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Lanterns Lead the Way

There is another memory from Innsbruck that I must share. This was a hike on one of the nights we spent in Innsbruck. My cousins and I had read about this opportunity during our travel research. Every Tuesday night, June until October, a hike is held by the community tourism board. I included the link to their website below, in case you want to get more information. We had just happened to be traveling on one of the Tuesdays that it was held, so we made the effort to check it out. Plus it was free, so what can be better than that!

We met at the Congress center in Innsbruck, which was only a 20 minute walk from our AirBnb. There was a hiking guide waiting by the Congress center, easily noticeable with a bright backpack and walking stick. He was a friendly, retired man. Later in the night, he shared his story with me of his post-retirement boredom, so he signed up with the tourism board and now leads numerous hikes around his childhood city. It was a pretty cool story, and impressive for the types of hikes a man his age can do.

It was dusk when we hopped on the free bus. There was one other couple who was traveling for their honeymoon that also joined us. The bus took us on a 20 minute ride through a small town, which stopped to pick up 5 others. For being a free event, I was surprised by how many people didn’t take advantage of the fun opportunity.

Once we stopped at the trail-head, the small group unloaded from the bus, and the guide passed out lanterns for everyone. He lit them for each of us and explained the proper way to use the lantern. From there, we set off on our one hour hike. Despite the guide’s assurances of this being the easiest hike he leads, it was surprisingly steep, more than the three of us expected. We definitely weren’t prepared with the proper attire, none of us wearing proper walking shoes, as well as wearing uncomfortable jeans and semi-nice tops. Needless to say, once we got to the top of the hill, we couldn’t be more relieved. We were sweaty and ready for a drink and some food, since we had only shared a light appetizer before the hike.

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Outside of what was soon to become our favorite bar

 

The hiking guide led us into the cute little hut, which was a family owned bar/restaurant. We were greeted by one waiter, a band consisting of three members and a local couple that was enjoying a night at their favorite bar. This place felt extremely local and laid back.

The trio of cousins each chose a different item off the menu (since there were only three entrees and three of us, we can say we tried everything!). We also ordered some drinks, including our favorite from the trip, the Aperol Spritz. The band started playing once everyone had a chance to order some food and drink. It was a loud band for how small this restaurant was. When I say small, I mean like the size of a large bedroom. It had three picnic style tables in it, leaving a small space for the band. It was crowded, but I think it added to what made it so special.

The band played for a couple hours, never failing to leave us unentertained. My cousins were chosen for a little skit where they took them to a different room and told them to pretend to know a local Austrian tune. When they came back out, they were forced to yodel. It was SUPER entertaining, and I have videos in case anyone wants to see. Towards the end of the night, we had had a couple drinks. It was so easy to get lost in the music and the laughs with all of these strangers. It felt like we came here every Friday night with our closest friends to have a good time. It was one of those nights that you notice your face starting to hurt from laughing too much.

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This night exceeded our expectations ten fold. There was something so magival with being able to sit around this room with some locals and other tourists and not care about anything in the world. We just had a great time, and I wish I could go back this weekend. Just add it to the list of what made this vacation one that made memories for a lifetime. If you happen to be in Innsbruck on a Tuesday, you MUST visit our favorite bar in Austria!

https://www.innsbruck.info/en/innsbruck-city/experience/summer-sports-activities/hiking/free-mountain-hiking-programme.html

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The First Time I Really Pushed Myself

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In September 2016, a trio of two cousins and myself traveled through Europe for two weeks. Innsbruck, Austria was one of the four cities on our itinerary. Innsbruck was on and off our radar throughout the planning process, but eventually, we decided it looked too beautiful to miss. None of us regretted the memories that were made in this city, with consensus it was the best part of our two week voyage. While Europe is filled with abundant marvels that Americans dream about visiting, this city is not on most people’s list. I encourage everyone to add it, as this will always remain a highpoint of the trip we shared.

We spent three days in Innsbruck. On our second day, we decided we needed to climb to the top of the beautiful mountain that surrounded the town. Since we were backpacking through Europe, with only a 50L pack per person, we weren’t exactly prepared for the day that we set out on that autumn morning. Our packs were filled with typical every day wear, proper hiking shoes and a hydration pack weren’t included. Instead, all we had were worn running shoes and plastic liters of water from the store that were sure to be warm 30 minutes into the hike. Thankfully, we did have two hiking guides. A friend from my time in Norway lived in the area, and was excited to meet us for the day. Although these hiking guides hadn’t ever hiked what we were planning, they were still natives and could communicate in case we needed directions.

We set off around 10 am from downtown Innsbruck. We had taken a bus with the help of our tour guides from downtown Innsbruck to the Hungerburg stop (also where the highest zoo in Europe is located). Not knowing what we were in for that day, or exactly how far we would be able to make it, we set off on our trek.  We took trail #216 to Bodensteiner Alm meadow. It took us about 2 and a half hours, with an altitude gain of 795m. Each step led to more breathtaking views than the last had given us. The first official stop (not inclusive of all the others when we stopped to catch our breath) had the most charming hut I’ve ever seen. This is a privately owned restaurant that surrounded us with fellow hikers and others who had driven up. In order to get here, we had to pass two massive wild bulls pictured below (at least I think they were bulls?) standing in the middle of the path. I would not recommend touching them, as cute as they may look. Maybe just keep your eyes down and pretend they aren’t there. At this stop, we treated ourselves to a beer and their famous chocolate cake (not our smartest options mid hike, but hey, it was famous cake!). We also had the opportunity to replace our lukewarm water and for fresh, cold stuff. Below is a picture of the hut, isn’t it the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? If I could spend every Sunday afternoon here, I think I would too happy.

From here, we discussed what our best options were. Our group was split between continuing on and just calling it a day. After all, we had done more than our typical days’ worth of exercise. I think none of us had felt like we had exhausted all of the energy and beautiful scenery we had for that day. I remember “we’re only here once” being an argument that got everyone in the mindset to carry on. In the end, perseverance won out and we got up and let our legs do the work.

Our next goal was to reach Seegrube. To do so, we continued uphill, passing the trail for Moslalm until we reached a fork that went left to Seegrube. It took us close to three grueling hours to reach Seegrube. Towards the top, the sun was hitting us pretty hard. Although it was a mild fall day, the climb had taken a toll on us and our legs weren’t conditioned for the steepness we were enduring. The sun only added to the uncomfortable and demanding hike. Towards the end, the group was a couple blocks apart, due to different fitness levels each of us were used to. There was a lot of encouragement shouted to each other, although I know everyone was questioning their own ability to finish this climb. It wasn’t an option in the last hour to turn around before reaching the top. Much of the motivation was related to the cable car that was at Seegrube. This car was doing it’s last haul to the bottom of the mountain at 5:30 pm. That meant we didn’t have much time to waste. If we decided we couldn’t make it to the top, that meant at least another 3 hours walking down to retrace our steps. This time limit pushed us all and we finally made it to the top around 5:15 pm. It left only a couple of minutes to snap a few pictures and take in this overwhelming view, but it was worth it.

The cable car is a bit pricey, so if you do chose this option, be prepared to pay around 20 euros to get down, but I think your wobbly legs would gladly fork over this cash. I would recommend if you did this to start earlier and be able to enjoy your time at the top, as there is another restaurant. This way you can soak in the views and your accomplishment and not have to rush down right away.

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Sweaty, tired, accomplished at 1905m

I titled this entry: The First Time I Really Pushed Myself, but maybe that isn’t true. I guess this was the hardest I felt I’ve ever worked physically, but there must have been numerous other times I trained for something harder than I had before, right? Maybe this was the hardest I’ve ever worked for something, but it definitely won’t be the last time I push myself harder than I have before.