Devouring the last morsel of my Kaminwurzan, I can safely say that it is the most delicious smoked sausage I have ever tasted. It’s probably the best bit of food I ever tasted. No. I’m lying. The absolute best is what I’m about to stuff my face with now. The flakiest, sweetest, made-with-the-ripest-apples-ever, piece of divine apfel strudel. I’m sitting at kreuzjochhutte, a pretty alpine hut, and the mountain air has given me a voracious appetite. Well, granted, not just the mountain air. I’ve only just sat down after a day of serious trekking.
This is Tyrol, Austria, where rolling green hills, majestic mountain peaks and pretty doll’s-house villages predominate. The lovely village of Kufstein, located along the river Inn, near the border with Bavaria, Germany, makes an ideal base from which to visit the best that Tyrol has to offer.
Day one. The Zillertal Alps. I’m itching to trek every mountain in sight. I love mountains. I should have been born in the Alps. Day packs strapped up, walking poles in hand, all is set, and John, my very organized better half, studies the route on his wrinkled map. Not that we could ever get lost here. This is not the kind of place where a wrong turn off the main path would lead to days of isolation in thick jungle. Here, every bend is marked, every fork in the path is signposted. But still. A map makes us feel more organized.
We walk along, up steep paths, stopping every so often to admire the breathtaking views, observe paragliders gracefully descending into the valley below, marvel at cyclists expertly riding precariously steep off-road paths, catch our breath back, or battle with the odd stubborn cow sitting prettily in the middle of a narrow path, refusing to budge.
Trekking becomes addictive, and in spite of major aches and pains, the next day I’m ready to conquer the mountain paths of St. Gilgen, a picturesque village near Wolfgangsee. Another great day, with an overdose of fresh air, picture-perfect views of the lakes and mountains, and a good muscle-toning workout.
‘How about some chilly stuff?’
I am obsessed with mountains, but more than that, with snow. I love to touch it, taste it, roll in it- whatever. And so we drive to the skiing resort of Kaprun, and up we go, on the Gletscherjet, a series of 3 cable cars, up to the summit of Kitzsteinhorn, at 3029m. Strange thing, people skiing in August, but there is eternal snow here. I’m about to try glacier trekking when I spot something much more exciting – snow biking. Two exhausting hours later, we we’re still racing 6 year olds down the slopes. Great stuff. This is what I love. I’m in heaven.
My sore feet start to desperately cry out for a break, and so our car becomes the obvious choice for exploring more of Tyrol the following day. A series of stomach-churning, narrow, hairpin bends through the Fernpass, lead us into neighbouring Germany.We are greeted by spectacular views of its highest mountain, Zugspitze, its snow-capped peak mirrored in the turquoise lake below. Other lakes follow as we drive along this scenic route, such as the emerald green Fischersee, Plansee and Walchensee.
The alpine villages in the region are utterly charming and cannot be missed. After a heated debate with my better half, I am reluctantly granted a day of shopping. And so I venture into town, donning a little more style than trekking boots and fleeces.
Kitzbuhel is a charming, rich Tyrolean village with cobbled streets, painted buildings and horse-drawn sleighs, whereas neighboring St. Johann, is a trekker’s paradise, lined with hundreds of adventure shops. I get carried away, as usual, buying useless bits of stuff I’ll probably never use. Still, it makes me feel good.
Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol, is a rich town, lined with beautiful buildings featuring ornate patterns and intricate designs on their façade, typical of the Tyrol region. Designer boutiques line the streets, and serious sun-worshippers, complete with designer bag and poodle, pose in trendy cafes, sipping frothy cappuccinos.
I love Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, especially the old town, a world Heritage Site, with its well-preserved baroque architecture and quaint shops .
Auf wiedersun Tyrol, I will surely be back!