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The hills are alive, with the sound of laughter

The hills are alive, with the sound of laughter

I HAVE just purchased a rather nice Nikon 70-200mm F2.8 lens to use alongside my other equipment whilst on photo assignments.

The lens is great for portraits, with excellent background blur, and also, apparently, for landscapes. I decide to take it with me to Austria along with my trusty 18-200mm lens. I then receive an email detailing my Flybe flight from Manchester to Innsbruck, only to learn that cabin baggage is restricted to 6kg, and the return flight from Salsburg with Thomson next Wednesday morning only 5kg. Great. Having fallen foul of this only last month, when I was on hands and knees at East Midlands airport transferring stuff from one bag to the other, I am certainly not prepared to place any valuables in the hold again, so, disappointingly, I leave the new lens behind. What, with the Nikon D300 body, 18-200mm lens, 11in MacBook Air and rucksack, my hand baggage is on the home scales at 4.72kg.

I decide to let the train take the strain, and catch the 10.25am loco from Lincoln Central to Sheffield, and from there the TransPennine Express to Manchester Airport, where I walk to T3 and check-in. And would you believe it? No mention is made of my hand baggage. Is that sod’s law, or what? Judging by the size of some of the rucksacks stowed in the overhead lockers, there are some weighty items up there. Oh well, I still have the return flight to consider. £2.50 for an on-board cup of tea is a tad steep, by the way, but I have not had one since leaving home, so I bare the expense. At Innsbruck I collect my bag and take the transfer coach with the Thomson Lakes and Mountains rep to Seefeld, watching the thermometer dip noticeably from 32degC at the airport, to 24degC once we reach the Seefeld plateau.

DSC_5661Seefeld is an utterly charming Tyrolean resort of some 3,000 residents, the numbers swelling tri-fold as the summer season kicks in. I check into the 5* Hotel Bergresort on the edge of town.

DSC_5654DSC_5655Room 315 is nothing less than a suite, with a sweeping balcony and panoramic mountain views. I take several minutes trying to locate all the light switches before heading to dinner, where I join some press colleagues. We are treated to the Gala Dinner, starting with marinated pike-perch on whisky-orange dip and salad basket. This is followed by cream of parsnip soup with ceps-cottage cheese quenelles; calf’s sweetbread roulades on mashed potatoes; iced passion fruit with sparkling wine; and smoked filet of beef on herbal-hollandaise sauce, croquette potatoes amandine and white asparagus. Dessert is a duet of white and dark chocolate. Superb. I am actually enjoying the company of five females, where the conversation steers towards the WI for some reason. I perk up when Annie Bean mentions that she has the recipe for gin and tonic cup cakes.

DSC_5659Sunday morning, and breakfast is as impressive as last night’s dinner, even with honey in its own comb.

DSC_5662Fortified, we walk to the bottom station of the mountain railway which heads to the top of the Rosshutte. From there, we take a gondola ride to the Seefelder Joch, with wonderful views of Seefeld and the valley far below.

DSC_5671We walk towards the Seefelder Spitze along a well-worn path, passing fellow walkers and several dogs, who are clearly far fitter than myself.

DSC_5670This is the ideal place to stop, ponder, share the moment, and eat snacks. So I stop for a breather with Andrea Watson, who, it transpires, was on the Daily Express around the same time as myself. What a small world. Rather than bumble further uphill in the heat, we decide to walk back down to the Panorama Restaurant for refreshments, rather than take the gondola.

DSC_5681Actually, I lay the blame at Andrea’s door as we slip and slide our way down the steep, often loose gravelled switchback path.

DSC_5665DSC_5666Finally back on level ground, we enjoy the local wildlife, and take lunch before taking the train back to the Rosshutte and a taxi to Wildmoos where we partake in a golf taster session.

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None of us can play, which makes for some amusing swings, our tutor and golf pro Jimmy probably wishing he had stayed at home in Garmisch on this sweltering Sunday afternoon.
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DSC_5691For goodness sake girls, pay attention!

We have a couple of hours to spare before dinner at the Casino Seefeld, where we learn the art of roulette. Tight wad that I am, I head back to the hotel to catch up with my blog. Stand by for more later.

©All images Essential Journeys/Michael Cowton

FACTBOX

Thomson Lakes & Mountains offers a week at the 5* Hotel Bergresort in Seefeld from £688 per person including half-board accommodation, flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck and resort transfers.

For more information on the Austrian Tirol visit www.visittirol.co.uk, and for Seefeld visit www.seefeld.com

About The Author

Mike Cowton

Michael Cowton, an outdoors writer, editor and photographer with a passion for nature-based travel and wildlife. He is a former editor of EcoTravel, Outdoor Pursuits, Camping, Lakeland Walker and Which Motorcaravan magazines, and national newspaper journalist.

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