Shiny Happy People – Zell am See, Austria
Fun at the Neighbours’
The last stop in our summer sojourn is Leogang. Though technically not part of Zell am See-Kaprun, it is, both, close and interesting enough to warrant a visit. The first thing we’re doing there is taking a ride on the Flying Fox. But not the children’s version, this one’s the XXL. I’m going to be riding a zip-line down the mountain side, in a completely prone position, parallel to the ground, at 130kmph. Excellent! Leogang also has some great mountain bike trails, and, from the cable car on the way up, it looks like fun, but I’m thinking to myself it can’t be half as exciting as what I’m going to be doing.
The adrenaline is pumping even as I don my gear and get into the harness. As the operator pulls the release cable and I start accelerating rapidly, I feel so incredibly safe it takes away some of the excitement. My first thought at the end of the ride is “Man! Shouldn’t sliding down a mountain on a steel cable at these speeds feel a bit scarier?” No, I’m not being macho or anything of that sort. I’m the very same person who had to hit the brakes at just 38kmph on the alpine coaster. So there.
A visit to the Schaubergwerk Leogang, an abandoned mining area, promises to be a more sedate experience, but turns out to be almost equally exhilarating. Mining in this region is said to have started in the early Bronze Age, circa 1800 BCE, and the show mines we visit date back to the 13th century, extracting a variety of metals, including silver, nickel, cobalt and copper. As I walk through the narrow underground corridors of Barbarastolien, rubbing my hands together to keep warm, the dim lighting casting eerie shadows, I can only imagine what it must’ve been like to work here centuries ago and the kind of hardships the mine workers must have had to endure. My hair is standing on end by the time we’re out, and it’s certainly not only because of the cold.
The clouds are rolling in as we head back to Kaprun. The sun’s been kind to us the past few days, so we can’t really complain. Soon, the heavens open up and it rains through the night. It’s a different side of Kaprun that we wake up to the next morning. Kitzsteinhorn is shrouded in mist, and the Ache is angry. I guess it’s time to leave.
3 Ways to Make It Happen: Zell am See-Kaprun
There is no dearth of stay options here, from five-star hotels to campsites and everything in between.
Pension Eschenhof is a family-run guesthouse, tucked away down a quiet street in Kaprun. The rooms are comfortable and cosy, and the family warm and friendly.
Auhof, overlooking the Ache River, is a 40-year-old establishment that offers you a choice between suites and apartments. Why stay in a hotel when you can stay in a spa? With 11 swimming pools, 10 sauna and steam rooms, and 17 beauty treatment rooms, Tauern Spa is indulgence with a capital ‘I’.
Das Wirtshaus, the restaurant at the Auh of hotel, prides itself on its use of regional produce. It also has a tantalising array of cakes and pastries. Sample authentic Austrian food in a traditional setting at Knappen tube, the restaurant at the LeogangS chaubergwerk mines.
No trip to a ski destination is complete without hitting an après-ski joint like Pavillion Musik+Pub. It’s a lot quieter in summers, though, and the food menu is restricted to burgers, wraps and the like.
Good to Know
The Zell am See-Kaprun summer card is a must-have if you’re visiting between May 15 and October15. It offers a host of benefits, including free rides in cable cars, boat rides on the lake, entry into museums, mines, wild life parks, and the indoor swimming pool, among others. The best part is that it is free of cost for visitors who book into one of the participating hotels and guesthouses. However, it cannot be bought separately, so make sure you book into one of the eligible establishments.