Friday thought #73 Discovering the lakes of Tirol

Living in a landlocked country I’m always keen to spend time near water whenever possible. Innsbruck isn’t inundated with nearby lakes, but if you are willing to get in the car there are some stunners within an hour’s drive.

We recently discovered Piburgersee, a small, enclosed and incredibly peaceful lake. Unlike many other such lakes, there are no big grassy areas for people to lounge around on, just tiny, private ‘beach’ areas right next to the water, nestled in between the tree roots and the atmospheric overhanging branches. The lake never gets very busy, and regardless of the other people, the enclosed nature of it always means that you feel like you’re on your own.

A lovely forest path circumnavigates the lake, with further trails leading off it for those who want a longer walk, and it is also possible to rent a boat for a bit of lake time without getting wet! Plus there are 2 lovely restaurants on the far side to eat, drink or simply chill out in the sun! A wonderful discovery!

The water is a lovely temperature, and the fish are very friendly!
The water is a lovely temperature, and the fish are very friendly!
Stunning reflections
Stunning reflections from our ‘private beach’
You can't fail to feel relaxed here
You can’t fail to feel relaxed here

 

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Friday thought #72 A superb via ferrata and an amazing day out

Yesterday dawned beautiful, bright and sunny in Innsbruck, so we made the most of a day off by heading in to the Stubai Valley to do the Schlicker via ferrata, one that had been on our to-do list for a while. We have skied in the Schlick resort, but this was our first time outside of winter, and the stunning rock pillars that tower so majestically over the pistes were, if possible, even more impressive in the summer.

It was a full day out, with a 1.5 hour walk-in, around 3 hours climbing, and about 2.5 hours walk down, but the views were simply breathtaking all day, the climbing superb, and the location second to none. I couldn’t recommend this highly enough, it is described as one of the best via ferratas in the area, and rightly so.

Not a bad lunch spot...
Not a bad lunch spot…
Stunning rock formations along the ridge
Stunning rock formations along the ridge
The view from the top, across to the Axamer Lizum ski area
One of the views from the top, back down in to the Stubai Valley
What a spectacular place to be climbing
What a spectacular place to be climbing
Just one of the incredible rock towers, where did it come from?!
Just one of the incredible rock towers, where did it come from?!

 

Friday thought #69 A via ferrata with an unexpected bonus!

Via ferratas, or klettersteigs as they are called in German, are much more popular in Austria than in many other European countries, and we are very lucky to have several great routes within just a stone’s throw of Innsbruck. Now that the warm weather has returned we have got back out on the rocks, climbing and klettersteig-ing, and are loving it. Klettersteig is basically assisted rock climbing. You climb up and across enormous rock faces with the aid of metal staples and steps in the rock, all the time following a metal rail that you are permanently attached to, so there’s no chance of getting lost!

Most peaks in Austria have the standard summit cross to signal the top, and often there is a ‘summit book’ tucked inside for each climber to sign and date. It’s a lovely tradition, and the fantastic klettersteig in St Jodok, around 40 minutes drive from Innsbruck, is no exception. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable route, the view from the top is beautiful, and the solitude just marvellous. Hard to find any room for improvement!

So imagine our delight when we looked around and saw a large wooden chest sitting in the forest at the top of the climb, and opened it to discover a huge ‘outdoor fridge’ full of cold beer, water and soft drinks! The sign reads ‘Voluntary donations to the St Jodok mountain rescue fund.

A fantastic cause and a superb bonus after a sweaty climb on a hot day. What a wonderful idea!

Voluntary donations for the St Jodok Mountain Rescue
Voluntary donations for the St Jodok Mountain Rescue
What a sight to behold!
What a sight to behold!
What a view, not a bad spot to drink a beer
What a view, not a bad spot to drink a beer!

Friday thought #68 Lovely mountain quotes

I’ve always been a fan of a good quote, and although some run the risk of being either cheesy or clichéd, some get it just right.

Simple and thoughtful, that’s the key. I found these ones on the windows at the Seegrubbe lift station in Innsbruck, set against the stunning backdrop of the city and the mountains which overlook it.

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Friday thought #67 Spring has arrived and everyone is smiling

I hate to say it in April, but winter in the Alps is well and truly over, and has been for a while. The last few weeks in Innsbruck have seen temperatures as high as 25 degrees C, the cows and horses are back in the meadows, and rock climbing, via ferratas, hiking and running are very much back on the agenda.

Despite the fact that it feels like summer, this is my first Spring in Austria and I love the feel of the city as the seasons start to change. Being a university city, it’s no surprise to see the students out in force as the weather becomes warmer, but the sight of the neverending line of people sitting along the banks on the river Inn next to the university still made me stop, get off my bike and marvel at the power of the sunshine.

The mere presence of the sun means that everyone is happy and relaxed. Stress is forgotten, people suddenly have more free time and want to be outside; having barbecues, playing frisbee, or simply socialising out in the sun.

Here’s to a long summer of enjoying the outdoors x

A river and sunshine, an unbeatable combination
A river, mountains and sunshine, an unbeatable combination

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An alpine meadow with cows grazing. It's amazing how happy it can make you feel...
A simple alpine meadow with cows aimlessly grazing. It’s amazing how happy it can make you feel…

 

Friday thought #66 Innsbruck Alpenzoo

I’m not a big zoo visitor, in fact the last time I went to a zoo was probably when I was a child, however having visitors is a great opportunity to go and see some of your local tourist attractions; often places that you would never ordinarily choose to visit.

The Innsbruck Alpenzoo is one such place. It’s walking distance from the city centre and boasts quite a wide variety of animals for such a small place, including lynx, wolves, bison, chamois and even a brown bear! It most certainly raises questions about the humanity of keeping such magnificent animals in captivity, but whatever your opinion, it’s an interesting place and fascinating to be so close to a bear!

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Friday thought #61 The fun of exploring a new place, on skis!

Moving somewhere completely new can be terrifying, but exploring it can be so much fun! What better way to meet people and explore your new home than through sport? It really does bring people together, makes finding friends so much easier, and instantly gives you so much to talk about and share. Skiing has really been the key for us here in Innsbruck, it’s something we already love, and has provided us with some great friends after such a short time here. Once you’ve shared a powder day, sat and had lunch up a mountain in front of a beautiful view, and laughed your way down a gully that didn’t quite lead where you’d hoped it would, it’s time to sit back and be pretty happy with your decision to take a risk.

This week we’ve been exploring the Nordkette; a huge, south facing ‘freeride’ mountain range separating Innsbruck from the Karwendel National Park. There are 2 cable cars and 2 chair lifts, allowing it to pose as a small ski area, but in reality it is simply there for the off piste, and my oh my is there a lot of it! Fantastic snow, hardly any people and above all, simply breathtaking views all combine to make this a very special place to ski. I think we’ll be spending a lot of time up here!

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Looking across Innsbruck city towards the Brenner Pass and Italy
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What a place to ski…
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Steep couloirs are ok when the snow is good…!
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The clouds make it so atmospheric
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I wonder where this goes…? Let’s find out!