Dressing for Winter

Zillertal, Austria
7 Jan 2014
by Tina

We arrived at Ried im Zillertal with just enough winter clothing to get us from the airport to our new home. Old ski gear for mum and dad, hand me down starfish suit for the youngest and a flash new green Quicksilver ski set for the oldest, purchased with a slight discount at an Brisbane ski store at the end of the Australian winter.

What we needed urgently in the first 2 days were warm and waterproof winter gloves and boots for the children. Their beloved gumboots didn’t keep them warm for very long - not as long as they wanted to stay outdoors anyway.

But our new hometown of Ried had only a train stop (which looked more like a bus shelter), a church, a little corner store, a florist, a pizzeria, and a surprisingly large hair salon. For clothing or shoe shops we would have to travel further afield, so after a bit of online searching we gambled on catching the train to Fugen, as a Quick-Schuh store was supposed to be located there.

As we still where extremely jetlagged and sleeping odd hours, Dave and Miss S went off first and came home with great new boots, paid on credit card, with a discount. Success!

Then Mr K and I went off in the afternoon (using the same daily train ticket), located some great warm, waterproof boots for Mr K, which he was even happy to try on, yay, in between playing with the duplo in the kids corner. After I finally dragged Mr K out of the play corner I was way too tired look for something for my self and deciding that my four year old boots could last another week, we paid, but with no discount on the 80 Euro boots. And in cash, as the shop only takes Austrian savings cards or so they insisted. Well I should have sent my husband second round, as he seemed to charm all the Austrians with his broken Deutch-lish. (My German was pretty bad too, but didn’t seem to have the same effect….)

In the first few days we also needed to locate a reasonably priced sports shop to buy more outdoor gear, thermals for the kids, beanies, extra gloves, ski socks and not the least ski boots and skis.

In Schlitters, another train stop heading out of the valley, we found Hervis - one of the big budget sports chain in Austria. There we found most of what we needed to get ski ready and stocked up on the necessities. We later found out that Mayrhofen at the end of the Zillertal Bahn train line, was by far the largest town and had almost all we have needed, inclusive another Hervis. So if you are shopping in Zillertal without a car, go straight to there.

Finally the skis. My standard short carving skis were from Hervis, while the rest of the familys got ordered from Conrads in Garmisch, Germany. Conrads - our absolutely favorite store - had a far better selection for the kids and at very reasonable prices. And of course we could not possibly get Dave’s favourite fat skis cheaper anywhere else.

Most people who are more familiar with sun and the beach, might think that getting children dressed for the cold and snow is hard work. But just like sunscreening an Australian child, and yourself, from top to toe every morning before you walk out the door, it’s not any more effort once you have a routine and everyone knows the order.

With the extra outdoor layers you have to work fast once you start getting dressed as everyone gets really hot indoors, and hot kids and parents get frustrated very quickly. We would often put on the boots in the stairwell which was about 5 C cooler than inside our apartment, or I would open a few windows and let in some fresh morning air while getting the kids dressed, to cool down the apartment, before finishing off with the beanie and gloves when we stepped fully outside!

Gloves in the snow must be waterproof because if fingers get wet, they get cold. And kids with cold fingers are miserable! Gloves should also sit quite high over the wrist and be able to tighten around the arm, outside the sleeve is best, to keep snow and cold air out.