[PLACESINSIDER]: Obertauern as only the locals know it

Wouldn’t it be a shame if you came all the way to Obertauern and missed out on some of the most interesting things just because your Google search or a local tourism folder didn’t tell you about them? Here at [PLACES], we think it absolutely would. This is why we rely on our [PLACESPEOPLE] for the word on the street and the best recommendations that bring you one step closer to understanding Obertauern on a deeper level and truly being at one with the destination.

Love, love me do?

When Beatlemania swept the continent in the 60s, Obertauern became the heart of the pop music world for a brief moment in the winter of 1965. It was the location for the filming of the Beatles movie “Help!”. The locals, in true mountain folk fashion, were not impressed by the four. According to some accounts, a good amount of people hadn’t even heard of the Beatles. In Obertauern, the most popular men on the planet could suddenly be themselves and have some fun and time away from the limelight. They seemed to really love their time in the Alps and especially enjoyed their time at the bar of what is now OBERTAUERN [PLACES] HOTEL. And so it was at the Marietta hotel, as it was then called, that the Beatles gave their only (unofficial) concert ever in Austria for a crew member’s birthday.

Steep, steeper Gamsleiten II

When it comes to challenging slopes, nothing compares to Gamsleiten II, sometimes called G2 by the locals. True to its name, after the alpine chamois (Gams) and a steep grassy slope (Leiten), it is very unique in Obertauern and requires mountain goat like levels of dexterity to master. It’s one of the steepest and most challenging slopes any skier can take in the entirety of Europe. With a drop of more than 360 meters in altitude on a running length of about 1,2 kilometres, G2 can only be groomed in a very limited way. The bumpy ride is not everyone’s cup of goat milk, but a dream come true for those who enjoy a really steep mogul slope. It’s so exposed to the elements that the chairlift that takes you to the top at over 2300 meters above sea level is only open on days with good weather and calm wind. So it really isn’t every day that you can experience the 100% downhill gradient this extraordinary slope has at its steepest point.

Like riding a bicycle

Winter and bikes don’t go together. Unless you are talking about snow bikes. Then it’s a match made in heaven. Yes, snow bikes are a thing and if you’ve never seen anyone riding one of these contraptions, better known as ski bobs amongst winter sports aficionados in Austria, you’re missing out. It takes a lot of skill and certainly not everyone can do it well. But you are in luck in Obertauern. Here, you can even learn the sport at the local skiing schools. Snow biking may not be as popular as it once was, when you could buy a special model made to fit into your Porsche from your local dealership. But it’s definitely more popular than its inventor likely envisioned it back in the late 1940s in Hallein in Salzburg, less than 80 kilometres from Obertauern. And to this day Obertauern is home to one of the sport’s pioneers and truest ambassadors: Hermann Koch, holder of seven world records on the snow bike.

The talk of the town

Even if you are a well-versed German speaker, you might find yourself at a loss when you overhear two locals having an everyday conversation in Obertauern. This town speaks its own tongue, a dialect that’s quite different from any standard German you may have encountered. It’s mostly a dialect variation known as Pongauerisch, with some influences from Lungau, that gets stronger when you are in the bit of Obertauern that is actually in the Lungau region. (Yes, Obertauern is part of two historic regions of Salzburg: Pongau and Lungau). This variation of the Bavarian dialect has its own rules: there’s different vowels: –“zwei” (two) morphs into “zwoa” – and consonants – “Geld” (money) becomes “Gejd” and “Holz” (wood) becomes “Hoiz”– on occasion. “Mann” (man) turns into “Moo”. “Männer” (men) on the other hand becomes “Mona”. The O’s are nasal sounds that even Austrians from other regions will struggle to reproduce. Sounds complicated? We haven’t even gotten to the words and phrases that are completely different from standard German…