My family goes back a long way in Tyrol.
Kitzbühel in Summer.
Could the euphoria I feel when visiting these mountains bespeak some trace of an ancient DNA? But maybe it's just the altitude. The brain can play tricks when deprived of its usual oxygenic mix. Arrival in these lofty realms can be accompanied by strange illusions. For example Hannibal, crossing the Alps, mused that he would vanquish the Roman legions with a fiery sword!
A traditional remedy for this sort of "mountain fever" includes a light meal of goat cheese, toast and tea followed by a sleeping potion. This supposedly results in a solid eight hours of blankness, beyond which dawns the light of day and resumption of normal habits.
But away with toast and tea! If you've come up to Kitzbühel on vacation, what are you trying to "vacate" if not "normal habits"?
Summer in the Austrian Alps offers space to wander and dream. Ageless folk music wafts into the fresh evening air. One is tempted by prodigious meals and foaming steins of beer. In short, be open to indulge whatever whimsy the magical mountains cause to enter your head.
Typical mountain village near Kitzbühel.
Below, Kitzbühel in Winter.
A week around Kitzbühel provides a nice time-frame to play out a variety of lighthearted amusements. Festivals abound at every season of the year in the colorful plazas of this Tyrolean village, renowned both for its swank ski lodges and modest bed & breakfasts.
For most Europeans, the name "Kitzbühel" is synonymous with "sport". Although the most famous spectacle is the annual Hahnenkamm downhill ski race (last week in January), there are a handful of major racing events each spring and summer, including the Alpine Rally of vintage cars (May); the KitzAlp mountain bike festival (June); the Tour of Austria and Deutschland Tour bike races (July); the Harley Davidson motorcycle festival (July); and Triathlon Week (July). Other premier sporting events in summer include both the Austrian Open tennis tournament (July) and the Golf Festival of thirteen tournaments at various courses around Kitzbühel (July).
Music festivals — the annual Boogie Woogie & Blues Festival (July), Jahrmarkt der Stadtmusik Kitzbühel (a folk music extravaganza in August) and a steady offering of pop and classical concerts—are prime attractions during the warmer months.
Jahrmarkt concerts highlight
the summer season.
Of course Kitzbühel is a lodestone for active sports enthusiasts. In addition to the many winter season opportunities for skiers, skaters, hockey players, curlers, et al., there are first-rate summer facilities as well: clay court tennis at the Sportspark; four local golf courses; endless mountain bike and hiking trails including a chance to descend along the famed Hahnenkamm downhill run itself.
Since the midsummer street life of Kitzbühel (pop. 8,000) is a bit boisterous for my taste, I opt to lodge in nearby Jochberg, a village noted for mountain trails which stretch southward toward the Dolomites and Italy. I've also come here for the family-run Jochberger Hof, which has welcomed generations of hikers and skiers into its friendly confines. I'd also heard rumors about a young chef running a remarkably good kitchen at this rustic inn where half-pension (breakfast and dinner) is the order of the day.
The Austrian Open in Kitzbühel.
To my mind such relatively secluded lodgings — quite inexpensive into the bargain — create just the right atmosphere for a tranquil week in the Alps. Just a few miles from the action of Kitzbühel, it's easy to hop a local bus into town or spend the day wandering along the alpine streams and pastures.
Meanwhile, at Jochberger Hof you’ll be set up for hours of strenuous hiking at the hearty breakfast buffet (go ahead, load up a sandwich for the trail — no one will mind). By late afternoon you'll be ready to shake off the dust with a leisurely swim in the heated pool followed by sauna and a couple of local beers in the garten.
The traditional Jochberger Hof.
The alpine dining room
at the Jochberger Hof.
Dinnertime is especially delightful at the Hof, as guests parade into the Tyrolean dining room to experience a special brand of gemütlichkeit which includes superb cuisine in the Austrian tradition of savory meats, oven roasted potatoes, tangy soups and farm fresh vegetables in season.
The Egger family, which has presided over Jochberger Hof for decades, now is especially proud of young chef Andreas Egger, who has taken command of the kitchen. When complimented for his knack in preparing a nice piece of schnitzel, Andreas simply smiles and shrugs, as if to say: “What would you expect? My family does go back a long, long way in Tyrol.”
Chalk up another one to the mysteries of DNA?
Kitzbühel, in its mountain fastness, is remarkably accessible to major hubs: highway and train service from Munich (80 miles), Salzburg (50 miles), and Innsbruck (60 miles). Shoulder seasons spring and fall usually offer the best hotel bargains.
For general information go to the excellent website sponsored by the Tourist Office: www.kitzbuhel.com The Jochberger Hof also has put together a lovely introduction to its property at www.jochbergerhof.at
— Feature by Jerry Nemanic, Jetsetters Magazine Tennis Editor and European Editor.