Climbing monkeys and flying foxes – in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

August 15, 2015 by  
Filed under Austria, Cycling, featured, Leisure, Nature, Walking

“We all have a little monkey in us from way back”, jokes Hervé Chayrou, the owner and our instructor at Hornpark, a treetop adventure playground with 8 aerial courses and 14 zip wires over a lake. We’re gathered at a social get together on the first evening of Alpine Sports Week in the Wilder Kaiser valley of Austria, hearing about all the outdoor activities on offer including high wire climbing, mountain-biking and canyoning.

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Heather and Michael from Bemused Backpacker – Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

But I’m not quite sure whether I will re-discover my “Little Monkey” on the Hornpark high wire course. I’ve heard of similar treetop courses like Go Ape in the UK where my kids might go for an adventurous birthday party. Normally my happy place is an Alpine hiking trail, preferably with blue skies and brilliant sunshine and a mountain hut where I can order a cold beer and admire the view. I may have walked the Tour de Mont Blanc and tried a Via Ferrata, but the high wire course is definitely stretching my climbing abilities.

I hope you enjoy my video below about the Alpine Sports in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

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Heather fitted with climbing harness at Hornpark, Wilder Kaiser Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather fitted with climbing harness at Hornpark, Wilder Kaiser

In the cosy hut we are fitted out with helmets and climbing harnesses and the instructor checks that they are tightly fitted. Not the most flattering or comfortable of rigouts with the loops tight around your thighs and the waistband cutting in above your hips.

Next comes the most important part – the safety training. Since we are going to be high up in the treetops performing daring climbing manoevres, it’s good to know that the cables, ropes and carabiners are there to save you if you fall. But at the end of the day it’s also down to how well you follow the safety procedures and golden rules of climbing.

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Rule number 1 – there are always 2 separate carabiners (metal clips) and they clip to the safety wire in opposite directions so you can never accidentally unclip them both at once.

Rule number 2 – as you clip and unclip the carabiner, you always keep one hand on the safety wire.

Rule number 3 – the carabiners are colour coded red-to-red and green-to-green and match the place where you clip them, either onto a safety wire or onto the metal slider you use when on the flying fox.

With these and a few other golden safety rules swimming around my head we practice on the ground with the instructor to get the hang of what we will soon be trying high in the treetops.

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

We move on to the beginner course which doesn’t seem too tough. The gaps from tree to tree are quite short and the platforms not far off the ground. There are a few wobbly moments, but confidence is high. Then I realise that this course is just so the instructors can check we are doing it correctly. Just a warmup really!

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Moving onto the green beginner level rope course feels a bit different. Suddenly I have to reach a little further, bend and twist my knees awkwardly and use tummy muscles I didn’t know I had. Just to get up to the first platform I have to scale a climbing wall which only reveals how my weak my arm muscles really are.

Crossing the tightrope wires isn’t too stressful so long as I focus on every step. In between I inch carefully around the small wooden platfrorm, carefully clipping and unclipping the carabiners as I’ve been taught. The most tricky bit is crossing the wooden poles that swing from chains. My knees shake as I attempt to step from one unstable pole to the next. Where I have two choices, I decide against the skateboard which zips across the gap and step gingerly across some wooden blocks instead.

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

After the first green course I move onto the intermediate blue course and this time it all feels a lot more dodgy. The climbing wall at the beginning reminds me that I should really get back to the gym and build up my upper body strength which is frankly pathetic. I try the zipwire and manage to end up lower than the platform with my legs waving like a spider. After a few minutes dangling there, I in-elegantly maneouvre my legs up onto the platform and haul myself up like a sack of potatoes.

Once back on the ground I watch another member of the group who has dared to try the much harder red course. I can barely watch as he eventually makes it across the wooden poles swinging in a zig zag pattern and finally gets down sweating with fear and exertion.

Zip wire at Horn Park, Wilder Kaiser

Zip wire at Horn Park, Wilder Kaiser

The best bit of the day is at the end when we try the longer ‘flying fox’ zip-wires that criss-cross the lake, having built up our confidence and trust in the equipment. Earlier I watched, as one girl dangled just short of the platform and had to be winched down by an instructor. Thankfully I fly across the lake and just make it onto the wooden platform although there is still a bit of hauling up to be done on the rope. I find that each zipwire is actually a series of zipwires which takes you in stages, gradually down to ground level.

Zip wire at Horn Park, Wilder Kaiser

Zip wire at Horn Park, Wilder Kaiser

The final zip-wire starts high just by the cable car station and ends in the treetops the other side. By now I feel like an old hand – this could get addictive! I’m tempted to have just one more go on the zip wire but realise I should know my limits.

How do I sum up the day on the high wire? Scary but exhilarating and if here’s a little monkey in all of us, I think I found mine today!

Read about my day of Mountain-biking in Wilder Kaiser

Read more articles about Alpine Sports in Wilder Kaiser

Bemused Backpacker – Experiencing the Wilder Kaiser Alpine Sports Week in Austria
Scarlett London – Wilder Kaiser region in Austria
Daniellicacy – Wilder Kaiser, Austria
Emtalks – Exploring Austria – the Wilder Kaiser Region, Tirol
Borders of Adventure – Climbing in Austria – alternative views in Tirol of the Kitzbuheler Alps

Want to try Alpine Sports Week yourself?

Heather tried out her outdoor activities as part of Alpine Sports Week in Wilder Kaiser. This special week long event allows you to try out 6 different mountain sports over 6 days under the guidance of expert instructors at a special price of €99 (normally €358). In addition to the high rope course and mountain-biking that Heather tried you can go canyoning, trail running and do a Via Ferrata. Sign up here for more information.

All of these activities are also available throughout the summer to try as you like. In addition the region is a paradise for hikers with many day walks as well as multi-day hut-to-hut walks of 3 to 5 days in length.

You can spend a day on the high wire like the one Heather tried at Hornpark in St Johann in Tirol, Austria for €29 per day (adults) including lift pass and all equipment and safety instruction – check their website and Facebook page.

For more information on things to do in Wilder Kaiser visit the Wilder Kaiser tourism website and their social media channels on their BlogTwitter | Facebook | Instagram | Google+. More information about things to do in the Tirol region of Austria on the Tirol tourism website.

How to get to Wilder Kaiser

Heather flew from Bristol to Munich with BMI Regional who fly 12 times each week on this route, so you often have a choice of 2 flights per day. The ticket includes 20kg checked baggage and full at-seat in-flight bar and snack service at no extra charge.

Transfers from Munich to Wilder Kaiser take around 1.5 hours and can be arranged through Four Seasons Travel who have a desk at the airport. Alternatively Innsbruck airport is around 1 hour drive from Wilder Kaiser.

Hotel Sonnenhof

Where to stay in Wilder Kaiser

Heather stayed at the comfortable, family run Vitel and Panorama Hotel Sonnenhof in Going. This four star hotel is furnished traditionally with plenty of Tyrolean wood and has a spa and indoor swimming pool. I enjoyed the hearty breakfast spread with a full selection of muesli, fruit, nutty German breads and freshly cooked omlettes as well as fresh juices, honeycomb and anything else you would wish for. Check prices and book your stay here.

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Read about climbing at Hornpark in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Thanks to Wilder Kaiser Tourist Board who hosted Heather’s stay and provided the experiences mentioned and to BMI regional who provided Heather’s flight to Munich.

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Heather goes e-mountain-biking in Wilder Kaiser, Austria – video

During my previous hikes in the Alps I got to know those pesky mountain-bikers only too well. On the Tour de Mont Blanc I’d seen them whizz by, spraying gravel and mud or weaving between the pine trees in a flash of luminous lycra. Give me a nice, gentle cycle ride, I thought, through rolling vineyards with a glass of chilled white wine at the end of the trail. Mountain-biking seemed just too much like hard work.

Mountian Biking in Wilder Kaiser as part of Alpine Sports Week Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Mountian Biking in Wilder Kaiser as part of Alpine Sports Week

But here I was in Wilder Kaiser, the eastern corner of the Tirol region of Austria, with plenty of gorgeous mountain scenery that just begged for some mountain-biking.

I hope you enjoy my video below about the Alpine Sports in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

If you can’t see the video above of the Alpine Sports in Wilder Kaiser, Austria, see it on my blog here or Youtube here and please do subscribe using the button above

Click here for direct download of video
Subscribe to all my videos in I-tunes
If you enjoyed this video, check out the others in my Video archive

I’d come for the annual Alpine Sports Week that gives hikers like me a chance to try out some of the other outdoor activities on offer. Each day the group would try a different activity, from high rope climbing to canyoning, trail-running to Via Ferratta and of course mountain-biking. The best thing is that during Alpine Sports Week, the 5 days of activities are on offer for the knock-down price of €99.

Cable Car in Wilder Kaiser, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cable Car in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

For mountain-biking without tears I had a secret weapon, an e-bike which enables you to pedal up the steepest mountain with ease, prompting envious looks from those poor souls who have gone for the traditional bike option. My e-bike had a small motor attached to the frame which cut in whenever the going got tough. At the press of a button I could go into sports mode, touring mode or turbo mode to muster up some extra oomph on the hills. Suddenly mountain-biking seemed a much more attractive proposition; less sweat and more time to admire the view.

Mountian Biking in Wilder Kaiser as part of Alpine Sports Week Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Mountian Biking in Wilder Kaiser as part of Alpine Sports Week

At Going Bike, we were kitted out with helmets, gloves and water bottles, then followed our leader Markus who runs mountain-bike tours in this valley. The path ran beside a stream, then we cycled up a bit of a hill and 20 minutes later reached the cable car station down the valley. Thank goodness that we could load the bikes into the cable car and reach the top of the mountain without even breaking into a sweat, taking in the views on the way. In no time at all we were at the upper cable car station, a surprisingly busy place, with a childrens’ playground, cafe and trampoline.

Mountian Biking in Wilder Kaiser as part of Alpine Sports Week Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Mountian Biking in Wilder Kaiser as part of Alpine Sports Week

Before we were let loose on the mountain, we had a talk on how to ride down safely. According to Markus the trick is to keep your feet parallel on the pedals and to lean back, with your ‘aaarsh’ at the back of the seat. We set off down the mountain with iron-man Markus leading the way, joking and laughing although you could tell that he was a hard-core sporty type and not taking any prisoners. I’d have loved to pause to take a few more photos and enjoy the Alpine views but there was no stopping Markus.

Wilder Kaiser in Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Alpine views in Wilder Kaiser in Austria

The tracks we followed downhill were broad and surprisingly manageable although you had to concentrate to avoid skidding on the gravel. For most of the time I was freewheeling downhill, growing in confidence all the time, taking in the views when I had the courage to glance up from the path. I’d love to have stopped in those Alpine meadows, with lush green grass sprinkled with purple clover, yellow buttercups and lacy white flowers, but Markus was insistent in his quest to get us down the mountain.

At the halfway point we stopped at a mountain restaurant and enjoyed a well-earned rest and some hearty dumpling soup for lunch. The sun was out and we all sat at one big table beside the cable car station where the cute red cable cars were strung up the mountain like beads on a necklace.

Stopping for lunch in Wilder Kaiser, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Stopping for lunch in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

After filling up the water bottles, we were off again down the mountain, a line of bikes following down the winding trails. Only one lady skidded and fell at a sharp bend while I managed to topple over in a rather undignified fashion when I came to a halt but couldn’t touch the ground.

By early afternoon we reached the bottom of the mountain and arrived again at the cycle shop. As Markus took my bike he patted me on the back, and told me; “You are a warrior woman, it was hard but you never gave up!” Pleased with my efforts, despite a stiff ‘aarsh’, aching thighs and wobbly knees I was happy to bask in his praise, although secretly I knew the e-bike had done most of the work.

Read about my day of tree-top climbing and zip wires in Wilder Kaiser

Outdoor activities in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Heather tried out her outdoor activities as part of Alpine Sports Week in Wilder Kaiser. This special week long event allows you to try out 6 different mountain sports over 6 days under the guidance of expert instructors at a special price of €99 (normally €358). Add your details to their mailing list here to get more details for next year. In addition to the high rope course and mountain-biking that Heather tried you can go canyoning, trail running and do a Via Ferrata. Sign up here for more information.

All of these activities are also available throughout the summer to try as you like. In addition the region is a paradise for hikers with many day walks as well as multi-day hut-to-hut walks of 3 to 5 days in length. A similar mountain-bike tour to the one Heather enjoyed can be booked through Going Bike who rent e-bikes and other bikes from their shop in Going and run group tours.

For more information on things to do in Wilder Kaiser visit the Wilder Kaiser tourism website and their social media channels on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ and keep up with latest news on the Wilder Kaiser blog. More information about things to do in the Tirol region of Austria on the Tirol tourism website.

Read more articles about Alpine Sports Week

Bemused Backpacker – Real Mountain-biking and Cultural awakening in Tirol
Scarlett London – Exploring Tirol by Bike
Daniellicacy – Wilder Kaiser, Austria – Mountain Biking
Emtalks – Exploring Austria – the Wilder Kaiser Region, Tirol

How to get to Wilder Kaiser

Heather flew from Bristol to Munich with BMI Regional who fly 12 times each week on this route, so you often have a choice of 2 flights per day. The ticket includes 20kg checked baggage and full at-seat in-flight bar and snack service at no extra charge.

Transfers from Munich to Wilder Kaiser take around 1.5 hours and can be arranged through Four Seasons Travel who have a desk at the airport. Alternatively Innsbruck airport is around 1 hour drive from Wilder Kaiser.

Hotel Sonnenhof

Heather stayed at Panorama Hotel Sonnehof in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Where to stay in Wilder Kaiser

Heather stayed at the comfortable, family run Vitel and Panorama Hotel Sonnenhof in Going. This four star hotel is furnished traditionally with plenty of Tyrolean wood and has a spa and indoor swimming pool. I enjoyed the hearty breakfast spread with a full selection of muesli, fruit, nutty German breads and freshly cooked omlettes as well as fresh juices, honeycomb and anything else you would wish for. Check prices and book your stay here.

Pin It

Read about e-mountainbiking in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Thanks to Wilder Kaiser Tourist Board who hosted Heather’s stay and provided the experiences mentioned and to BMI regional who provided Heather’s flight to Munich.

Click to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, news and reader offers

HOHT newsletter

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Six of the best coffees around the world

Are you a coffee lover like me? It’s the aroma of freshly ground coffee beans that hits your nose first and then you take a sip of hot, sweet coffee. Ahhh, the day starts to feel better already. But perhaps for you it’s a tiny cup of strong, black expresso, ending the meal perfectly like a full stop at the end of a sentence. Or a frothy cappuccino to eat with a sweet pastry for breakfast like they do in Spain.

6 of the best coffees around the world

However you like it, a great cup of coffee is full of ritual as you watch a skilled barista operate those shiny machines that woosh and hiss, or the buzzy atmosphere of your favourite coffee shop where you meet your friends for a late morning weekend brunch or an afternoon coffee and cake.

Now I’m dreaming about all the coffees I’ve enjoyed on my travels, each coffee experience giving me a doorway into the culture of the place I visited. For more coffee inspiration, take a look at this Coffee infographic that will take you around the world in 31 coffees, but in the meantime let me share with you some of my favourite coffees around the world.

1. Copenhagen – the best coffee in the world?

If ever there was a place where they know how to elevate coffee to an art form it is Copenhagen and Coffee Collective sits among the best of the best.

Coffee Collective in Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Coffee Collective in Copenhagen

I visited their original coffee shop in Nørrebro a few years ago, a tiny place with just a few wooden tables outside and a stool inside to perch while your coffee is being expertly made. Their coffee beans are sold all around Copenhagen and they operate on a Direct Trade model, working with farmers in Brazil, Guatamala, Kenya and Panama to pay the best prices for the best quality coffee. If you visit this place you’ll probably be buying your coffee to take away (perhaps picking up a pastry from the Claus Meyer bakery across the road) but if you want to sit and enjoy your coffee in a foodie atmosphere, head for their stand in the Torvehallerne food market halls.

Coffee Cooperative in Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Coffee Cooperative in Copenhagen

Torvehallerne is one of my favourite places in Copenhagen, where you can get a fabulous but reasonably priced lunch or sip your coffee with a cake just like your Danish grandmother might have baked. The third branch of Coffee Collective is in Frederiksberg, where the beans are roasted and they do monthly tours and coffee tastings where you can learn how to make a perfect coffee. Definitely a place of pilgrimage for the coffee connoisseur.

Read More: Eat the Neighbourhood in Norrebro, Copenhagen

2. Coffee time is Fika time in Sweden

If you’ve visited Sweden I’m sure you’ll have come across the tradition of ‘fika’, or having a coffee break with friends. This is the occasion to settle down in a cosy cafe where the counters are laden with buns and pastries to relax over a good cup of coffee and a chat. When I visited Gothenburg I discovered that the picturesque old neighbourhood of Haga was the perfect fika spot, since its cobbled streets are lined with cafes, restaurants and artizan shops.

Buns at Cafe Kringlan in Haga, Gothenburg, Sweden Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Buns at Cafe Kringlan in Haga, Gothenburg, Sweden

Cafe Husaren on the corner of the main street of Hada Nygatan is reputed to be the original source of the enormous cinamon buns which are a speciality of Gothenburg, although we squeezed into the pretty, traditional Cafe Kringlan with the gold bagel hanging outside. The local’s choice for fika in Gothenburg seems to be Da Matteo and they have several shops including the largest in Magasingaten where they bake the bread and pastries on the premises, so you get the aroma of freshly baked bread thrown in with your coffee.

Read More: Favourite coffee spots in Gothenburg for your coffee fix

3. Salzburg – for coffee and cakes

Perhaps you’ve gathered by now that I have something of a sweet tooth, so heaven for me is a great cup of coffee served in the afternoon with a slice of the local cake. Of course Austria makes a speciality of this Kaffee und Kuchen ritual and where better than Salzburg, the glorious homeland of Mozart and the Sound of Music to enjoy it?

Steinterrasse in Salzburg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Steinterrasse in Salzburg

When it comes to cake to accompany your afternoon coffee, you’ll likely be wavering between the Apfelstrudel (soft bites of apple wrapped in crisp layers of pastry) and the Sacher Torte (rich, dense chocolate cake laced with apricot jam). The traditional choice would probably be to head for Hotel Sacher which overlooks the river but we enjoyed our kaffee und kuchen on the rooftop terrace of the Hotel Stein with a fabulous view of the fortress, which is highly recommended in good weather. 

Read more: Bratwurst and Sacher Torte – or what we ate in Salzburg

4. A chilled frappe on the beach in Greece

Coffee can be a cool drink in more ways than one, as I discovered on my annual trips to Greece to visit my sister who lives on the Greek Island of Zakynthos. Traditionally the Greeks drink their coffee like the Turks, strong and sweet in a tiny cup together with those ultra-sweet pastries that drip with syrup. This is what you’d serve to friends who come visiting in the afternoon.

Frappuccino on Ionian beach, Zakynthos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Frappuccino on Ionian beach, Zakynthos, Greece

But the trendy thing to drink in summer is a chilled Frappé – where an expresso is poured over ice with creamy milk to make a coffee that’s sipped through a straw from a long glass. When you’re lying on your sunbed or sitting in a trendy Greek beach bar, be sure to order a “Freddo” coffee, which comes in different Italian styles such as a Freddo cappuccino, Freddo Expresso or a Freddoccino (iced mocha coffee with chocolate). 

Read More: Sunday morning Greek coffee and Glika in Zakynthos

5. Ruddesheimer coffee in Germany – coffee with a creamy kick

If you fancy your coffee with something a little stronger, we found the perfect alternative coffee on our Rhine River Cruise stop at the pretty town of Rudesheim. Wandering down the cobbled street of the Drosselgasse with its wine shops and taverns we stopped at Rudesheimer Schloss to try the local speciality of Rudesheimer coffee.

Rudesheimer coffee Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Rudesheimer coffee

This coffee spiked with brandy is the German equivalent of Irish Coffee and started in the 1920s when the Alspach brandy company invented a brandy chocolate so that ladies could enjoy a secret tipple, at a time when it was considered unseemly for women to drink in public. One good thing lead to another and in the 1950s the Rudesheimer coffee was born, a warming mixture of sweet coffee with a good helping of Asbach brandy, topped with sweet, whipped vanilla cream and sprinkled with grated chocolate. These days the Rudesheimer coffee is served in all the local coffee shops and you can bring back small bottles of the Alspach brandy if you want to try it at home.

Read More: How to make a Rudesheimer coffee – video

6. A hot chocolate alternative to coffee in Gothenburg

If you’re not a coffee drinker, you’ll be pleased to know that in Gothenburg we found an excellent alternative at Cafe Kanold that specialises in velvety hot chocolate. Staying cosy from the chilly wind and weather, we sat on the cushioned banquette with pretty floral cushions and enjoyed a warming hot chocolate – served with chili flakes on top for an extra kick.

Cafe Kanold in Gothenburg, Sweden Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cafe Kanold in Gothenburg, Sweden

While there is also a counter of hand-made Kanold chocolates in the cafe, you’ll want to visit the main Kanold chocolate shop close by on Södra Larmgatan at the end of Viktoriapassagen. It’s a cross between an old fashioned candy store and a boutique chocolatier where you can buy the Kanold speciality, a soft chocolate truffle centre topped with sea salt, which has now become known as the “Gothenburg Truffle”. Of course if you insist of coffee at Cafe Kanold, I’m sure they serve that too!

Read More: Chocolate with sea salt – a taste of West Sweden

Check out this Coffee Infographic

If you want to fuel your coffee fascination even more, take a look at this Coffee infographic from  Cheapflights that will take you around the world in 31 coffees. Here are a few cool coffee facts that I discovered;

  • In Italy you only drink milky coffee in the morning and NEVER after a meal – the cappuccino in the afternoon is only for tourists!
  • Breakfast in Spain normally consists of a cup of coffee with a sweet pastry or churros
  • In Senegal coffee is served with cloves and guinea pepper
  • In 2001 Brazil issued a coffee scented postage stamp
  • Seatle has 10 times more coffee store per head than the rest of the USA
Around the world in 31 Coffees Photo: Cheapflights.com

Around the world in 31 Coffees – infographic from Cheapflights

Now, please excuse me as I’m off to find the perfect coffee to have with my weekend brunch in Bristol

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6 of the best coffees around the world

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

This article is written in association with Cheapflights

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