From December 2016 to January 2017, our family (my parents, my 2 siblings, my husband, our 12 month old little boy, and myself) went on a whirlwind Winter Wonderland trip across Germany (Munich), Austria (Obertauern and Salzburg), and the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Apeldoorn). The following series of posts are vignettes of that time there, and each place.
I hadn’t anticipated how much we would all love Obertauern. If I had, then I would have planned it properly so that we would at least have time to ski and enjoy more time in the snow. However, my family isn’t always “adventurous” in their travels, and I thought they might be more keen on food and shopping. I misjudged just how much everyone would love the quiet, the sun, the snow, and the expansive landscapes. On our next trip to the alps, we will definitely do at least 2 nights.
All that said, our 24-36 hours or so in the Austrian Alps gave us plenty to remember the holiday by.
Upon arrival, we were dropped directly by our driver and van (c/o Alps2Alps Transfers services) at our hotel: Kristall, a family owned bed and breakfast at a very comfortable price point, very close to the ski lifts and the main street where the shops and restaurants are. We settled into our rooms – Jay, Lucas, and I in our little double bedroom (with a king and toddler cot); and my parents and siblings in a 2-bedroom a couple of floors above.
Our double room had just been remodeled and had a gorgeous chalet feel to it – all pinewood, and flannel. It didn’t have some of the usual amenities a lot of hotel rooms have (like ample cabinet space or a mini fridge), but incidentally it did have its own balcony, which had snow all around, and made the perfect spot to leave my breastmilk bottles (in their insulated bag, of course). A “natural” fridge!
The 2-bedroom was nice too, though a bit more dated in its look and feel (very 1980s, with the seafoam green, and lavender and purple accents), but was very much functional. And we all had great views of the mountains.
After putting our things away, we all trooped out for a late lunch. It took only a 5 minute walk or so down a steep driveway and onto the main road to find a local Austrian diner called Samson to eat in. We ordered meatballs, schnitzel, and all kinds of German and Austrian delights, capping off the meal with some delicious (authentic) apple strudel.
Jay then took on Daddy Duty, and made his way back up to the hotel to put Lucas down for his afternoon nap, while I stayed with my parents and siblings to explore the shops and views in the area for another hour or so before returning for baths and dinner.
As the sun goes down so early on the alps, we opted for an earlier dinner as well, venturing into Hotel Kristall’s resident restaurant where they had boardgames to play, and books and magazines to preoccupy oneself with while waiting. We ordered some pizzas and currywursts, as well as apfelschorles (apple juice with sparkling water/soda water), and Lucas had oats and milk while we spent quality family time in the cozy warmth of the Kristall.
After dinner, we congregated in the family’s 2-bedroom “suite” (where we could all fit and chill together), while watching funnily dubbed Austrian television (the Big Bang Theory seems a very popular show in Austria and Germany, and is constantly dubbed in German), and sorting out our Salzburg itinerary (which was coming up next). Then off to bed in our respective rooms.
The next morning, we were treated to lovely buffet breakfast at the Hotel Kristall restaurant, and the owner himself was in town and had some lovely suggestions for how we might want to spend our last 4 hours in town. His best suggestion was to take one of the ski lifts up just as tourists – there would be different tickets for that, and you’d hop into a cable car type gondola instead of an actual ski lift. Then, you’d get hauled up to the top of one of the slopes and be able to have some snacks at the cafe there, and experience breathtaking views.
We took him up on his suggestion, and later grabbed a taxi to take the 10 minute drive to the “Gruenwaldkopfbahn” (Green Forest Head — Ski Lifts), which were described to us as the ones with both a good cafe at the top, and comfortable cable cars for non-skiing guests. It cost about 20-euro a ticket, valid for 2-3 hours or so of use with the lift.
We hopped onto a cable car that took us up to the top, and then whilst at the cafe there, shared more pizza, hot chocolates (some with rum, most without) while feeding Lucas some FLÄDLESUPPE (German beef broth soup with sliced plain pancake as “noodles”). The views really were special, and it was then that we decided we’d have to come back.
A short while later (after letting Lucas get his hands in some snow), we meandered back to the hotel where we were due to be picked up soon.
The Alps2Alps van and driver arrived not a minute late, and we piled into the car – all of us with our bags and sweaters, and started on the 1.5 hour journey to Salzburg.
If you are interested in using the same transfer service, or staying in the same hotel as we did for our trip, I would recommend them both.
Alps2Alps — reliable, on time, safe, responsive in both English and German, and priced competitively to other alternatives. 4 out of 5 stars. I only say 4 because I found that they could have given us better maintained child seats…which are important for a trip with a baby. I think that the seats we were provided on both days were definitely still within industry safety standards, and in good enough condition should anything happen, but the second one in particular was not very clean. The seat on Day 1 was significantly nicer, and cleaner, than the one on Day 2.
Hotel Kristall — 4 out of 5 stars. Compared to other ski resorts in the same area, it didn’t have the same exact amenities (like spas, indoor pools, and additional sports clubs), but it had everything we needed and at very reasonable price points. Also, the staff was incredibly helpful, warm, and kind. The only reason it gets a 4 is because the baby bed mattress was too thin. As such, it sat so low in the crib that the wooden frame was exposed and jutting out, which meant Lucas hit his head every time he turned in his sleep (which was often). It meant he was unable to sleep properly, so we suffered a little too. We tried to raise the mattress with the throw pillows but had little success. As such, I’d say it’s slightly less baby friendly than we needed it to be. Otherwise, it’s a great option.