Located in the Western Austrian state of Tyrol, and surrounded by nature's beauty in the form of the famed Alps, lies one of Europe's hot spots for outdoor activity, Innsbruck. On this beautiful weekend in August, we chose to explore one of the hiking options of this area. As a gal from a very "plain" area of the states, I admit that mountains and greenery impress me to a higher degree than most. Judging from the wide-eyed and jaw dropping looks of many other visitors, I think it's safe to say that even the most seasoned of "outdoorsy" folk can appreciate the gorgeous backdrop of the Innsbruck area.
Hiking is a big deal in the Alpine areas of Europe. In my time living here, I have realized the best way to get the most out of the cultural experiences is to "do as the locals do".
Steps to hiking like a local:
1. Dress yourself head to toe in supreme outdoor gear, specifically optimized for hiking. This includes thick socks, ankle support hiking boots, pants with at least 12 pockets (bonus if the bottom half can be unzipped, leaving you in shorts), an undershirt, a plaid button up top (moisture wicking of course), a rain coat, sporty sunglasses, and more than likely, a wide brimmed hat.
2. Carry a pair of overpriced and seemingly-unnecessary walking poles.
3. Don't forget your backpack filled with Lord knows what? Even if it's a 1 hour hike, you need to pack provisions for a week and enough first aid supplies for an organ transplant, just in case...
4. Last but certainly not least, dish out aggressive and non-wavering eye contact to anyone who enters your line of vision who has dared to not prepare themselves to the level that you have for this afternoon of non-competitive fitness walking. How could they?!
Well, to many German and Austrian's horror, we showed up for the hike looking American AF. A messy bun, ray-ban aviators, Lulu Lemon, and Nike's seemed sufficient to me. Spoiler alert: I enjoyed the hike just as much as my European counterparts, even without the walking poles.
The Wolfsklamm Gorge in Stans, Austria provides beautiful lush scenery, especially on a sunny day when the sun beams through the canopy of leaves above. Sounds magical right? It is. What makes it even better is the sound of soothing water and a beautiful waterfall.
Contrary to the set up of traditional "hikes", the gorge is lined with (at times, steep) wooden steps, which are rather narrow! There's a lot of shuffling past fellow outdoor enthusiasts and exchanges of, "entschuldigung, danke schoen!"
A few notes if you're planning to hike the Wolfsklamm Gorge: parking is scarce near the entrance, you're more likely to find a spot down the road in town, at about a 5 minute walk. Second, don't leave all your euros in the car, there is a 4.50 euro fee for entry to be paid just before your entrance to the foot path. Third, there is a bathroom at the entry booth. Use it, or be prepared to be moderately uncomfortable from all the sounds of fresh running water on the hike!
Meanwhile, back in Innsbruck- it's lovely! The city is relatively quiet when we are here, given that we are hanging in a ski town during the Summer. The absence of neon-clad ski bunnies gave me the opportunity to observe the locals, drawing comparisons to the locals in seasonal kitschy tourist towns of America. The Austrian locals don't wear airbrushed T-shirts but I did see a mullet hair-do, so apparently that small town trend knows no cultural boundaries. It's a small world, after all. The city was also clean, safe, and charming- a huge plus for myself and my pack of girlfriends.
Get a taste of culture at the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum or admire the Schloss Ambras... or take it easy and stroll the streets and parks as we did. Hopefully along your route, you'll made a stop to see the scene from the Inn River. If you can imagine, it is even more picturesque in person than the postcards and Pinterest posts!
Taking in the scenic view from the Inn River. The tips of the Alps disappearing into the fluffy clouds made for a perfect backdrop against the colorful buildings!
Though Summer in Innsbruck was quite enjoyable, I am looking forward to a visit back in during ski season so I can make a total @$$ of myself on the slopes. As long as I look cute doing it, right? Last but not least, word on the street is that using the above mentioned walking poles can help you burn up to 40% more calories during your hike. BRB going to go buy some walking poles....
BON VOYAGE, BABES! xoxo