Saturday, 14 July 2012

Amazing Austria

Our quiet bus of post-party travellers stopped at the foot of the Austrian hills in Tyrol, where we had a morning of white water rafting!

We disembarked the bus, got into our thermal wet suits and each grabbed a corner of a raft to carry them down to the riverside. The scene looked like a Zombie apocalypse of tourists carrying boats to the river...until we got in the FREEZING, fresh water from the mountain springs!

The water is incredibly clean and healthy to drink straight out the river, which we all did! Rafts in the water, we started our move downstream with safety briefings up first, starting with another unexpected dip into the river for man-overboard. With all safety stuff done, we got paddling (not that we needed to with the current).

From the moment we got into the river, which was pretty much at the foot of the mountain it flows through, the views were beyond spectacular, really making a person feel belittled by nature, but as we got further down the river, the views only got better!

We had a few rough sections but nothing too extreme, with the main memory for me being the amazing natural terrain of Austria. It really is the most beautiful place I've ever seen, on a post-card and in real life.

After an hour of rafting and gasping at the perfect scenery, we beached at their end base, greeted with a traditional 'not for sissies' Austrian Schnapps! A group photo and lunch later, we were back on the bus to thaw our extremities for some more incredible sights in the town of Tyrol, where our hotel is.

The next stop was the Swarovski Crystal world, aka girls' dream world... Shiny stuff covers nearly everything except the grass outside! It was quite impressive, I appreciate fine craftsmanship and Swarovski seem to have that skill finely tuned as they show off in their crystal museum.

A quick drive and we were back in the mountains at our hotel. We had a few free hours to walk the, almost intimidating, valley of what can only be God's artwork.

After seeing some of the clean, modern but historic village, we had a swim in the pool under some warm Austrian sunset and, after supper, boarded the Schnapps train for a trip around the village to see the sights up close.

The 50s style old steam train (which was actually a converted tractor with trailers) arrived and hauled the lot of us up the steep hills into the mountains for the evening. A couple of stops at some local mountain top Schnapps brewers, and a whole lot of scenery admiring later, we clocked in for an early night.

The next morning we got up early to a misty Austria, still as beautiful as ever, but with an eery blanket over the hills. We, unfortunately had to leave, but it is definitely a place I want to return to.

Next stop - Venice and Rome, Italy!

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