Sophie came for a week of skiing in Austria's Lech on the Arlberg in the Austrian Alps and the architecture here cannot be any more different than the one in Manhatten, but it is for sure as beautiful.
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You already know I have a mild obsession with everything mildly snow related, so when I checked the weather forecast and saw that it would be snowing all night in Salzburg, I naturally had to wake up at the crack of dawn to capture the empty, snow covered streets. Funnily enough, we got there almost too early, as it was almost too dark to take good pictures in the very beginning, but tour busses full of tourists soon rolled in and I found myself stalking poor innocent tourists to capture the snow on their umbrellas. Sorry, not sorry I love the way those photos turned out. Also if you're looking for a traditional Austrian cafe to warm up in after walking, try out Tomaselli!
Hallstatt is probably on every single list of hidden gems in Europe. The Chinese government loved this little lakeside village so much so that they built their own replica version in China. Nowadays it's much less secret than anyone really wants to admit, but beautiful nonetheless. About an hour southeast of Salzburg, Hallstatt is nestled into the mountains just on the edge of Hallstatt Lake and it's hard to picture a more picturesque place, especially with fresh snow. You can't really drive through the village, but end up climbing up staircases and walking in-between the tiny houses to get views of the churches below. I visited last summer as well, but I much prefer it in the winter as it's a lot less crowded and you can really take everything in, not to mention there's mulled wine, and who can say no to that?
Each year we start off with high hopes and anticipation for the most important family time of the year, Christmas. Weeks before Christmas even the ignorant start watching the weather forcast in order to find out how likely the white decoration from above is going to make it down the valleys of the nation. And each year the white fluff becomes more and more a moody, erratic, fickle memory. OK I admit I am so disappointed!
This year instead of skiiing and cross country, sledding and watching ski races, we are hiking with a rather bad mood, as we all must now admit, Global Warming is reality and the draught that we will have to face soon indepensable. No snow, no melting water from the mountains ... Tell me, shall we not be alarmed?
A cry for comfort food breaks free and lots of white powder sugar piled on top. At least some white fluff, and a compromise on my diet in the week between two major feasts. Skipping lunch for this afternoon treat is worth the wait and the house is filled with soothing aromas.
For the first time in my life I made the dough all by myself. I thought this was quite the challenge because here in Austria you can buy strudel dough in every supermarket. But making my own was on my list all my life and 2015 had to end on a bucket list shorter than it started out, just for the record. And it was super easy. I found this recipe in a cookbook by Lafer and I made up the filling while at it. Because I cannot stand raisins and I wanted to try a new go on apple strudel with apples and nuts only. No breadcrumbs as in the original recipe. So please try it for yourself the dough is super stretchy and didn't break once and the filling far less sweet than usual.
Preparation time 1,5 hours
Chilling 2 hours
Baking time 25-30 min
Oven temperature 200°C | 400°
200g | 1 ¾ cups flour
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 dash of salt
120 ml | ½ cup lukewarm water
1 tbsp oil to cover the dough before refrigerating
1 kg | 2,4 pounds apples, peeled, core removed, quartered and cut in slices
juice from 1 ½ lemons
80 g sugar
80 + 80 g butter
110 g ground almonds
50 g ground hazelnuts
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Making the dough is the first step. Put all ingredients in a bowl and attach the dough hook, knead after combined another 5 minutes to allow the dough to become elastic and smooth. Brush with some oil and refrigerate covered with cling wrap for about 2 hours.
Wash and peel the apples, quarter them and remove the core with the seeds. Cut slices and marinate in a clean bowl with the juice of the lemons.
In a little saucepan warm 80g of butter to be used to brush the dough with.
In another pan on medium heat roast the grounded nuts with the butter, season with cinnamon and sugar and set aside to cool.
The dough can be divided in two equal parts to make two smaller strudels. On a floured work surface roll out the dough until thin enough them lift off the dough and stretch it over the back of your hand pulling slightly, turning the dough round and round over your hand helping it to become thin like a sheet almost see through and as large as 2 sheets of A4 maximum. Spread a soft and slightly moist tea towel on your work surface and place the dough straight on it. Brush the entire upper side with butter, place half of our marinated apples on the first lower half, leave 3 cm (a little over an inch) to the edges free and cover with the roasted nut mix. Lift the left and right side and fold in to the middle to make the ends secure, brush the visible sides again with butter, this way they will stick together and hold the filing in. Then take the tea towel and lift it from you with the dough and filling, roll it away from you, the filling will move a bit while being rolled and with the upper empty part of the dough close the strudel. Now the rolled strudel sits still on your tea towel. Line a form or a baking sheet with parchment paper and lift the strudel with the help of the tea towel carefully let the strudel roll softly on the paper. Do the last steps one more time and leave some space between the two strudels. Brush again with butter on the top and bake until crisp and brown, 25-30 minutes. Serve warm with some whipped cream and loads of powdered sugar.
Robert Redford once said that tourism is wonderful if you seek places that are unspoiled and expose yourself to the experience of beautiful destinations, yet if all of us do just that it will ruin it for us all. I guess we all have responsibility when traveling and exploring.
This place has been a jewel for the longest time. Now on weekends you must get in line surrounding the lake behind bus loads of people. Rarely you see it untouched as we did today.
I have never in my life seen such a color in a lake and such visibility! Up to 50 m you can see under water. The water collects here from the snow melt each spring. It almost disappears till autumn. Breathtaking views and a true happy maker.
Oh he know about his looks!
I observed three male ducks diving for food back side up, when a male and a female duck approached those youngsters took off and gave it a try, if they could win the lady over I cannot tell. But you can see the bold approach and the shy girl taking off with her mate in the pursuit. Could he get rid off the Casanova of a duckling?
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice:
"Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.
Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them."
After many many years of visiting the skiing paradise of the Arlberg, we need to pay it a well deserved tribute.
Among all the celebrities who choose to spend their winter vacation here like Tom Cruise, the Royal British Family, the Royal Dutch family, some Austrian politicians and Hannes Androsch, we feel quite at home here and despite its fame Lech is and will always be a place where one can - with the help of a little extra spending money - enjoy the season at its finest.
It’s posh but not pretentious, chic but not showy.
~ the Independent wrote today
As soon as it snows, the off piste areas will be tried and tested by those knowledgeable of the terrain and when the sun comes out and you and I would like to try the powder off the beaten track we must realize, someone was here before ... Skiing was invented here, this is the birthplace of the best winter sport ever and the Arlberg skiing school is known worldwide for its excellency.
There are skiing instructors, most of them being fluent in broken English :) and the mountain guides, who are allowed to lead one responsibly into the more challenging off piste routes and make one climb over a safety rope or lead their guests for a hike up to the peak after a heated chairlift took them already to the top. The top is not the top, there is more behind the visible. Higher and higher we are prepared to hike up, for the one ride that will make us yodel when our joy is complete, the line we leave behind in the fresh snow looking perfect! It is addictive to cut through the powdery snow - never becoming boring!
In Lech, Zürs and St. Christophen the hotels and restaurants know how to make you feel like royalty and the level of cuisinart is absolulty top here. Our favorite is by far that special place below: The Almhof Schneider and its excellent gastronomy. Being fortunate to be able to stay in one of these prestigious hotels requires a known status of a periodic guest and it is recommended to book the following year when departing.
Helicopter skiing in Austria is a lot different from the States and Canada. but it is for sure worth a try if you are fit and skilled for the challenge. The best part is when the Helicopter leaves you behind, you look around and that 360° panoramic view of mountain tops and peacefulness leaves you speechless.
The Austrians are funny when it comes to self announced hymns as this one by an our pop legend Wolfgang Ambros. Everyone knows the lyrics and has sung it at least once in their life. It means probably nothing to you but if I would translate it: you will understand the heart of the Austrian.
I just want to ski !
Photos by jsvob, my husband and me.
I find it hard to believe sometime, how easy I get used to amenities in life and how much we all know about the good side of life. BUT?
What is Lean Luxury?
Luxury is by all means a personal thing, for some it is luxurious or expensive items such as diamonds, an expensive holiday, sleep or the new smart phone, for me it is dinner with my husband and a one on one time. For a lot of my friends it is time in general ! For you it might be something entirely different. But what is a hotel that offers "lean" luxury" like the Ruby Sofien Hotel?
Here is what it is not:
- no concierge
- no room service
- no reception queues
- no laundry service
- no in-room minibar
- no parking facilities in-house
- no fitness or spa facilities
- no restaurant
- no phone or offline reservations
This might still be on your list for luxury if you book your hotel stay in Vienna. The masterminds behind this concept said: Ok, we save on what is commonly stressed in hotels such as the list above and share luxury where it benefits the independent guest who loves privacy, who travels on a budget and who enjoys comfort, high quality materials and out of the box thinking most. And their guest list gets longer and longer.
Here is what Lean Luxury is:
• free WIFI throughout the hotel
• great organic breakfast buffet at only 9,50 per person
• a great bar and café serving food and drinks 24/7
• streamlined self-checkin for super-fast check-in
• digital Vienna City Guide with insider tips and special events
• galley kitchen with free hot drinks and snacks vending machine
• multi-functional in-room sound system
• in-room tablets to surf and explore the Rubyverse (coming soon)
• free bikes
• free guitars
• ironing facility (in galley kitchen)
Book your room online and check in at the bar/reception which is open 24 hours.
Ruby Hotel has 77 rooms with 5 STAR rooms in the heart of the city, 2 STAR space with 3 STAR rates!
There are IMACs and the possibility to plug in your e-guitar any time of day or night and set the tone for your own party! No worries, the rooms allow uninterrupted sleep for the guest next door, due to the soundproof structure of the rooms.
Antique pieces of furniture, Thonet chairs and a living room atmosphere.
The breakfast offeres everything fresh and organic. Self service of course.
Ruby Sofien Hote,l open only since May, is a young and fun concept and soon there will be a second hotel of that kind. I will come with friends one day just to have breakfast and maybe do some Christmas shopping later. I love the the bar area especially because one looks into the beautifully restored Sofien Saal. A ballroom, a bath and a concert room. Now back to its original beauty after a devastating fire ruined the building, it was nearly torn down
Denisa Becker Is your contact for group inquiries and
would love to welcome you at RUBY Hotel & Bar.