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  1. #1
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    Train Hopping in The Alps Summer 2018

    Yeah, so OK, so this is stupid.

    Going to the Alps in the summer.

    Right.

    With constraints imposed by public schools conflicting with a base goal of exposing our kids to travel, that's just how it works out. And so we did.

    Landing in Zurich with a Eurail pass, my daughter and I hopped a train to Goeschonen on the way to Vienna where we were to meet my wife and son who had already been on a 2 week tour of eastern Yurp. We met Birdo there, maestro of http://www.andermatt-guides.ch/EN/ . Danny queued us up with crash space at their hutte up a windy single lane above Goeschonen :




    http://www.gasthaus-goescheneralp.ch/

    This is going to be somewhat mental as in incremental as I recover from jet lag...

    Seeing as how the next day we need to board an early train, Danny left us the keys to his van. On rising at 6:30, I managed to drive down using the pullouts without hitting anyone to meet Danny for breakfast here:



    Shortly after riding the little cog railway up to Andermatt, we switched trains to the Glacier Express and looked back on Andermatt in it's cloak of summer green:



    We clicked and clacked rolling along the Glacier Express train, past towns of tongue twisting names with the Swiss peaks trailing past.

    Saw some striking limestone crags outside of Chur:



    Along the way. I got to know my 14 year old daughter better. She is changing fast at this stage and we've had some differences, so it was really good to spend time and just blither about the images passing and simpler things.

    Eventually after 10 hours of trains, passing through Chur, Landquart, Vaduz, Feldkirch, Bludenz, Sankt Anton, Innsbruck, Salzburg we finally deboarded in Vienna and looked up a pal who provided awesome crash space.

    We went out for a classic Viennese fancy dinner of boiled beef and roots.


    The next day we went arting around.

    Belvedere Museum grounds.


    Wifey discouraged the desirable boob honk picture on this one. I was downcast.



    I have a thing for Klimpt acquired during septum damaging events of the 70s:


    Door to Natural History Museum:


    Stephans Dome Vienna


    The next day, the itinerary was to roll via trains through Salzburg to the Gasteinertal.

    TBC
    Last edited by Buster Highmen; 07-19-2018 at 08:21 AM.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  2. #2
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    The Gasteinertal is a valley draining from the South towards Salzburg that has been a spa destination for centuries. Visited by royalty and wealthy in the 19th century, the area developed a wad of fashionable hotels and a casino. During the 60s the locale fell from fashion and many of the grand olde hotels closed and remained in stasis for decades.

    Recently, the hot springs were developed and some of the old hotels have been revamped. I found a cool old small hotel right on the "torrent", a waterway of multiple cascades and waterfalls through the center of town, just below the hotsprings and an easy 5 minute walk from the train station and one of the lift bases in Bad Gastein.

    In the Gasteinertal, there's 4 main ski areas as one ascends the valley from Salzburg: Dorfgastein, Bad Hofgastein, Bad Gastein and Sport Gastein. Largely regarded as destinations for partying and gr00mers, a few locals slyly admitted that there's smoking, little used off piste. Say no more.

    https://hotelechobadgastein.com/

    The hotel is super cool with only 10 rooms charging less than 40E/ppnight with a killer breakfast. Classic alpine décor, double doors to the hallways. The new owner is a lovely little Finnish girl who has renovated the place with her boyfriend. I think winter rates are more like 55E/ppnight including breakfast. Highly, highly recommended:

    Our room had an impressive view from the toilet:



    The "torrent" just below Hotel Echo:




    The story goes that some old wealthy Viennese owned a bunch of the hotels and when something went weird with him, he shut them down in the 60s, leaving them in stasis from décor of the 20s. One local told us of spelunking into some of the old grand hotels to see rooms with old couches and tables with settings gathered in dust.



    Brokedown palace:


    One of the best things about lots of Euro ski resorts is that they cater to the legions and legions of hikers and wandered by running some of their lifts in the summer. This provides access to thousands of kilometers of trails and hundreds if not thousands of huttes, refuges and rifugios who vend their wares of microcultural charcuterie, weirdo schnapps and cheeses of mystery and romance.

    In Bad Gastein, we availed ourselves of uphill transport via the Stubnerkogelbahn, a gondola ascending around 1200 meters in vertical from the train station. It's mostly east facing and provides access to a sweet looking 1000 meters of vertical down to Angertal and the Senderbahn lift on a North facing aspect. Huttes abound.

    We also spent time soaking in the hot springs which seem to be kept at moderate temperatures.

    Found a hobbit hole up near the summit:


    Austrias highest peak, the Grossglockner, hidden to the West by clouds from the summit of the Stubnerkogelbahn.


    Scratched some seeming friendly but moochy Haflinger horses:



    The Gasteinertal was also a destination for recovery and recuperation of thousands of WW2 prisoners.



    In more of the food vein, we were directed to the Hexenhausl, a cool ancient bar on the main drag that does some mean ribs and a variety of goulashes including deer and beef. Do not order more than 1 serving per 2 people, the servings are massive. Really cool interior of local mask traditions and witch iconography.



    After 3 nights in Bad Gastein, lots of local beer and schnapps, a mad variety of meats, boiled, roasted and cured and a disappointing loss to some scumbag Croats, we hopped a train bound for the Dolomites.
    Last edited by Buster Highmen; 07-19-2018 at 10:03 AM.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  3. #3
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    Again, the insanity of rail access in the Alps chubs me up.

    With a 15:40 train out of Bad Gastein, punching a tunnel through the main alpine ridge to another sleeper ski area, Mallnitz, one changes trains at Spittal an der Drau, headed past Sillian for another train change at Fortezza and a few more stops down to a nice Dolomite access point, Ponte Gardena Laion/Waidbruck-Lajen by 21:00 .

    From there it's a 50E (for 4) taxi up to Selva in Val Gardena. So you could ski until 2:30 pm in Gasteinertal and be drinking in Val Gardena by 9:30.

    It might even be a good idea to stop in Mallnitz if there's good snow or head over via a 40E taxi to the Moelltaller Glacier and rip around there before rumbling down to the Dolomites.

    Looking south to the Austria/Italy border


    Welcome to Italy


    Refreshments:


    I do have a thing about larger hotels, so I scoured around to find a small one in Selva-Wolkenstein (George Clinton hung out here?) called the Garni La Tambra. We fucking scored, fantastic place, super friendly and knowledgeable hosts who gave us tons of great beta on food drink and access.

    http://www.la-tambra.com/en/index.html

    Art all over the place, tons of detailed woodcarvings.


    View south from the balcony:


    View West to the Ciampinoi gondola, accessing about 700 vertical meters of North facing glades and gr0imers.



    ^^^ bottom right roof has a great restaurant, La Bula, in the basement.
    Last edited by Buster Highmen; 07-19-2018 at 10:46 AM.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  4. #4
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    Oh god, the charcuterie in Val Gardena and the Sella is awesome.

    At the top of the Pordoi tram:



    At the Panorama Hutte near the Passo Gardena:


    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  5. #5
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    Excellent TR! Keep it coming with even more pictures of meat.

  6. #6
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    We did a lot of lift assisted hiking in the Sella area.
    From the top of the Ciampanoi gondy over to the Rifugio Emilio Comeci







    From the Dantercepies lift





    Looking up from Colfosco into the Sella



    Looking up Sass Pordoi


    From the top of Sass Pordoi looking to the Marmolada



    Road to Canazei viewed through a limestone keyhole on top of Sass Pordoi
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  7. #7
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    nice trip buster!

  8. #8
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    Looks like a killer time B.
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  9. #9
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    Looks like an awesome time!

  10. #10
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    In sum, the skiing around the Sella looks mostly mellow, some good steeps in trees going down the Ciampinoi to Selva or SassoLungo to Santa Caterina. Best train access is from Ponte Gardena Laion/Waidbruck-Lajen. Ask the folks at Garni La Tambra to hook you up with Bruno for taxi: Taxi Bruno Brunialti from Selva. He is the cheapest. Number: +393807101506 .

    In the Sella, the word we got for crazy is Pordoi.

    Honestly, the skiing in Gasteinertal looked better, particularly off the Stubnerkogelbahn and from there down to Angertal. The local ski bums tell me that Sportgastein has the best freeriding/offpiste and that the wipeout tour is to take the train to Mallnitz, taxi to Mölltaler Gletscher and then get guided down the Northfacing backside into Gasteinertal.

    I hope this fuels some summer stoke, plans for future madness and dilutes the ongoing summer soap operettas.
    Last edited by Buster Highmen; 07-19-2018 at 03:59 PM.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  11. #11
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    [
    Quote Originally Posted by acinpdx View Post
    nice trip buster!
    Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by PNWbrit View Post
    Looks like a killer time B.
    It was. Everyone got a little of what they wanted: down time for T, lots of soaking for L & R.
    I took R to an Italian equestrian place where during a lesson she showed up the local kids jumping horses.
    We all got to hike a bunch, not too much and eat a ton of great mountain food. Did a 1 star Michelin restaurant which was fantastic.

    I highly recommend it. I'd never been before and the trains are easy. Not quite as good as CH, but still just st00pid easy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevo View Post
    Looks like an awesome time!
    Thanks, yeah, best family trip evah.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldMember View Post
    Excellent TR! Keep it coming with even more pictures of meat.
    Thanks! I think I have a few more pix of charcuterie, let me see if I can find them.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster Highmen View Post
    I'd never been before
    A bunch of childhood family camping holidays in Austria. A particular stand out memory was a visit to the ice caves at Werfen.

    more pix of charcuterie
    Please!
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  14. #14
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    Sorry, no more decent pics of cured meats.

    but there's this from the Zurich train station;

    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  15. #15
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    Great pics and trip. I come home from these types of trips or look at your pictures, and, well, 'mericans are a bunch of uncouth turds.
    Well maybe I'm the faggot America
    I'm not a part of a redneck agenda

  16. #16
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    ^^^ heckuva knit-bombing there!

  17. #17
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    Good stuff Buster. We just spent Sun-Tue in Vienna after two weeks in Albania/Croatia. Strong urge to return to ski with zee Austrians!

  18. #18
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    I kept getting stuck in France and Switzerland so now I have data on why to ski Austria.

    Also, more Teutonic carne at the top of one of those Bad Gastein kogelbahns:


    I think this was less than 4E at the top of the lift. Damn socialists.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  19. #19
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    Wow Buster, nicely done man. Skied a coupla days at Bad Gastein in the early 90's and can recommend it as a cool hill. Many touring and off piste options there. Seemed to be in a snow pocket too... I was mostly drunk when not skiing there though so could be an unreliable memory.
    Your pictures and write up - outstanding as usual my friend!
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  20. #20
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    I love seeing the summer euro TR's - so mountainous and lush
    Cool to be able to turn your kids on to that too.
    I wish I could do that heart eyes emoticon to the TR

    edit to add when we came back from our recent euro trip we vowed to add more charcuterie to our everyday lives and the TR is a motivation
    skid luxury

  21. #21
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    Fun trip with the fam, B. Thanks for taking the time to share.

  22. #22
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    As I age I hope that my skiing doesn't peak, but only changes ranges.

    The indignities of security, the slurring blear of the long day into next, landing in anhydrous corporeal consistency, transferring to the gritty more grounded ferrous clanking, more comfortable among commoners. Winding around snow crested green and blue terra in a land so much denser than the Americas with braided bands of concrete, iron and steel, pushing South, the mountains rise as the shadows grow and verdant gives way to rocks and cascades.

    Deboarding in that cool dark below the Gotthard, water abounds, milky in it's green flows from the glaciers above. Rolling up out of the grotto, the sky opens up to blinding bounces from the snow and braided cascading rills. A satisfying sandwich and beer leads to down comforters and deep mountain sleep.

    On rising in the damp, crisp cool and driving back down into the grotto, we breakfast waterside amid flowers, coffee and eggs. Much gratitude to birdo.

    A quick walk across town back to the train and lurching skreets of the little cogtrain up to the Andermatt plain, it's big, bright and amazing. So we trundled up into the passes and traversed the green and blue again, this time in a way much less clogged by constructs of people. At least for a while.

    Switching to swifter more modern conveyances, we blast at higher rates along the trough North of the main Alpine ridge out into warmer, greener pastures more reminiscent of the Midwest USA but with houses of stone rather than wood and a vibrancy stolen from those amber waves of grain by agribusiness. Rolling hills and wider rivers give way to Vienna.

    What a city of palaces, of regal buildings, with atmospheres of Emperors, dynasty and wealth now transformed to public access and common wealth. Museums, trams, buses, trains, subways and food from crystal and porcelain to vintners baskets and classic red plaid picnic tables. The civility and class shone. Vienna is a marvel.

    Back to trains and transfers, rolling out of the bovine verdant plains back up to the crags of goats and kestrels, stepping off into a high valley of fresh modernity contrasting against winding blocks of patinaed and forgotten elegance. Gastein is really unusual, beautiful and relaxing in the modern hotsprings, abundant lifts and old hotels. I'm going back to ski.

    After a few days of soaking, hiking, and a greater density of meat products than we're used to, it's back on the train to tunnel under that main Alpine ridge where the light got sharper and the mountains changed from granite upthrusts to more gentle hills topped by limestone spires: The Dolomites. Castles abound among a plethora of lifts and farmhouses perched on sunny, grassy shelves. Every town now has 2 names, one Teutonic, one Ladin into the Sud Tirol. The sun is sharper, it's warmer and people seem to slow down.

    Then out of the train again and into a taxi winding up along tumbling freestone water, past old inns and farmhouses tucked in among the gorges crags, squeezing each sun patch for all the grass and green it could. Then the gorge opens into a broader valley of hotels, shops, trinkets, cheese and charcuterie, rolling green slopes topped by gargantuan dirty white crags. The Sella and Val Gardena, past St. Ulrich and Santa Christina up to Selva, ensconsing with a westward view downvalley.

    Eating, hiking, eating hiking, drinking, sunning, stunning soaking basking in a warmth and just fucking relaxing like it hasn't been for a while. Wonderful. Gondolas to paths and vistas and rifugios and charcuterie and beer and weird local liquors from schnapps to vegetal, medicinal mystery quaffs. The Sella the constant backdrop during walks and harrowing busrides amidst Italian drivers in their variety of conveyances, scooters, crotch rockets, Lambos, Porsches and the panoply, the plentitude, the preponderance of the awd eurosportwagon with a stick. Dammit.

    Great times for talks, chats, bullshitting about nothing at all, about the birds, geckos, mushrooms and mad variety of rocks and minerals. Trees and bushes, How the hay is harvested in virtually every arable plot of plat. Props to Garni La Tambra, highly, highly recommended.

    Then the churn of return, reverse, inverse taxied back down trains and transfers to Zurich and threading the security insults back into the airborne tubes and home again.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  23. #23
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    Don't forget: Switzerland in winter has fondue - no meat but still super nice and to be considered for future trips. Otherwise for food -> Dolomites!

  24. #24
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    I once asked in Andermatt why the roesti wasn't made with garlic or basil or some herbs and the waitress disdainfully uttered "...that would be ... Italian…"
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster Highmen View Post
    I once asked in Andermatt why the roesti wasn't made with garlic or basil or some herbs
    I haven't been to the padded room lately but this is likely to be one of the most pervert things on TGR - how dare you, buster!

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