3 am, the alarm goes off. Lightheaded, we put the most comfortable clothes on and get ready for our trip. Some of us are glued to the coffee thermos, others to the pillow. 4 am, the car is loaded, the skis and the snowboard are carefully placed in the box. We finally leave Alba Iulia. Destination: Zell am See, Austria. We were expecting a long journey, but things turned out worse than we had imagined…
The adventure started on the border with Hungary, where we stayed 2 hours in line, surrounded by tens of thousands Romanians leaving the country after the winter holidays. This was followed by 12 hours spent on the streets of Hungary, in adverse weather conditions. Rain, heavy snow, wind, we experienced everything we could.
Red, everything red
We were getting very close to Zell am See when we got pulled over . A police car patrolling through the area informs us: Lawinegefahr! Der Weg ist geschlossen – Danger of avalanche! The road is closed! We had to drive back to the first village, turn left and go a long way round. We drove 100 extra km, which meant 2 long hours on a snowy and slippery road. After 23 exhausting hours, we finally made it to the destination! At least, the apartment was very cozy and welcoming and the hot tea was waiting for us (thank to those who were more inspired and took the train).
How a snowboarding day looks like
Tips & tricks : No matter where you go skiing, make an effort and wake up early when the snow is fresh and the slopes are perfect.
We wake up early, have a rich breakfast to gain some energy for the slopes, put on some thick clothes (don’t forget your knee pads if you’re a beginner), we prepare the ski equipment and get ready for the slopes. If you don’t mind skiing with a backpack on the slopes, you should definitely take some snacks and water with you.
View from our balcony
Given the great skiing conditions, free parking, easy access to the cable cars and slopes, there’s no wonder that the place is always full of Romanians! We still need to learn from the Austrians. We purchased a 6-day ski pass (262 EUR), but there are daily tickets as well. The cable installations are all brand new. Some of the chairlifts are heated, have a protection wall and a conveyor belt to help you get up/down the installation. Our daily routine starts with a gondola ride to Stop 1, where we change and take the cabin to either Stop 2 or 3.
Stop 3, top of the mountain, this is where the hard part starts – which slope to take? We managed to try almost all of them in 6 days. Blue slopes are spacious and easy, the ones where the beginners can try their first turns; red slopes are for intermediate level and the black ones for advanced skiers, snowboarders and experts. I personally found some red slopes more difficult than the black ones, but it really depends on everyone’s experience.
After 2 hours of snowboarding, a coffee break is more than welcomed, especially if you drink it in a modern restaurant with a panoramic view. The prices for beverages (coffee, beer, mulled wine) start at 4 EUR. After a 30-minute break, droopy, with red cheeks, we jump on the snowboard/skis, ride the slopes for a while and stop for the lunch break. There’s a great variety of food : goulash soup, french fries, burger, ribs, salads, pizza and some tasty desserts, such as Apfelstrudel (apple cake). The prices start from 5 euros and go up to 15 euros/dish. Fed up and already tired, we used to spend 1-2 more hours on the slopes and then went home.
Favourite place to drink the coffee
In Zell am See, an evening well spent means either trying different Apres-Ski in the town or a walk in on the lake shore. Every Wednesday, you can experience a winter show, with ski and snowboard jumps.
After a long day on the slopes, there is nothing more relaxing than regenerating your sore muscles in warm water. The Tauern SPA is a wellness paradise where you can lose not only an entire afternoon, but an entire day! Give it a try.
After two years of skiing in Austria, I have finally realized that I can have beautiful vacations not only during summer, but also in the winter. It’s not easy to learn skiing or snowboarding, but the first step is to get out of the comfy bed and be prepared to fall a lot. After you learn, I can bet you will fall in love with the winter sports and won’t mind the cold air anymore!
All photos taken with the phone. No camera on the slopes. 🙂