Tag Archives: kiwi

48 Hours in… Grunau

Grunau, Austria; a tiny but incredibly picturesque village hidden away in the Austrian alps, surrounded by mountains, lakes, lakes and mountains. Now that might not be enough to make you want to visit, but perhaps we can persuade you…

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The Accommodation:

IMG_20161029_105423Probably one of the best reasons to visit is the wonderfully Austrian and uniquely Busabout Treehouse. Run by an ex-chef and his family this ramshackle traditional old house really feels like a home. There have many people to the comforts of the bedrooms, the glorious surroundings and the pure sincerity of the welcome they receive from Gerhard and Co.

The dogs run freely through the garden, down to the river and into the neighbouring fields without a worry, and you can too. Those that only stop for lunch (and we’ll come to the food next) often find themselves wandering a little far from house as they follow the river, or meander through the woods.

The Food:

IMG_20161029_112313As mentioned, Gerhard, the owner/manager/dad was a professional chef, so you can imagine the food he cooks up is a little special. But he doesn’t bother with fancy flourishes of parsley or drizzles of balsamic vinegar. He makes good hearty home cooked food, the kind of thing that’ll have you craving mums cooking, then scratch that itch with the first bite. His legendary lasagne is a must-try while everything else on the menu is just a delight. Forget the diet though, he doesn’t mess around when it comes to portions that’s for sure. You’ll end up sitting around the dinner table together, laughing and joking like you’ve all known each other for years.

The Countryside:

IMG_20161029_133730Yes, the mountains, lakes, lakes and mountains of course are a huge part of what makes Grunau so incredible. For your window every morning you’ll have to collect your jaw as you stare out and the awe inspiring Austrian Alps, still snow capped from winter. It’s these behemoths that channel the water down into rapid rivers that and just so instagrammable you’ll be flicking through your photo albums for days. Follow these along though and you’ll get to the epic lakes that are dotted along the valleys. A personal favourite is the Almsee, a nice bike ride along from the Treehouse (yes you can rent them there). This lake spreads out across the valley floor and offers amazing opportunities to spot wildlife, take in the amazing views reflected off the lakes surface, or if you’re the romantic type, woe that special someone in your life. You may fancy a dip, which is highly recommended, it’ll certainly leave you feeling fresh as the water is all glacier-melt (AKA ice!) and not much above freezing temperature. Just take a towel and sunbake yourself dry again. If that doesn’t warm you up, there are numerous hikes, easy and challenging up the sides of the valleys, and for the very adventurous, to the very peaks of some of the nearby mountains.

The Activities:

IMG_20161029_111705If all that wasn’t enough, there’s a few special activities offered by the guys at the Treehouse. After taking the bikes for a spin through the valleys, horse riding is the most popular choice. With treks designed for all abilities, from beginner up to fully competent riders, there’s something for all. Beginners will get a chance to enjoy the natural surroundings from horseback (no need to pedal) while more advanced riders can let loose and feel the wind in their hair as they follow the experienced guides through the various terrains. Finally, if all that isn’t enough to can take a try at archery, heading into a secluded section of the woods to ping some arrows into various targets and trees (please no animals though!)

There’s never been a passenger who stayed in Grunau that didn’t wish they could stay longer, and plenty more who wish they hadn’t skipped it. Don’t make the same mistake and make sure you add Grunau to your Busabout adventure.

Written for the Busabout Blog

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel

 

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Queenstown, my home away from home

Nzone Skydive

 

This article is written for a friend of mine, who is studying tourism, or something. It’s basically about how and why Queenstown became a home to me for so long, and why that was such a great thing.

AJHL310170063746Queenstown is a highlight on everyones trip to New Zealand, it’s a town cram packed full of awesome adventure activities, luxury hotels, fancy restaurants and burger bars, some of the best bars in the country and some epic landscapes as well. It’s got a little of something for everyone, and a lot for a lot of people. In winter it’s a haven for snow lovers from around the world, while summer is just as popular with those enjoying the longer days and warmer nights. It’s (allegedly) got more bars per person than any other town in the world, which is believable when you consider how focused on tourism this town is.

DCIM100GOPROAnd it’s this that makes Queenstown such fun to live in, the constant ebb and flow of backpackers, holiday makers and tour buses through the town mean each night is totally different, and always a party. With so many coming through, and so many wanting to stay the lucky ones that find work are truly grateful and it means everyone is happy to be there. The atmosphere in the streets is one of positivity and enjoyment as even a short stroll through the streets offers magnificent views of either the gorgeous lake or the stunning mountains (including the mountains of Mordor)

2013-07-11 12.15.06I was fortunate to be offered a job working for Peterpans, the company I had worked for in Australia, while I was still traveling in South East Asia. A couple of flights after cutting my trip just a little shorter and I was coming into Queenstown to work a job I already knew I loved. But the attitude of the other residents be they British, German, Canadian or actual Kiwis was so welcoming and friendly I soon met people who I now consider some of my best friends. Working and living in a town as small as Queenstown (and it is a lot smaller than you’d think) mean you soon get to know the barstaff and waiters, receptionists, managers, and all the rest of pretty much any business you go into regularly. Within only a couple months it was possible to walk into almost any bar in town, get a cheeky discount drink and a decent chat with the staff. Or if it was busy, just the cheeky drink, making you look like a big shot in front of todays load of fresh backpackers.

DSCF0058There was a carefree attitude towards what people were up to, and gossip was less prevalent than other places, mostly because folk weren’t bored enough to spread rumours or anything like that, we were all too busy enjoying ourselves. Thinking on my time there now, I really wish I could go back. Back to days where walking down the street might take half an hour, because you’d bump into so many others you’d know, and no one worried if you were late, so you’d catch up quickly, sharing the latest adventure either on or off the mountains. It rare to feel so welcome in a foreign country, but in Queenstown I felt more at home than I ever did in the UK, and cold bleak place by comparison, filled with moaning people who don’t even know enough to wish they could live like those in NZ.

Not to mention I got a crazy amount of freebies through work that it was rarely more than a couple weeks between bungys, swings, biking, snowboarding or something equally exciting.

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Benjamin Duff

@versestravel