I feel like an ex trying to make a doomed relationship still work.
Chasing winter, I dropped all plans and struck out west to Austria to catch one of the last storms of this weak season. It’s as expensive as I imagined, with overpriced trains and lodging that are far outside my budget, but at this point, the money isn’t as much of an issue as winter is certainly ending.
My attitude at this point is depressed frustration, and it’s raining hard when I wake up early Saturday morning. Please be snowing up high. Please be snowing up high. I’m repeating this mantra while running through storms trying to find the bus. I chose Hinterstoder because it was supposed to get the bulk of the storm, it’s easy enough to reach by train from Bratislava, and it’s got a high enough peak to just maybe be cold enough for some of the white stuff.
It’s a bad sign when you get onto a gondola and underneath a farmer is working on his fields, but the altitude quickly goes up here, and suddenly, I’m above the rain! This is not a very large or very big mountain, but there’s a few steep trails in the front and I enjoy a late-spring powder afternoon of mashed potatoes.
The next day, is bluebird sunny and the perfect spring fling day on the mountain. It’s Sunday, so the farmer underneath the gondola has been replaced by Austrian girls sunbathing in bikinis. I already know this will be the last day of the season for me so I just lean into it, taking a long lunch on the patio of the lodge, riding slushy groomers, and falling asleep at the top of a chairlift. I’m lying there in the final snow of the year, feeling that warm sun, when a bee lands on my stomach for a moment, before lazily making its way off into spring.
Winter is definitely over.
Where I Slept, Stayed, and Ate
I stayed in the nearby city of Windischgarsten in an apartment that was comically too large for me, but only a short walk from the train, and across the street from the bus to the ski area. It was also a stone’s throw from a supermarket which was closed during my entire stay. It turns out nearly everything in Austria in closed on a Sunday, leaving me to forage for dinner a nearby gas station. I did splurge on a Sunday dinner at a Chinese restaurant. I preferred the gas station.
I’d like to come back to Austria some time when there’s more snow and I’m insanely wealthy, but for now, two days at the hill has been enough and I’m running back to the East to save my dwindling travel funds.