Thursday, December 6, 2012

An Austrian Alpine Weekend


This post is far overdo, but I guess better late than never!

I few weeks ago, shortly after our Amsterdam trip, Kyle and I took a relaxing trip to the Austrian Alps.  It was a beautiful three hour drive from our place, and Gizmo came along with us.  We stayed up the mountain from a small resort town called Imst.  We rented a cozy apartment with a fireplace and stunning views.  Just a minute's walk from the apartment was a skiing area, which was not open yet.  The town was extremely quiet since the winter sports hadn't started, but I'm guessing that in the winter it's a very busy place!  I think we'll have to go back during ski season and hit the bunny slopes with the Austrian kids!

The view heading up to our apartment
You can see the chairlift heading up to the slopes
The first evening we were there, we took it easy, walked around our area, and enjoyed some beef stew that I had made to bring with us.  One of the guest houses near our apartment had a cute little petting zoo complete with a donkey, horses, a couple of goats, and some eager ducks that came running every time you walked by, hoping for some food. 

Warming up with some hot cocoa
Night view from our place

The next day we headed to Innsbruck, which was about 45 minutes away.  It's a pretty town that hosted the winter Olympics in '64 and '76.  Lucky for us, it was the first day that their Christmas Market was open!  We enjoyed walking around the Alstadt, or Old Town, and drinking Glühwein at our first European Christmas market!  We enjoyed warming up by the fire that evening at the apartment.

Beautiful drive back to the apartment

We were planning on doing some hiking on our last day in Imst.  I had done some research, and just a five minute walk from our apartment were several trail heads.  We decided to make a loop, hiking down the mountain into town on one trail, have lunch, then hike back up to the apartment on another trail.  We had a beautiful hike down into town, with beautiful views overlooking the valley.  We had a really tasty traditional schnitzel lunch in town.  The restaurant didn't even mind Gizmo dining with us!

Getting close to town and lunch!
I was really excited for our hike back up.  I had read all about this famous hike called the Rosengartenschlucht.  It runs alongside a river that cuts a ravine deep into the mountain.  At the beginning of the trail, you pass by several houses built right into the cliff, then you hike up the ravine, crossing back and forth over the river, and even through a couple of little caves, ending at a blue grotto.  Sounds pretty awesome, right?  Well we get to the trail head, and there's a board blocking the trail with a sign that said, "Verboten," or forbidden.  The trail was closed for the season.  We stood there looking at the trail head with disappointment.  We look at each other, and back at the wimpy little piece of wood blocking the trail, and of course proceed to crawl under it.  It was definitely worth it!  It was absolutely amazing!  I can see why they wouldn't want people to hike it in the winter.  It would be pretty dangerous when it's slippery and icy, but it wasn't winter yet, so we went for it!

 

Houses built into the cliff

 
Can't get enough of the view from the top!
On our way home the next day, we stopped in a beautiful little German town just across the border called Füssen.  The town dates back to Roman times, complete with a castle and a monastery.  It's just a few minutes from Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany's famous fairy tale castle.  We had a nice lunch, sitting outside in the sun.  We strolled around town for a little bit, then headed back home.  We really lucked out with the weather.  The entire time we had blue skies and sun.  What a lovely, relaxing time!  As usual, we would love to go back!