On the first week of January 2022, the Netherlands was in the middle of a lockdown due to the Omicron variant.
We therefore decided to follow our good friends Jacco and Monique, their son Moos and his girlfriend Iris to Serfaus, Austria, where they have been traveling to ski every winter for about 15 years.
However, we had to make a few logistical maneuvers to make sure we would get our booster shots, FFP2 masks and a new QR code on our phones before getting on a flight to Austria.
We flew into Innsbruck, a small airport with one of the most beautiful landings in Europe, and stayed in Schalber Wellness Center, known for its high-quality amenities and haute cuisine. We kept the same table at the restaurant during the whole week, because of COVID.
On our first day, we went up the ski lift to a recreational area and had a snow-ball fight. I was a little scared of the lift at first, especially when it was windy and when getting off the lift, but it was a closed one and I soon realized it was quite safe.
We then registered Emma, Olivia and Daniel into Ski School from Monday to Friday. Skiing is not cheap: we paid about 1000 euros for the school and another 700 for renting the helmets, skis and boots plus another 200+ for the lifts. We had purchased the goggles and ski pants beforehand because snow gear can be very pricy in ski resorts. However, I would say this vacation was worth every penny. The kids didn’t complain once!
The school went on Monday to Friday from 10:30 until 15:30. There was a marmot mascot called Murmli, which accompanied the small visitors along the many games they played while learning how to ski. The kids always came home looking forward to something exciting that was announced for the following day.
The village of Serfaus is in the Province of Tirol and is only about 1km long, with one main road that has a supermarket, a Roman Catholic church, a pharmacy, a toy store, a few restaurants, and a wide variety of snow gear shops. It was packed with Dutch visitors. There was an underground train that would go back and forth every 10 minutes, so the visitors didn’t have to carry their ski gear through the main street.
For my birthday, I received an inspirational poem and a beautiful bouquet of roses on my breakfast table. It read:
“The most beautiful presents are the small signs of love, colorful and unexpected, like a rainbow in the sky: a warm word, a moment of closeness, a wish, a smile, a friendly look, someone to listen, a good thought, a helping hand, a nice greeting.“
Additionally, our friends hired a horse carriage. This was the highlight of our trip, with two stunning black stallions pulling our wagon through the beautiful city center and through the mountain with breathtaking views of the snow-covered pine trees. I don’t think any photos could depict the magnificence of this experience, which felt like we were riding along “Winter Wonderland”.
We arrived at “Madatschen”, a small family-owned restaurant which served traditional meals with meats and sausages cooked in a large oven brick oven and offered jolly live folk music. The friendly owners would walk over to our table from time to time and chat with us. After dinner, we decided to take a 20-minute walk back to the city and dipped our faces into the snow. Finally, I received from my family two small pillows with a scent of Swiss stone pines, known as “Queen of the Alps”, known for its calming properties and its protection against moths.
Every afternoon, the hotel would offer sauna sessions with infusions of eucalyptus, chamomile, beer or honey. After the sauna, we would walk outside in our robes and take in the beauty of the snowy panorama once more. Emma, Olivia and Daniel would meanwhile enjoy an indoor swimming pool with a slide and a playground with a mini golf area, a climbing wall and a soccer field. Most hotels in the area offer many activities for the young ones.
On Friday, back at ski school, each team of 10 children had a race and Daniel won first place in his group. He was very proud and walked around showing off his “real, not chocolate medal” and his certificate. After the races, Jacco took the kids to get a “Kaiserschmaren” pancake, and then we headed over to the local pub, “Patschi”, where all the trainers would go have a beer, a few shots of the local pear liquor “Willy mit Birne”, and the kids would have Ski water (a raspberry juice which is quite popular) and enjoyed some Austrian catchy tunes.
On Saturday, we enjoyed a relaxing massage before heading back to The Hague, back to lockdown. Before sending the kids back to school, we decided to take a COVID test and one of us tested positive!