By Barbara Sanders


We made our way to the sumptuous breakfast buffet at the Hotel Castellani, savoring our last few days of dark grainy bread and homemade jam. Then we put on our ski gear and hit the road. Less than 30 minutes later we were pulling into the Austrian ski town of Flachau. We put our boots on, walked past the giant statue of hometown hero Hermann Maier, and headed up the gondola.


Today we would be sans guide, but my friend Gerhard, one of the best World Cup boot servicemen in the world, had given us a few suggestions. The weather and snow were both perfect and we set out to try and ride all the rides of Flachau, from the heated bubble chairs, to the new G Link, to the Gondolas. We went up to the top, over to the other side, and down to the new tram that takes you from one side of the resort to the other. We found a super cool video race arena. You step into the start and the machine scans your pass and shoots a movie of you racing—you can find it all online at the end of the day.

Bubble ChairsFlachau skiing austria

We tore the boys away from the race arena to go have some lunch, then explored a bit more before heading back to our side of Flachau, riding the pretty Mozart gondola to the top. Gerhard told us to check out the cozy, chic Lisa Alm (, so we popped in for a quick strudel and schnapps. Then we had a leisurely and long ski down—our last run of the trip.


Exhausted, we pulled our boots off and went to meet my friend Gerhard and his wife Tamara for après ski. I told the boys that we could not say we skied in Austria without experiencing a proper après. We made our way through the crowded bubble bar of Flachau’s Hofstadl ( to get a drink and find a good vantage point. Cigarette smoke choked the air, and the music was pulsating loudly. People were up on the tables dancing — everyone was having a fantastic time. Our boys were wide-eyed at first as they witnessed a wild Austrian après, then they were ready to escape. Luckily there was an alcove just outside, where the boys could get away from the smoke and breathe in some fresh mountain air. It wasn’t long before they discovered the slide the swooped down alongside the bar’s staircase at its entrance—their sliding competitions kept them entertained while we were soaking in the Austrian Apres experience.

apres ski Austria

Next, Gerhard and Tamara took us to an amazing restaurant called the Hoagascht ( for dinner. It had a very traditional Austrian feel, but the cuisine—featuring an Austrian/Asian mix— was anything but. I had a Thai curry that left me homesick for Thailand. Once dinner was over, we met the chef and owner and complimented him on his cuisine, while the boys headed outside to ride yet another snowy slide—must be an Austrian tradition?? We bid our friends Gute Nacht, piled in the car, and made the short trip back to Salzburg. What a treat to have a top ski experience so close to such a center of culture and history.