The joy of snow

Living in coastal Queensland means hot and humid summers, very mild winters and lovely seasons in between. We don’t really get to experience the four seasons because they seem to merge together so for us, spending a couple of days in the cooler climes of Innsbruck, Austria was utterly delightful. Both Hubby and I wanted to see snow, and perhaps explore some Christmas markets,  the timing wasn’t perfect however we discovered that the markets in Verona, Innsbruck and Berlin opened late November. In the days leading up to our arrival in Innsbruck we kept checking the weather reports and were happy to see that snow was predicted during our stay. Snow is not something we’ll ever experience where we live, Queenslanders complain about the cold if the temperature drops below 20 degrees celsius.

My first visit to Innsbruck was in 1999 and it was summer, no snow then just lots of rain. This time we travelled in late Autumn and I imagined snow covered mountains, Christmas decorations and huge Christmas trees covered in lights, Innsbruck did not disappoint. Hubby was ecstatic! On our second day in Innsbruck it snowed, we woke up to a view of snow covered rooftops and couldn’t believe our luck. The previous night we discovered the joy of Gluhwein, the spiced wine warming us from the inside out and it worked a treat during the day as well especially when combined with delicious food sold at the Christmas stalls. It wasn’t hard to spot the tourists, we were the ones with broad smiles, standing in the middle of the square and taking photos of each other in the snow.

The food in Innsbruck’s old town caters to tourists, the quality might be considered average and the offerings kitschy or old fashioned. We didn’t really care and were looking forward to schnitzel and strudel, dishes that Hubby’s Italian Nanna cooked for him as a child. The lovely staff at the Hotel Weisses Kreuz sent us to a couple of places where we could enjoy a tasty schnitzel and for afternoon tea, apple strudel and hot chocolate. The food was delicious and the hot chocolate incredible, served up was a large ball of dark chocolate that I dropped into a steaming glass of milk and stirred until it melted. The apple strudel was also good, apparently not as good as Nanna’s but I enjoyed every mouthful. There is nothing quite like a good, hearty meal on a cold, snowy day and not a day goes this summer without me wishing I was back in Innsbruck.

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Charmed by Sorrento?

Sorrento was one of those places in Italy about which I remain undecided, did I love it or hate it or just merely like it? There was plenty to love: panoramic ocean views, fresh buffalo mozzarella, delicious (but overpriced) gelato, fresh seafood and spectacular sunsets but unlike my husband, I’m not fussed about returning in a hurry and would prefer to explore further south or inland. The time we spent there was wonderful, the old town is very touristy but it was pleasant wandering through all the cobblestone streets and exploring the little shops so am I being too harsh? Certainly the photographs paint a pretty picture 🙂

A favourite place, Tamborine Mountain

In previous posts I have mentioned Tamborine Mountain as a lovely alternative to the beaches and high rise buildings of Surfers Paradise (Surfers for short). The drive is a long and winding one, once at the top there are views of the coast and the Surfers Paradise skyline, it is probably the best view of Surfers that you will get especially on a cloud free day and I imagine it is spectacular during a lightning storm.

Tamborine Mountain is popular with artists, foodies and if you like schnapps or cheese, some of the best in the region comes from local producers. The Tamborine Mountain Distillery produces and sells award winning liqueurs, schnapps and Vodkas, their Limoncello even won an International award a few years ago which is amazing considering that they were competing against the Italians. The schnapps is delicious but the Absinthe and Vodkas were a little too strong for my tastebuds. When I go to Mt Tamborine I make a point of going to the Witches Chase Cheese Company to try their homemade ice cream and buy some of their Triple Cream Brie or Washed Rind Cheese, the feta is also very tasty and if you’re lucky you can beat the crowds and spend time taste testing a variety of their products.

 

The Nardoo Lavendar farm
The Nardoo Lavendar Shop

Tamborine Mountain’s main street is known as Gallery Walk, it is very touristy and although there are some good cafes there I like to head to North Tamborine and grab a bit at a little cafe called the Spice of Life Cafe and Deli, fresh, tasty food can be purchased for a picnic or you can relax in the cafe with a paper and a good cup of coffee or gourmet sandwich. Not far from here is the Nardoo Lavendar Shop and Cedar Creek Estate, a winery and cafe popular with tourists but also for weddings, the surroundings are scenic and if you’re lucky you’ll get to see some of the local wildlife.

Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet
Friendly Water Monitor

Often I will visit Tamborine Mountain with a friend and rather than shop or dine at a cafe, we’ll go for a walk in one of the many parks in the area. The abundance of rain means that there are a number of small waterfalls to see and on a hot day in summer you can hear the laughter and splashing of the local kids as they swim in the creek. There are short walks that range from 30 to 90 minutes and longer walks that can take a few hours to complete, if there has been alot of rain some tracks will be closed because of small mudslides or trees that have been dislodged and judged ‘unsafe’.

There are many other things to do at Tamborine Mountain, you can go hang gliding, shop for organic produce, art and crafts at the local markets, take a walk through the Botanic Gardens or visit some of the art galleries that have popped up all over the area. It really is a wonderful part of the world and one of my favourite places to visit on any given day.

Echinacea flower
Echinacea flower, Mt Tamborine Botanic Gardens
Bushwalking through National Park, Mt Tamborine
Bushwalking through National Park, Mt Tamborine