Ailsa’s travel theme this week is Energy (click here to see more entries). Back in September last year, I travelled to Austria for a week to visit family. One day, we caught the gondola up to Muttereralm, primarily to check out the mountain carting that is taking over as the popular sport during the summer months when there is no snow to ski on. However, there are lots of cool things to do and see on the mountain, including a series of waterwheels, sluices and other obstacles that the stream runs through on its way down the hill. I was there with my nephew and eldest niece, and they were both fascinated by the interactive elements that helped them learn about the power and movement of water. My nephew was a typical boy about it. He wanted to build up as much water as possible, and then see what happened when he let it go. My niece, on the other hand, takes after my dad (he’s a physicist). She naturally understands how things work, and methodically went along the machines one by one to confirm what she already knew. It was great fun to watch them explore.
As you know, it is one of my missions to try at least one new activity every year. I’m fortunate to say that I usually get through a few before winter comes around.
Sometimes you plan new activities months in advance. They’re dreams, items to tick off your bucketlist. You’ve read articles about them, heard accounts of experiences from other people and you can’t wait to try them for yourself.
And sometimes, new activities get thrust upon you by surprise. That’s what happened to me last week when I was in Austria visiting family. Muttereralm, just outside of the city of Innsbruck, is home to a 5km toboggan run in the winter. Ever efficient, the local Austrians couldn’t just let the track sit there all summer not being used, so they’ve turned it into a mountain carting track. My brother has three young children, and had been wanting to try out the carting with the eldest two for a while. However, the logistics of looking after three children between two adults meant that he hadn’t been able to. So, when I arrived, he asked me if I would come along and have a go too. I’d never heard of mountain carting, I had no idea what it was or what I was required to do, so of course I said yes straight away.
The carts, or buggies, are fairly basic, just a frame with three wheels, two brakes and a low seat. After some safety instruction from one of the team at the top of the mountain, we were off. I had my niece on my knee and my brother was in front of us with my nephew.
I’m not really an adrenaline junkie, but I have to say this experience was so much fun. I will warn you that it’s a bumpy ride, in fact I’m convinced that they dig out extra ruts in the track for the buggies because I’m sure the toboggan run in the winter is much smoother. My niece, holding on tight to the cross bar, was bouncing up and down on my knee as we bumped along the off-road path and negotiated hairpin turns. She was also laughing her head off all the way down, and I am so grateful that I got to share such an amazing and fun experience with her.
Whilst I was in Austria, I also got to go rock climbing with my niece and nephew. Climbing is not a new activity for me, and pretty much everyone in our family has climbing experience, but we never get to do it together. Sharing a sunny afternoon together and having fun was a highlight of the trip for me. As an added bonus, my mum also joined in with the climbing. Climbing with my mum is another first for me, and I never thought I would get to say that I belayed my mum!