Vipiteno – At The Idyllic Doorstep to Italy

Vipiteno – At The Idyllic Doorstep to Italy

Vipiteno – At The Idyllic Doorstep to Italy

Vipiteno is located in South Tyrol directly behind the Austrian border when you cross the Brenner Pass and is the northernmost town in Italy. I have been there regularly for a good 25 years. The reason for this is its ideal location. Because when I was little, we – that is, my parents, my brother and I – used to drive to Sicily every year by car, where my mother came from, and Vipiteno is perfect for a first stop on the way to the south of Bella Italia. But why you should spend more than just one night here, I’ll show you today:

Vipiteno – The Facts

Vipiteno has an incomparable charm – regardless of the season, it enchants its visitors. Even though I know the alpine town especially in the warm season, because we usually made a stop here when we went to Venice in May, to Verona in August or to Palermo in October, I assure you that the place is worth visiting at any time of the year.

Framed by the mountain panorama, picturesque shopping streets await you in one of the most beautiful old towns of the country with medieval churches and squares.

You love sports? Then go hiking on the Rosskopf, golfing on the golf course or skating in the ice rink. The high ropes course ensures fun and a high adrenalin level. Even though I now love to put on my hiking boots (which I did here), I am still more on the side of culture enthusiasts: The gothic churches and medieval castles leave me with a feeling of astonishment and reverence.

The good thing about Vipiteno? Here you can combine everything! So you have the perfect mixture.

 

Vipiteno – How to Get There

By train: Vipiteno has a railway station. You can get there via the Brenner/Brennero stop by changing trains.

By bus: From Innsbruck, for example, Flixbus takes you directly to Vipiteno in about 50 minutes. Prices start at 5.99 euros and there are three to five Flixbuses a day. This is certainly the cheapest alternative for a trip to Vipiteno.

By car: By car you can easily reach Vipiteno from Austria via the Brenner motorway. After you have crossed the border, you have to take the second exit. You can also take the first exit “Colle Isarco” and then follow the road along the river Eisack (Italian Isarco) to Vipiteno. If you choose this option, you will avoid the Italian motorway toll.

Vipiteno – My Highlights

Hiking

Vipiteno, with its location in the South Tyrolean Alps, is a wonderful place for hiking. All around there are numerous hiking trails of every level of difficulty, making it suitable for young and old, young and old.

For example, the ride in the gondola up to the Rosskopf is recommendable. Up there, you can do everything your outdoor lover’s heart desires: hiking, mountain biking, stopping for a bite to eat.

I myself wanted to walk the Trenser Höhenweg with my father and my brother. The circular path leads over almost six kilometres from the pilgrimage church Maria Trens to the castle Sprechenstein and back again and is supposed to take about two hours.

Kirche in Maria Trens bei Sterzing

Maria Trens is, by the way, after Maria Weissenstein, the most famous place of pilgrimage in South Tyrol. Its popularity dates back to the 14th century.

The trail is steep and partly leads over unpaved paths through the forest (attention: due to damp mud it was very slippery in some places), but in general I found it absolutely feasible and not exceptionally difficult.

If you’re lucky you can even observe animals here.

The view was magnificent and I was already looking forward to the opportunity to stop for a bite to eat at the castle.

Unfortunately, one section of the route was too narrow for my father and on one side it went down steeply. I am grateful that he told me what this section had caused in him. Because with my mother’s death, 2019 had already caused enough misfortune to my family. Therefore, we didn’t want to ask too much of our guardian angels. So we’re turned around. Next time I would like to do the hike completely and then see the Sprechenstein Castle not only from below. But it’s not possible go inside.

 

Stopping by an Alpine Pasture

What could be better than to do something good for your body after or during a stimulating hike, to rest and enjoy a cool drink or to fill your hungry stomach? For this purpose, numerous alpine pastures await you along the hiking trails, which also reward you with a view that makes every hiker’s heart beat faster.

If you are not quite so fit, but still don’t want to miss out on a social stop, I have a great tip for you: The Prantner Alm is accessible by car. As my father did not feel physically fit for the hike, I was looking for an alpine pasture to which we can go by car. I quickly found the Prantner Alm, which is only 11 km but a good 30 minutes drive from Vipiteno.

From the Prantner Alm you not only have a magnificent view of the Rosskopf and the surrounding mountains, but you can also feast to your heart’s content. I had a delicious Tris di Knödel – cheese dumplings in three different flavours.

Sights

Castle Sprechenstein

The castle Sprechenstein is a place shrouded in legend. It is said that the ghost of a murdered knight haunts the castle, who once lived at Sprechenstein Castle with his beloved wife. The arrow that cost him his life is still in his heart. A knight who lived in nearby Reifenstein Castle killed him out of jealousy. There is no proof that the story is based on a true incident.

A striking feature of Burg Sprechenstein is the circular keep from the 13th century. The large hall and the chapel, dedicated to St. Erasmus, with its small winged altar, as well as the wall paintings and frescoes were created in later centuries. The castle and its works of art were hit by bombs during the Second World War and later restored. Since the end of the 18th century the castle Sprechenstein has been owned by the princes of Auersperg.

As mentioned in my article above, the castle Sprechenstein can only be seen from the outside.

For the sake of completeness it should be mentioned that Burg Sprechenstein is actually located in the neighbouring Freienfeld.

 

Castle Reifenstein

Southwest of Vipiteno, the imposing Reifenstein Castle looks down from a rocky hill. The castle first appears in historical documents in 1110, when it was given as a fiefdom to the nobles of Stilfes. In 1410 the ownership of Reifenstein passed to the Order of German Knights. In 1813 the order was dissolved and the Princes of Thurn und Taxis received the castle as compensation for the abolition of their postal monopoly.

The Gothic interior of the castle takes visitors back to the Middle Ages: the entrance gate is secured by a portcullis and the historic drawbridge leads across a moat. Balustrades and embrasures in the walls remind us of the numerous battles that took place here. Unfortunately, I could not enter, because this is only possible with a guided tour, which takes place at certain times. I stupidly missed the last guided tour on the only available day.

The castle is privately owned, but is open to visitors.

Opening hours: These vary from month to month. In principle the guided tours take place between 1 April and 31 October. As mentioned, the visit is only possible within the framework of a guided tour with at least 4 people.
This year (2019) the guided tours took place at the following times:
Sunday to Friday at 10.30, 14.00 and 15.00
Closed on Saturdays

Entrance:
Euro 7,00 (Adults)
Euro 4,00 (Children)

Further information:
Tel. +39 339 2643752, info@sterzing.com

 

Vipiteno – Hotel

For about 25 years now, when I stop over in Vipiteno, I have been staying at the Gasthof Hotel Larch. Actually it is located in the neighbouring Freienfeld–- just like the Sprechenstein Castle and the Trenser Höhenweg. The 4-star hotel is quaint, cosy and we feel very comfortable. You shouldn’t expect luxury, but a homely feel-good atmosphere. The food is prepared with fruits and vegetables from our own garden, the breakfast eggs come from the chickens in the stable behind the house and the yoghurt is homemade. With milk from cows from the mountain pasture – and lots of love. You can taste that and that’s why we have been coming back again and again for so many years.

If you prefer to book with Booking, you can find the available hotels in Vipiteno here: Vipiteno Hotels on Booking*.

 

Vipiteno – Where to go Next?

Venice: The city of bridges is always worth a visit. Whether for carnival or any other time of the year, Venice is touristic, but also has many quiet corners to offer. Meanwhile, I have already been there four times and it does not get boring at all. I always discover something new and am already looking forward to my next visit when I leave. Flixbus runs daily from Vipiteno via Innsbruck to Venice.

Verona: I have also been to Verona four times. But especially for a visit to the opera it is always worthwhile to take the way and spend a few days in this beautiful city. Flixbus runs several times a week from Vipiteno via Innsbruck to Verona.

Palermo: Palermo is my second home. Therefore I am a little bit prejudiced. But I think that everybody should have been at least once in the Sicilian capital. Culture, gastronomy, architecture or just enjoying the sun on the beach of Mondello… Palermo is not to be missed!

 

Final Thoughts

For me personally, Vipiteno has been the starting point for holidays for well over two decades. Almost all trips to Italy began here and sometimes, on the way back, they also ended here.

For a long time my family, unfortunately, only stayed overnight there without exploring the area. I am glad that I now catch up step by step.

Have you ever been to Vipiteno? Have you only spent the night there or have you also looked at the surroundings? Let me know in the comments!

PS: Links with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links.

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Mannheim in Winter – This is What You Can Do!

Mannheim in Winter – This is What You Can Do!

Mannheim in Winter – This is What You Can Do!

At the end of November, I was in Mannheim for two days. I already knew the city from other short visits, as it is also not far from my hometown Kelkheim near Frankfurt. So I have met friends here from time to time or even went dancing. Now I should experience Mannheim for the first time in winter! The reason for my trip was the concert Night of the Proms, for which I couldn’t get tickets in Frankfurt anymore.

Mannheim – The City of Squares

Mannheim and Heidelberg were the capitals of the Electorate Palatinate, or Kurpfalz for short. This is evidenced, for example, by Mannheim Castle, which was built between 1720 and 1760 and was temporarily the residence of the Elector of the Palatinate.

The heavy destruction of the city center during World War II meant that the entire city center had to be rebuilt. This reconstruction was carried out in the style of the 1950s – namely in a grid-shaped street network, which gave the city one of its many nicknames, the Square City. Mannheim is known for its parks, for its music culture and for its multicultural diversity.

 

Mannheim in Winter – This is What You Can do!

I don’t know about you… But when I think of Mannheim, I think of the parks and the beautiful university and the castle. All places that are not ideal for winter excursions. At least if you feel the cold as easily as me.

Therefore I have four things here that you can do in Mannheim in winter:

 

Check Out The Art Gallery

The art gallery called Kunsthalle Mannheim was the first museum in Mannheim and was inaugurated in 1909. It is one of the first civic collections of modern art in the world. It was founded as a museum in 1909 and houses one of the most renowned civic collections in Germany. Works by Manet, Pissaro, van Gogh or Bacon in painting and numerous sculptures make the heart of every art lover beat faster. From the very beginning, the motto has been “Art for all” and is thus committed to people – regardless of their origin or education.

Mannheim im Winter – Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Until June 1st of 2018, the Kunsthalle was housed in the Art Nouveau building designed by Hermann Billing, which was ceremonially built in 1907 to mark the 300th anniversary of the city of Mannheim. Today’s complex has grown naturally: in part very modern and a work of art in itself. While the other part is the former Jugendstil building.

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

At a different time of the year, you can certainly sit nicely on the roof terrace, enjoy the sun and let the works of art take effect on you.

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

For all those who like it modern, the Kunsthalle Mannheim offers an app as a multimedia companion. There are guided tours and information on exhibitions, works and events. It can be downloaded from both the Apple Store and the Google Play Store.

Here are the facts about the Kunsthalle Mannheim:

Opening hours:

Tuesday – Sunday & Holidays 10 – 18 h
Wednesday 10 – 20 h / 1st Wednesday of the month 10 – 22 h
Closed on Monday

Entrance:

14 Euro / reduced 12 Euro
Family ticket: 24 Euro (2 adults with children under 18 years)
Evening ticket: 10 Euro (valid from 1 ½ h before closing time)
Annual ticket: 30 Euro (from 18 years, valid 1 year from date of redemption)

Free entrance – MVV art night
1st Wednesday of the month, 18 – 22 Uhr

 

Go to the Technoseum

In the Technoseum, the State Museum for Technology and Work, you can go on an interactive journey through time. Information is combined with experiences and complex technical topics are presented in a vivid way. It is a foundation under public law and is financed by the City of Mannheim and the State of Baden-Württemberg.

Technoseum Mannheim

The exhibition covers 200 years of technology as well as social history and is in many cases prepared in a playful and even child-friendly way, so that one does not just walk through a simple museum and look at exhibits or read the respective descriptions. No, here, everybody becomes an actor who likes to experiment. This is specially the case in the uppermost floor where one can help oneself.

Mannheim im Winter – Technoseum Mannheim

In an increasingly complex world, the Technoseum wants to make technical progress understandable and illustrate the influence on people’s lives and work. Modern technologies hold opportunities, but also risks. This is what the museum wants to show.

Technoseum Mannheim

Technoseum Mannheim

Technoseum Mannheim

Technoseum Mannheim

Technoseum Mannheim

These are the facts about the Technoseum:

Opening hours:

Daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Entrance:

Adults 9,00 Euro
Reduced 6,00 Euro
Children up to 6 years old free

 

Go to a Show at the Planetarium

In 1927 one of the world’s first planetariums was opened in Mannheim. Under a 24.5-meter dome in the Luisenpark, 514 people could be seated. In 1943, however, it was damaged in a bombing raid and demolished ten years later. It was not until 1975 that there was a citizens’ initiative to help rebuild the planetarium.

In 1984 the time had finally come: the new planetarium was built on Europaplatz. The dome is 20 metres high and can accommodate 280 people. It was equipped with the most powerful projector available at the time. But the technology improved so much over the decades that a new one had to be built in 2002. Universarium is the name of the chic new acquisition, which can realistically depict stars using fiber optics.

The old projector is located in front of the entrance to the Dome Hall and can be viewed while waiting for the performance to begin. In addition, a cafeteria ensures that you can warm up when you come in from the wintery cold streets of Mannheim.

Mannheim im Winter – Planetarium Mannheim

Planetarium Mannheim

Planetarium Mannheim

These are the facts for the Planetarium Mannheim:

Opening hours:

The opening hours of the planetarium vary as they depend on the performances, which are different every day. In the schedule you can see which performances are upcoming. The doors open one hour before the performance starts.

Free choice of seats for all events!

Admission approx. 10 minutes before the performance begins.

Tickets:

Adults9,50 €
Group of adults8,50 €
Reduced7,00 €
Children (up to 12 years)5,00 €
Students in a group5,00 €

 

Have a Hot Drink at the Christmas Market

200 huts are waiting at the Mannheim Christmas market at the water tower… For feasting, strolling, Christmas shopping! Because there’s a lot to discover here and maybe you’ll come up with an odd gift idea for Christmas.

In Germany, Mannheim’s Christmas market is one of the oldest and largest. It takes place around the water tower, the city’s landmark.

Mannheim im Winter – Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt

Mannheim im Winter - Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt

Be enchanted by the carousel organ or make a detour to the 18-metre high Christmas pyramid. It is accessible and there is even a café upstairs.

A colourful programme awaits you on a stage: artists can show off their talents here from 6 pm! Whether choirs, musicians or dancers… There is something for everyone!

Mannheim im Winter - Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt – Die Weihnachtspyramide

Mannheim im Winter - Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt

Mannheim im Winter - Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt

Mannheim im Winter - Der Wasserturm bei Nacht

Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt

These are the facts about the Mannheim Christmas market:

Mannheim Christmas market at the water tower

25 November to 23 December 2019

Or 23 November to 23 December 2020

Daily from 11 to 21

www.weihnachtsmarkt-mannheim.de

 

Hotel in Mannheim

I was accommodated in the Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim, less than five minutes walk from the water tower. You can reach all the places listed here within 15 minutes at the most, walking easily. So the location was ideal for me.

You can find a detailed description of my hotel stay here: Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim.

 

Mannheim in Winter – My Final Thoughts

My reason for this trip was a concert. So I must admit: I was a bit skeptical at first whether I would even like Mannheim in winter. I’ve already been to the parks and to the university, so I knew Mannheim mainly as a destination where you can go for wonderful walks. But what should I do in winter?

I had not expected to have such a nice time! But I found the Technoseum really exciting and it was my first time in a planetarium. The Christmas market was also really great and it gave us – me and my family – a perfect opportunity to have a bite to eat before the concert, but at the same time to do some exploring.

All in all it was a fun weekend trip!

Deine Barbara

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Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Two nights in the square city

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Two nights in the square city

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Two nights in the square city

ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE LEONARDO ROYAL HOTEL MANNHEIM

In December, I wanted to go to the Night of the Proms with my family. Since we couldn’t get any tickets for the concert in Frankfurt, we decided to buy tickets for Mannheim and combine it with a weekend in the city of squares.

LEONARDO HOTELS – The hotel chain

LEONARDO HOTELS is a European hotel chain with over 150 hotels in more than 85 destinations. The goal is to create places of well-being – through their own regional character, their local connection to the location and their own design. The company motto is “feeling good” and is a promise to us hotel guests to do their utmost to make us feel good and comfortable.

I myself got to know the chain at a travel industry trade fair and especially liked the subsidiary chain Nyx. This one is a bit more trendy and modern – just more for my generation. But since I took this special trip with my father, the classic Leonardo Royal seemed a much better choice.

 

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim

The Hotel

Due to its ingenious location directly at Mannheim’s landmark, the water tower, the Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim is ideal for travellers who like to live centrally: Extensive shopping tours, walks in the Luisenpark or at the water tower, as a starting point for events or a cultural day with museum and planetarium… this hotel is the perfect choice.

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Lobby

Here are the facts

  • 192 rooms and suites
  • 1 restaurant und 1 bar
  • A spa including gym area
  • 10 event rooms
  • 24/7 reception with water, tea or coffee station, snacks and sweets
  • Free WiFi
  • Parking garage with direct access to the hotel

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Lobby

Vor dem Leonardo Hotel Mannheim

 

The room

I was given two days in a beautiful suite on the second floor. I particularly liked the fact that there was a walk-through room to the bathroom that was practically a walk-in closet. Sadly, I could only enjoy the bathtub standing up, as there was no time for a real bath. The size of the room was also very pleasing, as it was ideal for two people to work here (my father is also self-employed).

 

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Suite

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Suite

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Zimmer

 

Auch die einfachen Zimmer habe ich mir angesehen. Sie sind zwar deutlich kleiner, aber durch stilvolle Akzente mit Bildern und Lichtern nicht minder gemütlich gestaltet.

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Zimmer

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Zimmer

Gym and Spa

Unfortunately I didn’t have time for a training session either. But yes, there is a gym waiting in the basement with the usual machines and equipment.

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Fitnessstudio

Daneben wartet ein angenehm warmer Ruheraum und eine kleine Sauna darauf, dass du hier ein wenig Entspannung findest.

Restaurant and Bar

Next to it, a pleasantly warm rest room and a small sauna are waiting for you to unwind a little.

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Restaurant Vitruv

Leonardo Hotel Mannheim – Restaurant Vitruv

Leonardo Hotel Mannheim – Restaurant Vitruv

Leonardo Hotel Mannheim – Restaurant Vitruv

You can make yourself comfortable at the bar or in the Lounge Leo for a delicious cocktail or aperitif.

 

Conference and Event Rooms

The event rooms offer space for up to 700 people and are fully equipped. The hallways and the inner courtyard can be used for coffee breaks if the temperature is appropriate. Open-air events are also possible here.

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Konferenzraum

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – Kaffeepausentisch

 

Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim – My conclusion

I spent two really great days at the Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim. The room was beautiful and really big with all the necessary equipment. All in all I can certainly report a successful stay.

If you also want to stay at the Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim you can visit their booking page here: www.leonardo-hotels.de or here at Booking*!

PS: I was invited by Leonardo Hotels to spend two nights with breakfast. I did not receive any financial compensation. My opinion is not biased by this cooperation.

PPS: All links with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links.

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The Koasa Trail – Hiking in Tyrol

The Koasa Trail – Hiking in Tyrol

The Koasa Trail – Hiking in Tyrol

ADVERTISING

At the invitation of the Kitzbüheler Alpen St. Johann Tourism Association in Tyrol I went to Austria in June to hike the Koasa Trail there. I was able to combine it perfectly with another motorcycle trip as I wanted to go to Rovinj for the Summer Sensual Days for the second time.

Koasa Trail – A hiking trail in Tyrol

The Koasa Trail revolves around the Wilder Kaiser, a mountain massif that is part of the Kaisergebirge. This consists of the aforementioned Wilder Kaiser, the Zahmen Kaiser and the Niederkaiser. It is located in the eastern Alps and is a magnet for hikers, mountaineers and climbers. The official Koasa Trail has only been around for a few years. It connects different hiking trails to a long distance hike of several days with a distance of 80 kilometres, so that you can easily discover the highlights of the Wilder Kaiser. Every day, a special natural setting is waiting for you, which will make the region grow ever closer to your heart.

Wegweiser Koasa Trail

And one more info in advance with a little outing: When I first read about the Koasa Trail, my inner voice elegantly emphasized “Ko-Asa Trail”. It stayed a few days until I used Google for some information and found out that Koasa is Austrian for Cesar (German: Kaiser). All I can say is: Facepalm, Barbara!

 

Koasa Trail – How to get there

Salzburg (60 km), Innsbruck (90 km) and Munich (135 km) are not far from the Kitzbühel Alps and give you orientation points for your journey. This is a quick and easy way to get to Oberndorf, where the Koasa Trail begins:
  • By plane: I recommend to travel within Europe by bus, train or if necessary by your own car. For the sake of completeness I would also like to mention that the Kitzbüheler Alps are easily accessible from three airports: Innsbruck Airport (INN) is 100 km away, Salzburg Airport (SZG) 60 km and Munich Airport (MUC) 160 km.
  • By bus or train: Unfortunately there is no Flixbus to Sankt Johann in Tirol, but you can go to Innsbruck, Salzburg, Munich or Vienna and continue by train from there. St. Johann in Tirol has a stop for an express train and Oberndorf has a stop for regional trains. From Innsbruck you can expect about 80 minutes, from Salzburg about 30 minutes, from Munich about 2.5 hours and from Vienna about 5.5 hours.
  • By car or motorbike: If you have your own vehicle or hire a car, the best way to get from Munich or Innsbruck is to take the A12 Inntal motorway and then the B178 from Salzburg via the A1 or A10 to the B178.

 

Koasa Trail – The stages

As already mentioned, the five stages of the Koasa Trail cover about 80 kilometres, where you will be rewarded for your efforts with breathtaking views of the Wilder Kaiser. Every day a highlight waits for you:

Stage 1

The tour starts at the Info Point in Sankt Johann. From there you walk down the street to the right, cross the Kitzbüheler Ache and leave the city shortly afterwards. After some time the ascent to the ridge of the Niederkaiser begins very slowly. It’s a good hour uphill – past the hermitage with the small chapel Maria Blut, where a nun shouted a happy “Grüß Gott” to me, and the Gmail chapel – until you reach the ridge at 1226 meters altitude. There you will be rewarded with a fantastic view – on your right you can admire the Wilder Kaiser and on your left you can enjoy the view down into the valley to St Johann in Tirol. On the other side it goes down again. A refreshing spritzer of herbs, peppermint or dandelion awaits you at the Bacheralm. Homemade, of course. And at more than fair prices of 2.50 euros for half a litre. From there it is not far to the small village of Gasteig. In about 1.5 hours you walk from there once around the Reitberg and then again 1.5 hours along the Kaiserbach in an idyllic scenery up to the Griesner Alm.

Highlight of the day: The Niederkaiserkamm! The view in both directions is so beautiful that I didn’t even know where to look first…

Koasa Trail Wilder Kaiser

 

Stage 2

For the second stage you can choose between two variants. The first has a length of 10 kilometers and leads you to the Hunds- and Stripsenkopf. Then you run along the ridge over the peaks Tristecken, Feldberg and Wasserlahnerkopf and over the Gamsgraben back into the valley. However, I decided for the shorter variant 2 (during my stay there was still quite a lot of snow on the route of variant 1), where you run to the Fischbachalm and from there up to the mountain. When you reach the top, you pass the Vorderen and Hinteren Ranggen Alm, both of which unfortunately offer no hospitality. Then the descent back to the Griesner Alm begins. In the airy heights of the two alps you have a perfect view of the mighty steep walls of the Wilder Kaiser. When I was there, there was still so much snow that the mountains glittered and sparkled like diamonds in the sun.

Highlight of the day: The Kaiserbachtal! But for me, the sight of the mountains that were within my grasp on this stage was also a highlight that accompanied me all the way.

Kuh am Koasa Trail vorm Wilden Kaiser Etappe 2

Stage 3

The third stage was a bit shorter for me because I spontaneously changed my accommodation. As beautiful as the Griesner Alm is, I still can’t do without Internet for two days. If you choose this accommodation, you will be stuck in a radio hole for two full days and even during the hike of the second stage you will at best have E-Net. So I moved to a hotel in Gasteig, which shortened stage 3 by about 5 kilometres. From Gasteig I went over the small village Hinterberg to the Teufelsgasse – a beautiful gorge, which the devil himself is said to have created, so that the sinful get lost in it. It had only been opened shortly before my arrival, because it had not been accessible before because of the masses of snow. Shortly after the Teufelsgasse a fantastic view of the valley opens up. After only a few bends you reach the Prostalm: a welcome refreshment is waiting for you here, along with another perfect view of the Wilder Kaiser. I took a good hour’s break before I climbed the last few metres up to the Prostkögel – the highest point of this stage. From there it was only downhill to Erpfendorf. Unfortunately I missed the turn-off because the sign had fallen down and I took a detour of about one kilometre to the neighbouring village of Weng. I admit that the descent with the detour was a physical challenge and the temperatures were around 30 degrees. I was more than happy when I finally got to the hotel and ended the day in the whirlpool.

Highlight of the day: The Teufelsgasse! The path is varied and offers a completely new landscape.

Teufelsgasse Koasa Trail

 

Stage 4

For the fourth stage you need endurance and I advise you to start very early. I started at 9am and it turned out to be quite late. The first kilometres make the stage seem harmless, as it goes through Erpfendorf and the neighbouring village without a strong ascent and then through the cool Griesbachklamm. At the end of the gorge you suddenly turn right and climb steeply through the forest. At the top, it’s not far to the Angerlalm, which not only provides the necessary refreshment, but at least has put a big grin on my lips: Several goats and a pig run around freely here and delight kids and grown ups alike. After about 45 minutes, I strapped on my backpack again and continued the ascent. It took me about 15 minutes to get to a gate that I opened. As I turned around, I saw a hiker just a few meters behind me, and I kept the gate open for him. He thanked me and immediately began to ask questions: “Where are you going?”, “Where are you coming from?”, “Are you on holiday? He quickly realized that we had the same path for a good three kilometers before he had to turn left and I had to turn right. He knew his way around incredibly well and even though his walking pace was too fast for me, I was happy about the company and his information about the trail and the surroundings. Nevertheless, I was also glad when our paths separated again. Because I was really out of breath through the fast pace uphill. When I looked into my app I got quite a shock: There were still 10 kilometres to my destination! Exhausted by the previous 9 kilometers and the brooding 33 degrees, before which I could hardly protect myself on the mountain ridge andw hen it went cross-country through the meadows, I went my way. I certainly took three more breaks, because I became more and more tired. Around 5pm I finally came to a road. At some point I met a herd of cows grazing peacefully on the side. Then I turned around the next bend. A black cow stood in the middle of the road and stared straight into my eyes. Suddenly she scratched with her hooves – like a bull ready to attack. I couldn’t really imagine that the cow would really attack, but as you know, better safe than sorry. So I flee under the fence into the high field on the other side of the road. The cow kept looking at me as I slowly fought my way through the high grass one step at a time. I was happy to leave the herd behind me and finally came near St. Johann. Shortly after 6pm I reached the hotel completely exhausted. It was my longest and most difficult hike ever.

Highlight of the day: The Griesbachklamm! Cool, beautiful and photogenic is this part of the Koasa Trail, which I liked best of all.

Griesbachklamm Koasa Trail

 

Stage 5

In consultation with my contact person from the Tirol Tourist Board I decided to take the last day slowly: Instead of the ascent I took the gondola to the Kitzbüheler Horn. The highlight of the day on stage 5 is a waterfall which you pass during the ascent. Unfortunately it was closed, so we would have had to bypass the area anyway. Therefore the gondola ride was an excellent alternative. From the gondola station to the Horn you can normally hike. However, this trail was still closed. The hard and long winter has really affected some stages of the Koasa Trail. Therefore this day trip consisted for me only of the descent to Oberndorf. Also the breaks at the two alps were nice: the Stanglalm and the Müllneralm.

Highlight of the day: Actually it should have been the waterfall as mentioned before, but as I couldn’t see it, my personal highlight was the gondola ride.

Gondel Koasa Trail

 

Koasa Trail – The hotels

Hotel Penzinghof

The hotel where my hiking tour in Tyrol began and ended combines alpine love and luxury. Wood determines the public spaces. Be sure to bring your swimsuit! You shouldn’t miss the infinity pool with a view of the Wilder Kaiser. And if you prefer it dry, there is even a relaxation room with comfortable beds from which you can enjoy the panoramic view.

Hotel Penzinghof Koasa Trail

 

Griesner Alm

The Griesner Alm is a place where time seems to have stood still. There is neither WIFI nor mobile Internet, but lots of good air and good food. The Alm is ideal if you want to switch off for a few days – in the truest sense of the word. You should also be aware that if you book the trail as a package this alp is intended for two nights.

Griesner Alm Koasa Trail

 

Hotel Kramerhof

Although the Hotel Kramerhof is furnished in a rustic style, it still offers modern facilities. For the little ones there is an adjoining horse farm. But I admit that even I was quite excited to open my eyes in the morning and see some horses grazing peacefully in front of the window. I’ve never seen such a sight before.

Kramerhof Koasa Trail

 

Vitalhotel Berghof

I really liked the Vitalhotel Berghof. The name says it all, so you feel like you’re on a farm in the mountains, but the little things that make your stay unforgettable are still there: for example the spa area and the whirlpool. But also the fact that you are greeted with a cheerful smile by the boss himself makes you feel at home.

Vitalhotel Berghof Koasa Trail

 

LTI Kaiserfels

The hotel in Sankt Johann is modern and especially in winter very well situated as it has a lift directly behind the house. It is also ideal for the Koasa Trail hike. However, it is a chain hotel and not a small family business.

LTI Kaiserfels Koasa Trail

 

Koasa Trail – Conclusion

For me, the Koasa Trail was a special experience. Not only did it bring me as a sea lover closer to the mountains. It also gave me a welcome physical effort. I already mentioned in my Venice article that my mother left us a little over a month ago. Through this experience with death, I felt for the first time a certain joy to have sore muscles. It showed me that I was alive. That my body works the way it should. I also had the feeling that my mother accompanied me on this path and discovered the beauty of Tyrol together with me.

Barbara Koasa Trail

I made another experience for the first time and I was deeply surprised: Since this was my first hike for more than two days, I did not know how quickly the muscles got used to the daily effort. But already on the third day my sore muscles became noticeably less instead of more. Even after the 19 kilometres of the fourth stage, it wasn’t my muscles that failed me, but rather my general energy, which was quickly used up in the high temperatures and demanded a quieter day.

I am grateful and glad that I was able to walk the Koasa Trail and hope that I will soon return to this beautiful region to discover more hiking trails and natural sites.

PS: I was invited by the Tourist Association Kitzbüheler Alpen St. Johann in Tirol. My opinion was not influenced by this cooperation.

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Venice in a Day – A Perfect Day in the Serenissima

Venice in a Day – A Perfect Day in the Serenissima

Venice in a Day – A Perfect Day in the Serenissima

My mother passed away on May 17th after a serious illness. On May 25th would have been her 62nd birthday, which she would have celebrated in Venice as it was her tradition. To honor her memory and to feel close to her once again, I went with my whole family to the Italian city of bridges over the weekend. Since we went there on Friday and back again on Sunday, we basically only had one day on site: May 25th.

Read here what we have seen and what you shouldn’t miss on a day in Venice:

Venice – From Serenissima to Mass Tourism

Until 1797, Venice was the capital of the Republic of Venice and until the 16th century even one of the largest trading powers in the world. Venice had the most merchant ships, but also warships, and was thus able to maintain its supremacy over the centuries. The city was incredibly rich, which is why we can still admire immeasurable cultural treasures in the lagoon city.

During this period Venice also received the title of La Serenissima Repubblica di San Marco (the most Serene Republic of Saint Mark). The title was initially given to the Doge – the ruler of Venice – and the nobles. After some time, however, it was extended to the entire republic.

Venice was incorporated into Italy in 1866 and has been the capital of the Italian province of Veneto ever since. It lies in the northeast of the country in the lagoon of Venice. Within this lagoon, there are 118 islands, of which only 11 are inhabited. The main island with the old town has 63,000 inhabitants, by far the highest number of all islands. Since 1987, both the city and the lagoon have been on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Today, Venice is more popular with tourists than ever before. Venice is on the bucket lists of travelers from all over the world and is also increasingly part of the itineraries of cruise ships. The new task is to master the balancing act between beauty and mass tourism.

 

Venice – How to Get There

  • By Plane: Venice has two airports. The city airport is called Marco Polo (the code is VCE) and is one of the busiest airports in Italy. The second one is about 40 kilometers away and is located near the city of Treviso (it has the code TSF).
  • By Train: Especially within Italy, traveling by train is cheap and fast. Venice’s train station is located at a vaporetto station, so you can get on a water bus directly if your accommodation is too far to walk to or if you want to start sightseeing immediately.
  • By Bus: Venice is easy to reach by bus and very well connected to other cities in Italy and all over Europe. I haven’t taken the bus to Venice yet, but I changed busses there already. I always use Flixbus.
  • By Car: This may seem strange at first, but since my parents came by car every single time, I want to add this possibility, too. If you drive over the Brenner Autobahn, you pay about 30 Euro motorway toll to Venice. From Mestre (one of two districts on Venice’s mainland) you drive over a bridge to the island of Tronchetto, where parking garages are waiting for the motorized visitors. These cost from 30 euros per day and you should reserve in advance. A pedestrian bridge will take you to the main island and you can either walk to your hotel or take a vaporetto – a water bus.

Venice – Sights

Since I only spent one day in Venice this time, my tips are focused on a day or weekend excursion with arrival on Friday and departure on Sunday.

The main island is the most touristic part of the city. There you will find famous sights like St. Mark’s Cathedral at St. Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace next to it, the Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs Ponte dei Sospiri. Be prepared that all these sights are crowded during the day.

 

St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Cathedral and St. Mark’s Tower

Since you will hardly go to Venice and then skip St. Mark’s Cathedral, you will have to live with the crowd. If you want to avoid it, I have a tip for you though: If you, like me, go to St Mark’s Square at sunrise, you will basically have it almost to yourself!

By the way, the tower is the bell tower of St. Mark’s Cathedral and is therefore also called St. Mark’s Tower. With 98 meters, it’s the highest building in Venice. Its top originally served as a lighthouse so that the ships could find their way safely to the lagoon’s harbor. In 1902 the tower collapsed after several earthquakes, but this was due to the fact that metal struts had been removed on the inside in order to build an elevator. The reconstruction, which used the original pile foundations that were 1000 years old but very well preserved, took nine years. The new tower was inaugurated on St Mark’s Day, on April 25th of 1913. Today, it is possible to go up to the bell tower via an elevator. But also this is still on my bucket list…

 

The Doge’s Palace

As already mentioned at the beginning, the ruler of the Republic of Venice was called Doge. The word is derived from the Latin word dux (leader). The first Doge was elected in 726. The Doge’s Palace next to St. Mark’s Basilica was the seat of government from the 9th century onwards and is still today a sign of the wealth, size and power of the lagoon city. This can be seen not only from the outside in the outstanding Venetian architecture but also in the stucco, gilded carvings and magnificent paintings inside. It is one of the most important Gothic secular buildings.

I must confess though, I’ve never been inside of the palace. Maybe I’ll change that during my next visit to the Serenissima.

 

The Bridge of Sighs

Also the Ponte dei Sospiri – the Bridge of Sighs – has a completely different effect in the early morning hours. The water lies smooth instead of being stirred up by gondolas that always glide past. If you’re there at 6am, you can even let your thoughts wander for a moment to the prisoners who long ago walked over the Bridge of Sighs and had a last look at the lagoon before they went to prison for the rest of their lives.

During the day, there is always a traffic jam of gondolas here since they start their tours through the small winding canals just around the corner.

 

The Rialto Bridge

The Rialto Bridge is one of only four bridges that cross the Grand Canal that separates the six districts called Sestieri: San Marco, Cannaregio, and Castello are on one side and Dorsoduro, San Polo, and Santa Croce on the other.

It’s so peaceful to sit at the Rialto Bridge at 6 am and take as many photos as you wish without bothering or being bothered by others.

This is the view from the Rialto bridge in the late morning after the city and its visitors woke up:

 

Murano

We took a vaporetto around 12 o’clock and went to the island Murano.

The island is famous above all for the art of glassmaking. In the early Middle Ages, glassmakers were banished to Murano because the people of Venice were afraid of the fire. Since then, the precious glass has been produced here and has become world famous.

My mother loved the Murano glass and wanted a chandelier for our living room. I would like to fulfill this wish posthumously sometime.

 

Burano

Even if we didn’t have a lot of time left, we didn’t want to miss a visit to the island Burano. Around 3 pm we took a vaporetto which takes about 30 minutes to go from Murano to Burano. The colorful houses are simply too beautiful to miss. If you’re looking for a peaceful place away from the crowds – maybe this is the place to choose.

What is the art of glassmaking in Murano is the lace in Burano. Here you can see elder ladies making lace. This is the main theme in every shop. Whether decorative items or clothes… Here everything is made of white cloth.

My mother loved to dig her way through the shops here and it wasn’t until her last visit that she got hold of an embroidered painting of “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt, which hangs in our living room. It was a strange feeling when my father showed us exactly where she had bought it.

Around 6 o’clock we made our way back towards the main island. There we planned to do one of the highlights of the day:

 

A Gondola Ride in Venice

Yeah, it’s kitschy. But shouldn’t a little kitsch and cliché be on the agenda in a city like Venice? I do think so!

The prices for a gondola ride are as far as I know the same everywhere and not negotiable: At all gondola stations of the city, there are signs with prices saying that the small tour (called Giro Turistico) costs 80 Euro until 7 pm and afterward 100 Euro. The so-called Giro Completo costs 120 Euro or 150 Euro.

Gondelfahrt Venedig

With a little luck like us, you will catch a gondolier, who was singing a traditional song about love and longing. Simply beautiful!

 

Venice – Hotel

During the weekend we stayed in this hotel: Hotel Santa Lucia. The hotel is small, but nice and is only a few minutes walk from the train station or the multi-story car parks. But it is a long way to St. Mark’s Square. Still, in my opinion, the price-performance ratio was right. We paid 540 euros for two rooms with a total of five persons and two nights including breakfast.

You want to see other accommodation options for Venice? Check out these platforms: Booking*, Tripadvisor*, Airbnb* or Hostelworld*!

 

Venice – Where to go Next

Venice is ideal if you want to explore Italy further or if you want to travel further to the southeast of Europe. Here are a few examples of the cities that would work well:

  • Milan: Milan is the perfect destination, especially for shopping fans. But also culture enthusiasts will enjoy the Cathedral of Milan or the Scala.
  • Verona: The home of Romeo and Juliet is an ideal place for a weekend trip. Even if you are not an opera lover, the Arena di Verona is absolutely worth a visit. The atmosphere is unique and it is a very special experience.
  • Florence: In 2009, I spent half a year in Florence. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it back there to write an article about this beautiful city that is definitely in my top 3 Italian cities – with Palermo and Rome!
  • Ljubljana: The Slovenian capital is a pearl of peace. From here you can either explore Slovenia or travel further south. For example to Rovinj.
  • Rovinj: I fell in love with Rovinj when I was there for a week last year. The charming old town on its own peninsula is simply picturesque and the sunsets are a dream. From Venice, you can either take the FlixBus to Rovinj or a ferry. Alternatively, do it like me and go on a motorcycle road trip through Croatia.

And even if this is not just around the corner, as a half Sicilian I would like to mention my favorite island: Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and an absolute beauty.

 

Venice – Final Thoughts

For my family and me, this was a special and important journey where we experienced the places my mother loved so much and visited every year on her birthday. On the one hand, it was a farewell for us, but on the other hand, it also showed that we can feel close to her at any time by going to her favorite places.

But Venice is always worth a visit. I have been there three times now and even if it is crowded and in many corners anything but clean, I feel Venice is an absolute must-see in Italy and even in Europe. I continue to be impressed every time I stand in front of St Mark’s Basilica, walk through the many alleys across the bridges or take a vaporetto across the Canal Grande admiring the old walls from the water. The city is and remains unique and I hope to travel there many more times.

PS: All links with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links.

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The Vienna House Easy Berlin

The Vienna House Easy Berlin

The Vienna House Easy Berlin

This year, I went for the fourth time to ITB – the International Tourism Fair & Exhibition in Berlin. After testing the Vienna House Andel’s Berlin last year, it was now its little sister’s turn – the Vienna House Easy. I came directly from an event in Sweden to the German capital and after the two nights in the Vienna House Easy I did a House Sit in Berlin Mitte for two weeks.

Vienna House Easy Berlin – The Hotel

Adjacent to the hip Berlin district Friedrichshain, in the middle of the bustling Prenzlauer Berg, next to the Vienna House Andel’s the little sister of the hotel group awaits you: The Vienna House Easy Berlin. Here Viennese charm meets Berlin casualness. Bright colours, carpets with the course of the Berlin Wall, rooms full of history and personality characterize this charming hotel.

Check out the facts:
  • 154 rooms
  • Breakfast lounge
  • 24/7 deli, bar and a small shop
  • 3 conference rooms
  • Mobile concierge
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Parkinglot

The location of the hotel is not only perfect as a starting point for discovery tours in this part of the city, but also for Berlin’s classics. The tram stops just 100 meters from the entrance, so you’ll be wherever you want to go in no time.

 

Vienna House Easy Berlin – The Rooms

The rooms are brightly coloured and the furniture is the perfect mix of cosy, cool and comfortable. The beds are huge, so you can spread out wonderfully with all your belongings. The best way to open your laptop is on your desk. Otherwise the small armchair with the foot rest offers the possibility for relaxed working.

The cotton bag signals that you are committed to sustainability and that your room does not need to be cleaned. You just have to hang the bag on the door before midnight.

 

Vienna House Easy Berlin – Breakfast Lounge

In the style of a bakery, the breakfast lounge offers the opportunity to start the day in a healthy way and charged with energy.

Also here, bright colors will put a smile on your face. Since there is enough space, you don’t have to worry about not getting a place even during rush hours. If you like it particularly quiet, you should be there as early as possible though.

 

 

Vienna House Easy Berlin – Deli, Bar and Small Shop

Right next to the reception, there is a deli, a bar and a small shop. These offer snacks or something hearty for in betweenaround the clock. Whether a lemonade from Berlin or a longdrink from Long Island…. There is something for every taste.

Even if you want to work in a comfy environment, this is a good place: During my time at Vienna House Easy, I saw several people with laptops looking into their computers.

There is also an official coworking corner down here. If you want it a bit more official, you can rent one of the three conference rooms. There you can brainstorm as a team, hold press conferences or present new products. Just the way you like it. Meetings are made easy here

 

Vienna House Easy Berlin – Final Thoughts

I spent two great days at the Vienna House Easy Berlin. In the room, I felt very comfortable and enjoyed working on my laptop in a comfy armchair. The small shop was also available with tasty snacks when I came back late at night from the Kizomba party. And my personal, so far unmentioned highlight was that I could use the spa of the Vienna House Andel’s on the other side of the street. This pleasure is not included in the price of the overnight stay in the Easy, but it’s worth it if you have a hard day behind you.

With the right mixture of ‘getting-shit-done’ and relaxation everything runs more smoothly…. Don’t you think?

PS: I was invited by Vienna House to two nights with breakfast. The invitation was also for a treatment in the spa. I did not receive any financial compensation. My opinion is not influenced by this collaboration.

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