My plan was to go to Innsbruck. I was on a roll booking my trek through Austria and stumbled upon this really neat looking hostel called Doug’s Mountain Getaway, Innsbruck, or so it was labeled on Hostelworld. The day before arriving I was doing my usual research on how to get from the train station to the hostel when I discovered the hostel was actually about a 30 minute bus ride south of Innsbruck, in a town called Fulpmes. Well, not the plan but the hostel looked really fun so to Fulpmes I went.
The initial draw to Innsbruck was primarily that it sat in a valley within the Austrian Alps, it was host to the Winter Olympics twice (‘64 and ‘76), and the old town was supposed to be very picturesque. Otherwise I hadn’t really done much research; I was just hoping for some clear days to take the cable car/hike up the mountains and enjoy some viewpoints.
Well Fulpmes also sits within the Austrian Alps in the state of Tyrol, and with the exception of an “old town”, has everything Innsbruck has for cheaper. Long story short, all I saw of Innsbruck was a quick 15 minute lap I did prior to my bus out of Innsbruck because I was having way too much fun in Fulpmes. Pictures from my rainy 15 minute tour of Innsbruck:
I arrived Wednesday night and Thursday was forecast to be a sunny 75° F, so Thursday morning I joined a group from the hostel for a “glacier hike”. I was told, “we’re going on a long hike, there’s a lake near the top that everyone jumps in, and there is a glacier and pretty views”. I don’t know why, but I didn’t really ask any questions, I just packed some food and water and followed. Here’s a screenshot of my iPhone pedometer from that day:
The distance and steps aren’t that special, but 325 floors is a lot. We climbed, and climbed, and climbed, and after 2.5 hours we reached the lake where I succumbed to peer pressure and jumped in a lake that couldn’t have been much over freezing. How many chances in life do you have to jump in a glacial lake, right?
Left to right: Ronan (Aussie), Scott (Aussie), Stephen (Irish, works at hostel), Tiernan (Stephen’s cousin), me, Mo (Canadian). Mo’s girlfriend Jenna took the picture, she didn’t get to be in it because she didn’t jump in!
Then we climbed for another 90 minutes or so before reaching a sort of summit, where the views were just breathtaking.
I’m told the below picture is the glacier. Until climbing this mountain I don’t think I knew the difference between a glacier and an iceberg, except I knew the Titanic hit an iceberg… well a glacier is a slowly moving mass or river of ice formed by the accumulation and compaction of snow on mountains. So there you have it:
Then came the fun part. Hiking down was really more of a climb down, where carabiners were probably strongly recommended (we didn’t have them), and where the snow wasn’t completely melted (I was wearing Nike’s, not hiking boots). Let’s just leave it at, it was scary, but I’m alive.
That night it snowed, and the next day it was semi clear, so I joined two others from the hostel to go skiing/snowboarding. It was only when we were in the car on the way there that I learned one had never skied in his life, and the other had skied once before several years ago…
They didn’t want to pay for a lesson, so we decided to just go up and see what happened. It wasn’t pretty and was very slow going (and my snowboarding friends know that I’m no speed demon). Luckily, as they were both carrying their skis down to a flatter part of the run, a half Austrian half Italian skier stopped and asked if they’d like a quick five minute lesson. He then spent over an hour with Scott yelling things like “plow!” and “hug the fat man!” I asked why he says “plow” and not “pizza”, like I had learned. He said “saying ‘pizza’ is stupid, in Italy, pizzas are round”. Once they were both safely in the lesson, I stole some time away to explore the mountain a little. I didn’t expect my October trip to the Alps would lead to snowboarding, but am so glad it did.
The next day, wouldn’t you know it, the sun was out again! I joined another group to hike up a different peak to go tobogganing. I had seen this in a blog or two when I was researching things to do in Innsbruck. I vaguely remember seeing something about an Alpine Coaster in Tyrol, which I had marked as “a day trip from Innsbruck” in my notes. Well, turns out I stayed in Tyrol and that Alpine Coaster was just a 1.5 hour uphill hike away, and just might be the highlight of my Fulpmes stay. The hike up was stunning:
For the toboggan, you get on this plastic yellow seat which hardly seems attached to the skinny rail, the seatbelt is like an airplane seat belt, all of the instructions and signs are in German (most with big red X’s on them, meaning unknown…), and the guy running it just kind of laughs as you get on…all you have is this lever in front of you that when pushed forward makes you go faster, and when pulled towards you slows you down. The guys I was with had been before, and convinced me that you can push it forward the whole time, and am proud to say I did that, with just one spot where fear got the best of me and I let up a little. All in all it was about 5 minutes down, which is a long time to be falling down a mountain. It was so fun, I’m still smiling thinking about it.
So those were my three days in Fulpmes! Glacier hike, snowboarding in the Alps, and tobogganing. But what about at night, you ask? Oh, well, the hostel had a hot tub, a sauna, guitar hero, Super Nintendo, Netflix, and some really fun decorations.
There were multiple times during these three days where I looked out at the Alps (they seem to be in front of you all the time no matter which direction you look), and thought “what is this life!?” Sorry no food pictures for this post. I had free cereal and eggs in the morning, salami and cheese sandwiches for lunch, and pasta for dinner.
Here’s a few more pictures from my time there:
Yesterday I took the bus to Munich and have almost a full week here. I’ve already done a Third Reich walking tour, so get ready for some history lessons in my next post!