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Sabbatical 2022

Sabbatical 2022 Week 3 (Part 2)

When I set out to visit Austria, I had all the places in mind that we had visited as kids. Maybe seeing those places now with adult eyes would be interesting? As I was looking for my next stop after Innsbruck (or rather Mutters, see the previous post for details), I noticed that I would in most cases have to change trains in Jenbach. And that lies just below the Achensee, which a colleague had strongly recommended to me. So, I looked for a place to stay there for a bit and found a hotel in Pertisau.

Fjord in the Alps

Prior to staying there for two nights, I had never heard of the Achsensee, which is the largest lake in Tyrol. It sits on almost 1000 meter of elevation and is almost 9 kilometers long. Apparently it’s 133 meter deep at some points. What really makes it special though, is how it’s nestled between two mountain ranges. Compared to other spots in Austria, what makes the big difference here is that in summer you can not only hike in the mountains, but also have a wide variety of activities in and on the water to choose from. Beach vacation surrounded by mountains? Check. That probably explains the popularity of the place. It was definitely a bit odd to see that Pertisau pretty much consists of nothing but hotels and appartment houses.

Originally I had booked only one night (as this was the only availability online on the previous evening), but luckily could extend it by one more. To make the most of my 2 days, I immediately went for a hike along the lake on the first afternoon. While the Eastern side is disturbed by a street, the Western side is only accessible by boat or via a narrow trail that hugs the mountain side. I especially enjoyed crossing the small bridges and passing underneath a small waterfall that had been redirected with an improvised wooden roof. About halfway along the lake is the Gaisalm, where I had a drink and then waited for the ship to take me back. It’s quite unexpected to have a proper cruise line setup here, but it makes sense and is very convenient.

The path along the Western shore of the Achensee

On the next day and I wanted to go back up into the mountains, so I took the Karwendel cable car up to the “Zwölferkopf”, one of the peaks surrounding Pertisau. I didn’t feel up to hiking all the way up, but had found a nice path around the area up top and then back down into the village. It provided plenty of beautiful panoramas of the lake and the mountain range. And the path down even had three small tunnels.

View of the Achensee from the Zwölferkopf

Königsleiten

On Sunday I left Pertisau and made my way back down the hill to Jenbach. Here I boarded the Ziller valley train (“Zillertalbahn“) to Zell am Ziller and from there took a bus up the mountains to Königsleiten. As I mentioned, we had been in Austria fairly often as children and Königsleiten was our default winter holiday location for years. However, this was over 20 years ago. So, I was curious to see if I would recognize anything going back there now. And also how big the difference would be to see it in summer rather than covered in snow.

A first look at Königsleiten

In the end I definitely recognized some things, e.g. the street that leads into the village and the mountain on the opposite side of the valley (“Hochkrimml”, another village I know from the past). But 20 years is a lot of time and of course there have been plenty of changes. It was a very nice experience anyway and I enjoyed my time there, strolling through the village and trying to figure out if I really recognize something or whether my mind is just trying to make things fit.

I stayed two nights and for the full day I was there I had two options: Go up the mountain and check out what I only knew as a skiing area or hike to the waterfalls in Krimml, which apparently are the sixth highest in the world. In the end I decided on the former, because it was more convenient and more flexible as I didn’t have to rely on a bus to take me there and back again. I took the Königsleiten cable car, which didn’t exist 20 years ago. Back then there was only a chair lift. I explored the area and it was fun to see how different it is. Not only due to the changes that had happened over time, but also to see it green and populated by lots of cows.

Summit station of one of the chair lifts up in the skiing area

After walking up to the peak and exploring some other panorama spots, I took a trail back down to the village. This was absolutely gorgeous as it took me over to another peak and then along a ridge slowly (and sometimes more steeply) down and around the mountain. With over 2000 meter of elevation, it was the highest up I had been on this trip and being above the treeline was a nice change of pace. (Luckily it was fairly cloudy, so the sun was very bearable.) I enjoyed seeing the vegetation change as I reached lower altitudes and trees started taking over.

One of the lovely panoramas I got to see on the trail down into the village

Wrap Up

After my two nights in Königsleiten were over, I made my way back to Berlin. There were some things I had to take care of at home, I had noticed a certain lack of energy in myself (and in my camera’s batteries) and I felt quite happy with what I got to see and do. It’s always a good idea to end on a high note and that’s definitely the case.

I enjoyed my time in Nürnberg and in Tyrol a lot. It worked out very well and I’m honestly very surprised how easy it was to get around with public transport, even to very remote places. I took a bit of a gamble booking my stops spontaneously and while it created the sense of freedom, I also did not particularly enjoy having to do so much planning every other day, because it lead to more screen time than I had aimed for.

All in all I’m very happy with my decisions not to visit larger cities. Even though I’m definitely interested to see Vienna and Salzburg at some point, I already noticed during my day in Innsbruck that I wasn’t really looking for that on this trip. So, staying in villages and hiking in the mountains was perfect. However, for this kind of vacation, it would probably have been easier to pick a spot and stay there for longer rather than moving around every 2 or 3 days. This way I got to see different places and that was great, but I think next time I will pick one area and explore it more thoroughly.

Photos

There are over 200 photos on my memory card now and I already sorted and whittled them down to about 70 or so that I find tolerable. A few of them are already contained in this post, but I’ll still have to think where I put the rest of them. I’ll add a link here when I have figured it out.