Bert Walsh drives across Europe after having trips disrupted by volcanic ash, lost suitcases, hurricanes, missed flights and airport strikes
I wouldn’t describe myself as a Jonah yet over the last few years the best laid travel plans were hit by a multitude of disasters.
Volcanic Ash (twice), hurricanes, Bert in Prague suitcase in Amsterdam, throw in the odd strike, two missed flights and you get the picture.
A change of transport proved prudent for 2012 and surprisingly our motoring trip to the Austrian Tyrol was without incident.
Taking advantage of P&O’s overnight sailing from Hull to Zeebrugge we cut out that often tedious and stressful long haul to the south coast ports.
After a good nights sleep we disembarked and headed for our first nights stay on the Mosel. These days I dislike tearing down the autobahn and having a second overnights stop en-route to Austria in the Bavarian city of Ulm makes for a leisurely drive allowing the opportunity to meander along secondary roads.
Our first hotel in the Tyrol the Post overlooked the idyllic Achensee Lake in the village of Pertisau. The Post like all the hotels we stayed at is family owned and consequently under the watchful eye of the Koblinger family cuisine (dessert buffet to die for) and service is exemplary. The Post boasts excellent facilities, a friendly bar complete with Winter Garden, inside and outside swimming pools plus a lakeside beach. The setting is sublime Achensee is surrounded by the Karwendel mountains to the west and Rofan range to the east. The resort has plenty of activity available from lake steamers to the nostalgic cog railway hauled by steam engines which climb from the lakeside village at Maurach through the mountains to Jenbach. Lakeside walks abound the best being the 8k trek along the traffic free western side of the lake to Achenkirsch.
Our next port of call was the village of Soll nestling beneath the imposing Hohe Salve Mountain. The Hotel Postwirt a perennial favourite for us is ably managed by Florian and his mum Marlene Bliem. Traditionally Tyrolean the hotel is central to village life with an atmospheric bar and quality restaurant.
Dating back over 800 years the Postwirt has an incredible history having played host to Arch Duke Ferdinand and Tirolean hero Andreas Hofer. Today’s guests are equally well looked after in this superb award winning hotel.
Austria is becoming increasingly popular in the summer and Soll is one of the mainstays for a younger crowd drawn to the Alps for a variety of adrenaline led pursuits.
Mountain biking and hang-gliding much in evidence however kids are also well catered for.
Soll along with several local villages provide six mountain top theme parks, it’s not Disney nor Disney prices. A six day pass costs 47euros for adults, 24 euros for kids, excellent value considering it includes transport to the top of the mountains.
In the land of soaring peaks mountain myths prevail in the theme parks, witches, giants, elves and animals are the usual suspects.
Above Soll lies the Hexenwasser Park dedicated to the witch where my wife felt quite at home amongst the broomsticks and massive witches cauldron. Soll is handily placed to visit the town of Kufstein by car or frequent local Postbus. On a rocky hillside stands Kufstein’s mighty fortress reached by a short funicular railway, well worth the visit for the regional museum and stunning views of the River Inn. If you like medieval towers and ambling along ramparts you’ll love it but spare time to visit the colourful old town with its welcoming hostelries by the river.
A short drive from Soll brought us to our third Tirolean halt the charming and comfortable Aktiv Hotel Hochfilzer in Ellmau. Owner Ingrid and her team are well versed in looking after the needs of British guests many returning year on year. Never one to rest on her laurels the hotel has made a hefty investment in their spa facilities.
There is an impressive pool, various saunas and best of all an outside whirlpool with views to the mountains.
For those guests new to the area the hotel offers a guided walks programme with Didi your guide.
Ellmau’s theme park takes you through an enchanted forest where elves and giants play naughty games on the unsuspecting tourists.
The villages of Ellmau and Sheffau are dominated by the craggy bastion of the Wilder Kaiser range. Follow the footsteps of St Jacob along the foothills where the air is heavy with pine and the only sound the tinkling of cow bells. Venture higher into the mountains to the Hintersteiner Lake where a world of languid waters and pastures alive with alpine flowers await.
The homeward journey took us over the Fern Pass into Germany where we overnighted in Bad Durkheim situated in the centre of the Rhine’s wine growing region.
A final night was spent on the Mosel where sun-kissed vineyards almost touch the river, by this time the car was groaning under the weight of cases of wine. Our two weeks round trip where the getting there proved equally enjoyable to being there was memorable for all the right reasons, wonderful scenery, quality accommodation and service with a smile.
Bert’s trip was arranged by Crystal Holidays.
The hotels feature in their 2013 summer brochure. Crystal can arrange your P&O crossings and various two-centre permutations or alternatively the resorts are available with flights and hotel transfers from Manchester.
Go to: crystalsummer.co.uk or Tel: 0871 230 8180.