A little while ago we visited the Tirol region
of western Austria, one of the most stunning areas in Europe.
And in this video I’d like to give you a flavour of our experience there. So, I’ll
show you the mountains to the west of Innsbruck and take you round a typical mountain lake
in Tirol, I’ll give you a quick tour of the hotel where we stayed, you’ll hear a
very large bell, and finally I’ll take you on a hike with the most amazing views of the
Winter Olympics region. Now, if you’re wondering where Tirol is, well, it’s in the western
bit of Austria and it’s sort of sandwiched between Italy and Germany. When we arrived at our hotel above the mountain
village of Mösern, we couldn’t stop looking at the mountains. The views across the Inn
valley, about 30 kilometres west of Innsbruck, are nothing short of spectacular.
And you get a different view every time you look – misty or clear, the mountains always
have a new aspect. The wispy mist floating along the valley offers glimpses of the mountains
behind and gives the place a natural grandeur. And when the clouds clear you can see the
immense majesty of the place. We wanted a relaxing place to stay on our
trip, so we found ourselves at the Nidum Casual Luxury Hotel, about 30 kilometres from Innsbruck.
It’s friendly and informal and that’s just what we wanted. I particularly liked
the wooden construction of the hotel, which seemed just right for its situation nestled
in the forests overlooking the valley. This area has hosted the Winter Olympics. It’s
prime skiing country in the winter, with plenty of hotels catering for skiers. But once the
snow has gone, this is great hiking country. On the extensive hotel terrace, we had great
views across the valley to the mountains. This is a pretty cool spot for a drink or
a snack. And on the next level up there’s another large terrace, which is part of the
hotel’s Spa and Beauty Centre. You can just throw on a bath robe and chill out on a lounger
or bean bag. Or maybe jump in the pool for a bit. We loved the infinity pool here. It
connects through to another pool inside so you can enjoy a swim whatever the weather. The Spa here has several saunas. Austrians
absolutely love saunas. This one is reached across a short bridge and is well worth a
visit. If you’re not used to saunas, don’t be afraid to remove all of your clothes. And
when you sit down on the bench inside, make sure you’re sitting on your towel and not
on the wood itself. And this is the spacious reception area of
the Nidum Hotel. When we arrived at the hotel, we heard two words every traveller loves to
hear: Free Upgrade! So it seemed like we might be in for a treat as we rode the elevator
up the outside of the building to the 5th floor and our room. Well, we were not disappointed. The room was
actually a spacious suite on the corner of the building with an extended balcony and
more amazing views across the Inn valley. The suite was spotless, the bed was comfy,
and even the wifi was good. We were very happy with the food here too.
There are three dining rooms at the Nidum. The food is the same in each and we were given
a seat in one of the dining rooms for the duration of our stay. We opted for the half
board, which included a buffet breakfast so substantial that we didn’t really need lunch.
But then an afternoon snack was included – an extra, relatively light meal available at
the buffet between lunchtime and dinner! And dinner was superb. A number of tasty and well-presented
courses were delivered by our friendly waiter. I must say that all the staff here are very
attentive and without being overbearing. A good range of desserts was available from
the buffet and, if we had any room left, there was also a huge selection of cheese. I should
have mentioned that you pay for alcoholic drinks separately, and you can spend a lot
on wine here if you want to. But there’s also a selection of excellent beers at a fair
price. There’s a bar here too, of course. And there
was live music one weekend evening during our stay. A great way to chill out after that
substantial evening meal! So, with all that food inside us perhaps we
needed a bit of exercise. A quick stroll between the hotel and the village of Mösern is perfect
for that. There is quite a lot of traffic on this steep, twisting route – including
buses – so it’s a good idea to be careful crossing the road. But it’s very pretty
and it seems like every building has a balcony full of abundant flowers. The village also
has a pretty church with the mountains as a spectacular backdrop. Mösern is known as
the Swallow’s Nest of Tirol. And from here you can enjoy a more open view of the Inn
valley. Mösern also has the impressively huge Peace
Bell or Friedensglocke. The cast bronze bell, which weighs more than ten tons, hangs on
an exposed hill on the edge of the village at an elevation of about 1250 metres above
sea level. It’s difficult to miss really, and tourists come in buses to experience it.
And so we shared the experience with a busload of French-speaking people. The inscription
on the edge of the bell translates as “I ring for good neighbourly relations and for
peace in the Alpine countries”. It rings at 5 pm daily and the sound carries right
up and down the valley. With a diameter of 2.54 metres and a height of 2.51 metres, the
bell is truly an imposing sight to behold. And its ring can be heard from far away. So,
you’ll hear it before you see it. We did, anyway. Of course, you’ll hear lots of smaller bells
too. These ones were attached to the local sheep grazing in the meadow behind our hotel.
I’d half expected to see a herd of cows. Wikipedia tells me that cow bells are worn
by freely roaming animals to scare off predators. And they are, in fact, used on a wide variety
of animals. In a neighbouring field, horses grazed contentedly. I reckon the grass is
pretty good up here! This track, next to the field behind our hotel,
was the beginning of our hikes. There are thousands of pretty lakes in Austria, big
and small. And the path took us towards the Möserer See, one of the smaller ones. It
was just a short walk from our hotel or a 15-minute walk from Mösern, and it’s part
of a nature conservation area. We were pleased to see plenty of information boards, which
helped us to learn about the local area. The Möserer See is up to 11 metres deep in places
and it is one of the warmest bathing lakes in the Tirol. Lake bathing is very popular
in Austria in the summer but we were too busy exploring the area on foot to go swimming. The lake is surrounded by idyllic forests.
And there are some minor trails to explore. Away from the lake, we followed the waymarks on
the trees in order to avoid getting lost. And there was also excellent mobile phone
coverage here to help pinpoint our location. I found it intensely peaceful and relaxing
to stop next to a stream draining from the lake and just listen to the water for a while. But walking around the lake itself, it was almost too busy at times. We were here on a Saturday and Sunday; maybe it’s less crowded during the week. The traditional lakeside restaurant here – the Möserer Seestube – apparently serves mouth-watering Tirolean cuisine. But
to be honest, we were so full of hotel food that we had no room left to try the food here. After exploring the lake, we decided to investigate
the Eiszeit – or Ice Age – Trail. The Eiszeit Trail itself is very well marked and maintained and there are numerous information boards at stops along the way with information in
German, Italian and English. At this one we learned about the huge pressure exerted on the land by thick layers of ice, and there’s an interactive element to play with too. And at this one we learned how ice carved out glacial valleys among the mountains of the
Seefeld high plateau over almost 1 million years, whilst at the same time we admired the
actual mountains in front of us. It’s worth noting that the start of this
trail is easily accessible from the road, with car parking nearby. Long stretches of
the trail are used by mountain bikers and it’s popular with runners too, as well as
family groups. This section is quite wide, and we could see that maintenance work was
in progress as we hiked upwards. However, other sections are much narrower and quite
uneven. I should add here that for experienced, moderately fit hikers this is not a difficult
hike and no special equipment is needed apart from sensible clothes and good boots. I should
also add that we found it incredibly hot hiking here, so we drank plenty of water and wore
Factor 50 sun protection. As we got higher the views became steadily
more spectacular, with views opening up across the Wettersteingebirge, or Wetterstein Mountains,
a range popular with mountaineers and climbers. A little further on and we finally reached
the highlight at the end of the trail, the Himmelskino, or Sky Theater platform. You
get a fabulous view across Austria’s Winter Olympics region from here. The platform is
quite large and there’s plenty of room to sit down and rest. And we were happy to have
such good weather with very good visibility. I felt like I could almost reach out and touch
the mountains across the valley. Going back downhill into the valley was faster, of course,
and exercised some of the muscles that missed out on the way up. It was worth it. And if
I wasn’t so fit before, well, I was fitter afterwards, and the memory of that panorama will stay with me forever. Getting to the Mösern area probably means travelling by
road, at least from Innsbruck, and if you’re in a car then it’s worth bearing a few things
in mind. Of course, if you’re driving around here
the roads can be rather steep, and low gears are needed. Some roads have runaway truck
lanes in case of brake failure. From November to mid-April, wintry conditions require winter
tyres, and some roads are impassable without snow chains.
There are spectacular views from the Autobahn but there will be be traffic jams in the summer
and the junctions round Innsbruck had us confused though we did manage to avoid driving to Italy
by mistake. Innsbruck is the nearest major air and rail-travel
hub for Mösern, and this part of the world is definitely one to consider adding to your
travel plans. So, I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief visit
to the Austrian Tirol. It seems appropriate to add here that this was not a paid review
of the Nidum Hotel. We just liked it a lot and I think that they deserve to be recognised
for running a great hotel. You might not want to stay there if you’re on really tight
budget, but if you fancy splashing out for somewhere special, this might just be the
place for you. For our trip, we decided to drive to the Tirol using the Autobahn. Now,
don’t forget that you need to buy a Vignette or highway toll sticker to display on the
inside of your windscreen to drive legally on the Autobahn in Austria, otherwise you’ll
get a hefty fine. You can get these at petrol stations, Post Offices and various other places
or order them online. On one occasion we bought one from a service station in Germany as we
approached the Austrian border, so if you’ve left it a bit late – don’t worry, you can
still get one! Well, that’s all for this video. I hope
you enjoyed it. If you did, please click the “Like” button below and subscribe to my
channel, and maybe leave some comments in the Comments section below. I hope to see
you again very soon with more from Austria, and in the meantime you can follow me on Twitter
and on Facebook. So, that’s all for now. Bye!