It was a slightly earlier rise today since we had to catch the bus to Stubai so we headed down for another lovely breakfast of local meats and cheese with bread before layering up and heading off to the train station. So originally when booking our hotel in Innsbruck we had chosen based on hotels who offered the free Innsbruck ski bus pass to get to all of the surrounding ski resorts. However, when asking in Innsbruck no one seemed to be entirely clear what the position was with the free ski bus. The first lady in the hotel said we should get the ST bus – which was not free. Then the tourist information said there was a free bus and we should ask at the hotel for the pass and the times but that there was only one per day. Then at the hotel a second lady gave us the pass but the times for the ST bus. And so it was that we had to pay 7 euros each for the bus to Stubai Glacier, if anyone ever works out the free bus situation please let me know!
Luckily we managed to get seats on the very crowded bus and were off. Again, the times the bus would take differed between who we asked and so we were very glad for the seats when it turned out to be 2 hours! This was mostly because of bad traffic at the entrance to the glacier though so I imagine it wouldn’t be as bad if there were other available ski resorts. However, we were greatly entertained but a gentleman arguing with the young rogues at the back of the bus about taking up too many seats for a good half an hour. With all the ski equipment it was difficult to squeeze yourself and your board into one seat but considering there was at least 20 people on this bus standing it would have been good of them to try. The older gentleman politely asked at first for them to move over but after refusing to comply it became rather heated and extremely amusing for Carolyn and I. The views also made the journey quite enjoyable – we were in the alps after all.
On arrival at the Glacier it was yet more queuing for the 42.50 euro ski pass and then another queue for the gondola up to the first ski station. We chose Gamsgarten for the beginner/intermediate level since it was my first time on snow with the option to take the chairlift up to the more advanced station if we wanted later. The views of the glacier and surrounding mountains were breath-taking and for a while all the queuing was worth it! Until we had to join our next queue for ski rentals. This took a really long time but to be fair to the guys operating they were all really professional and just wanted to make sure you had the best fitting gear possible so you can’t give them too hard a time. Finally by 12.00 (3 ½ hours after leaving Innsbruck) we were ready to hit the slopes.
Skiing on snow is a much easier (but altogether different experience) to a dry slope. Its much more difficult to stop but a lot easier to turn. It was beautiful and we whiled away the hours doing run after run surrounded by the complete and utter beauty of the snow capped alps all around. The chair lifts were a great way to get those extra special shot and with the warm sun beating down it wasn’t even too cold. Just a pretty spectacular day! After a couple of hours we stopped for some lunch and because of the sun decided to eat outside where even though we were surrounded by snow it was warm enough to take my jacket off! It was great, the food not so being the fast food type. I did get to try my first schnitzel though so couldn’t complain too much! After lunch Carolyn went off to try some harder runs and I chilled out on some gorgeous blues having the best time. Skiing is epic!!
The last cable-car ride down the mountain is at 16.45 and so we thought we would be smart and take our ski’s back at 15.30 to beat the rush, but clearly we were not the only ones with this idea. After waiting in another queue to drop the equipment off we joined the mash of people all crowding around the cable-car entrance. Another thing about Austrian’s, their queueing skills could definitely be worked upon. Rather than forming a sensible line everyone pushes in a huge crammed mess meaning that the experience is quite unpleasant for everyone involved as you regularly get elbowed and shoved and constantly have to be on guard to not lose your spot. Bit of an annoying end to a great day but after finally getting on the cable-car the views of the sun setting were awesome on the way down and luckily there was a bus we managed to squeeze on just as we got down, no more queuing!!
We managed to get a seat after the first few stops and quickly realised this was because this bus wasn’t going all the way to Innsbruck! We got kicked off in the tiny town of Fulpmes where we wandered around for a while and managed to stock up on local sausage snacks for the train the next day before the next Innsbruck bus came along. After a long day with a lot of travelling we made it back and after picking up some more snacks were recommended to eat at Rox – a local music bar sort of like Hard Rock Café. We managed to squeeze in looking a bit out of place in our ski gear, and ordered ribs and some cocktails. Just like Hard Rock Café, the music and drinks were great with the food being decidedly average, but honestly after a long day we were just glad of full tummies as we made our way back to the hotel. We were in bed for 9p.m. for our early 6.09 train the next day…. Yuck!