My best friend always says she doesn’t need a psychologist because she’s got the mountains. And that’s right, what else could you possibly need!? My last trip to more hilly spaces led me and my mum (!) to Obertauern, a ski area in the heart of the Austrian Alps. And no, that wasn’t back in January, it was in late April – because it snows until May in that part of Europe. That makes it the ideal off-season ski destination, especially if you fancy (and probably deserve) some quiet time minus the tourists and the buzz every ski region has during the winter months.

So, my mum and I met at Salzburg airport and then took a train down south. Obertauern is located 1,740 metres above sea level, has 26 ski lifts and an incredible 100 kilometres of slopes to choose from, all of which you can access by foot from the village. The snowy action literally starts outside almost every hotel room, and we had three full days to make the most of it straight after a huge brekkie. I’ll give you a rundown of some of the activities we tried out (yes, there’s more than just skiing!) but your best bet really is to see how fast you can get your pretty butt to Austria.

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Had no idea this existed either? Well, “snowshoeing” is a great way for your body to get used to walking and sliding and falling through the snow for the next couple of days. Just put on your hiking boots, grab a pair of the special shoes below and then hike through and marvel at the scenery. Now when we came to Obertauern, I was pretty confident with my ski skills but during the first ten minutes of navigating through the snow, I was more than grateful for the teacher we’ve been blessed with. Mr. Koch from the local skiing school down in the village isn’t just a great and patient teacher, he also has a variety of crazy stories to tell: He and his girlfriend hiked through Chile for multiple weeks and then got married at the end of that route on top of a hill. He also won numerous cups in snow biking (more later). My own life suddenly felt very boring, I’m tellin ya. We also stopped for a little yoga break, closed our eyes and turned our heart towards the valley, that’s a tad more refreshing than the “yoga” I do in my living room.

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Snow biking

My mum absolutely loved snow biking and told everyone she knew about it. It’s a lot like skiing, great to practice your fine motor skills and excellent to train your reaction speed. It’s a lot about getting your balance right, and about trusting that your body will know what to do. I sucked at it and needed about one hour to not fall on my face at every turn, but it is quite easy to learn as soon as you let go and stop holding on to the bike too tightly. Is that true about life too? Below is my mum and the teacher by the way. You can tell she loved it!

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I already told you that I was convinced my ski skills were up to speed from that one week we went skiing in high school, right? Well, they weren’t. I received a little refresher course and on the first day, that was perfectly fine and the slopes were my friends and so was the soft snow. On the second day, the sky was grey and my mum preferred not to get out too high, and I thought I could eeeeasily get on a slope we’ve not been to alone and smash it. Well, I didn’t. I took a couple of baths in the snow, couldn’t find the yellow signs and then ended up 1 mile outside Obertauern and had to carry all the equipment back up. Not exactly a success.

Arguably the best thing about skiing (and all the other activities too) though is that you so deserve a little break. Locals’ favourite is a certain “Gamsmilch”, milk with cocoa and sweet booze with lard bread (“Schmalzbrot”) and onions. Sounds a little, uh, adventurous but trust me, that hearty snack will do miracles to your motivation and spirits!

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The hotel

I know you were wondering all along: Where on earth did you guys stay? Well: We had the privilege of eating, sleeping and spa-ing (yes, I just made that a word) at Hotel Panorama. It’s a family-run, four-star paradise with an extremely friendly and warm atmosphere, and you have a mountain view from the restaurant, multiple sauna rooms and just about every other corner too. I never thought the balance of spending five hours in the mountains and then staying at the hotel for the rest of the day would be enough to get me super tired and super happy but surprise, it was! There’s a lift waiting for you just outside the hotel and while Obertauern itself is more like a collection of hotels and restaurants, having both the mountains and different saunas at your fingertips will leave you feel exhausted and refreshed. That’s the best combinations of them all!

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All photographs taken by Caroline Schmitt

A big thank you to Tourism Obertauern for being such great
and welcoming hosts! We had a blast.