As the plane touched down in Salzburg, Charlie Watson – aka The Runner Beans – and I were squealing with delight. The snow was dumping big time in Austria.
Our home for the next three days was a ski chalet in the heart of Saalbach, Hinterglemm. A magical, beautiful and buzzing town in the Austrian Alps. The purpose of our trip was to be part of #StoryBase2017. Set up by the Saalbach tourist board, the concept was to showcase everything this valley has to offer the winter sports enthusiast. By everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Normally when I ski, I just ski and enjoy a bit of après, but this was a whole different ballgame.
Accompanied by 14 bloggers, story tellers and creators from Europe, we tried everything from ski touring, cross country skiing, schnapps tasting, night tobogganing, skiing, après ski, horse sledging, snow-mobiling, sunrise skiing, riding the snow cats and grooming the pistes… the list of what was on offer was tremendous! As Runner Beans and I could only stay for three days due to work commitments, we vowed to make the most of our time in this winter wonderland.
Check out the film I made with my GoPro Hero5 camera '24 hours in Saalbach' and my favourite activities below:
Magical Horse Sleigh Ride
On our first afternoon we drove to the end of the valley where we found our chariots waiting. Two traditional horse drawn sleighs each pulled by two strong, majestic horses. I absolutely love horses, so I was very happy to spend a few minutes stroking them ahead of our ride. The snow was falling in those big, soft snowflakes as we rode through the forest. A truly magical experience!
There are three interconnected resorts in Saalbach – Hinterglem, Leogang and Fieberbrunn. We had a guide with us for the two days we skied there which was hugely helpful so we could make the most of the vast network of runs. Also incredibly useful in finding the best hot chocolate spots! The conditions couldn’t have been any better; fresh powder, blue skies and no queues on the chairlifts. If you’re looking for a very well tended resort and accommodating for all abilities of skier, think of Saalbach.
It’s always reassuring when you are about to jump off a mountain strapped to someone to hear that they haven’t crashed once in 25 years of flying. Florian Hasenauer, Founder of Fly n Soul, spent twenty years flying and travelling all over the world before setting up base in Saalbach. We took off from the mountain and hoisted the wings into the air. The moment we started flying, the whole world became silent and I left everything behind. Flying high above the mountains is really the best soul food and antidote to the pressure and pace of normal life. Add this to your bucket list!
Tobogganing and Apres-Ski
I cannot believe I’ve waited until the age of 31 to toboggan down a ski run with a bunch of friends. It was insane amounts of fun! On our last night in Saalbach, we hired toboggans, took the cable car and set off on a 6km race down the mountain. Shrieking, laughing, tumbling into the snow and narrowly avoiding falling off the mountain a few times! We arrived at the bottom covered in snow from the spray coming off the back of the sledges. I would love to know what speed we went. If you are looking for a burst of adrenalin and something fun to do next time you’re in a ski resort – do it! Afterwards we had drinks and dinner at The Goat Stall – the favourite après ski hotspot also not to be missed!
One thing I thought was awesome was how much fun I had in what was really just two days on the slopes. You don’t need a long period of time to feel refreshed and create a little adventure for yourself.
I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Saalbach for hosting myself and Charlie and to everyone who welcomed us into the StoryBase crew.