Travel skiing In Austria: Resort Report: Zell am See, Austria

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The Independent Culture
ZELL "ON-THE-WATER" is a chocolate-box version of a lakeside village, as appealing under a thick covering of snow as it is in summer, when the flowers are out and the steamers chug back and forth across the lake. Traffic, which once raced through the centre, has been diverted through a tunnel, restoring some of the original medieval calm.

There are several ways to get to the slopes - some, as it turned out, quicker than others. The route I chose was by the Zeller Bergbahn from the centre of the village. This was a mistake on two fronts. Although the queues in many resorts are worse on Sundays, a half-hour wait seemed excessive. And more careful study of the piste map would have revealed that this particular gondola doesn't go all the way: from the Mittelstation, where its passengers are emptied out, the journey to the top still involves a couple of chair lifts and a drag lift.

A quicker route is to take the shuttle bus from outside the Bergbahn station to the ski school; from there the Schmittenhohebahn cable car goes straight up the mountain. Not only do the queues tend to be shorter, but it deposits you as high as you can go, 2,000 metres above the lake.

From here, even a relatively inexperienced skier can ski right down to the village. In Zell, as in much of Austria, the skiing is best suited to intermediates. To extend the network of red and blue runs, Zell is linked with Kaprun, the next village up the valley, by bus; the same lift ticket can be used in both resorts.

Two hours from Munich - to which I flew for pounds 80 return - Zell is well- placed for a late break.

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