Τρίτη, 22 Αυγούστου 2017

Summer in the alps with kids (part1)

This year’s summer trip in Europe was probably the best trip i ever had in my life, the reason for this is that it was the first time i brought our kids with us and showed them what i love in life. Back in 2009 we did Europe road trip with a friendly couple Antonis and Ioanna, we had just found out my wife was pregnant to my first son. After several drinks a night we promised we will return one day in the Alps when we will have our own kids. So there we were 8 years later with 4 kids and 2 cars packed with baggages for our first kid travel experience!

On Friday 16th June we took Anek lines ferry from Patras to Venice on a 33 hour trip and arrived in Venice early in the morning of June 18th. The outward trip with the boat was a really beautiful experience and kids loved spending time in it. With airfare prices in the summer period out of Athens going crazy it’s certainly a cheap alternative when you want to travel in Europe, although this kind of equalizes with the money you end up spending on board for food and beverages. The biggest advantage though is that you get to travel with your own car and not rely on rent a car with all the risks that it comes with.

After an almost 6 hour drive, there was lots of traffic on the highway, we arrived at the beautiful stubaital valley. First things first we checked in at Jedlerhof house.

A house with familiar atmosphere, unique views, located right in the middle of nature.
The Jedlerhof stems originally from the 16th century and, over the course of the centuries, have been farmed the owner’s ancestors.  In 1965, their grandparents began to rent out rooms to hikers and mountain climbers. Jedlerhof is a 200sq meters old farm house located on a hill of Stubaital with breathtaking views. The house was split in 2 floors, the upper floor had 4 huge bedrooms and the down floor and giant fully equipped kitchen and and a small, cozy stuba style restaurant hall for our own use! The back part of the house hosted an animal farm and you could actually see cows and goats outside our window, I almost pissed my pants of joy.
There was not much time for exploring the house as we were dead hungry and the plan was to visit the closeby village of neustift for the first beer and schnitzel of the trip. 

The traditional “shopping therapy” in super market came shortly after and we loaded the house with all the Austrian delicacies for cooking and breakfast. Since we had our own stuba style restaurant there was no need to go out at night as I can prepare most traditional Austrian recipes.

Second day found me waking up to paradise on earth. Nothing in the world can beat the morning walk when everything is silent and the views of the mountains make you want to cry. After a short hiking we decided to go meat shopping to a local butchery I had found online. It was a boutique store and mainly local meat with really friendly and educated staff, they even had a 24h vending machine where you could grab a  rib eye and wine at 4:00 am lol. 

Once everyone was up and prepared, not an easy task with 4 kids believe me, we headed to Innsbruck. Tirol's capital is scenically squeezed between two impressive mountain chains. Past and future meet in the heart of the Alps, where Innsbruck’s world-famous sights, which testify to the Tirol province’s great past, stand alongside post-modern international architecture to create a fascinating blend.

After long walk in the pedetrian roads we had a delicious ice cream in the city center, visited city's landmark "golden roof" and then headed to the city zoo. Not only does the zoo offer its visitors a spectacular view of Innsbruck and the surrounding mountains it is also home to over 2000 animals (150 species) which are or have been typical for the Alps. It is the only zoo in the world to devote itself specifically to this topic which is one of the reasons for its success. Their animals are housed in modern enclosures, going through aviaries, exiting outdoor terrariums and a large cold water aquarium. No need to say how much the kids loved the experience of the alpine zoo!

Third day in the beautiful stubaital found us taking the lift to our first ever hiking.  On the way up the scenery was breathtaking with cows chewing grass in the meadows and the nature at its best with blossom flowers everywhere. 

What could ruin such a great day were children complaining they are bored, but not here. I have never seen a place like this where they respect families so much, every little place we gone had children playground in the middle of nowhere of the mountain. 

The first stop of the lift had a small lake and a hut but we decided to follow a forest route and reach a nearby hut. After 30 minutes of walking in the forest suddenly appeared in front of our eyes Ochsenhütte mieders at 1592 m with beauty difficult to be described we felt like finding an oasis to the desert. The rustic Ochsenhütte is right next to the Ochsen lift and the winter hiking trail. We enjoyed home-style cooking with local products and cold beers.

Right after we finished our lunch a touristic train appeared out of nowhere that was doing circles in the forest and we decided to join the ride. 

The end of the ride took us to Maria Waldrast Monastery. It is located at the junction between Stubai and Wipptal. Herdsmen used to stop here for a rest, hence the name “Waldrast”. The pilgrimage site is one of Europe’s highest monasteries and a spiritual place, therefore a highly popular day-trip destination. 
Maria Waldrast has a rich history. According to legend, in 1407 two shepherd boys found an image of Our Lady grown into a tree trunk. A chapel was soon erected on the clearing where they had found the image, marking today’s church site. The first pilgrimage was held in 1429 when Our Lady Mary was returned to the mountain. In 1621 the construction of the Servite Monastery started. The Monastery was abandoned twice over the centuries. In 1945 the monks returned and with them the image of Mary. In the 16th century a spring which is said to have healing qualities was tapped near the monastery.
To be contnued...

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