As we roll on into March and a new season, celebrate by shedding those winter layers, getting out and smelling the flowers. Spring in Tirol means taking advantage of sun in the valley and snow in the mountains. I’ve always been an advocate of making seasonal to-do lists in order to keep life interesting. However, I fully agree that one has a right to one’s personal preferences, ‘to each his own’ as they say. Without further ado, here are 10 spring adventures that have made my bucket list… What spring to-dos are on your bucket list?
1. “Figln” at Seegrube
We think spring is one of the best times of year to hit the slopes—or the trails? Now that spring is here, you might either find Tiroleans who have swapped their skis for a mountain bike—or those who still want to spend the longer warmer days on skis… very short skis, in fact. The soft spring snow, called “Firn” in Tirol (corn snow), makes for some seriously fun spring skiing. Especially if you try the only-in-Tirol-variety of very short skis named “Figl”. The sun shines bright amidst clear blue skies, and the snow is still plentiful — “figln” at Seegrube Ski Resort high above Innsbruck is a big thing! Get out and enjoy the last of the snow with some beautiful sunny laps on the mountain.
2. Have Your Tirol Photos Developed & Create a Classical Photo Album
Having your own photographs developed and inserting them into your album has become a very rare practice in this day in age, even more so if you have a computer or smartphone to store them in. Or do you have them in the cloud? I recently mounted snapshots in a ‘real’ photo album together with my son (yes, that classic, old-school type of thing where you stick your developed pictures into!)—and I can tell you that there is a special kind of magic in looking through the album pages while you hold it in your hands, so that’s my second spring to-do suggestion: Browse your digital files for your best Tirol photographs, have them professionally developed and enjoy the privilege of having a book’s physical appearance and holding real photos! (For ‘digital natives’, a digital personalised photo album will do as well.)
3. Try Kneipp Hydrotherapy
Have you ever tried Kneipp therapy? Both your circulation and your skin will benefit enormously from this water-based treatment, which uses applications of cold water to stimulate blood flow and relax the muscles. If water treading or immersing yourself in freezing water sounds like your personal nightmare, why not try a cold arm bath to revitalize instead? This will increase circulation as well as alertness, thereby combatting springtime fatigue. Kneipp ablution facilities can be found in many places all across Tirol; most of them reopen in early May. Or are you more of a hardy and brave type who fancies a swim in one of Tirol’s streams and lakes? Braving the cool waters, which are quite chilly at this time of year, makes them a great natural Kneipp facility…
4. Sitting By the Inn River, Enjoying the Sun
Paris has the Seine. London has the Thames. But, Innsbruck has the Inn. While it might appear somewhat insignificant compared to the first two rivers from a global point of view, it is mighty in the realm of my memories going to university in Innsbruck. The Inn River was a focal point in my and my fellow students’ days. Sitting on the riverside, enjoying life and doing nothing but watching “Old Man Inn” rolling along. I still like doing this, just sitting here, contemplating my good fortune (preferably with some ice cream), and thinking how happy I am to live in a place like this!
5. Boogie Down at a Winter Closing Concert
It’s best to leave on a high note, as they say. In Tirol, winter ski season ends with a bang in many resorts, including Ischgl, Sölden, Obergurgl-Hochgurgl and St. Anton am Arlberg. The latter closes the long winter season with Tirol’s wildest and wittiest ski competition named “The White Rush”. Sölden bids a farewell to winter with the Electric Mountain Festival. Obergurgl-Hochgurgl celebrates winter’s end with Spring Snow, Fun and Fire and internationally renowned Top of the Mountain gigs are used to mark the close of the winter season in Ischgl, shrouded in legend.
6. Go to the “Gauder Fest” Spring Festival
A unique and outstanding addition to the Tirol festival roster is the Gauder Fest, Zillertal Valley’s celebration of everything traditional, from colourful costumes over folk music to beer. Taking place over the first May long-weekend in Zell am Ziller, this is one not to be missed. Highlights of the annual Gauder Fest are the opening with the Gambrinus speech, the largest national costume parade of Austria and an amusement park for little ones. Don’t miss out on the beer tapping of the super-strong Gauder beer (reputedly over 10% alcohol), brewed specially for this shindig. Cheers!
7. Leave Your Mobile at Home and Go for a Walk
New research shows that the average young adult spends over three hours a day on his or her smartphone. This means they are checking their phones every seven to eight minutes. Are you glued to your smartphone as well? So why not try to take a break? Leave your mobile at home and go for a walk in the great outdoors, really anywhere where you can walk in the quiet forest and take a break from the noise! Hiking in the spring is a special treat in Tirol. Not only do you get to enjoy the beautiful scenery, you also get to witness amazing wildflowers in the process. Feel the sun and the wind on your face. Do some bird watching. This sounds banal but is in fact profound. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of life is not only emotionally invigorating, but it quiets your brain, helps you focus, and sharpens your cognitive abilities. And I can tell you – once you return home, you’ll have the images etched into your memory for years to come. Better than any photograph on your smartphone will do ;-)
8. Get Artsy at a Festival
While the mountains are Tirol’s defining geographic feature, our country is also rich in arts and culture. Throughout spring, culture lovers will have no trouble finding concerts, jams and performances all across the country. Thus it’s definitely worth staying down in the valley, sometimes. The long tradition of stellar cultural events, performing arts series and festivals ensures there are plenty of things to do and ways to be entertained during a Tirol vacation. Fans travel to TschirgArt Jazz Festival in Imst (April 28 – May 09, 2018) from far and near to celebrate their generous definition of Jazz music. The annual festival in Imst is one of my best-loved, and last year’s lineup included Pat Metheny, Manu Delago and Woodstock legends Ten Years After. Spring is a really exciting time in Tirol with tons of events going on. Namely, festivals!
9. Take the Awesome Opportunity to Spend a Night in a Mountain Cabin or Refuge
Have you ever spent a night in a mountain cabin? Imagine the valley at your feet, lofty peaks as far as the eye can see and the stars as your canopy. Sounds good? Many travelers feel that log cabins are the next best thing to being outdoors. There is nothing like the peace and quiet of cabin vacations, immersed in nature and surrounded by jaw-dropping views. With rental cabins available all over Tirol, you can certainly find the best match for your needs, from rustic refuges with dorms to romantic cabins for two. Spend the night, a weekend or more—but be sure to book your cabin soon as spaces are high in demand and fill up quickly.
10. Admire the Spring Blooms
Have you ever heard about the old tradition of “Grasausläuten” (literally, “Ringing out the Grass”)? This is a noisy fertility rite performed each year in late April to expel winter. Children dressed in lederhosen and dirndl march gaily through the fields and meadows, ringing chimes and cowbells. Quite noisy, I can tell you! After this rite, you are kindly asked to “please keep off the grass” to encourage the grass to grow… So you should not cross a meadow in May, when the wildflowers have burst into bloom. Hint: Keep an eye out for mountain wildflowers growing along the edge of a meadow for your own bouquet of oxeye daisies, bellflowers and yellow chamomile.
Figln: © www.blog.innsbruck.info
Winter Closing: © TVB Paznaun/Ischgl
Gauder Fest: © Zillertal Bier
Culture: © Steudltenn
All other Images: © Tirol Werbung