Fear is a highly motivational tool – it can be a great way to overcome it or stop you dead in your tracks. And what I learned during my two brief, but vital sessions, was that you have to step out of your comfort zone. If you fall, just get up and try again. Recognising success is paramount.
I may have felt a failure after the countless times I fell, but when I was able to remain upright for more than two minutes, that was deemed a success. And I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to celebrate small victories. After four hours, with my legs hurting in places I was unaware could hurt, and my concentration waning, it was time to sluice down the mountain for the all-important après ski.
Relaxing in the “Ibiza of the Alps”
Ischgl offers excellent skiing facilities with entertainment and a nightlife to match. Some lovingly call this Tirolean town the “Ibiza of the Alps”. Skiers can expect to find some of the wildest table-dancing bars in the Alps. Although they are not all in the best of British good taste, be assured, there are plenty of other bars and clubs to sample in the town centre. And things are done in an orderly fashion here. Après-ski bars serve drinks until 8 pm before closing to offer dinner.
Revellers are then welcomed back again to dance the night away until the small hours of the morning. And one of the top hangouts just happened to be in our very own hotel. Pacha in the basement was convenient, not least because we were able to crawl back to our rooms before dawn. Ischgl’s slogan “Relax. If you can…” is clearly not an empty promise.
Highlights of the Paznaun Valley
But the Paznaun valley has not had a long tradition in the hospitality trade. On the contrary, its roots as those of most valleys like it, lie with agriculture which wrestled the bare necessities from the harsh and barren alpine world. Those days are over, but they are not forgotten. And to give you a taste of a former life, it’s worth taking a short tour of the Paznaun Farmer Museum on the first floor of the Restaurant Walserstube in Mathon – a short taxi ride away from our hotel. You will be immersed in a peasant world as one would have encountered just a few decades ago.
But the wholesome Austrian food remains the same. Tiroler Gröstl, Käsespätzle, and of course, Schnitzel, the national food – it can all be found in abundance. But hands down it was the Kaiserschmarrn that tickled my taste buds. Literally meaning a meal fit for the kings, the fluffy shredded pancake pieces topped with jams, sweet sauces, fruit compotes and caramelised dry fruits was just the fuel needed after a day on the slopes.
Learning to ski at any age is no different than trying to reinvent yourself. And thanks to huge improvements in equipment, apparel and ski run maintenance, it’s easier than ever to learn the sport. Skis are lighter, boots fit better, waterproof outerwear is more breathable (I was kitted head-to-toe in Helly Hansen), and the slopes get groomed to perfection each night.
I may not have become a ballerina on the snow, but I wasn’t a human avalanche either. While cycling and hiking are amazing activities, skiing gives you an experience of freedom that’s difficult to match. The thrill of flying down a snow-covered hill really is something else…
Skiing in Ischgl Austria – Where and How?
Inghams is the main UK tour operator to feature Ischgl and Galtür, and is offering a seven-night ski holiday on a half-board basis at the four-star Hotel Madlein in Ischgl, costing from £1,339 per person based on two sharing, including return flights from London’s Gatwick to Innsbruck, plus airport transfers.
The package is valid for travel departing in March 2020. To book, visit www.inghams.co.uk/ski-holidays or call 01483 938 047. For more on Ischgl and Galtür, visit www.ischgl.com and www.galtuer.com respectively.
Photos courtesy of TVB Paznaun-Ischgl.
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