Mountain Hiking in Lech

Monday 29 August 2016

Our second morning in Lech was an early one as we wanted to go down to explore the hotels bakery before our days activity. Clements took us to the huge bakery underneath the hotel and showed us how they made the apple strudel that they serve upstairs. He told us that the bakery supplies bread for the whole town and brings in as much money for them as the hotel does! It took him all of ten minutes to perfectly stretch the dough paper thin, fill it with ingredients and roll it up, we were all in awe of his skills. With the promise of a slice for when we return later on, we were off on a big hike.
I'll be honest; hiking, OK but hiking up a mountain in the freezing cold isn't really my idea of fun. It looked like a nice day and we were told it'd only be two hours so when given the choice, I went along. We soon realised it was actually snowing in the mountains and we spent the next four hours up there. Of course, some of the views were really breathtaking, that is, when I did look up, as I was so worried about slipping on the wet stones that it didn't happen often. I did however stop to watch each small waterfall we passed because I loved how the water moved and was always interested to see where they started and how they ran down the mountains. I  also loved the sound that came from the cows and their cowbells. That stuff, was all very storybook.
By the time we'd reached the top we'd seen snow, rain, sun and hail and been soaked through and then completely dried again. We also came across a hut full of goats which my personal highlight, I love goats!
We finished our trip at a little old wooden house without any electricity. We bought lemonade and cloudy cider and ate cheese, chorizo and ham whilst we marveled that at how we managed to get there - me especially, I didn't think my body was capable of that and although I found it extremely hard, I did it, I kept up for the most part and I was proud of myself. 
Saying that, I never want to do anything like that ever again. The panic I felt when the tour guide disappeared completely out of sight was like no other. It was pouring of rain and the very thin path that I thought I'd seen him go up was now occupied by a couple of cows. So yes, I did have a panic attack on the top of a mountain but luckily it was only for a couple of minutes as I knew how to get through it.

When we finally reached the bottom of the mountain, we were picked up in the hotel's mini van and driven back to civilization with a piece of strudel waiting for each of us. I ordered mine with a scoop of ice cream and a peppermint tea and then went straight to the room for a bath and a well deserved nap. Ready for dinner a couple of hours later, we all hopped back into the van and drove 10 minutes to a little hut next to a huge lake. All eleven of us bundled inside and filled the whole place which I loved, it was so cosy! We ordered fish caught fresh from the lake and tried some more delicacies - I started with a creamy fish soup which was just what I needed after the day I'd had and for dessert, we had Kaiserschmarrn which translates to shredded, fluffy pancakes which I really enjoyed. Some bits were crunchy whilst others were thick and stodgy - all the better dipped in sweet apple sauce.
After dinner we went back to the hotel and had a drink. Austrians are all about their Schnapps and Clements has a bit of a press trip tradition on picking a flavour to suit each person. He picked hazelnut for me which was the sweetest of them all, he had obviously noticed that I like my desserts hahah.

My First day in Lech: Snow

Thursday 25 August 2016

As I got out of bed on the first morning and pulled back the curtains I was taken back by the most beautiful view from my balcony, even though it was freezing cold, I just opened the door and sat on the balcony for ten minutes to take it all in.
We had arranged to meet at 10 am. so that meant time for a lay in and a lovely warm soak in my deep filled bath before meeting the rest of the team for breakfast. By this point it was snowing very heavily but we were excited to get out into it and explore Lech. Our first activity of the day was to visit a local food market and we were going to walk there so I went straight back to the room to layer up. I put on as many layers as I could manage I finished up with a t-shirt, two jumpers and a coat as well as bed socks and a scarf and woolly hat - a girls gotta keep warm!
We grabbed an umbrella (the hotel supplies kne in each room) on our way out and made the 10-minute walk up the street to the market. It was all local produce from cheeses and cured meats to pine infused schnapps and little hand made trinkets. Next door was Stroltz which is known as Austria's Harrods so we popped in there as well. 
Behind the market was the entrance to the cable car and using our Lech cards, soon we were climbing up into the mountains in thick snow and the views going up were just incredible, just like something from a film, I've never seen that much snow before. Once we got to the top, we couldnt see anything, just white everywhere - we stopped for a hot chocolate and played around outside for a bit before we got back on, down to ground level.
You know me, always thinking about food and I was starting to get hungry. We walked back to the hotel, arriving just in time for the snow to stop. Typical. We had lunch in the hotel's restaurant and there was a whole host of traditional dishes flying around - some people tried the Austrian pancake soup, a meat broth with thin slices of pancake floating around in it. There was also a wiener schnitzel of course and a few plates of beef goulash which was very rich and hearty.
 It was still a little bit drizzly after lunch so whilst most of the team went for another little hike, Sonia and I decided to spend the afternoon in the spa. After an hour of chatting, lazing around the pool we got in for a little swim and then spent another hour just sitting in the jacuzzi before finishing off in the sauna. So lovely and relaxing, the perfect rainy day activity if you ask me.
By the time I got back to my room, the sun was finally shining. I thought my view was pretty in the snow but being able to see it clearly in the  sunshine was amazing! 

Somehow an hour later, it was time to eat again - the whole day just flew past. The Tourist Board had arranged for us to have dinner at Haus No. 8 which was the restaurant across the road (literally) from the hotel and also owned by Clements family. It was actually his grandparents home and the one his father grew up so it's pretty cool to go there with him as he pointed out photos of his grandmother, Filomena in the wall. We spent the evening indulging in some more very traditional Austrian food. 

Huge dishes of cheese dumplings (Kasnocken) and some kind of potato and black pudding mixture arrived at the table along with all sorts of salads. It all looked super heavy but it was surprisingly unstodgey, it was a really delicious meal actually and the restaurant was super cute.
Afterwards everyone crossed the road, back to the hotel and settled down with a glass of schnapps. 

Day one. Done.

The Hotel Gotthard, Austria

Monday 22 August 2016

The drive from Zurich Airport to the hotel on my recent press trip in Austria was pretty incredible. It started off as a normal car journey but soon we were traveling up a mountain. Snow in July was unexpected but to go into the tunnel just as it started and come out to a blanketed white landscape was pretty cool. I think it made the whole experience seem a lot more authentic, this Alpine landscape looks so beautiful topped with snow. The lighting was pretty terrible so here are a couple of photos I took when the sun came out!
As we arrived at the hotel we were greeted in reception by Nicole in traditional Austrian dress, with a lovely warm (literally) welcome and a glass of Prosecco. She runs the hotel here with her husband Clements, it's been in his family for four generations after his great-great grandmother opened it in 1932. You could tell that it was a family run place, they seemed to know each and every guest, stopping to ask about their day and just generally making everyone feel very welcome and very much at home. They've passed this lovely manner on to all of their staff - everyone was very friendly and said always stopped to say hi! 

We dropped off our cases and went straight down for dinner. One of those big sharing meals which was a lovely way to get to know everyone - and very delicious as well! We had a selection of hard mountain cheese, cured meats (the venison chorizo was something new), fish and some more prosecco.  Full of cheese and ham, we all went back to our rooms for a well needed sleep (and some wifi time)
As I woke up the next morning and drew back the curtains, I instantly fell in love with the view from my balcony. It looked over the mountains with a couple of cute alpine buildings and a (very loud) river running past - I hadn't even realised it was there, the triple glazing was very good!
and then the sun came out..

I've never been on that sort of holiday before so I wanted everything to be as authentic as possible and was very pleased that the room continued the alpine theme from outside. It had wooden paneling and was super cosy with fluffy white duvets and a couple of big armchairs to snuggle up in - these also brought a really lovely pop of colour into the room! I loved to wrap up in the hotel robe and sit in one of the chairs with the window open listening to the river whilst I waited for the bath to run. That's actually another thing to mention - the bathrooms were kept very clean throughout my stay and after a long day of exploring the mountains, my favourite thing to do was come back to the room and have a long hot bath in my very deep tub!
I was a little bit worried about being cold but was pleasantly surprised with how warm the hotel was at all times even if it was freezing outside; so taking advantage of that, I went down to breakfast in a crop top and tracksuit bottoms! The breakfast buffet was pretty impressive actually, the hotel has a huge bakery in its basement so apart from the usual spread, there was a huge selection of freshly baked Austrian bread. The tables were all well set and as soon as you sit down, one of the staff would come over and light the candle.
And thats the first post of my little trip to Lech! Watch out for the next one to see what we got up to after breakfast!
*I was a guest of The Hotel Gotthard but all views are 100% my own.
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Date Night In London & Haagen-Dazs New Sticks

Thursday 18 August 2016

Andrew and I go out for dinner more than anyone else we know, last week we ended up eating out four times, you know pizza express, nandos, the usual. But every now and then date night comes around and we fancy somewhere a little bit nicer. We may have been together for almost 7 years now but we still love date night!
Our last one was a few months ago now; Andrew took me for dinner at the Savoy Grill and afterwards we went for a little wander and ended up drinking cocktails at the ME hotel before jumping in an uber home - date night always means a cab all the way home back to Essex. But as I said, that was a few months ago so we were in need of our next, which came around again on Saturday.

We decided to go back to one of our favourites - Gaucho. We've actually been to quite a few of the branches in London but the Piccadilly circus one is definitely our favourite - it has the best atmosphere and I also really love the building that it's in! We visit here at least two or three times a year and we even booked it for NYE a couple of years ago as well.
It was a lovely warm evening in London so I decided to wear my new dress from River Island. I get a bit funny about wearing tight dresses when its hot, especially if I have to get the tube in so this was perfect because it is so floaty. I thought it print was so pretty and the waist tie was perfect for a big meal haha.
Gaucho have seemed to update their menu since the last time we went so we ended up spending a lot more than usual because Andrew wanted to try some of the new things as well. Usually, I can just about handle my steak but we went for starters this time as well - I had the tuna ceviche hoping that it wouldnt be too heavy and he went for the short ribs - mine was on a bed of smashed avo so I was happy. Then, of course I went for my usual fillet medallions whilst Andrew ordered the biggest steak on the menu - all delicious as always.

The only thing that I don't like about Gaucho is their choice of desserts. I think I've only ordered dessert at that branch once and that was when there was a sticky toffee pudding on the menu but I was far too full for that now anyway so we decided to skip dessert and go for an evening walk around London instead.

Knowing me, I'm sure you can guess what happened next! We got as far as Tottenham court road when dessert became a priority again. Luckily, I work around there and knew exactly what I wanted! I had spotted an ice cream in the co-op with Juanita earlier that week and stopped myself because I just couldn't justify it on a Wednesday afternoon whilst it was raining but this was the perfect excuse!

I love a tub of Haagen Dazs at home and they have just brought out these stick bars so I was really excited to try them. It was just the treat I needed for a late dessert.
Haagen Dazs ice cream is always so indulgent and creamy and they bars were the same. I went for the salted caramel one and the ice cream inside was packed full with chunks of sauce and fudge, coated with a layer on milk chocolate.

We ate them as we walked further through London..
And when they were finished we called an uber to take us home!

*In collaboration with brand
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