No Toboggan? No problem!
We arrive at Hainzenberg and immediately head into the Rodel Center Hainzenberg to hire some suitable equipment for the evening ahead. We are astounded by the range! There are toboggans to suit every ability and age (basic, sport, sport plus, race, family and child’s sport) as well as tobogganing shoes and helmets, all available to hire. When I ask, Ferdl, the boss of the hire shop, explains that the tobogganing shoes are actually very popular because people frequently make the mistake of wearing low shoes rather than boots – difficult to believe but absolutely true! We decide to hire sport plus toboggans as we are convinced that we are amazing at tobogganing…hmm, well, at least we will try our best!
A comfortable journey up the mountain with friendly people
We are greeted warmly at the ticket desk of the Gerlossteinbahn by Barbara, who sells us our tickets. Everything is well-organised to ensure the journey up the mountain goes smoothly. The double gondola transports us up over three pylons. At every pylon there is a loud “Aaaaa” from the passengers. The view from the gondola is breath-taking. The whole of the Ziller Valley lies at your feet! When we reach the top we exit to thick snowfall – it doesn’t get more romantic than this!
A cosy hut with good food – a hut with heart
At the Berghotel Gerlosstein, a hut with heart, we are greeted at the bar with a homemade Zirbernschnaps. Magdalena, the landlord’s daughter, shows us to our table and recommends the house special – pork knuckle! I don’t even consult the menu and decide on the spot to order this delicacy. My friends order Käsespätzle, jacket potatoes, spare ribs and a toasted sandwich. After this excellent, hearty meal, we are ready to settle the bill and leave. But Magdalena has other ideas: “nobody leaves without playing ‘nails’”, she tells us. Ok, then we’ll play! Armed with a hammer, we have to try and hit a nail straight into a log. It doesn’t sound too difficult, but the hammer must be swung so that the claw of the hammer hits the nail. We try all possible ways of swinging the hammer; bending our knees, standing upright, holding the hammer with one or both hands… Finally, Gerlinde managed to knock the nail into the log! Before we leave, we tie a friendship band onto the friendship heart then head outside – bursting with excitement - to start the tobogganing part of our evening.
Tobogganing fun through a true winter wonderland
As I already suggested, we aren’t the best at tobogganing. However, perhaps that’s what makes the experience all the more fun. I always prefer to toboggan alone, but Chrissie and Christina are tobogganing together which means that there are times when one decides to steer right and the other left – and when Christiane decides to overtake them at precisely that moment then a crash is unavoidable! Gerlinde is in the lead and I find myself (involuntarily) bringing up the rear.
After around 3 kilometers we take a break at the Schlittenstadl to quench our thirst. We receive a warm welcome from our waiter Patrick. Somehow we manage to be the last to leave and exit the hut just after midnight to complete the final leg. It is still snowing and the toboggan run is in the perfect condition. The new snow means there are no icy patches and you can really let rip.
An evening of smiles and laughter
When we arrive at the valley station of the Gerlossteinbahn I hear a loud bang. What was that? Chrissie and Christina haven’t managed to break in time and have crashed (again!) into the barrier. Doubled over with laughter we leave the toboggans outside the hire shop and drive home, tired but in a great mood. We are already planning our next evening adventure, which I’ll be sure to tell you about another time!