Trip to Kitzbühel, Austria
On Friday, February 18, 2000, we set out for Austria to go skiing.  On the trip were the Kimbell family (Pete, Sherri, Madison, McKenna), Tim Stewart, and me (Doug).

Our plan was to travel from Frankfurt to Kitzbühel, Austria, spend the night in Kitzbühel, ski on Saturday, and return to Frankfurt Saturday night because Tim had to fly back to the U.S. on Sunday.   We left Frankfurt around 4pm in a rented VW minivan.  Traffic was heavy and the progress was slow all the way down through Germany. 

Dinner was at a Burger King just off the highway.  As a vegetarian, the fast-food choices are limited, especially in Europe.  Interestingly, over here both McDonalds and Burger King have veggie burgers.  McDonalds has the 'Gemüse Mac' and Burger King has the 'Country Burger'.   I prefer the 'Country Burger'.   Neither sandwich is all that good, however.  I wonder why they have vegetarian choices in Europe and not in the U.S.? 

Map showing where Kitzbühel is...

Maps by Travel


Tim Stewart's Pictures


Anyway,  when we finally made it into Austria, it was snowing.  And as we got closer to Kitzbühel, the snow got heavier and the roads worse.   We got within maybe 20km of Kitzbühel and couldn't make any further - the roads were just too slippery.  So then we started looking for a place to spend the night.  Backtracking all the way to Munich,  every motel along the autobahn was full.  Finally, in Munich (about 1-1/2 hours later) we located a hotel.  We fell into bed around 1am.  I have to admit,  I was discouraged about making it to Kitzbühel the next day. 

Saturday morning, we set out around 7:30am.  Breakfast was at - guess where - a Burger King.  I was extremely pleased with the breakkfast choice.  They had these little egg, cheese, and tomato sandwiches.  I got the 'Country Baguette', actually 2.  They were great!  So the next stop was to buy some chains for the van.  We (Pete) were determined to make it to Kitzbühel.  I have to hand it to Pete - when he has a goal,  he usually finds a way to accomplish it - and this time the goal was to make it to Kitzbühel and ski.  

The weather was better on Saturday.  When we got to the Austrian border we thought it would be a good place to get some currency - which is the shilling.   As of 2/18/2000, an Austrian shilling (AS)  is worth about $.07.  The other way around, it takes 14 shilling to make $1.  Back to the story, it's a good thing we stopped at the border.  There were a lot of people stopping there (everybody) and buying these stickers to put on their windshield.  Standing in line,   we asked someone about it and he said it was required to have one of those stickers to drive on the highways in Austria.  It cost the equivalent of around $6.   

Well, it turns out that the roads were fine on Saturday morning and we didn't need the chains after all.  Oh well, we'll save them for next time.   Coming into Kitzbühel, we stopped at a BP station to use the restroom.  I asked the cashier where to go ski.  He was very nice and gave us the exact directions to get to the Kitzbüheler Horn side of Kitzbühel, where it was best for families.   I was surprised at how convenient it was.  Parking was easy to find.   Rentals, lift tickets, and lifts were all right together.  The rentals and lift ticket prices were quite reasonable - in line with any other places I've been. 

Tim and I decided to ski together and agreed to meet the Kimbell's back at the rental place.  I guess we got started a little before noon.  The lift was actually a gondola that held 4-6 people.  It was not crowded at all.  No waiting.   Kitzbühel's altitude is around 800 meters.  Where we got off the lift was 2000 meters and there was quite a difference in the weather at the top.   At the bottom, it was rainy and the snow was kind of slushy.  At the top it was snowing, windy, and the visibility was about 100 feet!  Kind of scary when you're skiing and can't see very far in front of you!  A little bit down from the top it got better.  Of course we were on the easy slopes and had a little confidence that the   mountain wouldn't drop off. 

Skiing was just great!  It was beautiful (when you could see), not many people, and we could ski all the way down to the bottom, going across roads, crossing bridges, and actually skiing down the sidewalk almost to the lift.  There was another lift about halfway down the mountain that we mostly used instead of going to the bottom every time.  I guess we skiied about 3 1/2 hours in all.    We all finished about the same time and met at the restaurant for a drink.  Pete and family spent their time on the beginners slope and had a good day.  Now the girls - Madison and McKenna can brag that they learned to ski in Austria!  After skiing we found a pizza place in Kitzbühel and had dinner.  Riding around Kitzbühel, we saw that it's a nice resort town and resolved that we'll come back again, maybe for 2 days next time!  

It's funny - the Europeans we work with can't understand how we'll drive for hours and hours just to spend a day somewhere and then drive back.  Our answer is that we do it because we want to see Europe and only have a limited time.  Working over here, we don't have many days off and have to fit our adventures into the weekends.   Also, the Europeans get about twice the number of vacation days that we do, so they're used to taking vacations of 2-3 weeks at a time.   The drive back home was long - 6 hours.   Fortunately I didn't have to drive and slept for some of the way.  Thanks to Pete and Tim for driving.  Even with all the driving, the trip to Kitzbühel was worth it.  Another fun place to visit again!


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