Yodel-leh-hee-ooo… I’m ready for “The Sound of Music” in the mountains of Saalbach Hinterglemm, Austria, and throwing myself into an off-key rendition of Up on a hill is a lonely goatherd. Two of my absolutely favorite physical activities is Hiking and Snowshoeing. Where? In the Alpine regions of Austria, France. Italy and Switzerland (alphabetical order). ex-Marine (husband, Steve) and I usually try heading to the hills of Austria in January and August. Snowshoeing in January (duh…), hiking in summer, choosing a different area each time.
Switzerland is number one in trail markings, Austria number two, France and Italy tied for third; a minor difference. I surf the net, looking for a destination offering free summer lifts to their guests. The 2011 Steve and Sheila winner was…Saalbach Hinterglemm. Partner hotels in Saalbach Hinterglemm offered (and still offers in 2012) the JOKER CARD with many benefits. But, the main benefit is always…
– Unlimited use of all operating lifts in Saalbach Hinterglemm and one daily use of the Asitz lift in Leogang. The European method of hiking is to take a lift up, hike trails around the top, and take lift down. The Simkin method of hiking is to hike UP to the top, and take the lift down. It’s the ups that get heart rates into a “training zone” while downs are not only boring, but hard on knees.
Cablecars, lifts usually run around 10 Euros for a one-way trip (17 Euros for a roundtrip). Free lifts means big savings and we don’t have to walk both directions.
Quite a few resorts in Europe have begun offering free lifts during the summer. Just pick one.
We do not backpack and prefer a destination resort (usually one of the larger European ski circuses); book a hotel, and day hike. Begin the day with a hearty breakfast in your hotel of choice. Set off up the mountains to hike. Return later in the day with a luscious dessert from a Bakerei (a reward for exercising) to your comfy room. Plunge into a hot bath, eat a wonderful dinner and end the day snuggling under fluffy duvets. How civilized is that!
Decision made, planning began. How to get there? Where to stay? All the important “bits and bobs” that we needed to know…