Waking up in a log cabin in the mountains was as therapeutic as it sounds, and to savour the moment I opened up all the curtains in the cabin and jumped back into bed for another five minutes, enjoying staring out at the view from my cosy spot.
With our hike looming, we filled out tummies with eggs, toast and caffeine, and packed our shared bag with lots of water and energy-boosting snacks. We didn’t really know how long we’d be out for and wanted to be prepared.
The route we were taking started from the top of our road, and wound through the mountains to a place called Rauschbrunnen, where we planned to have lunch in a traditional but very simple beer house in the mountains, overlooking the city. Our host had advised that there were two possible routes to take, and we should make sure we took one over the other, because “the other” was only for experienced hikers with the right equipment.
You might be able to spot where this is going…
Reaching the top of the street, we were faced with two paths: one continued up a very boring-looking road, while the second looked far more scenic (and pretty harmless). After speaking to two other hikers coming our way, who told us it was safe to take the second path and to follow them, we set off.
It took about 10 minutes for me to realise that we’d taken “the other” path; the one only for experienced hikers. I scrambled up mini-waterfalls and steep rock faces, spending most of the time on my hands and knees, using them to climb up the tricky terrain. We got higher and higher, and the path eventually evened out and I started to relax. We stayed on a fairly level path for a little while, before seeing another huge incline we’d have to tackle. We were up quite high now, and it was getting a little more difficult to catch my breath, presumedly because of the altitude.
By this point, we’d caught up to the hikers in front of us – Franzi and Lucas – who were students living in Innsbruck. They told us they hike in the mountains nearly everyday, which made me feel a lot better about struggling so much! After climbing up a near-vertical stretch of the mountain along a rocky path, Franzi and Lucas told us to take the fork to the right, while they continued further up the mountain, and said they’d see us at Rauschbrunnen for lunch.
After Franzi and Lucas kept walking and there were no other hikers to be seen, our confidence took a bit of a hit and we spent the next hour or so thinking we were lost, tentatively walking along the side of the cliff in between regular stops for Ross to take photos and to debate how we could still make it to our lunch spot. As the walk continued, the path declined further back towards the city, and we finally saw some markings for Rauschbrunnen. At this, we eagerly picked up the pace, with big grins on our face and grumbling tummies.
We arrived at our destination feeling victorious, and took a seat in the beer garden. Our friends had somehow beaten us there, and you could see the relieved look on their faces when when they saw us walk in. They told us they thought we’d gotten lost and were going to wait another 15 minutes before heading out to find us!
The view over the city was really beautiful, and it was rather satisfying being able to see just how high up we had climbed.
We ordered a beer each and, upon recommendation, some kaspressknödel – cheese and potato dumpling – which was really tasty and just what a couple of hungry hikers needed.
We sat with our new friends and learned that they’re both originally from Germany and have lived in the city for a few years while they study. I asked them if they still appreciated what a beautiful place Innsbruck is, or if they’d gotten used to it, and they told me they still feel lucky to live there and try to get out into the mountains as much as possible (either on foot or on skis during winter).
After chatting for a little while, they had to get going so Franzi would be on time for her shift at a bar, but she suggested that we join her where worked – a bar in town called Da Vincenzo. We stayed a little longer to enjoy the view, and then walked down the mountain via a different and far more leisurely path, which ran around a little church, people’s gardens and fields of donkeys.
We headed home for a shower and a moment to breathe, before trying out the bar we’d been recommended. The owner was Sardinian, and there was a great menu with a selection of wine and cheese from this region. There was a lot of Italian influence in Innsbruck, but this bar was hidden away from the main tourist track and we were pleased to have found ourselves there.
After filling up on caper berries, cheese and traditional Sardinian flatbread, we made our way to Die Pizzerei for some more carbs in a buzzy, modern pizzeria. After, with our poor little legs too tired to carry on, we headed home in a taxi and drifted off soundly to sleep.