Picture this: Snow capped mountain peaks off in the distance with low flying clouds dancing around them. Flowing hills covered in trees, with the occasional patch of the greenest grass showing through. Air that feels cleaner than any you’ve ever breathed. This is Austria.
About five years ago, we came across a popular YouTube video. In it, a guy goes flying down a green hillside on a mountain coaster with no brakes. It looked like the experience of a lifetime and quickly jumped to the top of our bucket list.
Of course, like many bucket list items, we never thought we’d actually have the opportunity to accomplish it. I mean, when would we ever have to opportunity to travel to Austria and stay near the tiny town of Mieders? That thought took us right back to reality.
Fast forward five years and we’re on a bus traveling from Milan to Innsbruck, a small(ish) town just outside of Mieders, in Austria.
We had heard a lot of amazing things about Austria from friends and fellow travelers. When this happens, you always run the risk of the place not living up to the hype. But, luckily, Austria more than delivered.
The sun was going down and a storm was rolling in as our bus chugged along the Austrian countryside. We had never seen such a beautiful site. The clouds were wrapping around the mountains with beams of sunlight peaking through any gap they could find while quaint little Austrian villages were resting in the valleys below.
We arrived in Innsbruck after dark, but were beyond excited to see what this town offered in daylight. The next day we woke up and took a casual peek out the window. Our jaws dropped.
Easily the best view we’ve had from any hotel or Airbnb.
Innsbruck is straight out of a fairytale. Anywhere you look, mountains are rising into the sky with green valleys leading up to them. Humans often have a way of ruining this sort of beauty with ugly buildings and skyscrapers, but not in Innsbruck. The architecture was beyond charming and was the perfect compliment to the surrounding mountain ranges.
We bussed over to the nearby town of Mieders, determined to mark this alpine mountain coaster off of our bucket list. The ride over was yet another jaw dropping experience. Honestly, the beautify of the Austrian countryside is something you have to see for yourself to really get it. This place is beautiful.
At this point, we were both more excited than we could remember. The feeling of walking up to my little coaster cart and strapping in was a surreal one. Life is full of these “oh I’d love to do that but…” and “one day I’ll have to do that...” moments, but this time we were actually doing it. It was a satisfying feeling to say the least.
With Allison in the car behind me, I grabbed on to the throttle, opened it up… and we were off!
Before long we had picked up a good amount of speed. The trees and cows (yes, cows) were blurring past us. We were determined not to touch the brake which is no easy task considering that at every turn you feel like you’re going to go flying off the tracks to your death.
We were screaming, we were laughing, our adrenaline was pumping. It was a true moment of flow. The ride ended as quickly as it had begun, but we both felt satisfied. It was the experience of a lifetime and one of those rare moments where you had accomplished something you never thought you would.
Afterwards, we traveled back to Innsbruck and found a place called X that served traditional Austrian dishes. We honestly weren’t sure what we ordered (it was all in German!), but it tasted amazing! Seriously one of the top 10 meals we’ve had.
The next day we made our way out to the village of Igls for a hike. The trailhead was atop one of the many peaks, so we hopped on the Gondola to get up to it. As the tram began to climb, the nearby mountain tops started to appear. Soon we were above the trees and could see endless valleys and villages below, nestled between the mountain ranges.
Once we arrived up top, we easily found the trailhead and started walking. This was the type of hike where you don’t make it too far, mostly because every 200ft you have to stop and snap photos and pick up your jaw.
One day though, we'll return and do a proper hike of the Austrian Alps.
Towards the end of the hike we came across a pub. Yep, there was a pub at the top of this mountain. Isn’t Austria awesome?? Unfortunately this was one of the few days where we were taking a break from beer, but sitting up there and taking in the stunning scenery was enough for us.
We’ve noticed that as we travel this world, some places end up just clicking with us. Austria was one of those places. For us, it was like different planet where beauty was waiting at every turn. There was so much to discover and we had only scratched the surface.
Austria, we’ll meet again soon.