The BundleBean

When a friend of mine noticed that I had embarked upon the Wainwrights in the Lake District fells with Evie (at the time only a few weeks old), she knew it was a matter of time before the spell of good weather broke and I would need some waterproof gear.

I have a need to be outside and have some exercise and fresh air at some point every day, no matter what the weather. This means that Evie, on most occasions, will also have to be outside with me. And the problem with babies is that they grow. Rapidly. Which, although I am a fan of second hand clothes, could still become expensive to be getting decent outdoor gear, when she is essentially just being carried.

So this is where my friends suggestion of the BundleBean comes in. Designed to fit over any carrier and for children up to 4 years old, waterproof and snuggly, I thought it was worth a try. The hardest decision was choosing between elephants and polar bears (amongst others) for the design!

BundleBean

And what timing. When it arrived I put it in my rucksack and the next walk I did up Arnison Crag in June we got caught in a thunderstorm.

With the first raindrop falling as I got to the summit, I donned the BundleBean and hoped it would keep her dry. It was a good test as the rain really came down. Back at the car she was 100% dry.

From that day onwards the BundleBean is always there in my bag, allowing me to still enjoy getting out without worrying, even when it is windy and wet.

It has other uses to, like a picnic blanket.

An out an about sleeping mat that you can even squeeze a friends twinnies into whilst we picnic and swim.

A blanket for the pushchair

Or for when she is in the bike Chariot and it’s a chilly day!

It’s been used as a general warm blanket for when we are down at the lake (she is a bit small for her own Dryrobe yet!)

It makes for a good beach towel!

And very importantly, the design has thought about the parents to, as there is a fleece lined hand warmer pocket for when it is used on the front. Important, as if you are anything like me, whilst Evie is small and still in the front sling, I instinctively like to hold her as well.

We recently trialled it on the back as Evie is growing. I’m pleased to say it seemed just as effective keeping her dry in an alpine thunderstorm.

Evie is almost, but not quite, ready for the rucksack…. as we head into Autumn. I have no doubt I’ll be testing it further when using this as we get more rain.

BundleBean

Penkenjoch

First lesson of this day was don’t waste time trying to drive to the top of a lift to save on some cable car money (my idea). The result was a VERY narrow hairpin mountain road with very few barriers and very steep drops (why is it that holding on to the door inside the car in these situations somehow helps the nerves?!). Halfway up this nerve racking road we then got to a barrier that you clearly only get a pass for if you live this high up the mountain. So back down we went, and after some deliberation about options, we boarded the Finkenbergen Almbahnen cable car to its middle station.

Up up and away leaving Finkenberg way down in the distance.

Getting out at the middle station, we set off on path 22b.

The path had intermittent interesting educational boards about the wildlife and the area. There were even a couple of experiments set up to do en-route.

There were also the obligatory cows with bells, which is the perfect finishing touch to any alpine walk!

We then turned uphill and followed path 57, where a spot of lunch and some Evie wiggle time were required

Onwards, we nearly had to leave Tim behind as he was too big for the gateways!

A steep up for a while but then we arrived at the top of the lift on the Penken. What better way to arrive on a hill top than through an amazing adventure playground (as exciting for the big kids as the younger ones!)

Once this amazing course was scaled, we went and enjoyed a drink at the brand new beautiful mountain restaurant, the Granatalm, before having to also have a play on the little kids playground (Evie gave us a pass!). Meet Pepi Bear!

And yes, I did go inside the bear, crawled through the adventure park inside the bear (crawled as it was designed for smaller people) and down the slide. The slide was so fast I shot out the end and was removing wood chips out of my top for the next hour! I expect smaller people would have stopped at the base of the slide…..

Talk about a full in great set up at the top of a lift. Something for everyone.

Before heading down we stopped off at the new chapel, the Granatkapelle at 2,087m. Intriguing from the outside, beautifully simple inside, it is a sight to behold.

It was time to head down the 22a path, as the lifts stopped at 4.45, but we could continue to enjoy these views every step of the way.

We even managed time for one final drink on the balcony of the Almstuberl restaurant to sit an absorb the mountain views after our final walk in the big mountains for this holiday. What a beautiful day it was.

The Hintertux

Woke up to clear blue skies so decided today was the day for the Hintertux walk, one of Tims favourites. The Hintertux is a 19km drive up the road. From there you can either walk up, or do what we did and get a cable car up and walk back down.

Even in early September there are skiers going up for some all year round glacial skiing. There are also some beautiful natural ice caves on / in the glacier which you can tour around (we did this a previous year).

In the past few years we have noticed the glacier is retreating, yet they are still developing their ski stations up here.

It is a downwards only walk when done like this. A mix of small rocky footpaths and wider tracks, but always stunning surroundings.

Oh how I wish I could swim in this! But you are not allowed.

Just before the middle lift station is a nice area with some information boards places to sit and enjoy the view.

A stop for a bite at the amazing ski restaurant at the middle station, with another good play area for kids.

Then descent part two, from the stunning to the pretty. And tricky underfoot.

Evie makes friends with the cows

And you find yourself in a valley with this stunning waterfall

A bit of wriggle time out for Evie, and enjoying the view for us, before the steep and rocky descent down to the bottom.

An easy day from Mayrhofen

A relaxed morning in an about Mayrhofen, meant that we were ready for a short post lunch walk. We decided to walk from the door and crossed over the river and up to the Zimmereben hut, which was closed.

However, it has fabulous views over Mayrhofen on its balcony.

The hut sits at the top of a family friendly Via Ferrata route, although Evie is a little small for Via Ferrata yet!

So without a drink, we headed back down and instead had a naughty treat at the Cafe Kostner in town

Evie very much enjoyed the apple from inside he Apfel Strudel and the banana from inside the split!

She proudly displayed her sitting balance on the cafes dragon, part of a great little playground it had.

From there to Mayrhofen’s mini golf. Three holes in one between us!

Evie was very amused just playing with a putter and keeping score for us!

This meant we all had a great time and could enjoy the cafe afterwards!

Stilluptal – a beautiful valley

If the weather isn’t the best but you still want stunning, this valley is gorgeous and is great for all.

The way up the valley is a toll road, which winds it’s way up from the middle of Mayrhofen to the Stilluptal reservoir. This costs €8, but it would be a very long way up without a car. It’s a pretty drive, but totally stunning when you get there. Glacial waters and steep sided valleys with waterfalls pouring down from the tops.

This view is from the top of the Penken, on the other side of the Mayrhofen valley. It does show its extent and why it feels so amazing when in the Stilluptal valley

This walk is tarmac the whole way and a 2-3 hr round trip depending on the speed you walk. A downside of the tarmac is that if like me you prefer to be off road, it’s not. But it does make it totally accessible to anyone with a buggy/pushchair who still want views and a decent walk.

One of the joys of the mountains for me is hearing the cows with bells. Even better when they are friendly on their stroll down the road, and enjoy a stroke!

In her typical sleepy way Evie misses most of the walk up

We decided to trial her on the back in the sling, as she is getting heavy for front carrying over distance. She seems happy… and falls back to sleep.

The the rain comes, but all is well. Waterproofs for us, BundleBean for her and the rain is unimportant.

We arrive at the Grune-Wand-Hutte, very ready for late lunch.

Evie checks the menu to decide on food

She settles for her first go at baby food – Spaghetti Bolognese – and loved it

The food here was really good, as Austrian hut food generally is. Evie’s own meal doesn’t stop her interest in our food and her joy in routing her hands around in my salad!

Lunch over, time to return back down the hill.

Past more friendly cows

A bit of wriggle time for Evie (and naughty hot chocolate for us) at the next hut down

And then some gorgeous reflections to finish the walk

And then the rain came, luckily almost back at the car…..

Holiday in Mayrhofen

Mayrhofen is where Tim used to come for holidays as a child, and where we came on our honeymoon, so it seemed important to bring Evie, almost 5 months old now, here for our first family holiday.

After two weeks of not seeing daddy, Evie was very keen to show him her ability to sit almost independently and her rolling!

She even moved up into the big kids supermarket trolley section

Unfortunately the weather is not so great on day one, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing to do. The clouds were down making it pointless going up high as there would be no views.

There is a nice valley ‘Easy walk’ path that takes you along the river on one side and back through the woods on the other. It meant we stopped at this small church where we have never been before

And saw a sculpture that represented our new family nicely

I spotted a sign that clearly means no old cars or flapping motorbikes allowed

Evie found a big bear to jump in a hitch a lift back into Mayrhofen with!

And then the other thing Mayrhofen has is a nice pool. In the past staying in certain hotels gets you into the outdoor pool for free. But we are in an apartment this time…. and the pool was €10 each! Thankfully Evie really really enjoyed floating around with us, and we enjoyed the crazy slides and bubbles.

And then at the end she fell into one of the deepest sleeps I have ever seen!

The end of the trip – a day in Vienna

Vienna – the city of amazing buildings. Not just a few, but streets and streets of them in every direction.

First port of call is working out the U-bahn. Not tricky unless the ticket machine doesn’t work! But we got it sussed and got to the main Bahnhof to get our tickets back to Munich airport. A ticket for €8 a day did us well, works on trains, trams and busses and lasts for 24hrs.

Tomorrow’s train sorted, onto sightseeing. First stop was St Stephan cathedral. What a sight to behold both inside and out. None of the gold of places but instead finely carved stonework and the detail was something else.

Outside there were people selling tickets for an intimate evening concert, in the room in which Mozart first gave a concert at 6 year old. After some contemplation, we decided to get some tickets.

Just walking around Vienna is amazing without looking at anything in particular, but just looking up.

The buildings are enormous

The archways are intricately decorated

And the courtyards inside are something else at times

One now shopping centre was just so beautiful, you can only imagine that at some point the wealth of each individual residence to be decorated such.

A lunch and my final ‘Gespritz’.

After packing up the bags we headed out into the late afternoon. Via the incredibly impressive Rathaus, where there was a 2018 film festival going on.

We went onwards to Votivkirche, which was towards the end of its process of being cleaned up on the outside. Beautiful again.

The inside was mostly behind curtains and being turned into a temporary art gallery.

We walked in via impressive building after impressive building….

…… to an innocuous doorway.

Once inside though we were in Palais Schönborn-Batthyany, the place for the concert. Quite relieved the tickets were not a con, we took our seats.

The musicians were said to be from the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and Opera, certainly they were good enough to be so. Playing and singing all the well known pieces, the first half went well.

In the second half Evie started rubbing her eyes and getting very wriggly…. then crotchety…. and finally loud shouts. Mid-piece, there endeth the concert for me & her. She had done very well to this point though and you can’t really reason with a 4 month old!

But as soon as I walked her around outside the door she calmed right down, so I could at least dance on the stairway to the final pieces, which in itself was quite nice. Whether for me or not, they kept the door partly open once I walked out.

A final meal in a very local pub, The Centimetre, just round the corner from our hotel. Popular and with good reason.

A really enjoyable evening and way to finish our trip.