MCoA - Tyrol My Corner of Austria

My Corner of Austria: Joanne Newton in the Zugspitze Arena, Lermoos (Reutte, Tirol)

Steeped in Tyrolean tradition, from Bergfeuer to Almabtrieb and plenty of outdoor pursuits, Lermoos in Reutte is close to the Zugspitze.

Ski basin at the base of the Zugspitze summit
Blindsee in Biberwier
Zugspitze and Ehrwald from Lermoos
Horse-drawn carriage
Snowy weather
From the cable car going up the Zugspitze

What brought you to your corner of Austria?

Many years ago an English lady from near to where I was living came to Lermoos as she was working in the travel industry and met and fell in love with and married a local guy.  Her visit to Lermoos led to an English brass band coming to visit. My future brother-in-law was part of the brass band and fell in love with the area. They did many exchange holidays. He suggested to me on one occasion that our families should visit Lermoos for a summer holiday, which we did.  More summer and winter holidays in the area followed… Whilst here, we always visited a local popular restaurant and used the services of the owner with his taxi/coach company.  After much to do the owner is now my partner.

What tradition or custom is typical for your corner of Austria?

I’ve found that the Tyrolians are very traditional people. Most traditions relate to dates in the calendar of the Catholic church and involve musical bands, processions and beer. I’ve been woken up many times by the local band playing and parading down the street at 6am! I think this is normally in May! Then there is the celebration of the tradition of “Schützen” (men armed with rifles that protect, safeguard, and defend). And devils (Teufel) always make an appearance at Christmas with St Nikolaus. They are scary for adults, let alone children!

On 6th January, the Sternsänger (children dressed up as the three kings) also knock at your door singing and collect for charities. In turn they chalk the the lintel of your doorway, to “bless” your house.

As with other rural parts of Austria, every Saturday at noon there is a siren test, in our village, mounted on the church – which is just to test that the sirens work. Similarly the bells, and latterly the sirens, used to be used to warn of enemies approaching as well as to call farmworkers down from the fields for lunch. Nowadays the sirens are used by the fire brigade to muster the villagers to help in an emergency, and hopefully more people turn up to help. I’ve luckily only heard it used once in 6 years for this reason which was at 11pm!

One local tradition is connected to the woods. Some of the “old” locals own the trees, and every year a certain number are cut down for firewood or building and new ones planted to replace them. Not everyone has this right and it’s normally passed down through the family. The owner of the right decides who they’re passing it down to.

What would you recommend to a visitor who was visiting to see and do?

This area is a paradise for outdoor activities. It’s a very popular attraction in winter for people into downhill or cross country skiing, snowboarding, winter hiking, and night sledging, and the ski show is a must see.

There is also the possibility to learn paragliding both in winter and summer. For the less sporty, I can recommend taking the lifts up the Grubigstein and enjoy a hot or cold drink (and food if you wish) at the top in the fabulously fresh air overlooking the most spectacular scenery. Another highlight is the Tiroler Zugspitzbahn in Ehrwald to the top of the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain peak at 2962m. Again breathtaking scenery.

The ancient roman road, via Claudia, runs right through the village. It’s very popular with cyclists and walkers in the summer. The whole area is great for mountain biking.

For the energetic, fit folks I’d highly recommend a hike up to the Tüftlalm in summer and reward yourself with some traditional food and a drink or admire the amazing scenery overlooking Lermoos and Ehrwald from the viewing platform. Maybe pick up some homemade cheese while you’re there.  You can then continue up the Daniel to reach the highest summit in the Ammergau Alps. Other hikes to do include to Seebensee from the Ehrwalder Alm, or to one of the many lakes close to Biberwier.

If you are not feeling so active, there are local hotels with a spa so you can take a relaxing beauty treatment. There is also a lovely golf course on the Moos between Lermoos and Ehrwald.

For children, Lermoos has a very nice park (Lusspark), an explorer trail and in my opinion, one of the best outdoor heated swimming pools surrounded by the mountains. There’s also a beach volleyball court. A boat trip on Heiterwangersee is also wonderful. Ehrwald has an indoor climbing wall.

You can also take a short drive (14.5km) to Hotel Restaurant Thaneller in Berwang to visit the small brewery which is the highest alpine brewery in Austria. (1300m)

When you visit Lermoos it’s always worth a peep inside the church of St Katharina. Whether you’re religious or not you can admire its beauty and all the work that’s been put in to it.

If you get the chance to visit in summer, it’s worth visiting the area around the 3rd Saturday in June, for the summer solstice. The mountain fires (Bergfeuer) in Lermoos, Ehrwald and Biberwier light up the mountains, and are recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Weltkulturerbe).

The traditional Almabtrieb (driving the cows down from the mountain pasture), sees the beautifully decorated cows come down from the mountains and walked through the streets on the 1st or 2nd Saturday in September is also a wonderful tradition.

Alternatively, there are horse and carriage rides around the area in winter and summer, which are a lovely experience.

Where would you recommend to go to eat or drink?

Of course I’d have to recommend our restaurant even though we now rent it out! The Bauernstube in Lermoos where you can eat traditional fayre and have a beer or nice glass of wine. There are so many nice places, most hotels have restaurants. There are several restaurants and cafes on the main street in Lermoos. I can highly recommend the Holzstubn Abendrestaurant in Ehrwald and Hotel Hubertushof in Lermoos where you can sit out on the terrace in Summer and drink your coffee or beer and enjoy the best view of the towering Zugspitze mountain. Cafe Mair is probably the place where you’ll find the most locals having a beer and a gossip in the evening!

How can your corner of Austria be reached (by car or public transport)?

Lermoos is very easy to get to from either Austria or Germany. The train line from Garmisch to Reutte runs through the village of Lermoos and stops hourly. There’s a free guest bus (with guest card) between Garmisch train station (west side) and Lermoos & Ehrwald. By car we are just a short detour off the Fernpassstraße (B179) between Reutte and Nassereith. From Garmisch take the B187 to Ehrwald then it’s easily signposted. There is also a direct bus line (no. 150) from Reutte to Lermoos, as well as buses and trains from Innsbruck.

Does anyone famous come from your corner of Austria?

Most of the famous locals are connected with winter sports. Nicole “Niki” Hosp comes from Bichlbach, 8km from Lermoos. She was Ski World Cup Champion in 2013 and double Olympic gold medallist in 2014. Josef “Josl” Rieder, from Lermoos itself, was slalom World Champion in 1958. Other famous skiers include Berni Rauter, Pepi Pechtl and Walter Schuster (bronze medallist in the slalom at the 1956 Winter Olympics).

The Swarovski family (crystal and optics) own the local ski lifts, and have a house in Lermoos and a big seminar centre. Last but not least Martina Künstner Mantl is one of the leading Jacpoint quarterhorse riders in the world.

Enjoyed reading this “My Corner of Austria”?

Joanne swapped North West England for Lermoos in Tirol, close to the German border and the Zugspitze. Lermoos is a Tyrolean village steeped in tradition, with plenty of outdoor pursuits, all year round.

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