Saturday, January 31, 2009

Austria Alps: Gerlos, the Village and Apres Ski (Cin-Cin & Little London)

Gerlos sits in the heart of Ziller Valley, 1300 meters above sea level and about 10-minute zigzag drive from Zell am Ziller. The village is a very popular wintersport destination by the Dutch and Germans as well. Everywhere I go, be it in the Spar supermarket, on the streets, in the restaurants, hanging on the bar, waiting at the ski lift, skiing in the slopes, practically everywhere, Dutch is spoken. It felt like I have not left the Netherlands after all.

The Village: Gerlos

The alpine village, Gerlos, at dusk.

Because of Gerlos popularity, I have expected a much bigger village however it’s actually a very small and laid-back town. No more than a strip, a kilometer long street filled with hotels, inns, banks, and shops. That’s it, that is the village. There is a small arena with a slope and a ski school in the center of the village, perfect for children and beginners who need to practice. Also a great place to enjoy sledding.

Most of the shops on the little road strip are food stores, souvenir shops, and sports-clothing stores selling ridiculously priced items. I did however found a really nice, a bit on the expensive side, white snow boots with the price slashed down so lucky me I bought it. I have been wanting to buy one anyway and when it snowed on our third day with my uggs not having the grip to climb the knee-deep snow in front of our chalet, this was indeed the best opportunity and reason to buy. Women always find reasons!

Lovely Austrian styled houses with rococo influence, some latticework, and the generous use of alpine wood.

Austrians are religious people, many houses have scribbles of crosses in chalk on the front door which means a priest have blessed the house.

Moi here, warm and cozy in the chalet with my fuscia knitted bonnet.

A hot sexy snowboard we saw in a sports shop.

On Sunday evening there is a Ski Show held on the small arena which is sponsored by the local ski school. We watched the show in below 0C temperatures while sipping a warm cup of gluhwein. It wasn’t really that spectacular as I have expected. The lights show though was nicely done, it gave the program the pizzaz and the kids who joined were quite impressive with their downhill skiing skills.

The Apres Ski in Gerlos

And true to its name, the Apres Ski and nightlife in Gerlos is indeed FUN. The booze and partying starts at 3PM sharp even if the ski lifts close later at 4PM. I guess the die hard partygoers race down the slopes early to catch their first sip for the looong evening.

Cin-Cin bar, taken early in the afternoon before the Apres Ski opened.

Our Erdinger white beers and Cin-Cin bar is decorated with replicas of blue town plates that you see all over the Netherlands. This bar is definitely Dutch and an Austrian trudging in will probably feel out of place!

For our entire stay, we have only been to three bars: Cin-Cin, Little London, and Country Club, which I believe are all Dutch bars, not kidding, Gerlos is like a little Dutch enclave! These bars are also the most entertaining and packed. One can just imagine the high season. Ugh, sweats inside the bars with freezing conditions outside.

I quite like the theme going on in Cin-Cin, they have replicas of Dutch town plates (the blue plates you see on the roads and borders all over the Netherlands) on the walls and celings. It gives you the cozy feeling of being at home even if you are far away. The Country Club on the other hand is more of a discotheque that goes on non-stop until dawn while Cin-Cin and Little London closes at midnight.

A crammed Little London pub.

The songs played are also sooooooo Dutch and how should I call it--very volkslied type. Dutchman and I were laughing the whole time, pretending to enjoy the whole thing because most of the songs we have no clue about. Looks like these songs are played in little village bars in the Netherlands. We were in fact expecting some real Dutch trance music of the Tiesto or Armin van Buren fame, instead, music along Andre Hazes and Frans Bauer discography genre hijacked our ears for the entire evening. Or maybe we are just out of touch and these are actually cool music?

I’ve had witbier in the first few nights and later on I switched to Jagermeister to submerge myself completely in this Austrian (mountain) experience.

Travel Period: January 2009
Destination: Gerlos (Tirol), Austria

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All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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