Europeans Love Their Spas

A classic Euro photo in the hotel spa sandals and robes. With our hotel stay, we have access to the Alpentherme water park. It has an outdoor pool with views of the Alps, water slides, and a children’s swim area. The kids love it. I like walking through the hotel in robe. They even have a “Sauna World” in the water park and in typical European style, it is complete nude. I haven’t mustered the will to visit that part yet. In the Puritanical USA, this would be scandalous.

View of Bad Hofgastein from slopes above the village

Bad Hofgastein is a small town (around 6,000 inhabitants) near Salzburg. It is a major ski resort area and with all of the 278 connecting ski lifts and 860 kilometers of slopes, it is a skiers paradise. Owen is really taking to skiing and I am going up with him tomorrow. Very pricey however, and a two-day ski pass for Owen and I costs 126 euros (ouch). This is definitely a vacation we won’t be doing alot as it is very expensive. We are having a great time however. Nadia and I did some more cross-country skiing today.

Winter Sports Heaven

Nadia On Cross-Country Skis

We are enjoying our holiday in the Austrian Alps. Bad Hofgastein is a winter sport heaven, especially with the Eurosport coverage of the Winter Olympics, we watch the events at night and then go out and do them during the day. Nadia is pictured above learning how to nordic, or cross country ski. She really liked it and we hope to go for our first ski together today.

The boys have been doing downhill skiing the past couple of days. Owen plans to go up the gondola today for the first time – graduating from the kinderschule. Oliver is doing well and able to stop by himself. Ocean isn’t ready for skis yet, but we put her on the toboggan. I took a lesson in the skating cross country ski technique and plan to get better at it before we head back to Serbia.

Ocean finds parks everywhere

Family Journal: Salzburg, Austria

After leaving the little town of Feld am See, we drove across the Austria, and the Alps, and spent a night in Salzburg, Austria. The city is known for its Baroque Architecture in the old town, Mozart’s birthplace, and the Sound of Music was filmed there. We enjoyed all three.

Above we are outside the former Mozart family home, now museum. The boys knew about Mozart through their music teacher at school and we all enjoyed learning about his life. The big impression I got was life was tough in the 1700’s. Five of Mozart’s siblings died in infancy, only him and his sister surviving. Mozart also caught tuberculosis while traveling around Europe with his father as a child. He survived, but it would eventually cut his life short. The wonders of modern medicine have really extended our lives and we don’t even have to think of these risks anymore. For more about Mozart, check out the Mozart Project website.

1763 - Young Mozart in Gala Costume
1763 - Young Mozart in Gala Costume

It was absolutely horrible weather but we managed to walk around for a few hours. Salzburg was a city state and the archbishop who ran it loved music. It avoided the damages of WWII and the architecture of the old part of the city is stunning! There was a gypsy work camp located near the city, where they were used a slave labor. I didn’t see any gypsies in my day in the city. American troops entered Salzburg to end WWII on May 5, 1945 and it was the center of US-occupied Austria.My father was stationed to the north, in Stuttgart during the American occupation of Germany after the war.

The Walking Street of Salzburg
The "Walking Street" of Salzburg

We stayed at a small, family run hotel which had the Sound of Music playing 24/7. It is one of Nadia’s favorite movies, so it was nice to see a 1960’s Hollywood Salzburg, while being in the city 40 years later. I finally watched the end of the film. A very cheesy movie, but it is the impression of Austria many Americans have, of mountains, blond children, etc. The movie features the song, Edelweiss, the emblematic flower of the Alps. We named our car Edelweiss, because the previous owner was Swiss and there is a sticker on the car of the flower. We watched the movie that night.

Julia Andrews Climbs Every Mountain
Julia Andrews Climbs Every Mountain

I would like to go back again in nice weather and ride our bikes around the city. There are plenty of trails and with three universities, we saw many students riding around, even in the winter.

Family Holiday Journal: February “Ski Week” 2009

 

I have not been able to update my blog this week. We travelled to Austria for a family holiday and access to the internet was sporadic and slow. I did manage to upload some photos and do one blog post which is below. I will be catching up and posting photos and stories from our week away today and tomorrow. Below is a post from earlier in the week.

We are in Feld am See, Austria for a few days of rest and relaxation. ISB is on their annual “ski week” which is a Serbian tradition as all schools get time off in winter to head to the slopes.

Feld am See is a village (in the USA we call them towns, but the European village sounds more picturesque) of around 1,500 inhabitants located on a small lake in the Knockenburg Alps, which are in the south-eastern part of Austria. We chose to stay at the Brenneshoff Family Sports Hotel because it caters to families who want to do sports. 

We drove 6 hours on Saturday to reach the hotel from Belgrade. That is a strange thing about Europe is that in six hours, we crossed 3 international borders and three different languages. The kids were well behaved in the car as Owen is feverish and slept most of the way, Ollie had his Gameboy, and Ocean slept and watched the scenery. We stopped in Slovenia for gasoline at on of our favorite restaurant chains. “LeMarche” is a gourmet deli attached to some gas stations in Slovenia. It is a strange concept as most US gas stations have either a fast food chain or their own “party store” full of cheap and low nutritious food. Le March on the other hand, has an amazing salad bar, freshly squeezed juices, sandwiches, and hot meals. 

Upon arrival we immediately hit the pools with Oliver and Ocean. Ocean learned to stay on her feet in the baby pool. She loves water and I only had to save her life 4 times. There was a ramp near the slide that she had difficulty managing and she fell on her back and couldn’t get back up.

Yesterday we enjoyed a relaxing day at the hotel. The highlight for me was Owen and I skating around the lake. Owen was getting quite good at ice skating and I hope to do some more with him. I also want him to practice skiing and we set up lessons for the boys today. It is a nice setting with the towering mountains on both sides of us. The village must have a zamboni, as they ploughed a hockey area and a loop around the lake. Nice idea. I didn’t see any ice fishermen however, which would be standard in any Upper Peninsula lake.  Nadia went to the spa for a massage. We are loving the European spa concept. I like it because everyone is walking around in hotel issued robes and sandals.

 

Feld am See Austria
Feld am See Austria

 

This hotel greatest service for kids however, is a kinderhaus. They have a room with toys, books, arts & crafts, and a couple of teachers to watch the kids while the parents enjoy themselves. Owen and Oliver are fine with this as they go to school, but Ocean can only stay a short time until she begins to cry inconsolably. We hope she improves. 

Ocean and Oliver were excited to leave Belgrade
Ocean and Oliver were excited to leave Belgrade