We travelled to Austria last summer, in that little window of time when the pandemic had eased slightly and travel restrictions were not so heavy. It was a strange time to be travelling. All masked up, we took a train across the border to a little town, called Lermoos, located in Tyrol, Austria. We chose the destination primarily because of COVID-19 and hoped that we would be allowed back to Germany with no complications. We gave ourselves plenty of time either side of the trip, in case of quarantines. We chose a hotel that did not make us pay a deposit and a small town, so that we were not mixing with crowds of people. We even planned to hire bikes as our primary means of transport.
COVID-19 certainly has changed the way we travel! I almost felt guilty posting photos of this trip back then, knowing that so many people around the world were suffering from the pandemic. I look back on pre-pandemic travels and realise how lucky we were, travelling anywhere, any time. Nonetheless, this special golden week of summer was one to remember. I am missing travel, like I am sure many of you are, and writing about it is the next closest thing.
So, let me take you on a virtual trip to the Austrian Alps last summer.
Where to Stay
As this was probably going to be our last holiday for the year (which it was), we decided to treat ourselves to a self-contained apartment in a historic residence. Ansitz Felsenheim was built over 300 years ago and was full of charm and outstanding hospitality.
We feasted on breakfasts cooked by our host, Benedict. He used herbs fresh from the garden, and lots of local produce in the meals. These luxury breakfasts were served in our room, or on the balcony overlooking the Zugspitze.
Please note that in winter, prices go through the roof, as the hotel is located right at the base of the ski slopes! We travelled in summer, when it was much more affordable.
How to Get Around
When the ski slopes are closed and the summer days begin, the whole area becomes a mountain biker’s paradise. Be sure to book your bikes before arrival. We did not. After calling around, the bikes in all of the local towns were booked out and we had to catch a train across the border to Garmisch-Partenkirchen to secure a booking! Thankfully, it was a beautiful ride back to Lermoos, and we enjoyed it immensely. I would highly recommend an e-mountain bike. The extra power boosts you up the hill and allows you to travel longer distances.
Taking the Hochmoos Express
In Lermoos, you can catch the Hochmoos Express to the top Grubigstein. The hills really are alive with the sound of music. Sheep nibble on green pastures, scattered with wildflowers. Mountain bike trails wind all over the mountain, though we had not secured our bikes yet, so we caught the chairlift instead. At the top, we ate sausages, drank beer and pretended we had been on a long hike, as we let the refreshingly icy wind blast our faces.
Exploring the Tracks Around Biberwier
When we finally got our bikes and cycled back to Lermoos, it was pouring with rain! The next day, the rain continued, but it eventually cleared in the afternoon and we took our bikes towards some lakes near Biberwier. We discovered lots of MTB routes and zoomed down the narrow paths, splashing through puddles along the way. A warm spa and hearty Austrian snacks that evening never felt so good.
The Longest Tibet-Style Footbridge in the World
The next day was sunny and we intended to make the most of it! We set off on the bike path towards Reutte, where we planned to cross the Highline 179, the longest Tibet-style footbridge in the world (as named by the Guinness Book of Records).
We parked our bikes at the base of a cliff and hiked up a narrow path to Fort Claudia. From there, we crossed Highline 179, which spanned 403 metres across to the Ehrenburg Castle ruins.
Touring the Lakes
Next, we made our way towards the sparkling waters of Heiterwangersee and Plansee. The views of both lakes were magical, though I did start to regret our decision to cycle the whole way around them, as the light faded and we pedalled through the forest with no phone reception.
We passed a farmer herding his jersey cows along the road, and were relieved to finally make it back home on dark. That night, we drank Elderflower wine and collapsed in bed, exhausted from the long journey.
Riding up the Zugspitze
From Ehrwald, you can walk up to the Tiroller-Zugspitzbahn and ride across the border to the top of the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. Keen hikers clung to the mountain as we zoomed passed, admiring the view of the Eibsee far below.
Eventually, we were floating up above the clouds. There were many tourists at the top, so we just had a short walk around the museum, admired the snow and headed back down again. I like to imagine the times when hikers were first conquering this impressive peak. What an accomplishment it must have been!
Swimming at Eibsee
The following day, we were fortunate to have another sunny day. We cycled through Grainau to visit Eibsee from ground level. We were not the only ones here. People were swimming, paddle-boarding, and lounging about on the shore. The water was so clear you could see right to the bottom.
Paragliding in Lermoos
That afternoon, after returning our bikes, we saw a paraglider landing in the fields, and others floating in the sky above. It was nice to watch them, free as birds, floating through this picture-perfect landscape. But paragliding would have to wait for another trip for us. It was our last afternoon in Lermoos and we would be travelling back to Germany the next day.
I am sure that we will be able to travel freely again in the future, but until that day comes, I hope you enjoyed this little snippet of an adventure from past times.
Have you been to Lermoos? What were your highlights?