Monthly Archives: January 2013

12/1/13 – Obergurgl apres-ski: David’s Hut

The Oetztaler Alpentornados at David's Hut

The Oetztaler Alpentornados at David’s Hut

Jolly, traditional, Tyrolean music in Obergurgl, I was glad to discover in December, is alive and well, even though the band at the excellent Nederhut is more inclined to high-volume “ruck’n’roll” than it was when I worked there 15 years ago (see my Telegraph article on Obergurgl – out in print in the Telegraph Saturday travel section today – for more on “then and now”).

On a Thursday evening before Christmas, our family group of three generations – aged nine to 72 – booked in to a fondue/Schweinshaxe (pork)/meat-on-stone evening at David’s Hut (Davids Huette), a few hundred yards downhill from the Nederhut and a place I knew mainly for its outstanding spaghetti Bolognese.

We walked up from the village (25 minutes from the centre, on a lane that starts steeply and flattens out); other groups arrived by taxi. It was beginning to snow.

The van of the promisingly named band, the Oetztaler Alpentornados, was parked outside; tables were filling up, mostly with German guests; a few teenage locals were drinking Weizenbier at the bar; a 20-strong British group, celebrating a birthday, were colonising one corner.

We’d booked meat fondue, mostly the chunky bourgignonne variety, but three of us had Chinoise, which came in jucier, thicker slices than usual. The sauces included sweet chilli as well as cocktail, curry, sour cream and chives, tartare and an unpindownable pink one. Salad arrived first, then rounds of chips to go with the meat.

The meal was spot on, as was the service – the friendliest I’ve encountered anywhere in the world, let alone the Alps. I first met the four longstanding chief waiting staff when working in the village in the mid-1990s, and the fact they’re all still happily there says a lot about the place (David himself is in the kitchen, or behind the bar).

But how was the music?

The band started sedately, circulating around the hut to give each set of tables a kind of private performance before plugging themselves in.

About five songs later, one of the Weizenbier-drinkers jumped up and danced energetically, all on his own. Here he is (in action on Youtube).

A few waltzes later Inge and… ah, I’ve forgotten this great David’s Hut longtimer’s name, I’m sorry to say… took a break from fetching, carrying and pouring to show how Austrian dancing is done.

Here they are – move over, everyone from Strictly (and of course we were rather amateur by comparison, too, when we had a go).

The Tornados played for well over an hour without a break, using a tableful of tuneful little metal bells for several songs – watch and listen here – and getting diners to come up and play them.

They finished their first set with a ‘Polonaise’ or conga around the benches and tables and out of the window onto the now-snowy terrace.

I was glad to see our neighbours join in: usually Brits find it too embarrassing to jig round in a queue holding onto a stranger’s shoulders from behind and being similarly grasped themselves. Usually, they pretend not to understand when beckoned to the line by a German, or they find some excuse such as finishing a drink or ordering another. But these ones were well fuelled by rounds of birthday schnapps.

As the Tornados rested at the bar in readiness for their second set, we paid up (about 45 euros each) and headed back to the village, the fresh snow beneath our feet and in our heads the swinging sounds of mountain music mingling with excitement about the next day’s powder…

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Filed under Austria, Food and drink, Link to article by Yolanda Carslaw, Link to film, Music, Transport, United States

2/1/13 – Apres-ski at the Nederhut in Obergurgl

“GOODAFTERNOONLADIESANCHENTLEMEN!!! We are weryheppytoseeyoufortheapres-skiPARTY!!! Heute willwemake ruck’n’rolllll-boarischen-valzer andifyou nokenskidown because you loseyourski-drinktoomanyschnaps-forgetyourguggles don’tworrywetakeyoudown tothewillech withaSKIDOO! Jetzt heng ein byyourneighbour andwemakethe SCHNEEWALZER!”

The stage awaits several members of the Gamper family at the Nederhut in Obergurgl

The stage awaits several members of the Gamper family at the Nederhut in Obergurgl

The enthusiastic welcome by Rudi Gamper, hotelier, restaurateur and rocker, to his famed après-ski sessions at the Nederhut has barely changed since I was working in the Austrian resort of Obergurgl more than 15 years ago.

Then, when ski hosting for a couple of winters for Inghams, I took a group nearly every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to watch Rudi (on guitar) and two of his charismatic, musical mates – Gebi (mostly on accordion) and Toni (mostly on tambourine) – sing and play for a few hours from 4pm.

Benni (left) and Rudi

Benni (left) and Rudi Gamper

Afterwards, we’d ski the floodlit blue run, which leads to the doors of most of the village’s hotels and guesthouses. (Read more in this post.)

Every time I’ve been back, the operation has become fancier – more (and more massive) speakers, ranks of guitars and several big screens.

Just before Christmas, I was back again, and my sister and her family managed to bag us one of my favourite tables (arrival often necessary by 2.15pm to guarantee a  spot), to the left of the band at the front (best if you’re a group; the taller tables on the right, where the bar once was, are possibly better if you want to mingle).

Rudi Gamper (right) with his friends Toni (middle) and Gebi in the late 1990s

Rudi Gamper (right) with his friends Toni (middle) and Gebi in the late 1990s

Toni and Gebi are long gone – there’s a revolving cast now, the permanent fixtures being Rudi (as full of stamina as ever), Benni, his son (who has taken over running the place – I found it better than ever as a mountain restaurant), on the accordion or guitar, and his wife, Sissi, who learnt the drums so she could join in.

The order of play has evolved, though the playlist is similar. Rudi and Benni begin by standing on a table strumming like crazy, belting out AC/DC. After another couple of energetic, quite loud rock numbers it’s time for Rudi’s longstanding welcome (above) in Oetztal-German and then in funny English.

After the Schneewalzer (watch it on Youtube here!) there are two or three excellent traditional Austrian songs – one of which aims to get couples walzing with the promise of a free schnapps (on my visit the song was Gruene Tannen; the schnapps was Willi mit Birne; my partner was my fantastic dad).

Here’s one of the traditional songs on Youtube.

There follows solid rock and Europop, plus the odd country-style piece (including Vest Wirginia) until about 6.15pm, when there’s more traditional stuff after a break.

We were there with children, and didn’t want to stay too long, so I can’t tell you whether they did any yodelling later on (the Oetztaler Bergsteigerlied used to be my favourite).

Many people will prefer the new to the old Nederhut – it’s slicker and more professional (and it’s now on Thursday, too, at 4pm, as well as Monday, Wednesday and Friday).

However, as I’m only really mad about the traditional stuff, it’s probably less my thing than it once was.

I’ll still always go at least once for apres-ski (and definitely for lunch, as well) every time I’m in Obergurgl, and I’m happy to report that there are other options, too, now, concentrating on Tyrolean stuff. Read/watch more about these in another post, coming soon.

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Filed under Austria, Link to film, Music