If you asked someone that knew me to describe my kind of holiday, I highly doubt they’d include sports as part of the mix. So it may be a bit of an understatement to say that alpine sports involving mountains is a step even further away from my comfort zone. However, when I was given the opportunity to travel with the Austrian Tourist Board to the Wilder Kaiser region, as part of a press trip – I concluded that everything was worth a try! I’ve worked with the tourist board on a number of amazing trips and so if that was anything to go by, this would be one to remember too.
With fellow bloggers Em and Danielle in tow, we flew to Innsbruck on Saturday afternoon – a little unaware of the intensity of the mountainous activities ahead of us. A short flight from Gatwick and an hours drive from Innsbruck lies the Wilder Kaiser region in Tirol, popular in Winter for skiing and in Summer for those that love the great outdoors. We each took it as an opportunity to plop ourselves firmly out of our comfort zone, as well as getting some form of exercise that’s slightly more daring than the gym. For 99 euros, the Wilder Kaiser region offers visitors the opportunity to try their hand at as many alpine activities as they would like, including the ones we daringly reviewed – high rope courses, mountain biking, abseiling, zip lining and many more!
We were to be staying at the Vital & Panoramahotel Sonnenhof in Going, a mix of two different alpine lodge style accommodations – with traditional Austrian cuisine, friendly staff (who were kitted out in lederhosen and dirndl) and a gorgeous outdoor pool overlooking the mountains – which we utilised for numerous photos. Almost every surface, wall and floor was covered in pine – creating a very cosy, yet luxurious-home-away-from-home atmosphere.
Yes, this was the incredible view from our bedrooms!
Although we were a little unlucky with the weather, when the sun did come out – it was the perfect temperature to catch a tan without sweating profusely. I took the hour of sunshine we had on the first day as an opportunity to wear my new off-the-shoulder black top and pom-pom shorts. I’m certainly one for comfort over style and despite these looking like they might be ‘awkward’ items to wear, they’re surprisingly comfortable. The shorts especially are super stretchy – and feel as though you’re cheating a bit and wearing PJs outdoors – that’s fine with me!
After unpacking and settling in, we were picked up and taken to a nearby hotel to meet other journalists from Austria and further afield, as well as fellow travel writers on the trip from the UK – Michael, Daniel, Heather and William. It was a lovely opportunity to trial the local delicacies (including Kaiserschamn which was a favourite of mine years ago – annoyingly, dairy-free me can no longer enjoy it) and chat to those who were a little less scared then we were regarding the activities ahead.
Day two started on the right foot, as we woke up bright and early to ‘gym and swim’ – making full use of the hotels amazing facilities (more on this later). After a hearty breakfast – including fresh honey and fruit – we wrapped up warm and made our way up the mountain in a cable car. The weather was a little miserable and the ground sodden but we were to be jumping from tree to tree at Hornpark – an 85 platform high ropes activity centre with a ‘flying fox’ zip-line to finish, so we got suited up and started our ‘training’.
I’m slightly ashamed to say that I’m the biggest wimp when it comes to dangerous activities. As a child, I used to give everything a go – I even remember my parents putting me on a roller coaster with another family aged 8 because it looked terrifying and no-one would go with me. Nowadays, I can spend an entire train journey feeling nauseous because it is a little bit bumpy. However, I gave the high ropes a go and made it to the first zip-line, which I proceeded to scream throughout. It was a great experience and I’m so glad I tried it, however I had knots in my stomach the entire time and spent the next course of platforms standing in as ‘official photographer’ instead.
The ‘finale’ was the flying fox across the lake, which Danielle bravely attempted while I watched from the warmth of the fire indoors.
After taking off our equipment, we stopped off at a nearby Austrian family-run restaurant – ‘Onkel Tom’s Hutte’ – for lunch, dining in the clouds – quite literally! It was peppermint teas all round as we attempted to warm up, before heading back to the hotel for a quick refresh and (in my case) a nap.
Luckily, the weather brightened up in time for dinner – which was hosted at the nearby Biker Ranch, offering delicious marinated barbecued meat, roasted vegetables, potatoes and homemade BBQ sauce. Guests sit on cow hide benches, dining on huge wooden tables, breaking their conversation only occasionally for another round of Hugo’s – a favourite in the region, made with soda, prosecco, elderflower and lime.
Frittatensuppe – clear beef broth with savoury pancakes!
I wore my current favourite high neck floral dress from Missguided, in my opinion – the perfect length and fit for a flattering finish (even if you, like me, don’t have the flattest tummy in the world and are prone to a bit of dinner-time bloating) and my tassel heels, which I wear whenever I get a chance.
Fed, watered and worn out, we headed back to the hotel fairly early to get the best nights sleep possible for the following morning’s even more terrifying agenda – mountain biking, which I’ll feature in the next instalment!
Until then, I’d love to know if you’ve ever been to Tirol – in summer or in winter – and what you thought of it? Would you ever try an alpine sports week?