One of the postcards they sell in the main square in Leermoos gives a wrap-around panorama of local mountains: Zugspitz, Hochwand, Breitenkopf, Tajakopf, Sonnenspitze, Wampeter Schrofen, Marienberg. They sound like action-movie locations (one of them got mentioned on a James Bond).
Want a quiet ski break? Leermoos has that authentic sense of village life for those who imagine an Eden of yodelling and lederhosen where affairs moved more slowly. Of course we still want the transfer buses from Innsbruck airport to run on time and welcome the tunnel that has reduced those transfer times, to an hour giving us more time in the snow. Slow life, fast slopes. It makes perfect sense at this altitude.
In quieter times, local parents will bring toddlers to the nursery slope and slide them from parent to parent before they have learnt to fall. From the top, a five year old goes bulleting through, bending to gain more speed, without poles.
The payback comes at the winter Olympics. Medals are as plentiful as All Ireland medals in Kerry. Plaques on houses list the sporting achievements of occupants.
These villages have been accommodating Europe’s most demanding guests, the Germans, for generations. Nowadays it is one of Topflight’s favourite destinations.
The valley still has a dairy industry. One 81-year-old farmer arrives in a tractor to ski for a couple of hours every morning (he hasn’t a license to drive a car).
Leermos virtually closes in March only to reopen in May for the summer “lakes and mountains” season when gondolas and chairs transport hikers to the heights, by now clear of snow and filled with 80 varieties of wildflowers, the explosion of red alpine roses amongst them. But that is a mountain of a different colour.
The pool in the Hotel Post is glass walled and looking out on the aforementioned panorama. Your average rural village anywhere, give or take half a dozen gold medals in the Winter Olympics.
Across the road red lamps light up the spirits of the graveyard. In the frost bitten air, this is as far removed from the apres-ski wildness of St Anton as you can get.
Elfried Simon came to Leermoos in 1974 because she was fond of the snowbound life. One of her sons skied down from the middle station at the age of two and a half. Her restaurant sits in the village square with the church chiming out bell-gongs on the quarter hour.
If you want to step into Germany, there is nothing like starting at the top. Zugspitz is Germany’s highest mountain with skiing for all grades included on your lift pass. After the gluhwein and the weiner schnitzel have been consumed, it is also the most spectacular day trip on offer along a 100-person “aerial tramway” cable-car (built 1924-26), a breathtaking affair that swings across huge distances to the top.
Border crossings at home were never like this.
Leermoos is one of the destinations featured in Topflight’s Ski and Snowboarding brochure for the 2005/6. Ski Season.
Topflight predicts a 10pc growth in business this year despite the growth in low cost operators and airlines.
The specialist ski operator says that factors to be taken into consideration when choosing a ski holiday include time of year to travel, (low season is better value) whether you prefer quiet resorts or lots of nightlife, travel distance from the airport, high altitude (especially important for March skiing) and the best resorts for families or groups.
The brochure offers new flights from Belfast to Italy and from Knock to Salzburg, the new resorts of Borovets, Bansko and Pamporovo in Bulgaria and Lake Tahoe and Breckenridge in USA, Avoriaz, Chamonix and Meribel/Mottaret in France and Wildschonau and Kirchberg in Austria.
Tony Collins, MD, says “our customers cite a previous holiday experience as the key factor in booking with us again. We know our resorts, we know our hoteliers and we know our ski schools.”
“Irish skiers travel with us because they know that from our trained reservations staff through to our team of reps on the ground, they have the backing and security of a company that really knows about skiing.”
Cycling holidays in the summer from Leermoos include free cycle hire. Contact your travel agent or Topflight on (01) 2401700.
n Topflight (www.topflight.ie) features Leermoos in its winter 2005-6 brochure.
n Apres Ski activities include horse sleigh rides, tobogganing, ice skating, curling, sauna and swimming pool. Shooting. The Café Simon is where you will meet your reps. They claim to have the best cakes and gluhwein in the world, and the owner will tell you about how her family learned to ski before they could walk. 0043676-6716170.
n Children: Topflight arrange free lift passes for children up to 6 years and free skis, boots and ski school for children up to 15 years of age. One child qualifies for each adult booking the same ski pack. This superb offer is available in most of the featured Austrian resorts. See details on resort page.
n Ski School offers four hours tuition from 10-12 and 14-16. The lessons for children start 15 minutes earlier and finish 15 minutes later.
n Hotel Post 00435673-22810 www.post-lermoos.at Email firstname.lastname@example.org is one of six hotels on the Topflight brochure, the Hotel Edelweiss, Hotel Post Schlöss, Pension Lermooserhof, Alpenglühn Pension and Chalet Montana.
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