If you do research (or go on holidays) in the Alps you know that you will have rain on some days, but nevertheless you plan your trip as if there would be no rain at all. And so did we when we started out for our 12-day research trip for a Tyrol travel guidebook a few weeks ago.
We left Berlin in warm and sunny weather by train. Six hours later, when we had to change trains in Munich, the sky had turned grey, and heavy rain set in just behind Munich. It did not stop for the next two days.
The first time on electric bikes
The Tourist Information of Kufstein had provided us with electric bikes and the next day we started as planned from the village of Ebbs on a cycling tour uphill to a dairy factory in spite of the pouring rain. It was the first time for us to actually cycle for some time on an electric bike. Cycling uphill was quite effortless although the road was winding up a mountain in steep curves. On the one hand, this was rather uplifting and fun – our raingear was still keeping us dry at this point –, but on the other hand it did feel like cheating. Instead of the rolling countryside path we had imagined, we cycle on a normal paved road with car traffic.
Our goal is a dairy factory which we think is a sort of show facility for tourists, at least that is the impression we got from the promotional materials. But when we reach the tiny hamlet, it turns out that seeing the cheese making process is not an option for individual visitors, but only for scheduled groups. But there is a nice shop with hand-made organic cheese and yoghurt and some other Tyrolean specialties.
Rain, rain, rain
Altogether, the cycling trip that we had planned as one of our “active tours” for the new Tyrol travel guidebook does not work and we have wasted half a day of research time finding that out. The rain is now starting to filter into our shoes. A little bit further down the road, we notice on the map, there should be a small Alpine Zoo. So maybe we could integrate this?
“Well, it is raining so hard that the animals will be in their stables and hiding places, and there won’t be much to see. Here, take two bags of treats for the animals, maybe they will show up,” the cashier advises. The paper bags soon disintegrate into grey pulp in the rain and the wet pressed animal fodder gets quite nasty in our hands and rain gear pockets.
After taking some silly pictures in the rain at the German-Austrian border (another tiny sightseeing spot we could integrate into the guidebook “active tour”), we cycle back to the village and enter a small café. It is eleven in the morning and every single person in the café is smoking and drinking alcohol. An overweight man looks up from his brandy and asks us not to feed his dog because she was too fat. We order hot coffee and take turns in the toilet wringing out our socks.
At the Haflinger horse ranch
And the last item on our list to see for the day is the world-famous Haflinger horse ranch. The horses are wet and a bit ill-tempered and we are almost the only visitors, ambling through the stables. “What do people do here?,” we ask somewhat guiltily, bored after less than half an hour. It turns out most visitors spend not much more time than that, except those with teenage girls that are into horses.
For our return to Kufstein along the Inn River cycling path we switch the electric bikes into high support mode, although our cycling speed doesn’t really matter that much anymore. By now we are completely soaked – even those high-tech rain jackets can only take so much rain.
And then we check into our next accommodation in Kufstein: The hotel is called Träumerei Nr. 8 (“Revery #8”), we are in a Hamburg-themed roomed, and it turns out it has a beautiful large bath tub overlooking the Inn River. 30 minutes later (well, it’s work, and we quickly have a look at some of the other rooms while they are free) we are in the tub and looking forward to a drink at the hotel’s famous gin bar.
— For a similar text about our guidebook work, see also: Seek the Greek in Alexandria —