From your hotel door to 2,000 meters above sea level in just 15 minutes
"It's majestic. There are mountains and fantastic scenery in every direction," says Silje Utkilen, from Norway, as she gazes out from a gondola in the Austrian Alps.
Silje is on a road trip in Europe together with her partner Sebastian Holmene and ten-year-old daughter Thea. One of the stops on the way is Sankt Gallenkirch in Austria, where they went to experience stunning green nature and high and wild mountains.
"I have long had a dream of experiencing Austria and the Alps, including in the summer," says Silje.
They have walked just 20 metres from the door of their hotel to the Grasjoch bahn gondola, which is taking them up into the mountains. The gondola is part of Silvretta Montafon, a popular ski resort in the Montafon Valley in the Vorarlberg region of Austria.
"This is so much fun," says Thea, looking out the window. "It's tickling my stomach."
The terrain under the gondola is steep, and she can see small mountain villages and lakes and snow on the highest peaks. The thermometer shows 24 degrees C on this day in July, but there is some rain in the air. The family is headed to the top of Hochalpila – 2,430 meters above sea level.
The Austrian Alps in summer
Most people associate the Austrian Alps with skiing and snowboarding and Silvretta Montafon certainly has great skiing conditions throughout the winter season. Thomas Meißner, hotel manager at REVIER Hotel Montafon, says that the mountains are excellent for both experienced skiers and beginners:
"Here, you will find perfectly groomed slopes in all levels of difficulty. You also have Hochjoch Total in Vorarlberg with a 1,700 meter height difference, and half of the trails are at an elevation of 2,000 metres above sea level or higher. You'll also find more black trails, freeride opportunities, and a big snowboard park," Thomas told Picolo.com.
Nevertheless, he believes that the Alps should not be forgotten during the summer season, as it is incredibly beautiful there at that time of year.
"More tourists should visit the mountains in the summer to enjoy the quiet nature and fresh mountain air and to simply relax."
He believes that Sankt Gallenkirch is unique since it's a small and peaceful village, with easy access to the mountain landscape - both for hiking and mountain biking.
"Here, you can actually walk right outside the hotel and take a gondola up into the mountains and discover new trails every single day."
Cold lager with stunning views
Sebastian, Silje, and Thea get off at the first stop, which is located at an altitude of 1,980 metres. The gondola ride up has taken fifteen minutes.
"Look, horses!" shouts Thea, running towards a herd coming down the mountain.
Everywhere the family looks, there are green, endless mountain peaks and trails in every direction. Not least, they also spot a café with the possibility of lunch and a beer.
"Let's go to the next peak before the rain comes, then have a beer here afterwards," Sebastian suggests.
The gondola takes them further up to 2,430 metres. Here, you can give yourself a real challenge and climb on to a nearby peak along a jagged mountain ridge, but this requires climbing equipment. The family chooses to head into the mountains instead.
"It's amazing here," says Sebastian, adding with a smile:
"It's also a cool resort that is even good for those of us with a fear of heights!"
In the mountains, the family encounter some goats, throw some snowballs, bathe in a mountain lake, and round off just as they intended: with a cold beer in the café offering majestic views with horses grazing in the background.