Austria July 2004.

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Road Trips to the Alps have always been my favourite Summer Holidays and this one was no exception.
The day before leaving had been at the wedding of Tracy and John which took place at the romantic Old Kirk at Alloway followed by a reception at the Auld Brig Inn.

We left Dumfries at around 8.30 am on the morning of July 15th 2004.It was a nice uneventfull drive down to Folkestone and to the Eurotunnel terminal for an evening crossing to France.
Eurotunnel is very much my preferred option for crossing to the continent with the car although the Superfast Ferry from Rosyth is now a good option for people in Scotland. In the past we have used the North Sea Ferries crossings from Hull to Zeebrugge and Rotterdam and it is always nice to arrive at the other side feeling refreshed after a good sleep and a decent breakfast to set you up for the onward journey.




It was a lovely warm Summers evening as we left the train and headed out onto the A26 and the familiar road South past St.Omer,Bethune and Lens. We decided to go into the lovely town of Arras and find a Hotel for the night. We checked in at the Hotel Moderne near the railway station which is only a short walk from the centre of town.
We then took a stroll around the main square as the sun went down and had a few beers in the little cafe bars before having dinner and returning to the Hotel for a good rest before the long journey the next day.



The next morning we were on the road nice and early for the long journey down to Austria.We headed down to Reims then across to Metz and down towards Strasbourg before crossing into Germany at Karlsruhe. It always seems a long way from here down towards Munich from where the Alps come into view. Wew were then round the Munich ring road and heading to the Austrian border. It became quite dull and we drove through some severe thunderstorms but as we neared Kitzbuhel the sky began to clear. It was not long before we were checking into the Hotel Bruggerhof which is a short way from the town, next to the Schwarzee Lake.

Kitzbuhel website

It was just over seven weeks since i had come out of Hospital after an operation on my left knee. I had ligament damage repaired as well as my cartliage cleaned out. When i came out of Hospital on crutches i had promised myself that i would be fit and strong enough to snowboard on the glacier at Kaprun at the start of this holiday. Well tommorow was the day ! 19th July 2004.
We were up early and after breakfast and after picking up our packed lunch from the Hotel we set of for Kaprun and the Kitzsteinhorn glacier. It was a nice drive over the Thurn pass towards Mittersill and then on past Kaprun and up to the ski area car park. It seemed no time since we were last here when we went up on the ill fated funicular which a few weeks later became one of the worst disasters in Austrian Alpine history when it was ravaged by fire and 155 people who were setting out for a day of adventure and fun were so tragically killed.
Now the way up is via a gondola to the Alpinecentre at 2450 Metres.It was possible to board all the way down to here. You then take a second gondola to the top at over 3000 Metres. Up here there are a number of drag lifts which access some decent Summer terrain.It was very quiet with only a few other slope users about. The funpark was not in use as the snow was too soft and it was impossible to get enough speed to approach the kickers and rails. We had our lunch sitting in the warm sunshine and then at about 2pm we made our way back to the carpark where the temp was over 30'C !! It was nice to get the boarding gear off and into the shorts and T-shirt.
We then drove down to Zell am See and took a walk along the side of the lake.

Kitzsteinhorn/Kaprun website

Zell am See

It was great to be back on a board again after my operation and that evening and the next morning i was not feeling any adverse reaction so things were looking good for a few days decent walking. The weather was excellent or if anything just a bit too warm at times and for a couple of evenings we had further thunderstorms which cleared the air for the next day.
The day after our boarding at Kaprun we decided to have a walk round the streets of Kitzbuhel in the morning before doing some swimming and sunbathing by the Schwarsee Lake.
The next day we planned a full days walking but we were going to use the Hornbahn lifts to take us to our starting point on the Kitzbuheler Horn at 1996 metres.
We got up to a gloriously warm and sunny morning. Had a hearty breakfast and picked up our packed lunches and walked into town. Got our lift tickets and headed up to the Kitzbuheler Horn at 1996m.
From here we took the short walk down to the Alpine Flower Garden where on a natural rock landscape you can find a wealth of lovely plants including edelweiss. We walked down to the Alpenhaus then out onto the meadows towards Lammerbichlalm and down to near the top of the Bichalm lift. It was then on through the woods and back down to the valley floor near Aurach. From here we walked back into town past the Tennis arena where the ATP tour (Generali Open) was taking place. This had been a long walk today with a lot of steep downhill walking but i was pleased that my knee was showing no adverse reaction to this. Once in town we headed to a bar for a beer or two and some cake before the final few kilometers walk back to the Hotel.

The following day we had a few sore muscles from the previous days exertions so we took a drive to Germany.We went to Berchtesgaden in the beautiful Bavarian Alps. This area is one of my favourite places in Europe and the scenery is as good as you will find anywhere. Hitlers "Eagles Nest" is located here. It was a 50th birthday present to him from the Nazi party. This was the Nazi southern HQ. We then went round to the Konigssee Lake which has clear blue and green waters and is surrounded by fine peaks and forests. It was then a short drive round to the Hintersee Lake near Ramsau where we hired a rowing boat in which we passed a pleasant couple of hours before heading back to Austria where we had a short stop to visit the shops at St.Johann.

Over the next few days we spent a lot of time walking in the mountains and one of my favourites was from the Hahnenkamm where we walked down the famous downhill course where every January the top ski racers in the World come to compete. In summer its a place where people parapente from. The views from the sky down over Kitzbuhel and the valley must be amazing from up there.

We had really enjoyed our stay in Kitzbuhel and also exploring the surrounding area. But it was now time to move on, so on a warm Sat morning we packed the car and left the Hotel Bruggerhof for the drive to Solden in the Otztal Alps. We went via the scenic route by Kirchberg and Westendorf to Worgl and onto the Inn valley through Innsbruck to the turn off for the Oetz valley up to Solden. It had by now started to rain which was not very pleasant as we had a tent to put up when we arrived at Camping Soelden which is well situated at the top end of town near the main gondola.
We checked in, but as the rain was still coming down we delayed putting the tent up and went for a beer at the Otzi-Alm Harley Rock pub which is a great little bar.
Eventually the rain eased and the tent was put up so we had a roof over our heads for the next few nights.

Solden Website


Otzi-Alm Harley Rock Pub.

That night we took a walk down town and came across a small Pizzeria called Gustos where we went for dinner. The food and service was brilliant and we went back another twice to sample it. The Calzone was the biggest i have ever had !
We did not stay out too late as we planned on getting up to the glacier for some boarding the next morning.

After breakfast we bought lift tickets then drove up the long and winding Gletcherstrasse to the Rettenbach glacier base area at 2684m. It was a clear day up here and not too cold. It was good to see few vehicles in the car park as we changed into our boarding gear.Down at the bottom there is a permanent grandstand looking up to the slalom course where usually the first World Cup races in Europe each season take place.All that was open were the 2 gondolas and a drag lift taking tou up to a top elevation of nearly 3300m. The views from the top were crystal clear and it was just so good being up here in the middle of Summer.

Jill after the hike to top of the Rettenbach glacier.