Summer in St Anton - ski bums 'n funky chicken

Trip Start Jun 02, 2008
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Trip End May 01, 2010


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Where I stayed
Dr Helene's Mitterdorf appartment

Flag of Austria  ,
Tuesday, July 8, 2008

With about 30 seconds to spare I made it on to the St Anton train leaving Zürich . I collapse in a heap in the restaurant car, as the Austrian waiter kindly moves my bags for me. I order a Schnitzel and glass of wine from the same menu as last year...and sink back into my seat to enjoy the stunning views of the lake. A plummy Englishman comes in to order tea to be served in his carriage and is delighted when the waiter politely acquiesces. Only the sound of red hot chilli peppers blaring out from the restaurant speakers reminds me I am heading to the ski party capital of the Tyrol. Returning now, In mid summer I am looking to set myself up with an apartment for the season...

The carriage fills up with summer hikers donning sturdy boots, thick socks and long shorts. The scenery becomes more mountainous with vivid green pastures and chocolate box houses. And then we are pulling into St Anton Am Arlberg..capital of the Tyrol! The village has a quiet bustle about it,,,shops are open and walkers leisurely stroll the main street...a mixed generation of walkers and bikers who most likly tay away during the winter party months.. The air is warm and the sun strong as I make my way to pension Elizabeth . I am soon sweating and peeling off layers as I trundle my case up the hill. The owner is a lively old lady whose outside watering an array of beautiful flowers in front of the house - she turns smiling at me and pummels my hand I remember that in Austria it is the maitre dames who are in charge...whether this pattern is followed by the next generation I am unsure.

The next day I wake to clear blue skies - and temperatures already on the rise. At breakfast the girl in the pension advises me to take the Rosannaschlucht trail - a 3-4 hour hike from the top of the Rendlbahn cable car . "Are you trained?" she inquires...I wonder what kind of training you need for hiking, I'm a reasonably fit person but the only training I've had recently was with a personal trainer and a medicine ball and I ached for days after that,,,,"Take layers - its still cold at the top" she advises "Peel like an onion" ....I smile at this image and we both laugh ..

The views from the top of the Rendlbahn are amazing. All around the ground is now covered in a carpet of red flowers, pretty looking cattle graze with bells jangling round their necks. And the mountain peaks , still snow capped loom in the distance. I start off at a fast pace, and realise it has become is a personal challenge to overtake all the other walkers...and leap from rock to rock breaking into a jog as the path starts to descend steeply. At the bottom the valley opens up with a river rushing through. i stop to paddle in the clear crystal waters.... 

The next morning I wake to clear blue skies again and soaring temperatures ...I was planning to hike to the lake from the top of Rendlbahn and on to the Tritschalpe but somewhere in my orienteering I take the wrong turn and start of down the mountain. My thighs are killing me from my over enthusiastic run down the mountain yesterday...and I long to start walking up the hill again. The path criss crosses down the ski runs, previously easy blue runs now without a covering of snow appear steep and daunting and then through glorious pine forest with streams rushing down the mountainside. There is no one here apart for a couple of hikers and some loggers . . I stop to eat and dip my feet in the cold waterfalls rushing down the mountain enjoying the tranquility of the place. At 2.30 I reach the bottom of the red run my legs like jelly ...skiing was never this hard!.

There was no point calling anyone else the rest of the day because everyone was out enjoying the sunshine ...before the weather changes. So I made for the wellness center...which has an outdoor pool tastefully cut into the ski slopes. Later  I meet up with Enrique "the Merikan" up at the museum - a place once used by the French resistance in the second world war. In the winter months Harry the head chef serves fine cuisine and its a place to go if you want to eat in a grand and unusual setting. Today was busy ..there were three groups including a Japanese group here to listen to traditional Australian music. I join a young Australian lad for a beer. Soon another 3 seasonaires have arrived.... There seems to be a core of ski bums here for the summer season...most came for one season 8 to 10 years on but they can't think of anywhere they'd rather be.

The next evening I bump into teh Australian out drinking with his boss - an Austrian who runs   traditional Austrian restaurant on Dorfstrabe ...they have been drinking since 1pm and are giggling like a couple of teenagers...the Irish lad joins us. The conversation quickly deteriorates and I feel as if I am back at uni....but its fun. We move on to the pizza place run by a tall and charming English guy Nick ..pizzas are ordered..we all share. We move inside to the funky chicken ...a bar run by a New Zealander John and his business partner Sean. In the summer the evenings focus round a  darts knockout competition, and poker games both of which are taken very seriously. It is usual for funky chicken nights to end around 4 in the morning on several nights if not most of he week...the most hardy types go on to Bobos...which becomes a nightclub in winter....everyone drinks a lot of shots and spirits but its a nice atmosphere and everyone is relaxed...

The last few days in st Anton i busy myself trying to find an apartment, in between I try out a climbing wall with John from the funky chicken, make numerous visits to the museum for tea and to chat with Enrique.   The seasoniares are keen to help me and each takes me up to an apartment they know of. All are critical of the high prices you now have to pay in st Anton...typically about 8000 Euros for a 1 bedroom in town, the lowest price I heard was 6000euros but it was up the hill. St Jacob is much cheaper. Eventually i settle on a small 1 bed 45 square meters below an Italian restaurant on Dorfstrabe 61 Theres no view or balcony but its clean, modern will sleep 4 at a push for friends..and is quiet. I meet the owners, a nice couple moving to Hamburg...and we agree to raise a contract. In German.

That night I leave st Anton on the late night sleeper heading for Vienna  and then on to Bratislava from where I pick up my Ryan air flight to Stockholm....I will miss this place that I have become so fond of  but I am comforted by the fact that in just five months time I will be returning...
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