Usually, I'm one of those people, which relish in warm temperatures, wearing shorts, relaxing on a nice beach but this year's New Years Eve, I've wanted to try something completely different.
Every dog owner is probably able to relate: If you don't own a soundproof bunker, you have flee from Berlin on New Year's Eve, since the city turns into a war zone during this night. Actually, it all starts with the beginning of December but those days around the 31st are the worst. Firecrackers are going off 24/7. I don't really get it, I know better things than shooting my money up in the air. But, well, that's the way it is and it probably won't change ever.
So, I packed my bags one last time in 2016 and six people, accompanied by four dogs, set out from all corners from Germany for Austria, into Styria to be exact.
Our tiny but mighty cabin, which we had found on AirBnB, had been located at Wald am Schoberpaß and our landlord Regina had promised us a rustic cottage at an altitude of 1100m / 3.609 ft for 120€ / $127 per night. So we got away quite keen with six people and a four nights stay.
The cabin's description already pointed out that we wouldn't be able to drive up to the hut during snowfall and as we were on our way on the 28th of December, Regina gave us a call once we've entered Upper Austria, telling us that there was a heavy snow storm and that we should leave our cars at the train station down in the village and that she would pick our luggage up with her car.
Since there wasn't anything but grey skies to be seen, we couldn't really believe that we were getting into to a snow storm but as closer we got to the mountains, the colder it also got. It started raining, rain turned soon into sleet and once we've passed through a 5,4 km / 3,6 mi long tunnel, we've participated in Styria's snow party.
Put the blame on me, I was wishing for snow but honestly, you have to expect snow if you're traveling into the Austrian mountains.
After taking a little longer since the autobahn had been snowbound, we finally arrived at Wald am Schoberpaß and Regina had already been waiting for us. We've reloaded our stuff, the dogs were already busy rolling around in the snow and after wrapping ourselves up, we've started the way up.
Usually, it takes about half an hour to get up or down the mountain but on our first day, it took us way longer. Accompanied by a blizzard, we got lost once and then somebody told us to walk a shortcut, which wasn't really one since we had to climb up a really steep part of the mountain, while walking through kneedeep snow.
But we made it and everything turned out as we imagined it. Quaint charm on two levels, two woodstoves, a small kitchen, a country-styled dinning room, two sleeping areas and one bathroom. A cabin in the woods as you imagine it.
As intelligent as we were, we didn't bring much too eat and so our dinner consisted of two packs of Spaghetti, tomato sauce and some stew, we had brought along, on our first night.
On the next morning, Austria presented itself in the best light, as during our whole stay. The blizzard was gone and had left behind a snowy textbook example winter wonderland.
Meters high firs, covered in snow right in front of the bedroom window, a glistening and untouched layer of snow and a bright blue sky. Dogs as well as humans were dying to fling themselves into nature.
Our first day had been occupied with grocery shopping. Our supplies were sparsely but we had to make a good calculation. Carrying food for six people up a mountain, if you can't take a car, isn't as easy as it sounds but thanks to a sleigh, a backpack, teamwork and a very sturdy and work keen German Shepherd, the whole thing turned out to be a real experience and we didn't have to starve.
Wald am Schoberpaß itself and its locals really is a unique place to be. The people are friendly, open and will welcome you warmly. It's an absolute paradise, especially for dogs.
Frolicking through the snow, weltering, digging and sticking their noses into the white magic.
And unlike people in Berlin, dogs are really welcome at Wald am Schoberpaß and the locals are delighting in their fun.
Regina provided us with sleighs and we were able to sled down the slope, surrounded by the mountains and a magical view and we even had the slope all to ourselves.
I was kinda surprised that we were able to sled on the slope, since usually there are separate sleigh slopes and skiing slopes but nobody was offended by us being there. Two of even sled down the whole way into the valley on our day of departure.
Altogether, it was a textbook example holiday. Loads of snow, vivid sunshine, the alpine landscape, tobogganing, hiking through the snow covered woods. Simply perfect. Some firecrackers got launched indeed but it was nothing compared to Berlin because you will definitely think twice of what to drag up the mountain and what not.
I know for sure that I will return to Wald am Schoberpaß and visit Regina, who has hosted us warmly, once again and if you're looking for that real mountain but still low-budget magic, you will definitely find it there.
Until then, happy traveling and happy 2017.