Author: Mrs A
Location: Kitzbühel area, Tirol, Austria
Thursday: Our journey out of Salzburg took us past lovely views of the castle, gleaming in the sunshine after yesterday’s torrential rain. Before long we were heading out of Austria and into Germany for about 20 kilometres, before returning to Austria, upping our 2019 country count to nine (if tiptoeing across a little corner counts!).
Our destination was a little campground close to the village of Hochfilzen. The drive across was gorgeous, as rocky peaks revealed themselves, the land around us seemingly lifting up above our heads with incredible scenery. In the winter, this region is full of skiers with several resorts servicing the slopes, but as was evident as we drove in, summer is all about cycling. Our first impression as we drove the final few kilometres of our journey was that there are way more bicycles here than cars – fantastic!
We’re on a great campsite, surrounded by the mountains, hiking and biking paths starting right on our doorstep (and apparently in winter, the cross country skiing starts right here too). There are only about 20 sites on this family run campground, and it’s very friendly.
We had just finished lunch with my friend Maayke arrived. She’s another friend I have made through the support group I run for people with rare breathing disease idiopathic subglottic stenosis (iSGS). We had a brief catch up before all jumping on our ebikes for a tour of the area
And what a tour she gave us! Originally from the Netherlands, she has lived here in Austria for fifteen years and knows the cycling and hiking trails like the back of her hand. She and her husband are extremely active, as always making the curse of developing iSGS all the more painful. Thankfully Maayke found an excellent surgeon in Vienna who has hopefully removed the stenosis, and so far she’s doing really well and is back to a high level of fitness.
It was hard not to constantly stop our ride to take photographs, the scenery so stunning. After about 15km we reached the village of Waidring and Erika Schmid‘s cafe. It is famous among locals for its delicious and huge slices of cake and giant cups of tea. Everything in the cafe is home made, and upon hearing I was dairy free and hence unable to sample the cake, Erika whipped me up a fresh raspberry sorbet – delicious!
After that feast, and given it was still such a beautiful evening, we decided to continue our cycle making it a just over 50km circuit.
We toasted the end of our ride with a glass of Italian Rosata before retiring for the day.
Friday: It was a slightly disturbed night as a thunder storm roared over us in the early hours, echoing around the mountains and the rain sounding loud on Truffy’s roof just half a metre above our heads.
Maayke arrived just after 9am to take us on our next cycle tour, the scenery very different post-storm.
Friday morning is market day in the village of St Johann in Tirol, so we jumped on the bikes again to ride the 22km over there. We had purchased fresh bread from the baker delivering to our campground, so bought some additional ingredients at the market – an heirloom tomato, some freshly made dips, smoked fish, and added a cucumber from Maayke’s garden and we had ourselves a picnic. We enjoyed that in a nearby park, before continuing our exploration.
Before long, the sky was darkening and our mountain views were rapidly disappearing. We decided it might not be wise to be cycling when the storm hit, and so rode to the nearby train station. As tourists, on arrival we were presented with personalised tickets allowing us (and our bikes) free travel on all buses and trains in the area – fabulous.
The train stopped a couple of kilometres from our campground, so it was a short ride back to camp for a cup of tea and showers.
Maayke was back again at 6pm, this time in her car, to take us to dinner. She took us to a local favourite, Gasthof Adolari in St Ulrich am Pillersee, beside a fifteenth century church and overlooking Lake Pillersee.
We tried some delicious local dishes we probably wouldn’t have tried by ourselves, including a dessert – Kaiserschmarren, which was like a baked broken up pancake with apple sauce – made dairy-free especially so I could try it.
A fabulous evening….we’re really enjoying getting to see Austria from a local perspective.