If you 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 trip to Tyrol a few weeks ago. We were going to do some research for a new guidebook on Tyrol, however, not holidays. That meant that we were less flexible regarding the weather.
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. 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. So, 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 now 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?
“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.
Guidebook research 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. Even so, 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 luckily, it turns out the room 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 then we are looking forward to a drink at the hotel’s famous gin bar.
More research for travel guidebooks
Sometimes, by the way, we also spend our private holidays in the regions of our guidebooks. After all, those are the places that we like most. For instance, we did a paragliding course for beginners in the Stubai Valley in Tirol. Of course, we can use those experiences also for our guidebook research!
For similar texts about researching our guidebooks, see also these posts:
- Seek the Greek in Alexandria
- Researching a Guide Book in Egypt
- A research day trip to the Chimgan Mountains near Tashkent (about our Uzbekistan travel guidebook)
NB: We had sponsorship for some of the activities mentioned here. Obviously, this was intended for the Tyrol travel guidebook. However, the sponsoring did not cover the writing of a travel blog post – not even one about research for a guidebook!
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