Last weekend we took our first getaway to Bad Kleinkirchheim. This little ski town is in the Carinthia region in the southern part of Austria very close to both the Italian and Slovenian borders. It is a little over three hours driving from Vienna. I don’t ski, but I wish I did. Despite this, there were still plenty of other things to do.
We stayed at a wonderful hotel, Hotel Die Post, which is right next to the ski slopes. The hotel was bright and clean and the staff was lovely. The décor was the only thing lacking and I say that only because it wasn’t exactly to my taste (red plaid sofas anyone?), but it added to the charm.
We splurged on an all inclusive package which included breakfast, lunch, snack time and dinner. I was a bit apprehensive about eating “hotel” food for four meals a day. I imagined the sort of terrible industrial buffet that you typically find in hotels. But to my delight, everything was quite delicious and of very high quality. Breakfast was a sort of luxury continental breakfast with something for everyone, three kinds of yogurt, the typical eggs and bacon, a cold cuts and cheese platter, at least a dozen varieties of bread, cereal, fruit, freshly pressed juice, and, my favorite, honey still on the comb, straight from the hive. It was stunning to look at and even better to eat. Lunch was on the lighter side, a soup plus one hot plate option and a few salad bar items. Snack time always included apfelstrudel and at least two or three other sweets. Dinner was very different every night. Usually four or five courses depending on the chef’s mood. It was inventive and interesting and very tasty.
Other than the food, the overall hotel experience was wonderful. There was a nice indoor pool, and even better, a heated outdoor pool. Even though the temperature never got above freezing, I enjoyed plunging into a warm, snow-framed pool with a view of the mountains. There was also a spa and I indulged in a massage one afternoon. Our room was large with a separate sleeping area for Louis, and there was even a staffed playroom just downstairs from the hotel restaurant. The playroom was free of charge and we took advantage of letting Louis play without us for a few hours one day.
Besides the lovely hotel stay, the town itself was small and very ski-oriented. Since two out of the three of us don’t ski, we had to find non-ski, kid-friendly activities. On our first day we took a sleigh ride through part of the valley. Just like in the “Jingle Bells” song, that Louis is still singing now that the holidays are long over, we rode in a one horse open sleigh. The sky was bright blue like I haven’t seen in months, and the sun made the snow sparkle. Everything looked so fresh and beautiful set against the backdrop of the mountains. There are also lots of footpaths that wander through the valley and we walked, very briefly with an uncooperative toddler, on one that passed right behind the hotel.
The surprising part of the trip, and possibly the thing I enjoyed the most was the ski lift. My husband went out one morning to go snowboarding and came back to meet us for lunch. He discovered that you can purchase a “pedestrian” ticket for the ski lift and ride to the top just to enjoy the view, and then take it back down. From the valley, you can’t see the end of the ski lift, but I assumed that it couldn’t be that far out of site. Little did I know.
The lift goes 4km up and takes about 20 minutes to reach the summit. The views became more and more incredible as the lift scaled the mountain. There was one station about midway up where people could get on and off. By the time we got to the top of the ski lift, I couldn’t see the town at all and could only take in the beauty of the mountains.
I’m not exactly a mountain person, before moving to Austria I lived more or less at sea level my entire life, and Vienna is not exactly high elevation. My only other experience with mountains was one week in the Rockies when I was a teenager. But wow, even though these were relatively small mountains (around 3,500 feet or a bit over 1,000 m at the hotel and about 6,700 feet or 2055 m at the top), it was a bit unreal to be at the top. We were able to hike up a little higher than the ski lift station and marvel at the views.
I think the next time we go on a snow trip, we will stay a bit longer so that I can learn to ski properly and really benefit from the many ski opportunities that Austria has to offer. I’ve cross country skied once, if you can call falling down a million times in two hours skiing. I will also clean my lenses better. If you look closely, you can see big flecks of dust in some of the photos (and I don’t have Photoshop to magic them away). But our snowy weekend getaway to Bad Kleinkirchheim was definitely a fun and memorable first trip in Austria.