I experienced two weeks of pure mindfulness in Mallorca. Together with my family we enjoyed the Mediterranean Sea, local cuisine, great excursions far from mass tourism and loved to watch the local surfer scene. DM me for special tips. 💗🌊☀️😉
It has been pretty quiet, since I am still recovering from my last surgery and was crazy busy at work. Not the best combination, I admit, but now I am finally finding my inner balance again. Hence, I hit the pause button and traveled to Fuerteventura where I slowly started with my training again.
Endless MTB trails Fuerteventura
If you like it less crowded like me, I can recommend Caleta de Fuste: not too touristy, awesome trails and bike routes and not too far away from other beautiful areas on the island.
Here are just some impressions from my short break. I will definitely be coming back sharing more insights.
But for now I will focus on my recovery so that I can offer some guided tours during summer again.
Here is a little tip for everyone who is spending the summer in the city: enjoy a sundowner at the Isar river bank with “Isar on the Rocks”. A date with your hubby, bae, BFF or just with any friend or family member.
The idea is pretty neat. Simply order your picnic box and get it delivered directly to your picnic spot at the river bank between Reichenbachbruecke and Braunauer Eisenbahnbruecke in downtown Munich.
The drinks are served cold on the rocks, the snacks are a great choice as well. Picnic with style. I for sure will test several boxes as long as the weather permits it. Who wants to join me?
photo credits: “Isar on the Rocks”, Munich Mountain Rebel
Living through a global pandemic takes its toll on your physical and mental well-being. As the weeks go on under quarantine, lots of people have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions and feelings – from sadness and anger to tiredness and feeling groggy. I call it the COVID burnout.
First my MTB accident with a rather severe trauma 2 years ago, then the pandemic. After carefully weighing the pros and cons, I decided to go on my first vacation during the pandemic.
Some might think it’s pretty selfish, others would consider it stupid with me being a person at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. But you know what: you only live once. My life, my rules. However, during a pandemic it is not that simple, since I don’t wanna spread the virus or endanger others. Hence, I self-isolated myself ten days before the vacation and took a COVID test once a week.
Preparations before the vacation to Mallorca
You need to familiarize yourself with all travel restrictions. For Mallorca I needed to fill out the Spain health form in advance and I took a quick PCR test 24 hours before my flight. Make sure the official document is signed by a certified doctor and that it includes your passport number. The costs are not covered by your health insurance. Also, safe the QR code from the health form in your phone’s wallet. You will need it several times.
For my travels, I booked Business Class to feel safer. Up to 12 hours before the flight you need to upload the filled out Spain health form and the negative test result of your PCR test. Make sure to do so in advance to avoid any trouble at the airport. Also, I booked a private Transfer Service to the airport for both destinations avoiding any contact in public transportation. I also ordered more FFP-2 masks for my vacation: one mask per day. Additionally I bought some COVID-19 quick tests, just in case I needed extra precautions on my side.
I strongly recommend to also check the German travel registrations beforehand. The German government tends to make things complicated. When returning from your vacation, you need a certified negative COVID test before boarding any plane or ferry. I recommend to find certified places in Mallorca beforehand, since local doctors and clinics have limited appointments. I chose to book an appointment at the Eurofins MegaLab at Palma Airport: a quick PCR test on my departure day. Make sure to download their app Trust One beforehand and register. Within 30 minutes you get your results and can easily check-in.
At the airport in Germany
As I mentioned before, I felt safer booking Business Class and already checked in via the Lufthansa app. Then I used the self-check in service at Munich airport, since I already had my boarding pass. One scan, dropping off my luggage, no contacts with other people. I was all set within 5 minutes.
At the safety control, it was the same procedure as usual. Only this time I was the only passenger standing in line, nobody else was there. The airport felt like a ghost town.
Then, at the gate, each passenger was checked individually before boarding. You needed to show your passport, the filled out health form and the negative PCR test. After the check you get a yellow sticker on your passport which you needed to show once again during boarding.
When stepping on the plane, everyone received some disinfectant wipes. The board service is limited: they handed out packed chocolate bars and a bottle of water. But honestly: you don’t really need a board service for a two-hour flight. I kept my mask on the whole time.
After landing they called out the respective rows that were allowed to to leave the plane. One row after another.
On the way to the luggage you will undergo several inspections. Health check & screening of the negative PCR test, QR code from your health form. When I arrived, the airport was pretty empty as well. Many sections were completely closed and it was easy to avoid any contact.
Vacation in Mallorca
The reality is pretty sad. Empty villages, closed shops & hotels, empty beaches…. An estimated 75% of all income generated on the Balearic Islands are directly or indirectly linked to the travel industry, which has led to both rising living standards and higher costs of living for its residents. The inhabitants are experiencing rising poverty that’s even spreading to its wealthier quarters. The next holiday season is unlikely to heal the wound from the pandemic….
For me, however, this meant that it was much quieter and safer than currently in Munich. For several days I had the beach completely for myself and it was generally very quiet: in the supermarket, on the streets; but the change of scenery worked wonders.
MTB in Mallorca during COVID
Mallorca is more popular among road & gravel bikers. Due to the pandemic, many shops are still closed and services are simply not available. Hence, you need to be flexible and pragmatic. For me, it meant a road bike helmet for an average Hardtail. I made it work, though.
BUT: there are currently no shuttle services and in order to get to the trails, you need to cover lots of mileage on the hilly roads. With beautiful mountain ranges with an elevation gain of 1,000 m, that’s tough. Sometimes it was the hell of a workout, but always worth it. I discovered so many beautiful hidden gems.
Mask or no mask
The rules are stricter than in Germany. As soon as you leave your home, hotel room or finca, you need to wear a mask at all times. The only exceptions: during outdoor sports or when sunbathing. When walking along the beach, you need to wear a mask. It is strict, the fines are pretty high. But everyone seems to follow the rules.
Just a little tip: rent a bike. This way you can mostly breathe freely without a mask while discovering the island and enjoying scenic moments. I didn’t eat out, though or sat down at a cafe. I mostly avoided personal contacts and simply enjoyed the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea and some personal wellness.
For one exception: I booked a private boat tour at sunrise watching dolphins in Alcudia Bay. I just needed it for my mind and soul.
All in all, I have zero regrets and am pretty sure we will experience new ways of traveling within the near future. And yes, I felt pretty safe and was very cautious myself.
I hope all of you are safe, healthy and also get to refuel your energy during these tough times.
Winter season brings out the romance in me. I just love the holiday season. This year I discovered a true fairy tale in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
The Zauberwald Lenzerheide is one of the most magical Christmas markets I have ever seen. You get to enjoy pretty cool art and light installations, live concerts, even some poetry and traditional Christmas booths with hot cider, local food and craftsmanship – surrounded by the majestic mountains of Lenzerheide.
Right now it is my favorite Christmas market, EVER. I got goosebumps, happy tears and could really feel the magic of the trees – breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful.
How to get there
It is pretty close to Munich. Hence, I took the Flixbus to Chur (a three-hour ride from Munich for 15 EUR) and from there I hopped on the PostBus to Lenzerheide – a 40-minute ride from Chur. If you prefer a little road trip, it only takes two hours and half from Munich.
I recommend to stay for a whole weekend. Lenzerheide is just so pretty. I can really picture myself living there. You find many great deals online. I stayed at the Hotel Sarain Active Mountain Resort, which was all I needed. My recommendation for the Zauberwald Lenzerheide: book a priority ticket online. This saves you a lot of hustle. If you start early at around 5 p.m. it is not too crowded, either.
All in all, I spent 150 EUR for a whole weekend, including entrance fees, accommodation, bus fares and food expenses.
Next year I will be back – that is for sure.
photo & video credits: Munich Mountain Rebel, Zauberwald Lenzerheide
Tis the season. Winter magic, hot punch, lots of powder action and simply taking it easy. It is my favorite season. Hence, it is also a bit more quiet around here. I just love to spend these magical times with my beloved ones, enjoying the holiday season in Seefeld & Davos.
Tyrol is just a short drive from Munich and one of my favorite winter sports destinations. I am not a huge après-ski fan and always try to avoid the crowds. Hence, I know exactly which routes to take in order to have some peaceful moments and high-quality alone time, appreciating nature and the great outdoors.
Well, it is no secret that I have lost my heart in Davos. For the first time, I will spend New Year’s in Grison and I am looking forward to trying out new things. Maybe I will go night sledding at the Rinerhorn on New Year’s Eve, try air boarding at Pischa or will go on a romantic horse-sleigh ride.
So, apologies that it is going to be a bit more quiet around here till the end of December. But I will definitely keep you posted afterwards, sharing my highlights and new training goals.
Till then, enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones and don’t get too stressed. Just relax and live a litte.
photo credits: Munich Mountain Rebel
The Grand Hotel Kronenhof is one of the most splendid hotels in the Alps. This heritage-protected luxury-class establishment is located in the heart of the idyllic Engadine village of Pontresina, only six kilometres from St. Moritz. The only 5-star superior hotel in the village, it boasts some 112 spacious rooms and suites as well as the large and well-equipped Kronenhof Spa and several very notable restaurants.
I was cordially invited to stay one night at the hotel in order to explore charming and elegant Pontresina. It was the beginning of my personal Swiss fairytale and I could not wait to get out of my hiking gear, changing into one of my pretty dresses.
Historic architecture that dates from 1848, elegant light-filled rooms and suites, one of the finest spa facilities in the world and a superb location in the heart of the Swiss Alps – this unique mix of the magic of times long past, modern comfort, and the beautiful natural world all around is what makes the Grand Hotel Kronenhof so special and unique. After a comprehensive renovation in 2007, this landmark neo-baroque building that is an alpine architectural treasure is now also one of the world’s top luxury and wellness hotels.
The Grand Hotel Kronenhof belongs to a tradition of hospitality that began in 1848. Today, the Grand Hotel Kronenhof is among the best-preserved 19th-century grand hotels found anywhere and is, at the same time, one of Switzerland’s top luxury and wellness hotels.
The Mountaineering Village of Pontresina
Pontresina is situated in a wind-sheltered side valley at 1,805 metres above sea level. The village is very close to the Bernina Massif with the two most famous peaks of the Engadine: Piz Palü and Piz Bernina. Standing at 4,049 m, the Bernina is the highest peak in the Eastern Alps. The region offers visitors action and variety as it also offers peace and quiet.
Guests first arriving at the historic mountaineering village are immediately captivated with the village itself. The charm of the traditional Engadine houses and the elegance of the Belle Époque hotels quickly transport you to a more tranquil former age.
My opinion: I find it much more charming and relaxing than St. Moritz (no offense).
Staying in Style
With 112 rooms and suites in different categories, the Grand Hotel Kronenhof in Pontresina blends modern comfort with grand hotel elegance and atmosphere. The hotel is ideal for families, especially as most of its stylish rooms can be connected, but also for couples or singles.
Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by the interior design of the rooms and their rates as well. Since I mostly travel alone, I always have a closer look at the single rooms. The cozy Deluxe Single Rooms and Superior Single Rooms all exude an alpine elegance. All rooms have a small seating area, and the luxurious bathrooms feature the finest granite and amenities.
During high winter season, prices start at 400 CHF for a single room, which I think is VERY fair. – All rates are in Swiss francs per night and room, and include a gourmet package (half board) as well as free access to the 2,000 sq m Kronenhof Spa and to the fitness centre.
Guests can also benefit from free Wi-Fi, free use of the Kulm Golf St. Moritz and Kulm tennis courts in summer and of the natural ice rink in winter (until the end of February). In addition, the hotel provides a free shuttle service to and from Pontresina train station, and a free ski shuttle to the Celerina/Marguns and Diavolezza mountain railways. Service charges, tourist tax and VAT are also included.
In comparison, Deluxe Classic Double Rooms are located in the main wing, on the South side of the building and feature a view of the magnificent St. Moritz Mountain range. Furnished with cherry wood furniture and light-grey/red granite bathrooms, these rooms offer both functionality and comfort. Some rooms were recently renovated and redesigned by star architect Pierre-Yves Rochon. Prices start at 715 CHF.
Compared to other 5-star superior hotels in the world, this is an EXCELLENT package!
Guests at the Grand Hotel Kronenhof can enjoy culinary variety in three restaurants. Diners can relish the decor in the magnificent Grand Restaurant, sample a fine gourmet meal at the Kronenstübli, have lunch at Le Pavillon in the legendary Kronenhof Bar & Lounge, or alternatively, dip into Swiss fondue and Raclette at the cosy bowling alley. There’s no doubt that every stay at the Kronenhof is a culinary discovery trip.
Believe me, you will be deligthed to dine at the Grand Hotel Kronenhof: first-class service and excellent cuisine! I strongly recommend to dine at the Grand Restaurant when you stay at the Kronenhof.
In the splendid Grand Restaurant with its neo-baroque vault dating from 1872, guests can experience a wide culinary variety as well as a sense of history and of elegance. Here, breakfast and dinner are really served in style. Swiss culinary specialties combined with international creations and local products all play a part in dishes that are a synthesis of the culinary arts – accompanied by a wine selection that leaves nothing to be desired, of course.
Wellness Heaven for Dreamers
Have you ever tried floating before and can relate to this feeling when you reached total relaxation? Then you know, what I am talking about – an unforgettable experience.
The Kronenhof Spa really is a place of relaxation – for those who enjoy, relax and dream. The unique wellness and fitness offer on 2,000 square meters is one of the most impressive in the Engadine. And it is also available to non-resident guests.
Next to their beauty, body and wellness treatments, they now also offer a oneday mental coaching session, where you can Change your life sustainably, gain clarity and mental power. Currently one of the most renowned Swiss psychologists and mountain guides, Thomas Theurillat, sets the course for success and satisfaction with the Kronenhof guests.
Awaken the Dreamer in You and remember: All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. This is exactly how I felt when leaving the spa area.
A new Favorite Luxury Retreat?
Just a little side note: I once did a trip with my mom along the east coast in the USA and we stayed at the Ritz Carlton Central Park in New York and simply pampered ourselves. Up till now, the Ritz Carlton has been my all-time favorite Luxury Hotel in a Western Country/City because of this special memory and these positive, warm vibes.
Seriously, this has now changed. This warmth and peacefulness at the Grand Hotel Kronenhof just got me right from the beginning when I stepped inside. At the Grand Hotel Kronenhof I really felt like I could just be myself, refuel my energy, bring things back into balance and simply fall in love with the surrounding mountains. I had one of these fairytale moments that are really precious. And I will never forget it.
Are you ready for breathtakingly beautiful fairytale-like moments? Then make sure to find your way to the Grande Dame of Pontresina. – My German readers will find a lovely interview with the Reservations Manager below. Enjoy!
photo credits: Grand Hotel Kronenhof, Munich Mountain Rebel
Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, in the center of St. Moritz, has been synonymous with glitz and glamour since the resort opened as the Palace Hotel in 1896. This landmark luxury hotel overlooks Lake Saint Moritz and offers views of the surrounding Swiss Alps.
Every guest can feel it. The St. Moritz magic at this hotel. The feeling when you enter the Le Grand Hall is indescribable. Like a spell, far from the daily routine. The history of this luxury hotel in St. Moritz draws you in again and again into its enchantment. This is what St. Moritz looks and feels like!
It all started in 1856 when Johannes Badrutt took over the 12-bed Pension Faller in St. Moritz and upgraded it into a hotel with the name Engadiner Kulm (today’s Kulm Hotel).
This was followed by the legendary bet: Caspar Badrutt (1848-1904), son of Johannes Badrutt, purchased the St. Moritz Hotel Beau Rivage, built in 1872 by C. Rungger. He charged the renowned Swiss architects Chiodera and Tschudi with the remodelling of the hotel. The hotel was also renamed Palace Hotel.
Johannes Badrutt won a wager and brought the first English tourists to St. Moritz for winter sports. He built curling rinks and the world’s first toboggan run and, in doing so, invented alpine winter tourism. And that was exactly the time, when the magic began.
The official opening of the Palace Hotel was then on July 29th, 1896.
Alfred Hitchcock first came to St. Moritz in 1924, and returned here two years later for his December honeymoon with Alma Reville, staying at Badrutt’s Palace Hotel (these days, locals just call it “the Palace”).
Back in the day, Alfred Hitchcock was a regular here, staying in Badrutt’s Palace Hotel annually for 50 years. In the picture above, you see the Hitchcock Suite at the Palace.
Rooms & Suites
They have a total of 157 rooms, 37 of which are suites and junior suites. There are four room and seven suite categories ranging from CHF 490.00 to CHF 20’230.00.
I stayed in a Double Room Deluxe with lake view on the 5th floor. Spacious, individually designed, soothing colors. Only the best materials are used, such as Italian marble in the bathroom. My opinion: At the Palace, it is all about details. Very charming and your home away from home!
My friend Milos stayed in a Junior Suite Deluxe on the 2nd floor. The Junior Suite Deluxe meets the demands of a modern man or woman who knows exactly what he or she wants. Guaranteed lake view. Own balcony. Spacious and enough storage. Noble materials – and everything stylish.
My favorite suite is the Hans Badrutt Suite. This suite with lake view is like a catchy tune: it stays on your mind. A marble entrance hall. A cosy library. The princess-like bathroom with make up mirror. From the Jacuzzi the princess overlooks the mountains. The dressing room provides ample space for all treasures. Simply magical!
Restaurants, Bars and Night Club
IGNIV@Badrutt’s Palace: A new restaurant concept never seen before in St. Moritz. IGNIV@Badrutt’s Palace by Andreas Caminada opened on 21st December 2016 in the rooms of Le Relais. IGNIV means »nest« and for Andreas Caminada, the 3 Michelin starred Swiss chef, stands for sharing values, social exchange and comfort. Caminada’s innovative finedining-sharing-experience focuses on time spent together, sharing menu components served on platters and in pans.
La Coupole/Matsuhisa@Badrutt’s Palace: in the 2014/15 winter season the Japanesese star chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa (»NOBU«) opened his premier brand Matsuhisa in the former tennis hall, which was once Europe’s first. The Martin Brudnizki Design Studio in London designed the unique interior of this 108 seat restaurant where original classic elements are skilfully combined with modern style. One such example is the original studded steel girders of the former tennis hall which now support a glass dome. This affords guests a view of the legendary hotel tower and also acts as both the landmark and namesake of ›La Coupole‹. The restaurant incorporates a cocktail and sushi bar as well as a private dining room. Japanese Peruvian cuisine; only open in the winter season.
Le Restaurant: The Grande Dame of Badrutt’s Palace Hotel’s restaurants. Guests enjoy glamorous nights in a unique setting for a classic dinner, candlelight dinner or a cultural event. This venue seats 300 people and features International and French cuisine. During the winter a harpist entertains guests for breakfast. A set dinner is served daily throughout the summer and winter season. Dress code: From 07.30 pm jacket required, tie desired.
Le Relais: The Le Relais restaurant offers French cuisine for lunch daily (in winter). The restaurant offers a cosy atmosphere with its colourful décor in the Belle Epoque style and large windows with stunning views over Lake St. Moritz. It can be divided into two dining areas as well as a separate area for small to medium sized private events. In summer the breakfast buffet is served here.
Renaissance Bar – Vintage Cigar Lounge: Smoking allowed – in particular fine Cuban cigars! From 3rd December 2016 the Renaissance Bar will become Europe’s first »Vintage Cigar Lounge«. Pure indulgence. The décor oozes comfort and encourages lounging. An exclusive choice of cigars. Paired with drinks and cocktails mixed by Andrea Delvo, Manager of the popular bar.
Le Grand Hall: The legendary lobby of the hotel with its stunning views, extravagant décor and fantastic architecture is known affectionately as the »living room of St. Moritz«. Guests can enjoy the hotel’s glamorous atmosphere over High Tea, champagne and caviar with live piano accompaniment.
La Diala (Rhaeto-Romanic for »mountain fairy«): The latest of Badrutt’s Palace Hotel’s restaurants. Situated within Palace Wellness, the restaurant offers a light Mediterranean cuisine with a wide selection of salads and sandwiches. The family friendly restaurant with its terrace opens daily from 09.00 am to 08.00 pm.
Chesa Veglia: One of the oldest farmhouses of St. Moritz (built in 1658). Chesa Veglia is a hideaway for the rich and famous and its restaurants are among the favourites in St. Moritz. It features three restaurants and two bars: The Pizzeria Heuboden for original Italian pizza and pasta, the Grill Chadafö for elegant dining with classic French cuisine and the Patrizier Stuben for Swiss and International specialities. The Polo Bar and Carigiet Bar are the perfect place for a get-together, as well as for pre and after dinner drinks.
King’s Club: All party animals and fans of sophisticated nightlife are on tenterhooks. The new King’s Club has been revealed in its new outfit during winter season 2016/17. Tantalising afresh in shimmering red and glittering gold. Sizzling with life and energy, on fire. Mirrors, sparkle and light elements galore make the club and its future clubbers shine bright. The new King’s Club celebrates the beautiful things in life: combining the joy of live music and famous DJ stars with an elegant, relaxed atmosphere and a tempting list of signature drinks and irresistible urban street food. Open only during the winter season.
- Indoor swimming pool with access to heated outdoor pool, Jacuzzi
- Treatment Centre with ten individual treatment rooms including two luxury Spa
Suites, private Hair Spa, Pedi Spa, Solarium, one room for facial treatments and four
rooms for body treatments, Wet Zone/ Palace Spa with two Saunas, Ice Room, Mist
Room, Aroma Therapy Room, Salt Steam Room, Massage Shower and Rain Shower
- Fitness Centre with latest fitness and cardio facilities
- Yoga room
- Private sun terrace
- Outdoor tennis courts managed by professional tennis coaches (summer only)
- Natural outdoor ice-rink with instructor (winter only)
- Kids’ Club Palazzino with professional day care
- Gallery with designer boutiques and elegant jewellers plus shopping guide: Bulgari,
Rebecca Ardessi, Church’s, Embassy Jewel AG, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, De Grisogono, Les
Ambassadeurs, Trois Pommes, Miu Miu, de Nicola, Gübelin, Four Emotions, Santoni, Snow
Sports St. Moritz, Tom Ford, Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Giorgio Armani, Harry Winston, Lucia
Pieri, Fabio Caviglia and Galerie Gmurzynska
- Palace Ski School in winter
- In-house ski service, shop and rentals in winter
- Ski pass included
- Kids’ Club Palazzino‹ with professional day care included
- Free laundry service for children until 12 years
- 24-hour Room Service
- 24-hour Concierge Service
- Butler service for all rooms and suites
- Free use of refreshment bar, movie channels, WiFi Internet access in all areas and free
- Limousine service and car hire, including Rolls Royce transfers
- Shuttle service to/from Zurich, Milan and Samedan airports on request
- Free use of all fitness facilities
- Free access to ice-rink
- Events & Guest Relations Team
- In-house fitness trainer
- In-house bridge hostess
- Baby sitting service
- Coiffeur Hair Spa
To sum it all up: Tradition and quality endure. So it says daily in the ads. If the sales arguments are still the same almost 90 years later, it seems like tradition, quality and innovation were actually proven – and the St. Moritz glamour-factor is still there.
As promised, I put together my travel highlights from my trip to Alaska. After screening all 1,962 images, it was pretty tough to pick my top four. The state is just so incredibly beautiful. You can tour a whole year through Alaska and still wouldn’t be able to see everything. Just three words: magical, endless and adventurous.
My personal Alaska highlights
Just a little side note before I put together my highlights. Alaska is worth a trip for you if you love the great outdoors, are up for adventures and have some camping experience, not being afraid of the wilderness. If you are looking for a wellness destination or some nice city trips, this is nothing for you.
Denali National Park
Well, this one is obvious. One of the most magical places. However, there are several ways you can explore Denali: by a touristy bus tour, staying at a cottage and going for daily hikes or by camping.
There are soooo many cruise tourists coming to this place, it can be pretty annoying. Thus, I would recommend to explore Denali on your own. Take the train from Anchorage to Denali: it is a beautiful 8-hour train ride through the whole state where you can spot wildlife and get to learn about the history of the state, exploring some of the most magical spots. But only take a one-way ticket. Either finish your trip at Denali or go to Fairbanks afterwards. But don’t book a tour where you have to take the train both ways only staying for one or two nights. You should schedule in at least five days for Denali – in my opinion. It’s a real paradise for outdoor lovers. Also, make sure to compare prices. Sometimes you find cheaper tickets with Gray LineAlaska or when you buy a coupon book at the visitor center so that you get a 2 for one train ticket special. You can save up to 150 bucks.
If you are not much into camping or backpacking and prefer to stay at a little cottage, just going on daily hikes, I can recommend the McKinley Chalet Resort. From there you have some pretty cool bike and hiking trails directly into the park.
You should definitely check out the Visitor Center at the park to get an idea of all your options. Whether you are looking for trail recommendations, wanna join a guided tour or need a permit for the backcountry – this is your place to go to.
IF you wanna explore the backcountry going backpacking, then you do need a permit. You have to get a proper briefing from one of the rangers, they need to make sure you are prepared for the wilderness. But, I need to be honest: only do it when you have some camping & outdoor experience.
You need to have good outdoor equipment, you need to be prepared that it can snow at any time. It gets really cold at night. You will see wild animals: bears, wolves, moose, maybe even a lynx.
They do show you a safety video and tell you what to do when you see a bear or a moose, but there is just so much more to it. AND: don’t do it alone. Just don’t do it like Christopher McCandless! Be prepared and be aware of your surroundings and changing weather conditions.
Check out the offical park site for more specs. Unfortunately, I did not get to see the famous bus from “Into the Wild” – there was no way I could cross the river and the weather conditions didn’t allow it. But that was okay. It was still one of the most magical places.
Alaska is a paradise for mountain bikers. BUT: things are different over here. Don’t expect these awesome prepared trails you know from Bavaria, Austria or Switzerland. Alaska is WILD – so are many trails.
For Downhill & Bike Park fans, I can recommend Alyeska. If you need a rental bike, check out the Trek Store in Anchorage. They have the latest bikes and can help you out with almost anything.
One of the most magical trails that are all in good shape: Flattop Mountain Trail, Powerline Pass Ride and Kincaid Park – all Intermediate and near Anchorage. Beginners can check out the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in Anchorage. Probably the sweetest single trail would be along the Lost Lake Trail. Simply awesome!
Whatever you pick, even if you wanna explore the wilderness on your own, just like I did – you will never forget these rides. Just one little tip: be prepared to get muddy, especially in September. I totally LOVED it.
Heli Fat Biking
If you are up for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, save some money and book a heli fat biking tour. Don’t book it in advance because you won’t be able to cancel it last-minute. Contact the local aviation services two to three days before you wanna do it. Either call or send them an email with your date options. Since the weather conditions need to be pretty good to fly out on a glacier, you do need to be flexible.
I personally can recommend Alpha Aviation. If they cannot help you, they can hook you up with other local services. Just don’t make the mistake and book the first package you find online or at the visitor center. Make sure to compare prices. Flightseeing experiences vary from 150 bucks to 450 bucks. So, here it is worth to make some research. Also, if you meet other bikers or backpackers, ask them, if they would be interested as well. Sometimes it gets cheaper when you have a little group of three or four.
Honestly, I wish they would offer it in Switzerland. Heli fat biking in Switzerland must be so freaking awesome.
Knik River Lodge
I admit after spending a lot of time out in the wilderness and doing lots of biking, hiking and exploring, you should definitely schedule in some time to relax and unwind. But don’t do it in a hotel or at some touristy location. Either book a nice cottage via Airbnb or pick a location far out where you have everything you need: a nice little cottage with a fireplace, access to food and water and then nothing but the wilderness. Just like the Knik River Lodge.
I loved watching the helicopters come and go from the Knik glacier, checked out the nearby trails as well as the river and could have just sat there for hours, simply reading my books and enjoying the most magical views. Their Perch Restaurant is a little food heaven: traditional burgers, parmesan fries, fresh scallops, really good craft beer and excellent wine – literally 7th heaven. An excellent place to refuel your energy.
My recommendation: stay there for three nights, then your chances are also pretty good you will get to see the aurora borealis.
What else have I learned
Well, as I mentioned earlier, there is no way you can see it all in such a short period of time. Plan at least three weeks to explore this state and pick a focus. Make sure to enjoy the highlights and don’t try to rush through everything just like these crazy cruise tourists. Also, don’t book a package. Travel on your own. This way you are far more flexible. Here are more things I will remember:
- Anchorage (as well as other cities): totally overrated. You feel like you are stuck in a time capsule. In 1964 Alaska was hit by a major earthquake. This explains the landslide, the peculiar ripping hills and slumping effects in some areas. Naturewise, pretty impressive. But regarding infrastructure and architecture, you feel like you are stuck in the ’60s or ’70s. Only schedule in an overnight stay if you need it, but don’t spend more than one day in any of the cities. Anchorage itself has some pretty mountain views as well as beautiful views of the ocean, but the city is extremely ugly. And not safe between 11 pm till 6 am. NOT SAFE at night! So, if you wanna travel the country on your own, rather stay in little cottages in between your stops than in the major cities. Not worth it.
- Wilderness: They teach you what to do when to see a bear and how to hide behind a tree when you see a moose, but that’s about it. But there is so much more. Make sure to learn about animal tracks, how to react when seeing a lynx or meeting wolves a night. What fish are safe to eat, what river areas are safe and how you can protect yourself. I am honest: when traveling through the wilderness, you should consider taking along a hunting weapon. There were two situations where I would have felt safer. And, to be honest: don’t travel alone. Just don’t.
- Weather: Yes, Alaska is a wild and rough state. Bad wild fires, extreme heat, heavy rain showers and snow. I saw it all. Always be aware of your surroundings and the changing weather conditions.
- Moose steak and reindeer burger: The meat over there is delicious. Go to local farmer markets and always buy local food or eat at restaurants where they serve local food. You should definitely try moose and reindeer. Sooo good.
- Wednesdays and Fridays are usually cruiseship days: make sure to plan your touristy activities around these two dates. Believe me, you will regret it, if you don’t.
- Alone as a woman: Well, as I already mentioned several times, Alaska is rough and old-school. And for a woman, it can be dangerous. There are areas that are not safe. When traveling the state, you mostly meet animals, but there are occasions where you meet other people. And believe me, sometimes people are more threatening and frightening. Once I took a wrong turn and ended up on a private ground near the river. Wow, they immediately chased me through the woods. Literally! Not fun at all. So, again, always be aware of your surroundings and not too trustworthy.
- Don’t make too many plans: Alaska is the largest state in the USA. Hence, don’t make too many plans in advance. Take it easy, enjoy life and simply go with the flow day after day.
- Glaciers: Yes, there are many glaciers and many excursions. They are all impressive: Knik Glacier, Portage Glacier, check out my list of recommendations.
Well, I hope this gives you a little overview of my adventures. If you wanna know more, just drop me an email or DM on my social channels. You will also find more images on my Facebook page.
photo credits: Munich Mountain Rebel, Alpha Aviation
About 5 percent of Alaska’s area is covered by more than 100,000 glaciers — that’s about 29,000 square miles (75,000 square kilometers), or more than the entire state of West Virginia. While a few of Alaska’s large glaciers are advancing, 99 percent are retreating, the book, “Glaciers in Alaska,” states.
True Magic in Alaska
“Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart.”
A true saying from a Native American. Alaska is treating me well. Almost seven months after my mountain bike accident I feel good again. Happy and peaceful. I don’t have a big itinerary or major plans, I simply take each day as it comes, just following my heart.
And there it was. This pure beauty! For a moment, I was holding my breath, got goosebumps all over. Breathtakingly beautiful – simply magical. Honestly, no words can describe this experience. Untouched nature. One of the most gorgeous and impressive scenery I have ever seen so far. But see for yourself.
Glacier Sightseeing in Alaska
Alaska’s melting glaciers are losing 75 billion tons of ice a year. According to a recent study, Alaskan glaciers melt 100 times faster than scientists previously estimated. One could write a whole book on glacier melting, its causes, climate change and so on.
But right now I just want to share one of my most magical moments with you. It is true what people say: “Alaska is too big to see in one lifetime, even for a resident. But there are wild pieces that can be explored from different angles – riding in a helicopter, standing on a glacier, and of course vista gazing from a big wide deck with a fresh Alaska grown meal.”
Best glaciers to visit in Alaska
As I mentioned earlier, there are about 100,000 glaciers in Alaska. I went on a little glacier expedition, learning about some of them. In Alaska there are several glaciers that calve icebergs that do not move very far from their source. So, that is pretty cool to watch.
Below I put together my personal recommendations.
- Matanuska is one of the largest glaciers, but it’s also the largest glacier accessible by car in the United States.
- Mendenhall Glacier.
- Spencer Glacier.
- Portage Glacier.
- Knik Glacier.
- Hubbard Glacier.
- Kahiltna Glacier.
Just a little side note: Blue ice occurs when snow falls on a glacier, is compressed, and becomes part of the glacier. Air bubbles are squeezed out and ice crystals enlarge, making the ice appear blue.
If you are specifically looking for glaciers you can walk on, these are my favorites:
- Exit Glacier (near Seward)
- Matanuska Glacier (near Anchorage)
- Mendenhall Glacier (near Juneau)
- Worthington Glacier (near Valdez)
- Childs Glacier (near Cordova)
- Portage and Byron Glaciers (near Anchorage)
- Middle and Explorer Glaciers (near Anchorage)
I will leave you with these tips and will keep exploring this beautiful country.
photo and video credits: Munich Mountain Rebel, unsplash.com, pexels.com