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Aussies Do Europe - Live trip report.

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I’ve been inspired by Layne of these boards to do a running trip report for our coming holiday to Europe. I have some time to kill whilst travelling by boat from a work conference on Hamilton Island (Whitsundays - Great Barrier Reef) so now is a fair time to kick it off.

Firstly thanks to the helpful people on this forum who have offered advice and tips over the past twelve months.
http://www.snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=133034

My family of four (kids are Emily and Tom who are 13 and 11 respectively) jet out of Brisbane on December 20 bound for Munich with a 2 hour stopover in Singapore. Just 25 hours travel time. Shocked So between now and then I have about 50 days straight of work in an endeavour to replenish the bank account which must be about 25 grand lighter thanks to this upcoming trip. Laughing

We plan to ski in Austria and Italy mainly with some tourist stops in between. We have had plenty of previous skiing road trips to Canada and the USA which have been great fun so I hope the same model works out just as good in Europe. I understand a lot of folks consider moving about to be a hassle but we quite enjoy it and my wife is a great packer!

A rough itinerary is below -
Fly into Munich. Spend a couple of days there. Hope to have a beer at one of the beer halls, see the Christmas markets and go to a tour of Dachau. We’ll then train it to -

Kaltenbach. We’ll have Christmas here so we’ll have to give Santa some notice. If there is snow we plan to ski in the Zillertal for four days. If there is no snow I guess we’ll do a trip into Innsbruck and just do other touristy things whilst taking in a bit of Tyrolean atmosphere. We then catch the train to -

Verona for a couple of nights. We’ll check out the city and also catch the train to Venice for the day. We collect a car from Verona (WinRent is the supplier and we have booked a car with guaranteed winter tyres). From there we’ll drive to -

Aosta. We’re staying in a B and B in the town itself. If there is snow we’ll ski in Pila, LaThuille, Cervinia (lunch in Zermatt for obligatory photo with the Matterhorn in the background), Courmayuer etc. Could be a combination of all or some of those hills I suppose. We plan to have a day off skiing to check out the castles and Roman ruins. If there is no snow I don’t know what we’ll do? Maybe drive through the tunnel to Chamonix and take the cable car up.
So it’s six days in Aosta then we drive to -

Milan for a night. Just a quick stop so we can check out the Duomo and my wife can buy a Prada handbag from what is supposed to be the very first Prada store. She’s got a thing for collecting handbags and has been saving her pennies all year. We then plan to get up early and start a day full of faffing. It will be trying -

Drive from Milan to Verona. Drop off the car. Catch the train to Venice before getting on a bus bound for Arabba. Thanks to Alistair Pink for advice on this part of the journey. The Dolomites get a lot of love on this forum so we wanted to spend our main ski week here -

Staying at the Portavescovo. Staying half board which will be a novelty for us. Plan on doing all the iconic days out including the Sasslong, Hidden Valley, Marmolada glacier, Sella Ronda. We then head north to -

Innsbruck for a night. We’ll just check out to town and maybe the Olympic stuff. Probably won’t ski. The next day we take the train to Munich for a night before flying back home.

To be continued......
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Any advice on how to upload a photo into this thread from a mobile device please?
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
BONZA!
I was tired just reading that Madeye-Smiley
Sounds like a great trip. Looking forward to seeing your pics.
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Anyway I’ll report on lead up planning etc. I will also include details of my inevitable ‘no snow anxiety’ as we get closer. Last years trip to the US had much worrying beforehand but we ended up having good conditions at Jackson Hole and even skied in three feet of powder at Mammoth. Here’s hoping the snow gods can smile on Europe. We do have low expectations though so even if it’s just sliding on man made while taking in scenery we’ll be chuffed.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
sbooker wrote:
Hope to have a beer at one of the beer halls, see the Christmas markets


Dont bother with the hofbraeuhaus. Its full of tourists & you be lucky to get a seat. If you do, you will then be lucky to get served!
We got lucky & got a seat by splitting up & walking opposite directions. Gave up trying to get served after 45mins & went to Paulener. Lovely Dunkel.

For Xmas markets, worth the visit to the Medieval one & also the one in the courtyard (they are not far from each other).
There is also Tollwood which is held at the same location as Okterberfest
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What a wonderful trip. You seem to have researched it well. I do hope your wife has saved lots and lots of pennies. I was in that Prada shop two weeks ago for a nose about and the prices were beyond belief.
I'm just on the back of a six week European tour, albeit working but energy to many of the places you're going to.
If you like the city stuff then do try and squeeze in Vienna which is utterly stunning, pristine - the best Europe has to offer, in my opinion and is wonderful near.Christmas. it also has some lovely one day resorts about.Slazburg, on the way is utterly delightful too. Verona is small - the colleseum is amazing though but if you have two days you might want to check.out Padova or.even ski Andalo which has epic views of the Brent's Massif.
The Dolomites are indeed incredible and Mr Pink is an expert. The Sella Ronda loop is over rated and much of it on lifts, the offshoots roots though - ski Panorama and Great War ring are amazing. If you do ski the Great War ring then make sure you double back and ski a top to bottom to Alleghe. A simply epic run. Finally, if you have a car and a wife who enjoys the finer things in life then drive out to Corrina for a last day's skiing, amazing lunch in scenery that beggars belief.
I look forward to following your progress....
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“Drive to Chamonix and take a cable car up” - you can do it on the IT side as well, just beforee the Mont Blanc tunnel - the new rotating 2 stage bubble was one of the most expensive to build and is truly spectacular. It will bring you to Vallee Blanche as well

edited - and if you have Coumayeur ski pass for 3 days or longer (check their website) the cable up Mont Blanc /Vallee Blanche used to be included in a ski pass price (so even if you only ski one day in Courmayeur it might be worth getting a 3 day pass and use the new lift getting up top, but check the details online first). Of course only worth going to the very top if the sun is out
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Sounds like a great trip.

I’m also an Aussie and I’ve a few Europe trips with another coming up this season. Warning it IS addictive and you will want to do Europe snow again Toofy Grin
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sbooker wrote:
Any advice on how to upload a photo into this thread from a mobile device please?


This thread may help

http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=137712
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That's one full on trip for winter in Europe. I suspect you might be trying to do too much in a few weeks. I would have cut the Aosta leg and concentrated on Austria, Dolomites, Venice. My son has lived in Bavaria the last decade so I've had frequent road trips and ski trips through the Alps in autumn and winter. It takes a lot longer to get from point A to point B in Europe than it does in Oz. Make sure your hire car has satnav preferably with headsup display. It will make life a lot easier. Some northern Italy provinces require you to carry wheel chains even if you winter tyres.
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
The roads are ok so long as you travel at the right times and the route you've chosen is pretty much all motorway.
Ive guessed you've booked all of your hotels now but they only advice Id.give in hindsight is that European snow cover has been very variable early season over recent years. Snow making has helped and has been miraculous in some areas.
But if you have a car and are able to make changes then chase the snow and powder.....
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Hope it goes well for you. At least it seems you have realistic expectations should natural snow be poor.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
You can get a pretty good picture of yourself with the Matterhorn in the background from Pila. It looks slightly different from the south but still recognizable.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
A couple of Munich tips nothing to with skiing.

As I am sure you are well aware Munich has a reputation for decent beer (personally I would say the best anywhere). If you have a good reason to go to the Hofbräuhaus its fine and there are still some locals who go but generally it is full of tourists (sometimes a few of your compatriots behaving badly......). Better to go to an Augustiner place. There are lots around the centre of town, the Bierhalle on the main pedestrian street or the Augustinerkeller (in summer the best beer in town from the biergarden) are the best known. However you might like the Gaststube attached to the brewery near the Oktoberfest site (what would be called a brewery tap in the UK ) see http://www.braeustuben.de/ . The beer (from wooden barrels) and food are very good value and always good quality.

Whilst the Christmas market on and around the main square (Marienplatz) is OK there are many more with perhaps a bit more local character. Try the one at Weissenburger Platz (next to Rossenheimer Platz s bahn station) or the one at Münchener Freiheit. Alternatively look up winter Tollwood which is a festival that takes place on the Oktoberfest site with various entertainment as well as the market
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I was just going to say much of what @munich_irish, said so... +1.

If you go to the Munchener Freilheit market it's artists selling their own work, where some of the others are mass produced stuff. If you see a stall selling blown glass (FreeformGlas) there, say hello and MerryChrismas to my sister-in-law Nina for me.
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Quote:

I would have cut the Aosta leg and concentrated on Austria, Dolomites, Venice.

Yes, I thought that. Hiking all the way over to the Aosta area when you're within spitting distance of so much great stuff..... And a fair bit of that drive is dreary - Po valley, busy, industrial, often foggy. I've done it a few times and it's just a case of getting it over with.
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Though my view of Aosta is a bit jaundiced by having a clutch give way on a busy roundabout just outside a huge steel factory. Never saw the sites!
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@pam w, Aosta - the mini Rome of the North! 👍
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Wow, sounds like a great trip. A lot of miles, but as you have come so far it would be a shame to limit yourselves. I can see why you need to plan for this bit -
Quote:

Kaltenbach. We’ll have Christmas here so we’ll have to give Santa some notice.
- as the big man does need notice to make the right drop-offs of stuff that is not too large to make it home again. Mind you Munich is a great place to pick-up bits and pieces for stockings and the like - and you can always just add another bag if you are going by train. The Galeria Kaufhof has a great Christmas window done each year by Steiff. I suppose at 11 & 13 they might be a bit old but I love it. You can also head to the BMW museum and the old Olympic Park is worth a look if it is not too cold. Aosta is lovely as well, so I think you have a great plan.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@sbooker, if you are in Kaltenbach for xmas, would recommend going to the main church in fugen (short drive or a couple of stops on the train) for xmas eve mass. "silent night" was first performed there around 200 years ago, I think one of the co-composers had links to the church, and is sung by the choir at the end of the service with all the lights turned off. we went two xmas ago and it was an amazing experience.

loved skiing in kaltenbach as well!!!
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@terrygasson, the story of Silent Night
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sorry @Alastair Pink, I didn't mean to give the impression the song had its "premiere" in fugen, just that it was performed there not long afterwards, I think the organ builder who serviced the organ where it was composed, had links to the zillertal area. Then, it was a local performing family who sang it regularly

http://www.stillenacht.at/en/spreading_song.asp

I saw a documentary on it last year, presented by simon callow, I must admit until that point I had thought it originated in fugen
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@terrygasson, no criticism intended, as you say it was the Zillertal singing family who brought the song to wide prominence. Smile
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Cheers @Alastair Pink,

I am a bit of a bah-humbug when it comes to Xmas, but must admit I really enjoyed the song being sung by the local choir in Fugen, and have the German version on my iTunes list!!
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Mr.Egg wrote:
sbooker wrote:
Hope to have a beer at one of the beer halls, see the Christmas markets


Dont bother with the hofbraeuhaus. Its full of tourists & you be lucky to get a seat. If you do, you will then be lucky to get served!
We got lucky & got a seat by splitting up & walking opposite directions. Gave up trying to get served after 45mins & went to Paulener. Lovely Dunkel.

For Xmas markets, worth the visit to the Medieval one & also the one in the courtyard (they are not far from each other).
There is also Tollwood which is held at the same location as Okterberfest


Thanks. These are the tips I need.
As a beer lover I’m very much looking forward to visiting Germany and Austria.
I gather it’s more difficult to source proper ‘ale’ style beer (as opposed to the tasteless lager style) in Italy.
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cameronphillips2000 wrote:
What a wonderful trip. You seem to have researched it well. I do hope your wife has saved lots and lots of pennies. I was in that Prada shop two weeks ago for a nose about and the prices were beyond belief.
I'm just on the back of a six week European tour, albeit working but energy to many of the places you're going to.
If you like the city stuff then do try and squeeze in Vienna which is utterly stunning, pristine - the best Europe has to offer, in my opinion and is wonderful near.Christmas. it also has some lovely one day resorts about.Slazburg, on the way is utterly delightful too. Verona is small - the colleseum is amazing though but if you have two days you might want to check.out Padova or.even ski Andalo which has epic views of the Brent's Massif.
The Dolomites are indeed incredible and Mr Pink is an expert. The Sella Ronda loop is over rated and much of it on lifts, the offshoots roots though - ski Panorama and Great War ring are amazing. If you do ski the Great War ring then make sure you double back and ski a top to bottom to Alleghe. A simply epic run. Finally, if you have a car and a wife who enjoys the finer things in life then drive out to Corrina for a last day's skiing, amazing lunch in scenery that beggars belief.
I look forward to following your progress....


There won’t be time for Vienna this trip unfortunately. Maybe we’ll keep it up our sleeve for next time.
Some good advice here. Thanks.
Oh and my wife is generally very careful with her money and generally is far too tight to do ‘high fashion’ but she makes an exception when it comes to her handbag collection.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Aussie Steve wrote:
That's one full on trip for winter in Europe. I suspect you might be trying to do too much in a few weeks. I would have cut the Aosta leg and concentrated on Austria, Dolomites, Venice. My son has lived in Bavaria the last decade so I've had frequent road trips and ski trips through the Alps in autumn and winter. It takes a lot longer to get from point A to point B in Europe than it does in Oz. Make sure your hire car has satnav preferably with headsup display. It will make life a lot easier. Some northern Italy provinces require you to carry wheel chains even if you winter tyres.


Yes it has been suggested it’s too much but we don’t know if we’ll get back to Europe anytime soon. We have busy lives on a day to day basis at home and a busy holiday is just fine.
Car has GPS and chains too.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
munich_irish wrote:
A couple of Munich tips nothing to with skiing.

As I am sure you are well aware Munich has a reputation for decent beer (personally I would say the best anywhere). If you have a good reason to go to the Hofbräuhaus its fine and there are still some locals who go but generally it is full of tourists (sometimes a few of your compatriots behaving badly......). Better to go to an Augustiner place. There are lots around the centre of town, the Bierhalle on the main pedestrian street or the Augustinerkeller (in summer the best beer in town from the biergarden) are the best known. However you might like the Gaststube attached to the brewery near the Oktoberfest site (what would be called a brewery tap in the UK ) see http://www.braeustuben.de/ . The beer (from wooden barrels) and food are very good value and always good quality.

Whilst the Christmas market on and around the main square (Marienplatz) is OK there are many more with perhaps a bit more local character. Try the one at Weissenburger Platz (next to Rossenheimer Platz s bahn station) or the one at Münchener Freiheit. Alternatively look up winter Tollwood which is a festival that takes place on the Oktoberfest site with various entertainment as well as the market


Thanks. My wife has read to avoid the touristy beer halls. Good tip on the Christmas markets - thanks.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Cheesie168 wrote:
Wow, sounds like a great trip. A lot of miles, but as you have come so far it would be a shame to limit yourselves. I can see why you need to plan for this bit -
Quote:

Kaltenbach. We’ll have Christmas here so we’ll have to give Santa some notice.
- as the big man does need notice to make the right drop-offs of stuff that is not too large to make it home again. Mind you Munich is a great place to pick-up bits and pieces for stockings and the like - and you can always just add another bag if you are going by train. The Galeria Kaufhof has a great Christmas window done each year by Steiff. I suppose at 11 & 13 they might be a bit old but I love it. You can also head to the BMW museum and the old Olympic Park is worth a look if it is not too cold. Aosta is lovely as well, so I think you have a great plan.


It’s funny people talking of a ‘lot of miles’. I guess it is but we drive from Sydney to the snow (about 500km) and back after a flight for a couple of days skiing at shitty Aussie ski hills.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
We were in Aosta a couple of winters ago in January. The Chistmas market was still on at that time and was really lovely. I would recommend it.

It's in the ruins of the Roman amphitheatre and is pretty special after dark with the place illuminated. The adjacent pedestrianised shopping area has a lovely atmosphere too.
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terrygasson wrote:
@sbooker, if you are in Kaltenbach for xmas, would recommend going to the main church in fugen (short drive or a couple of stops on the train) for xmas eve mass. "silent night" was first performed there around 200 years ago, I think one of the co-composers had links to the church, and is sung by the choir at the end of the service with all the lights turned off. we went two xmas ago and it was an amazing experience.

loved skiing in kaltenbach as well!!!


We have this on our radar.
We won’t have a car though so the train looks likely.
I’m not overly religious but it sounds wonderful.
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Me and the family are heading to Austria via UK from NZ in January. Doing the killer 17.5 hour Auckland to Doha leg and 34 hours of flights in total each way. Not looking forward to that, definitely looking forward to some snow Very Happy

My teenage kids have never been to Europe. Both mad keen snowboarders, but have no concept of what a ski field with more than one chairlift is like, so it will be great to share that with them.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
pam w wrote:
Quote:

I would have cut the Aosta leg and concentrated on Austria, Dolomites, Venice.

Yes, I thought that. Hiking all the way over to the Aosta area when you're within spitting distance of so much great stuff..... And a fair bit of that drive is dreary - Po valley, busy, industrial, often foggy. I've done it a few times and it's just a case of getting it over with.


I intend on leaving Verona early and google suggests a 3 and a bit hour drive. I’ve allowed 4.5 hours. Is this realistic? That would allow us to be in the Aosta valley by lunchtime.
Our accomodation in Aosta can be cancelled up until 5 days before we’re due to get there. If the snow is truly dire we can always ditch that leg and drive to Rome or Florence or whatever but that would be a disappointment.
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hang11 wrote:
Me and the family are heading to Austria via UK from NZ in January. Doing the killer 17.5 hour Auckland to Doha leg and 34 hours of flights in total each way. Not looking forward to that, definitely looking forward to some snow Very Happy

My teenage kids have never been to Europe. Both mad keen snowboarders, but have no concept of what a ski field with more than one chairlift is like, so it will be great to share that with them.


First time to Europe for my kids too. Tom is learning Italian at school and he thinks that makes him an expert on all things Italy.
They’ve been to lots of the ‘big’ ski resorts in North America and are very keen skiers so I’m sure they’ll love it.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I am looking forward to reading the unfolding trip reports as and when.
I will support the comments already made about the Hofbrauhaus, but suggest that as well as considering the Augustinerkeller, do consider the Hofbraukeller (very much NOT the same as the Hofbrauhaus) and with a bit of political history as the venue for the first political speech as a member of the German Workers Party by a Mr A Hitler in 1919.
I also second the suggestion of the mediaeval market and the one at Tollwood.
Try a "Dunkel" (dark) beer if you get overwhelmed by the lighter ones - and are you familiar with wheat beer (yet) ?
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JohnHSmith wrote:
I am looking forward to reading the unfolding trip reports as and when.
I will support the comments already made about the Hofbrauhaus, but suggest that as well as considering the Augustinerkeller, do consider the Hofbraukeller (very much NOT the same as the Hofbrauhaus) and with a bit of political history as the venue for the first political speech as a member of the German Workers Party by a Mr A Hitler in 1919.
I also second the suggestion of the mediaeval market and the one at Tollwood.
Try a "Dunkel" (dark) beer if you get overwhelmed by the lighter ones - and are you familiar with wheat beer (yet) ?



I have an interest in history and I am familiar with the Hitler beer hall. I'll be sure to check it out.
I've tried wheat beer and to be honest haven't been a fan but I've only tried a couple so hardly a good sample.
I love dark beers so I've been practicing 'dunkel bitte'. Very Happy
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Quote:

Better to go to an Augustiner place. There are lots around the centre of town, the Bierhalle on the main pedestrian street

I agree. Have a quick look at Hofbrauhaus but eat and drink at an Augustiner. If you have time, at Freising near the airport is the world's oldest brewery, Weihenstephan,established in 1040. 16 beers on tap, a great keller and restaurant with traditional fare and brewery tours. Its part of the Munich Technology University. It teaches and researches everything to do with beer. If you are lucky you might even see an academic faculty lunch at the keller, where they wear academic robes, funny hats and sing drinking songs continuously. After many visits I can say all the beers are all great.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Quote:

then chase the snow and powder.....


If you do need to chase snow, it's most likely there'll have been snow come in from the west, which will fall in France, but normally gets as far as south-west Switzerland. If this is the case, your best options for you itinerary are all from Aosta:
1. Tunnel through to Chamonix
2. Ski link from Cervinia to drop into Zermatt - but pay attention to any lift closing, as it's a verrrrry long and expensive taxi ride backif you get caught the wrong side
3. Drive over Grand St. Bernard and drop down to Verbier (or the small resorts beforehand)
Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa can have a huge impact on the weather, and you often get very different conditions either side (and I've never seen similar conditions in Courmayeur and Chamonix when I've gone through the tunnel, though then again I've normally gone through the tunnel for a reason)
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@sbooker, I take the locals' point re Hofbrauhaus, but we went in there on a trip a few weeks back (had booked a table, which was in the uppermost hall) and it was great fun. Mostly tourists like us doing extended cheers shared amongst hundreds of folk, oompah band and two blokes cracking their whips. Make of that what you will. We also nipped late in the evening to the beer and Oktoberfest museum, which is, err, both a pub and museum. Interesting place.
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visit here, train just south of Munich..you can also take your own food

https://andechs.de/
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