Saturday, July 24, 2010
Fun Sports in Austria
I haven’t written about Austria in quite some time. It’s odd in a way, to write about one’s home from a travel point-of-view, even though I only live in Austria a few months a year now. Still, when we go to Austria, we are not there as a vacation. Besides, I have already written a lot about Austria such as my skiing (here) and cross-country (here) posts, or my Christmas Posts (here and here), and various hikes and walks in the winter (here and here) and summer (here and here). I blogged about winter sports (Ice Speedway and ski jumping and hockey) and summer sports (mountain biking and regular bike races). I blogged about Geo Caching and swimming across lakes. I blogged about culinary experiences (Alte Schmiede and Red Bull’s Hangar 7). I blogged about various festivities (here and here) and just about Austria in general (here). So clearly, there is no shortage of stuff to talk about.
We just returned from another trip to Austria. And guess what! There’s more to talk about! :-)
This last trip included a short visit to Italy (which you can read about here). The remainder of our stay in Austria was not a vacation or holiday. We had to work regular hours while we were there. Nevertheless, there is so much to do there, even just over a lunch hour or on a weekend, we had a blast! All the things I talk about in this blog post can be done within an hour or two (or an afternoon max) and they are within walking or biking distance of my home town (Saalfelden… near Zell am See and other tourist locations, such as Saalbach/Hinterglemm or Leogang).
We mountain bike a lot. This is one of those things where with an hour or two of time, you can just hop on the bike and go. There are tons of places in the area, representing all levels of difficulties. My Facebook and Twitter followers have already seen many of my “mountain biking pictures of the day” posts over the last few days. Here are some of these pictures:
BTW: You can follow me on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/MarkusEggerEPS) and Twitter (www.Twitter.com/MarkusEgger) where I often post more of these types of pictures.
Another thing we did was “Zip-Lining” (“Hochseilgarten”) in Hinterglemm (Saalbach). Well, I shouldn’t say “we”, because I do not enjoy heights, and I thus didn’t participate. Nevertheless, my friends did, and I kinda just tagged along. As it turns out, the “Hochseilgarten” in Saalbach/Hinterglemm is very impressive and professionally put together and run. I was quite surprised how big a facility this was. You could spend all day there if you wanted, climbing about high up in the trees, and even zipping across the valley 500 feet up in the air or ride a bicycle across a wire above a river, if you are so inclined.
Here are some impressions from this endeavor:
There you go. That tiny dot highlighted by the red arrow in the last photo is a person zipping across on a wire.
They are also currently working on some additions to their part. They are opening a few new tracks. They also just built a giant bridge (known as “the Golden Gate of the Alps”) and a walkway high up in the canopy (“Baumzipfelweg”). If you are interested in doing this, check out their Facebook page or this link.
Whitewater kayaking is big in the area. I actually had my own boat when I was little (like 7 years old or so), but despite the prime opportunity, I have not done any whitewater kayaking since. (We did do a sea kayak trip in Alaska, which I blogged about here). But we have been talking about kayaking for a while now, and on this trip, we finally decided to do it.
We chose “Base Camp Lofer” to rent some gear from. Lofer (which is just around the corner from Saalfelden) is one of the best places for whitewater kayaking. The river (the “Saalach”) has anything from beginners areas to stretches of river they hold the world cup on. Anything from class 1 to class 5+ rapids can be found within a few miles. Since most of us had never done it before, or (like me) were no experts, we started out easy. This was a blast though. I enjoyed it so much, I am actually thinking about buying my own kayak now.
Base Camp was a great place to rent kayaks, because they actually allow you to try it out just for a few hours, without going through a multi-day and expensive course. They provide everything from the actual kayaks to wet gear, and so forth. They sent us of with a bunch of people (you always need someone to pick you up downriver), two of which accompanied us in boats, while the rest of them just were there to drive cars around and provide support.
The only low point of the trip was that one of the guides dislocated his shoulder. As is mostly the case with such accidents, it happened messing around on an easy stretch of the river. Luckily, one of the people in our group was a doctor. So he was well taken care of, and we ultimately continued on without him. (No, we didn’t just leave him behind… he got picked up by an ambulance).
Unfortunately, I did not have a camera with me (since that isn’t all that easy to do). However, here are some other kayaking photos from Lofer (all of which taken at much rougher spots than were we went):
Hopefully I will be able to upload some of my own kayaking photos in the near future…
Hiking and Geo Caching
Finally, we got back into a hobby we’ve had in the past but haven’t done much in recent years: Geo Caching (you can read an older blog post about it here). If you have never heard of Geo Caching, the basic idea is this: People hide stuff all around the world in “geo caches”. These can be seen as little treasures, although they generally have little value. Geo caches usually contain knick-knacks and usually also a log book. You can then go out with a GPS and try to find these caches. Think of it as a high-tech treasure hunt. Some caches are easy to find. Others involve riddles. Some are hard to get to physically.
There is a Geo Caching web site (www.GeoCaching.com) where you can get information about caches. What really got us back into it is that there now are thousands of caches in just about any area. Look up a cool cache, and you have a cool destination to hike or bike to. It is a cool way with a purpose to get out and about. And not just are there now many places, but modern GPS devices make geo caching much more enjoyable. In particular, I am fond of the new Geo Caching iPhone app, which is by far the best way to find caches, if you ask me.
We are sure to go after more caches in the future, and Austria (among many other places) is a great way to do so!
Posted @ 4:00 PM by Egger, Markus (firstname.lastname@example.org)