This trip has been a very different one for me. I don’t usually like to spend so much time in cities but the European cities have been a treat. The last one was Salzburg and I could have spent a couple more days there. That post can be found here: The European adventure continues into Austria. 2 days in Salzburg. The Sound of MUSIC!
To break it up I booked a walking tour with Natural Adventures. They have a TON of itineraries to choose from so if this one works out, I’ll certainly book more.
Monday, May 30, 2022
I’d looked up how to get to Steeg and it seemed simple. Sue had checked at the train station and yep, trains were to leave every hour and take a couple of hours with one change. So we didn’t rush out in the morning. Upon trying to purchase tickets though the fellow asked “Which Steeg?” HUH? There’s more than one?? Well. I KNEW we were going to Tirol yet the Steeg I had researched was nowhere near it. Oops. So, with the hotel address in hand, the kind fellow figured out how we were to get there. We ended up with an itinerary that took a train to Innsbruck, then another train to an unpronounceable town, then a bus to Elmen and another bus finally to Steeg. Almost 6 hours of travel. That was much different than the 2 hours we had planned for. Oh well. That’s the joy of travel! The first train was slightly delayed which meant we had THREE minutes to find the next one. From platform 3 to 31, we had little hope of making it. How relieved were we to find platform 31 RIGHT NEXT to our train! Nice! This was a regional train and I asked a young man to look at the itinerary for me to insure we were doing it right. The kind university student even told us when to get off as no matter how many times he said it, I could NOT get the name of the stop. LOL.
After waiting an hour we boarded a regional bus to Elmen. Whoa, what a ride that was! Up and up the windy, twisty, narrow mountain roads, then back down again. No way could I do anything besides look out the window as I’d be sick for sure. Good thing the views were spectacular! Sometimes the views down were pretty scary. The bus from Elmen to Steeg was much tamer and passed through many small towns.
The pension Alpenblick was mere steps from the bus stop and we were warmly greeted by our hostess, Monica. After settling in we walked to the next town to eat dinner at the Adler. I had a sampler of Tyrolian dishes and it was really good.
Tuesday. Our host a the Alpenblick in Steeg prepared a buffet breakfast with a TON of food so we were ready to hike. We left our bags at the door to be transported to our hotel in Elbigenalp. First we collected on a cheese voucher from the cheese maker next door to the hotel. She kindly vacuum packed it so we can take it home. NICE! If you’re in the area, go there https://www.kaesereisojer.at/
Finally we were ready to set off on our hike. It was a chilly 10 degrees so we dressed in layers. Soon we were peeling them off. By the time we started the ascent to the waterfall we were in tee shirts. The trail was very well marked and we had good instructions from Euro Hike in the package ready for us at our first hotel. It was rated easy / moderate and it definitely was. There were a lot of undulations, a couple of really good hills, a few “technical” spots but all in all, it was definitely enjoyable. The terrain was varied and the views….spectacular. At one point we came upon a tiny chapel and the bell was ringing. A woman came out with her dog, waved and raced down the hill. There is no road access to this chapel. she must just run up the hill and ring the bell when it’s time? Interesting! Rain had been in the forecast but all we got were a few drops during the last hour
It was supposed to be 18 km but we ended up doing 22. Typical. Haha. We were welcomed at the Hotel Gastof Stern and offered a glass of schnapps. Nice! She explained they have a few saunas and would we like to enjoy them? HECK YES! What a fantastic treat for sore muscles after a long day of hiking.
The Gastof Stern also has a really good restaurant with a set menu. It sounded good to us so we opted to stay and we sure were glad we did.
Wednesday June 1, 2022
Breakfast didn’t start till 8 so we had a leisurely start. The trip notes said today’s hike was to be 20 km. since the first bit was to be the most boring we decided to take a bus to the next town and shorten the hike. A bus pass is included in the Euro Hike package, just for days like this.
We were glad we did as the hike was really tough in spots. There’s a “panorama way” that gives amazing views of the town of Elmen and the mountains behind but a lot of it is gravel and bigger rocks and the “undulations” are more like steep inclines and declines. That can’t be done quickly. The meadows were gorgeous as well. They’re just FULL of wildflowers like butter cups, wild asters and lots of other flowers I didn’t recognize! I could see tulips and lupins that would be coming next too.
The walk through the forest was a wonderful respite from the heat. My phone said 17 degrees but I was soaked with sweat as the sun was really strong. Upon entering the village of Stanzach it started to drizzle and the rain started just as we arrived at the hotel Garni Waldhof. Perfect!
Thursday. Despite the forecast of rain all day, we started off in the sunshine. An avid hiker would scoff at today’s hike as it was pretty much flat with barely the odd undulation. At one point we had a face off with a herd of cows. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not afraid of cows but when they’re standing on a wide path, just staring at you, with no room around or between them to walk, it’s a little intimidating. We tried going down another path but quickly realized it wasn’t going to connect or go in the right direction so went back. By then they’d dispersed a bit so we could walk between them. We enjoyed the break from hills and did the 20 km at our leisure yet were in Hofen by 1:30 pm. We got rained on a few times. It was just enough to put our raincoats on for a bit and then take them off when we started to overheat.
The Hotel Garni Lilie had a sauna so we enjoyed some “hot and cold therapy” for an hour or so before heading out to the explore the town a bit because apparently we hadn’t walked enough for one day. Dinner was decent but seriously over priced. Mine was glorified Mac and cheese and 18 Euros. Oh well. We can’t eat cheap every day 😉
Friday. 26 km was more than we wanted to do today as we also wanted to spend some time visiting Fussen. So we skipped the first 10 and took a taxi to Pflach (pronounced Flaaa – gargle apparently) For the first 3 km or so the trail was nice but after a big uphill we had to go down. That trail was steep, muddy and slippery. If I’d been prepared with trekking poles I’d have picked my way down but I went back up and we thought about our options. This part wasn’t even mentioned in the trail guide. The worst part was yet to come and with all the rain, trails were going to be worse than usual. So we back tracked and decided to do the bike trail instead. Lots of that were kind of boring but there were interesting parts as well and we got to walk through a couple of villages. We veered off the path when I found a more interesting way so it ended up being a pretty good trek and we walked 14.5 km. Shortly after Pflach we must have crossed from Austria into Germany.
After checking into the Hotel Hirsch and getting information on onward travel, we cleaned up and set out to explore the gorgeous town of Fussen. Then came the thunderstorm and of course neither of us thought to bring our raincoats. So, back to the hotel to get those and then boot it for the bus to take us to Neuschwanstein Castle. You have to book tickets for tours to get inside but we didn’t have the time or interest at this point for a tour. Seeing the outside was enough and it IS amazing. Unfortunately the best parts were closed. There’s a trail on the mountain that’s supposed to be nice and Mary’s bridge is supposed to have the best views. Both were closed. Who knows why. Ugh.
Saturday. A lazy day. After a leisurely breakfast we wandered around the beautiful town of Fussen, admiring the architecture, the gorgeous river and people watching. I noted a couple of women wearing the same shoes I was (Teva sandals, my favourite) and commented. Turns out they’re from Wisconsin and on a Rick Steeve’s tour. They love their tevas too. LOL
Germany has a promotion right now. 9 Euros buys you a ticket you can use for a month on any regional train, bus, streetcar… transportation. We bought one for June. I’m pretty sure the only transport we can use it on is the train to Munich but it’s still cheaper than usual. It’s a great deal if you’re going to Germany!
Next stop: Munich