were dislodged and standard shoes went on.. Time for comfort and as a sort of weird plus one of the first times i was almost happy to see the back of skiing… only i wasn’t but i was… or to put it another way body happy along with the part of the brain that looks after such things while the rest just wished id been better placed to enjoy this last day.
I strapped up my boots and placed them over my shoulder along with the skis and headed off toward the hire shop were i would deposit them. The thing about this point, its regularly a little embarrassing and here with these bright orange things they’d given me, the oddly considerable gashes that had somehow sliced away on sections of the skis (top side) were that bit more obvious. This is customary for me, i know not how, I’d barely fallen all week and where i had they’d been moderate neat little sideways slips, no drama had occurred, no off pisteing had been attempted and yet once again there was the damage. Embarrassing it would be again, also it offered support for one of my ongoing rationals for not buying my own pair of skis.
I’d woken up to find my gathering nasal issue had found a new height, with an overnight crusting that would be that much more explicable if i were in full cold mode. It had all but sealed shut, other than that it was an unremarkable morning.
Good information, important note taking.
Those who were going to ski on the last day (our coach was leaving at around 3 or 4) were going up to AHORN, we hadn’t been on that side yet. I opted to go up to the main Penkenbahn, you can loose quite a bit of time to the valley and up bit, the town being at a limited sort of altitude leaving the lifts with more to do in order to get us skiers up to the ski areas. I wanted to do as much of the area as possible once more including that one available black run.
I got up there quite early, there was no queues, then again up top only one lift seemed to be open and though i looked at it i dared not ski down the other side into the next valley, for all i was able to tell, there wasn’t anything much open and holes best not sunken into, least not deliberately. I skied back down to the top of the Penkenbahn, in order to more studiously study the piste map, it did not go well. This was a very simple red, not really a red at all, but it had been rained on last night, we’d been told it had rained up to around 2000meters and judging by the unpleasant state of the snow , sticky under foot, these anecdotal reports had not been wrong. In conjunction, every effort was being rigorously objected too by my legs, which continued their determined objection the overtime, the same overtime that other parts of my person had been quite please about but then i guess those parts weren’t the ones having to put in the effort here.
Red eleven, red one, red eleven .. it was not long before such limitation became quite tedious, the idea was that the area was closed due to winds but as yet there had been little to no sign of any winds. It was actually quite a nice day weather wise.
After a time some other lifts appeared to open up, there had been false dawns earlier with chairs starting to spin up and into life but to no avail. Skiing down the other side of the mountain was a more enjoyable experience, it was the shadowy side, where the snow was frozen up and it remained icy and hard, i hadn’t gotten any more spritely but on this surface thing were made quite a bit easier.
Up and round and down, ending up in another part of Mayrhofen that somehow had gone unskied up to now, it was on the sunny side a decent and long run that headed in the direction of Finkenberg. The breaks were becoming more regular as i continued to look forward to the part where i got to sit on a lift. Not the customary way of things. Perhaps i was coming down with a cold, there were elements of that about my disposition, it was possible.
By the time i’d headed back, a very short period of time later the lift back up to Mayrhofen was closed again – the Knorren lift – leaving open only one lift out of the hole, the Nordhangbahn, the lift used to get to Finkenberg side earlier now the only option and it had developed a queue worthy of its new found status.
Though i was back up top, eventually, it wasn’t the the intended top and piste maps around here were possibly not the very best but then nor, quite probably, was my attention span.. It looked like there might be a route back, one which would avoid having to head all the way down to Finkenberg and find where that town kept its ski bus stops, a run worth trying to find. I didn’t care much for loitering over here, the snow was sloppy on the sun side and the only way back from the shadowy side was that one lift with its oh so mighty queue. Besides i had a specific time to be getting back for, a coach that i had little option but to be around to catch and though its departure was still many hours from now, at the rate and apparent randomness with which lifts were opening and shutting there seemed an inopportune level of unpredictability about where i might Wind-Up when the music stopped. I rather preferred to find myself with a seat at that time and for that seat to be in the vicinity of and closely connected to Mayrhofen, it was the most relaxed take on things but heading back seemed a pragmatic precaution to such events.
Fortuitously it worked out, i was quite pleased to see myself back among familiar surrounds but for all that and having headed up once more, i didn’t really feel the need to ski those familiar morning reds so many times more.
So instead i sat. I found a spot down by the bar which lay alongside the top station, the sun was out, the sky was blue and my enthusiasm for skiing was much dampened by the feeble efforts key parts of my person had shown themselves fit to be making, the condition of the snow and the limitation of the available pistes. So instead I sat. I thought about how it was Saturday and what a fine way, even sitting here among the snow and blue skies on a mountain side, this was to spend a Saturday in the late morning, a far better way than i would likely be spending one for some time.. How infinity preferable it, even more surely, would prove to the coming Monday, though still as i told myself these things and sat back to relax still i was niggled by the need to spend the time in some more productively, than to loiter quite so fecklessly and lazily without intent.
I texted my colleagues to see where their day had taken them so far and to suggest to them that were they not here then they should think twice before coming over. Despite the limited size of the Ahorn area it might well represent more opportunity to ski than would now surely prove to be the case over here.
Apropos Bar – First Night: Too Smokey.. That was the major negative, very traditional and not too tourist pub.
Good for just hanging out, having a quiet but social sort thing going on. Has the darker grungier thing in its corner.
Scotland Yard – Couple of visits: Also smokey but a little less that Apropos Bar, due to having smoking and none smoking sections. It doesn’t have anything really going for it or anything against it, inoffensive, easy to get served most of the time and serving both food and cider, as well as the standard bar fair. Good for larger groups looking to relax.
ICE BAR – Shuts earlier. Its really the post skiing bar, in Mayrhofen. Loud, full and really only any good if you want beer. It is what it is, not a place for having conversations or chilling but if you have energy after a days skiing and dont have claustrophobic issues then … its the obvious choice
Brückenstadl – Seating, music, space & open until late. Probably best as a place to finish up in, everyone seemed to be having an enjoyable time, the music selection was at best variable but its hard to pick too many faults with it.. perhaps a little large and industrial with no live music, causing it to be at risk of becoming a little repetitious.. but this is stretching matters a bit
On the last night on making it back to Mayrhofen from night skiing we went to the Neue Post, it had been recommended and generally came with the reputation of being a better establishment.
The food variety was decent and the standard was probably moderately above the average, perhaps.. but the service was unfriendly, notably so, to the point of being almost being just a little bit more than bizarre.
It was not an eventful evening after that.
Neue Post – [1.5/5]
Manni’s – Visited Twice . Decent for Pizza’s and more traditional options – [3/5]
Cafe Tirol – Smart, moderately average kitchen – [2/5]
Grill kuchl – Friendly Small, not largest portion sizes – [2.5/5]
Landhaus- Carla -Restaurant Tiroler Stuben – Probably the highest standard of food during the week, pleasant environment & the best place to go – [3.5/5]
I was keeping an eye out for the others, thinking that given the barrel which was the limited range of available pistes that a crossing of paths mights occur… At one point i did see them from a lift, least i think i did, familiar looking jackets, but at i headed back down it became clear that if it was them, they had been heading back toward bars and restaurants and not headed where i was. Even the interesting little black I’d accidentally stumbled upon went from being open and reasonably engaging, to being closed and no right turns, over the course of what was really remarkably very little time. I couldn’t fathom the rational but there was no denying the notable barriers that had been erected in my intended path. They were in a bar, the others, that that was the update i received after the remainder of the lifts made their last run up the mountain. Regathered we made our way down, the last run of the day was the run back to town and although there was an intention to stop of in any bars on the way down that didn’t quite work out. The top of the run actually has a closing time along with a red and green traffic light to denote when your meant to go on through.. We only just made it to the top in time for that but thereafter the speed of the decent presented problems, it was quite rutted and this caused issues for the back markers. It was this speed of decent issue that ultimately put pay to notions of stopping off.
Once down and having located Damon, the last to arrive over here who was waiting by the valley station, we went over to the kiosk to buy our evening passes. They were old school, pieces of paper completed with the highly skinny elasticated threads that were once common place. Damon was concerned by the piste, its a red run and he’d been on the blues for his lessons. The piste was not in a good way, especially toward the end, very rutted in places, so while eager to encourage his participation and not see anyone head back to Mayrhofen, the questions deserved forthright responses. Daud, whose approach to such matters is less than forthright but more considered, opted then to head over and ask the people behind the counter about the piste basher and whether it would be doing customary flattening of the pistes pre-night skiing. A much more sound idea, which faltered only upon a language barrier, i rummiged around for my German and managed to ascertain that they would indeed be doing the flattening. So with everyone now in i separated off.
It had become clear that earlier intentions to eat at this time were no longer current, so i headed off on a solo mission having half suspected, half hoped, that one of the hut shaped lights in the distance was a Schnitzel burger stand of sorts… The hunger had come, oh yes it had and any further skiing might perhaps be aided by stomach aids. There were multiple bars but most of them had emptied out by the time i headed back to meet up with the others. The bar they were in was similarly emptying out from a not entirely banging starting point. So a migration occurred, a larger bar with big external TV screen flashing out called them hope.
I can’t with any level of accuracy state that any or all of the above were playing during our time in this bar but it was our last night of Apres-Ski and so if the soundtrack of this holiday is ever to be duly noted it seemed like this might be that point.. though they are not THE SKI songs … that remains with the only one true king of the ski tunes
The time spent night skiing was limited, the train did not run so very late and after that it was taxis, not everyone was in favor of this and so it was for the train we would head. Oddly though despite the lack of things going on or probably the lack of energy with which to do them and the extensive amount of time we had to burn, we ended up leaving hurriedly to head back over to the now reopened lift.
By the time we’d gotten back up to the half way station, the top of the night skiing some things had taken hold, one of these was rain, a developing more than drizzle that just never belongs in a ski resort let alone at the top of a run, there is something very not right about that.
The other thing that had happened is a total departure of the legs, this became evident not so very long after as i attempted to ski down. At this point i found my legs had a far stronger memory than I, clearly remembering that all ski holidays were 6 days long ans this was overtime, or as they saw it retirement time though they didn’t seem in full agreement on where they wanted to be going with that time.
By the time Charlie and I were back down i was soaked, thankfully wearing waterproofs it was only the outer layer but it pulled of a far shinier look than normal, it was kinda really grim out, not the level of grim that would be anything remarkable or even noteworthy back in the UK but it didn’t belong here. A few decades ago, winter holidays back in Switzerland at still lower altitudes, so very snow abundant was it that my family would regularly build me a little igloo/snow house in the garden. A place to which i was a little irrationally drawn to dwell for cold defying periods of time, while the car needed quite the effort to be dug out. Its really not so long ago in any scheme of things that isn’t viewed from the perspective of the may fly.
The way down had not been as flat as talk of piste bashers would suggest, certain sections had barley been dusted down at all with the basher seemingly edging up most narrow along one of the sides, leaving the rest largely as it had been earlier. Wherever the others were, our second run began with us setting off in pursuit, we found them on route, Damon was taking it slow, studiously but somewhat stiffly heading down.
We stopped off on route, a place we had intended to pause at earlier as part of the skiing down crawl that wasn’t, time had not allowed for it then especially once Damon had arrived, it wouldn’t have done to stop off while other waited at the bottom for our fashionably late entrance. It was a small, octagonal or round, the bar stood at its center. From within we watched the rain descend and heard from the bar staff about how such troubles had been ever more in evidence in recent years. To a tired mind and person who had perhaps come to the point of over familiarity with the generally welcome JaegerTee, this was all a little depressing stuff… by now the missing of the last train had been insured. Besides Damon was of a mind to give it a second go, having made it down the once his personal objective of completing a red this week was behind him. Now he was of a mind to see he couldnt maybe do it again, take what he’d done, what should now be more familiar and do it better. A sort of admiral obstenance applied to a clear ends, there’s something to be said for that, certainly when its set to solid ends.
Once more back up and round… Once more into the piste side bar.. On leaving the bad, Milton pointed out the visible grass as we left, grass or rather turf that smeared out where snow had been not long past, when we’d headed in. Then down.
There was time for more, the skiing was open until after 9pm but among the group as a whole not the mind for it, dinner was probably coming back into mind. We found a taxi, they loitered most eagerly around the bars and the valley gondola station and headed back, big old people carriers, though surprisingly the price went up as the driver realised there was more of us, enough to all but fill the vehicle.. seemed odd to have some sort of unit price situation going on for a single journey but the difference was small and our options none existent.