A great way to start the day is by having breakfast high up in the fresh mountain air and – hopefully – in the sunshine. Some 30 rustic huts in the Skiwelt area offer breakfast, ranging from a Classic: bacon and eggs, bread, jam and honey, to a Traditional: white sausage to a background of Tirolean music. There’s also the Hunter breakfast: sausage and cheese plate – or the Gourmet: eggs, freshly baked bread and local honey, sausage, cheese, bacon, yoghurt with fresh fruit, and pancakes. Each hut has its own distinct taste and style.
On our trip to the Tirol, we have had two especially memorable breakfasts…so far. Both breakfasts were so substantial that lunch wasn’t necessary.
The first was in Gipfel Alm at Hohe Salve where we took the gondola up two stages from the village of Söll. You can hike down from here – it took us just over an hour on a winding mountain path – and the views are gorgeous. The main part of the terrace revolves, so you have a constantly changing view of the surrounding pastures, mountains and lakes.
Inside the Gipfel Alm is a light and airy dining area with a high ceiling, wooden beams and wood-panelled walls. As we speak, builders are creating an additional revolving room. Eating on the move is clearly popular here. And judging by the large chalet-style building in the centre of Westendorf, which wasn’t there on our arrival two weeks ago and where a smart boutique opened on the ground floor today, it won’t take very long.
For 12€ you get a breakfast of several different types of bread, home-made jams, fresh orange juice, tea or coffee, cheeses and cold meats. Our dog, Jackson, wasn’t forgotten either. Martin, the waiter/owner’s son asked whether he was hungry.
Hungry? That’s a silly question: he’s a chocolate Labrador. A large dog bowl full of veal and ham arrived, to be snapped up in a couple of gulps by a grateful Jackson.
Our second breakfast was a lot harder to reach, and you could only get there by walking up the mountain – between May and September. Apparently you can also hike or snowshoe up here in winter, but I probably wouldn’t want to test it myself.
The challenging 4km uphill hike through the foothills of the Wilder Kaiser mountains started near Scheffau. It included clambering between boulders and up steep narrow paths cut into the mud, with a fast-flowing river and waterfalls churning below.
We also crossed half a dozen narrow rope-style bridges just a couple of wooden planks wide. Jackson, whose only previous climbing experience had been on the tame Hampshire hills, managed it with a goat-like skill we didn’t know he possessed.
Some 90 minutes from the start of the hike we arrived at an oasis: the Hinterschiessling Alm. The wooden tables on the terrace were laid for breakfast, and we sat close to the farm’s goats and Angus cattle whilst a pet rabbit lollopped around.
Tea, coffee, home-made yogurt with nuts, seeds and berries, some delicious sesame and caraway bread, farm-produced butter, jams, cheeses, and Angus salami are the order of the day here. The restaurant is open six days a week (not Monday), from 10.30am until 6pm and the full breakfast spread costs 10€.
But were we going to have to clamber down the mountainside after our two-hour-long breakfast? No way. Especially as we were presented with a tray of Schnapps at the end of the meal. We discovered a much easier gravel path to take us the 4km back down to Scheffau, and followed it.
See also our latest blog on biking in Westendorf.