Shiny Happy People – Zell am See, Austria

Prost! Zum Wohl!zell-am-see-3

Trips that begin on a happy note usually tend to continue in the same vein. So, it’s with a song on my lips that me and Jyo, the photog, set off for the Sigmund Thun gorge. The River Ache (aah-khuh) roars through a crevasse a little over 100ft-deep that was carved out by a glacier some 14,000 years ago.

A wooden pathway is built along its length, and, while the walk is pleasant enough, it’s at the end of it that the fun begins. A small path meanders into the woods, and we decide to go exploring. Perhaps spot a hare, or a fox while we’re at it. The turquoise blue waters of Klamm See shimmer in the distance below. But the path soon narrows to a thread. We’re all alone, and a bit lost. Sure, we could just retrace our steps, but where’s the fun in that? Since we can still see the lake below, we decide to press further and chance upon a charming little inn called A lmwirtschaft Schneckenreith. Loosely translated, it means ‘alpine mountain pasture of Schneckenreith’. No one speaks English, so getting directions are out of the question, and the only other people there is a bunch of gruff, hairy men, holding humungous beer mugs in their hands. Just as uh-oh thoughts race through my head, one of them, seeing Jyo, breaks into a wide, toothy smile, stands up, and tips his hat to her.

By then, the lady of the house has got her daughter, who speaks some broken English, and, in a matter of seconds, everything is right with the world again. We’ve found our way back, and perhaps the best place for a beer in all of Kaprun. They’re open only during the summer months, so, as the sun disappears behind the peaks of Hohe Tauern and we make our way down the mountainside, I find myself thanking June yet again.

Top of Salzburg

Of the three mountains surrounding Zell am See, Kitzsteinhorn, with its glacier, has snow all year round. Ski season’s almost over, so I’m content with taking in the sights from Gipfelwelt 3000, the Kitzsteinhorn summit station. At 3,029m, this is the highest panorama platform in the state of Salzburg. But then I find out that Thomas is an ex world skiing champion. And, as providence would have it, the nine months that some slopes remain open includes June. Seizing my chance, I ask if he’d be willing to give us lessons, to which he happily consents. Two bruising hours later, I’ve had my fill, Jyo has her shots, and Thomas, another good day at office. Perhaps I should’ve just watched a film at Cinema 3000, or headed out to the panoramic platform to admire the magnificent peaks of Grossglockner. But no, I wanted to ski!

I figured if a four-year-old can do it, it couldn’t be that difficult, right? I mean, they have the hand-eye coordination of, well, a four-year-old! Thomas says it’ll be easier the next time around. It would have been easier to believe him if he hadn’t been trying so hard not to laugh.zell-am-see-4

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