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      January 2011 > Worth a try? Absolutely!

Worth a try? Absolutely!

Hotel Kitzspitze, St Jakob, AustriaI simply love the snow but I’ve never been skiing before, so it was with great excitement - and a little trepidation, I must admit - that I set off recently with my colleague, Rebecca, on a short trip to visit a couple of our winter holiday hotels in the heart of the Austrian Alps, with the promise that - if we had time - I could try out cross-country skiing!

After visiting our wonderful new hotel, the Hotel Kitzspitz, (left) in the pretty village of St Jakob, we explored the mountains and villages of the Pillerseetal region before moving on to probably the most popular hotel in our winter programme, the Hotel Wiesenhof which commands a regal position beside spectacular Lake Achensee.

I was delighted to see the staff in traditional dress on reception when we arrived, and it was the very welcoming Eva who gave Rebecca and me a tour of the hotel. The decor is very stylish and, for quite a large hotel, the atmosphere at the Wiesenhof remains very intimate. There’s a great spa here, too, plus a pool, sauna and gym, but it was the outdoor activities that I was hoping to try.

Lake Achensee, AustriaThe following morning, as the sun burst through the clouds and over the mountains, we wandered across the street to the ski school where we met owner Christoph Leithner. I mentioned that I’d not actually tried cross-country skiing before and he insisted that there was no time like the present. (Eek!) But first he wanted to show us the area from above and so took us up in the gondola to the top of the downhill runs, from where we had fabulous views of the lake and surrounding mountains (right). Over a warming cup of frothy coffee in the panoramic mountain restaurant he explained that, as just one single company owned the beginners’ lifts, the ski school and the equipment hire shop, it was very easy to organise Inntravel’s popular cross-country Try-it-Out week from the Wiesenhof.

Back in the village, I was fitted out with boots and poles and instructed on how to put on and take off the skis. Hans, our instructor, then began the thankless task of showing me how to ‘glide effortlessly’ across the snow. Well, everyone else made it look so effortless but I wasn’t convinced I’d find it so easy. Hans showed me how to hold the poles and how to push my feet and slide the skis forward. It felt very strange at first and I was convinced that I was going to lose my balance and fall, but I kept persevering and Hans was sufficiently pleased after a few goes to beckon me out onto one of the well-marked trails that lead out from the village (below).

Cross countrys kiing in Pertisau, AustriaThe wonderful thing about cross-country skiing - I soon discovered - is that you put your skis in pre-cut grooves and just glide along the ground. What could be simpler? What could possibly go wrong? ...and then I came to the top of a really steep hill. I say “steep”, though it was actually just a gentle slope leading down between the trees, but with what initially felt like two planks tied to my feet it looked like a hill to me! However, my confidence was growing and Hans patiently explained how to brake, though in this instance, the natural curve of the ground allowed for a thrilling - and dare I say, elegant - glide to the bottom where I came to a gentle stop.

Despite concentrating hard on what Hans was saying and showing me, I was also very aware of how peaceful it was and how beautiful the scenery of woods and mountains around me looked (below). In fact, by the time we headed back to the hotel, I was completely in love with this wonderful valley and this exhilarating sport. It was a fabulous feeling and I haven’t stopped smiling since.

My first holiday in the snow was truly magical so, if you’ve never considered cross-country skiing before - don’t hesitate - try it out now!

Cross-country skiing in Pertisau, Austria

Posted: 18/01/2011 16:33:18 by Caroline Dickinson, Inntravel | with 0 comments
Filed under: Austria, nature, snow, sport

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