After a few days in Vienna, I boarded the OEBB to Innsbruck to meet a friend. Innsbruck is the capital of Tyrol (the state bordering of Italy) and it is definitely a place I highly recommend everyone to go to even for one night. What’s not to love? The encapsulating view of the jagged mountain range of Nordkette surrounding a quaint little city is so peaceful. And, the close proximity to the mountains means you can go hiking anytime!
One of my highlights of my 4 days in Innsbruck was hut-to-hut walking aka alm-to-alm walking, in German. Alm means hut and this hut refers to the traditional Austrian gasthaus found on the mountains where hikers can stop by for a meal or drink. Some are like small hotels that offer accommodation services for long distance hikers. In Innsbruck, these gasthaus serves local Tyrolean dishes, desserts and cakes. It completed my Austrian experience!
A huge thanks to the Austrians I met at the Irish pub, The Galway Bay who managed to convince me to stay longer in Innsbruck and recommended me to do hut-to-hut walking. It is definitely a must-do activity in Innsbruck!
So, my journey began from Alpenzoo through Heinrich-süß-weg. There are several ways up to the alps but this was the recommended route.
Austrian hiking culture: Austrians have this hiking culture whereby everyone is friends in the mountains, even strangers you don’t know. This was apparent in the way they change their greetings to the passerbys they meet. Austrians would greet their friends servus and strangers grüß gott. But on the mountains, Austrians would greet random passerby with griaß eich (for plural) or griaß di (for singular). How cool!
My first stop was Arzler Alm (1070 m). It is the most popular of Alms because it is easiest to get to by foot. Even oldies were able to do it. No need for proper hiking gear (unless you’re getting past Seegrube, where Nordkettenbahnen – the cable car station is at). All you will need are runners, waterproof jacket and a bottle of water.
Following the signs from Alpenzoo and through the forest, I made it to the quaint looking Austrian hut in the alps I’ve heard so much about – Arzler Alm. Many hikers and non-hikers were enjoying Arzler Alm’s famous Weiner Schnitzel and house salads. Sadly, it was way too early for lunch so I ordered a melange (Austrian-style coffee) and sipped it away as I did some people-watching. It was great fun observing the waiters dressed in the traditional costume called lederhosen happily serving customers who were busy chatting away.
Then, I made my way to the west of Arzler Alm towards Höttinger Alm (1490 m) where I had my first authentic Tyrolean “dumpling” – Speck knödel. Speck is a cured, smoked meat. Speck is cured in salt and spices such as laurel and juniper, then slowly-smoked, using pine or juniper wood for several months. Being so close to Italy, speck is one of the Italian influences found in Southern Austria. Speck knödel is traditionally served in a soup and less traditionally with a salad on the side. It was freezing as it was raining then so I opted for the more traditional option!
When it stopped raining, I made my way east of Höttinger Alm towards Bodenstein Alm (1660 m). This was the smallest and least commercial of gasthaus thus far. They only sold black instant coffee and the homemade cakes. I ordered a Topfen cake, which was a bit on the sweet side for me to be honest! Topfen is sometimes called quark, a type of dairy by product that is in between yoghurt and cheese. Creaminess of yoghurt but texture and consistency of cheese. It’s an Austrian staple – so high in protein and low in carbs!
From Bodenstein Alm, I continued my way up to Seegrube where the Nordkette Skyline Park was. You can take the cable car from Seegrube up towards Haferlekar and see a more spectacular view of the alps and Innsbruck city from above. I didn’t make it sadly because it began to rain and it was getting late.
Even at Seegrube, the alps were stunning. Absolutely mind-blowing. I went at the end of May so the snow on the alps was half melted yet it was breathtaking. Imagine it full of snow! Many hikers with proper gear can take the cable car and then hike up to the many peaks of the Nordkette mountain ranges. Next time my goal is to get to Hafelekarspitze!
Till next time Innsbruck!
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