Kristin and I had so much fun in Lech that we decided to go skiing again a few weeks later. Along with two of my coworkers, we toyed with the idea of going with the local ski club but in the end decided to find our own way.
Friday morning we loaded up the car and headed south past the Zugspitze (the highest mountain in Germany) into Austria, arriving at our destination just in time for the discount lift tickets at 11am. We chose to start at Lermoos, a small and relaxed ski hill (map) with some good snow and a casual atmosphere that was a great balance to the see-and-be-seen area around Lech during our first European skiing experience. The weather also provided a good dichotomy to what we had last time -- this time it was a beautifully warm and sunny spring day.
Less than fifty wobbly ski boot steps from where we parked, we bought lift tickets and loaded onto one of the gondolas, which are much more common here than what we're used to in Colorado (3/9 lifts here were gondolas). It took us up up up and over a few ridges to where there was still snow.
|Check out my shiny new helmet|
|Looks like the ski season is ending early this year|
|Look at this pro tearing down the mountain|
|And then this happened...on the flat part ... while we were stopped.|
|I like skiing off trail so these were fun but a little icy|
After several hours of exploring the mountain, we decided to take a break and relax in the sun.
|Enjoying a beverage|
|It was tough to go back out after this great stop.|
|No reservations about mixing skiing in drinking in Austria...see the pocket-sized bottles you pull out?|
The following day we got up early and were ready for some serious skiing down at Ischgl. Officially known as Silvretta Arena Ischgl-Samnaun, it's the largest ski area in the Alps and spreads across Austria and Switzerland (map). It was an incredible place, full of wonderfully groomed piste (aka trail) that included great snow.
|Lots more white and less brown at Ischgl|
|See the flags? Switzerland to the left, Austria to the right|
|Groomed piste with fresh snow to kick up...great conditions|
Switzerland is not a part of the European Union and does not use the Euro so lunch on that side is in Swiss Francs and is guaranteed to be more expensive. The cool part is EU citizens can ski over and shop in duty free stores and then ski back. We were there to ski and not shop so we just hit up a restaurant that looked good. I love all of the on-mountain options for eating and drinking...in Colorado you're always reminded it's one corporation that owns everything on and around the mountain.
|Kristin got grilled chicken...I got mine sunny side up|
After several more hours of skiing, the clouds started rolling in, full of more snow. By the time our legs were getting tired, the snow was coming down pretty hard so we jumped on the gondola and took the easy way down after one of the best days of skiing I've ever had.
|Tut-tut, it looks like snow|
We stayed in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany and it lived up to its reputation of being a cute Bavarian town at the base of its own ski mountain. Fortunately or unfortunately it was very foggy Sunday morning so instead of more skiing, we had a big breakfast and then did lots of sightseeing the whole way home to Stuttgart.
|Lots of biergartens ready for spring|
|Garmisch is famous for intricate murals on nearly all of the buildings|
|Minnesota Vikings fans? It was Sunday...|
We took the scenic route through lots of amazing little towns. Bavaria is the German state next to the one Stuttgart is in (Baden-Württemberg) and it embodies everything Americans think of when they think of (west) Germany...rolling hills, nice people, biergartens, lederhosen.
|Ettal Abbey, Benedictine monastery|
All week Kristin had been looking forward to seeing Neuschwanstein Castle, the castle that Walt Disney based Sleeping Beauty's and Cinderella's on. It was built in the late 1800s by the artistic and possibly insane Ludwig II, but he died less than a year after it was complete. Since then it has been open to the (paying) public because it's such a fabulous structure. On clear days you can see the bright white castle amongst the Alpine foothills and the beautiful valley below. Unfortunately, all of southern Germany was caught in the fog so we got a different look at it.
|The fog ebbed and flowed so sometimes it was totally hidden and sometimes you could see this much|
To get to the castle, you have to climb or take a horse drawn cart up a steep hill through the forest so you can't see much of the castle until you're right next to it.
Luckily there's a 15 minute hike that takes you up the valley a bit more and then, from a precarious bridge over a river far below, you (and lots of others) can appreciate a full view of the castle.
|The wood decking was nice and slick|
|It was actually pretty cool to see it like this...I just hope next time it's clear!|
Whew, I hope you liked the pictures. We are so happy to have all of this within a 3 hour drive and look forward to seeing it again when friends and family come to visit!