It’s Sunday morning and I wake up just before the alarm goes off. We are one hour ahead of UK time. The reps are taking us around Kitzbühel and we need to be at the tourist information centre by 930. The hotel is a family run one and the husband and wife team greet us when we go down for breakfast. We’ve been allocated a table for the week. The lady is immaculately turned out just as she was last evening. The hotel is tastefully decorated with colourful framed pictures of all shapes and sizes cleverly aligned and arranged to brighten the walls. Much care has been taken to give the place a homely touch. Named ‘Edelweiss’, I feel like bursting into song every time I say the word. Edelweiss is a white flower found in the alps.
We walk the short walk and reach the town centre in time for the tour to start. Tom and Charlie are already there. They look like twins and are kitted out in their finest goat leather lederhosens. They take us around the town and give us the lowdown on Kitzbühel and the tours which are on offer. Kitzbühel translates as a Bavarian settlement on top of a mountain. The history starts 3000 years ago. Situated about 20 miles from the German-Austrian border and midway between Innsbruck and Salzburg, the first settlers arrived in Kitzbühel to mine copper from the hills. It is now one of the largest, fashionable and luxurious ski regions in Austria attracting an upper class clientele. It is also where the annual Hahnenkamm downhill ski race is conducted. On the route they show us the legends board naming all the past champions. Skiing down the mountain and doing sharp turns at 120 kilometres per hour, sounds pretty scary.
Tom also describes the history behind the traditional Bavarian attire. Lederhosen (leather trousers) for men and Dirndl, for the women. Originally worn by domestic staff, it is now considered high fashion. The direction in which the bow points when it is tied tells whether the women are single and ready to mingle (Tom’s words), married or widowed.
Once the tour is over, we walk 2 kilometres to the nearest lake, Lake Schwarzsee. This translates as Black lake. It is a clean moorland lake and the dark shade comes from the mineral content which apparently is good for the skin. It is also the warmest lake in Tirol, making it a popular swimming spot. We walk around the lake and the walk resembles our Schliersee walks, with part of it in a clearing through the forest. From here we walk back to the town.
As we walk around the town, the main sounds I notice are the bird’s singing and the flowing water streams, along with the church bells in the morning. This seems to drown the sparse traffic sounds. This could be because it is a Sunday. The weather forecast was for rain today but it stayed clear and sunny till we got back to the town centre. The drizzle started slowly and by the time we walked into a restaurant, it turned heavy. We just missed it by seconds. Those sitting outside the restaurant below the awning almost got drenched. We love Bavarian food and this was one of the best. We got back to the hotel just in time for afternoon tea and cake. The rest of the day was spent reading the Sunday papers and catching up on all the exciting news from the afternoon before.
An estimated thirty two million tuned in to watch the game. The roads and shops fell empty, but only once the supplies were topped up. Roughly 18 million pints were quaffed. The nation fell in love with Gareth Southgate and I missed it all.