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What I learned about myself in Kitzbühel (a love letter to the city)

Kitzbühel: a small, colorful gem, beautifully located in between impressive snowy mountain tops. It’s a place I got to visit because of my blog, without any expectations, but returned from with a new focus, new insights about myself and – of course – new friendships! A love letter to Kitzbühel and what I discovered about myself. Eat, pray, love in Kitzbühel.

The best trips are those that you return from with newly gained insights about yourself and a new focus in life. Those are the trips you remember, while the other ones slowly fade into your memory. At the airport of München, ready to start this trip, I had no idea I would spend the week crying, laughing and crying from laughter. The program was full of new experiences, and on top of that I would travel with someone I didn’t know for a whole week, which is pretty intimidating on its own! But because of that it was a fantastic experience, which taught me a lot about myself. These are the things I learned that week.

Lesson 1: I’m a control freak

“I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m not doing it. I don’t like this.” Tears fill my eyes (bless those fancy new sunglasses) as I stand on the slope. On my left there’s a mountain; on my right a black slope where they organise official downhill skiraces, and in front of me a steep, narrow track into the forest, with big piles of snow on one side and icy areas on the rest. In the distance I can see a valley, where the village is. I freeze. I don’t want to go down anymore. But there’s nowhere else to go. I have to get off that mountain. For two days I’ve been working hard on a better technique, together with my very patient ski instructor Harry. Most of the time I’ve gone down slopes without any problems. I haven’t fallen once in Austria. It’s quite a bummer to suddenly discover, while I’m standing on a steep slope, I actually still have some fear of heights left in my body. Technically I’m not a bad skier. I don’t have any problems going down less steep slopes. But I’m just frightened that I will die. So, you know, there’s that.

But I realized this fear is part of who I am. I don’t like feeling I don’t have full control over my body. That’s why I don’t do drugs. That’s why I never get off my face drunk. And that’s why me riding a Segway wasn’t that successful either (although I did manage in the end!). So when I was happily enjoying the view and looking around when sitting in the chairlift, you can imagine my surprised instructor asking me “if I wasn’t scared now?”. Nope. Not even a bit. Although, you know, he could have totally held my hand regardless ;-).

I think I only get scared when I am in control. But as soon as someone else is in control (like in the chairlifts) I’m a lot more relaxed. There’s nothing I can do about it anyway.

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So on the tops of the beautiful slopes of Kitzbühel, and on the parking lot of a Segway instructor, I suddenly discovered I’m not that good in letting go of control. I get scared that it might go wrong, and I might fall. But is that really that bad? I’m always the one who tells everyone and their mom to not let fear hold them back. And so I always try to put myself in situations outside of my comfort zone, where I don’t feel at ease. Some fears are just in my DNA, but by conquering others I really grow as a person, which is a big priority in my life.

My new goal is to constantly keep on trying things that I find a bit scary. Because who knows I might discover a new passion! And my god, isn’t Kitzbühel just the most beautiful place to try out new things: not only are there SO many options, but you’ll also find yourself in a fairytale of snowy mountaintops and the most beautiful slopes for every level of skiing. I’ve rarely been more proud of myself, than when I come down that steep, narrow forest track, using the technique I only learned earlier that day.

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Lesson 2: I’m not as sportsy as I think I am

But I do enjoy it! My week in the Austrian Alps was as outdoorsy as it gets. And it was FUN! I went skiing, hiking, snowshoeing and I even had a try at some archery. Though I had sore muscles at least half of the time, I really enjoyed spending time with my body, being this active. At home I usually sit behind my laptop all day, which is kind of passive. Yet I still try to tell myself I’m a athletic person (LOL).

But when I dragged myself up a mountain while panting, moaning and growling, I realised I actually might not be as sportsy as I thought I was. Around me were mostly people at least twice my age; shiny, healthy and happy. They went on daily hikes with our guide Engelbert. In one of the most beautiful spots on earth. And then I thought: I want this too. I want a more active lifestyle. Feeling stronger, and being in nature. I would love to return to these beautiful Alps in summer, and go on some hikes. My parents will probably laugh at me when they read this, because they remember vividly how much I hated hiking when I was young. But Kitzbühel seduced me with her snowy plains, majestic mountain tops and beautiful conifers. It felt like I had ended up inside a post card. Maybe I secretly discovered a new hobby?!

My new resolution is to be more active. To practice some kind of sports every other day, and to feel stronger.

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Lesson 3: I need nature to clear my head

I’m a city girl. I get excited by hustle and bustle, I run from one restaurant to the next, and I get nervous when I’m not within a 20 minute radius of a big city center. It brings me a lot of energy and joy. But when I’m in nature, I can finally clear my head. When I was on that same winter hike through the hills near Jochberg, I looked at the snowy mountain tops around me. The sun was shining, I smelled the cows that graze around the hiking track. I looked around and I felt such a strong feeling of happiness. I’m so lucky I get to enjoy the beauty in this world. If the world is this beautiful, how much more do we actually need?

If I’m being active outside, I actually don’t think about a lot, apart from where I’m taking my next step. And that’s pretty good for someone like me, whose brain is always full of plans and ideas. Kitzbühel really is a place where you can let go of technology and stress, and lose yourself while on a beautiful hike or skiing track in nature. All your worries just disappear.

Lesson 4: I actually don’t speak German

German is one of those languages that’s so similar to Dutch, I always convince myself I can speak it. I’ll walk into a restaurant confidently telling the waitress we made a reservation, but as soon as she asks me a follow-up question I have no idea what to say. During my week in Kitzbühel I realized I have to face the fact I don’t speak any German. And to all you Dutchies: saying something in Dutch with a German accent really doesn’t count, guys. In all seriousness though: it’s quite a bummer. Language is obviously a barrier if you want to connect with other people, which is one of my favorite things.

I would love to be able to communicate in more languages than I do right now, so I’ve decided that I want to learn German. I already started as soon as I came back, and up until now I’m managing quite well. I’ve already learned some new things, and I really have the intrinsic motivation this time to push trough (contrary to when I was learning Spanish). Hopefully in a few months my German is good enough to have some basic conversations and to use it when I’m traveling. Though the level of English of the people working in Tirol is quite good, so that’s not why I’m doing it. But I personally want to come closer to people, and that’s usually done best in their own language. So it’s good to speak more languages.

Lesson 5: The most important part about traveling is other people

Of course I already knew this (I already wrote about it multiple times), but this gets confirmed every time I travel on my own. If you travel on your own, you’re really depending on just you. You’re not bringing your emotional baggage, you’re really the purest form of yourself. If people still like you then, it’s usually going to be a really intense friendship, even if it’s just for a couple of days. For a little while you share the same moments, the same place and the same experiences, something you don’t share with other people. You’re in the same bubble. The stories you exchange with others become part of your story. I rarely feel better than just after I had a nice conversation with another traveler. The painful thing about having friendships all over the world is that your heart is scattered all over the world. But the good thing about it is that wherever you go, you can see old friends again, or make new ones. The blogger I spent the week with, Jeanne, is now one of my best friends. We still chat almost every day.

My resolution for this lesson is to not only put effort in seeing old friends again, but also taking a moment to realise how important human connections are. This is actually one of the reasons I want to improve my German. Friendships are the most important things that are left after a trip. And I made more than enough friends in Kitzbühel. The people here are friendly and helpful, and extremely funny. All the different characters I bumped into in Kitzbühel made my trip to what it was. I hope to see them again someday!

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I didn’t expect Kitzbühel to be so beautiful and fun. At first sight it’s quite a chique place to go, but that makes it even more fun. There’s many different shops, great restaurants, and the slopes as well as the lifts are very well maintained. For me, it was really an escape from daily life. I’ve already decided I’m going to do my best to return next year, because I felt so at ease. Of course I’ll write some more about what to do and see if you decide to visit, but I first wanted to share with you why this trip influenced me so much.

Have you ever been to Kitzbühel?

I was in Austria by invitation of the Tourism Board of Kitzbühel and Kirchberg, as part of the #jouwthuisindewinter campaign. All opinions are my own, of course. 

learned in Kitzbuhel

12 comments

  1. Jeanne Horak-Druiff

    Oh how I loved this post!! Made me laugh. Brought back so many happy and funny memories of our week together in Kitzbuehel :) Still giggling when on the first day Harry would not believe us that we had only known each other for 23 hours – he thought we had literally grown up together the way we were carrying on! Loved the post – so many of the things we discussed over dinner every night ;) Miss you and the hashtagfest! #schnitzelgate #justjustin #allaboutjustin #lobstergate #skiinstructorsandwich #nofilter #jesustakethewheel

    Reply

    1. Explorista

      <3 <3 #jesuslockthecar. We MUST go back, someday!

      Reply

  2. 7 reasons to take a Winter break in Kitzbühel, Austria - Cooksister | Food, Travel, Photography

    […] see the Kitzbühel website.  And for another perspective on our Kitzbühel trip, have look at this brilliant post by Milou, the Dutch blogger who was with me on the trip.  I had never met her before but after 7 days we […]

    Reply

  3. Megan

    This was such a great read! I 100% agree with #5, and I keep proving it to myself every time I travel.

    Reply

    1. Explorista

      Yes, friends are the best part <3

      Reply

  4. Melissa Giroux

    Love your article Milou!

    And I can relate. That’s why I don’t ski that often anymore. Growing up is making me aware of my fears and I really don’t want to die. HAHA!

    I love the power of nature. It seems everything is more relaxing when I’m surrounded by mountains! I just love it!

    Reply

    1. Explorista

      Haha ME NEITHER! But I do have this weird on-off again love affair with skiing, so I kind of want to go back asap! :-)

      Reply

  5. Meghan

    There must be something about skiing because I had a similar experience recently where I was humbled because mountains and snow are no joke! Love your positivity and hearing your story. Looks like it was gorgeous there too!

    Reply

    1. Explorista

      I think it’s probably just being so present in nature that makes you feel so connected to all of it and so humble :-) It’s beautiful, definitely go there if you ever have the chance!

      Reply

  6. Silvia

    Lol at not actually speaking German – when I first moved here I tried to use German words with a Norwegian accent (did not work). I feel so similarly about all of these things though, and have definitely had my own meltdowns on steep slopes. Love your positivity about it!

    Reply

    1. Explorista

      Ah thank you! Never a failure, always a lesson eh ;-)? And I can totally see why you’d do that, it does have its similarities!

      Reply

  7. Why Kitzbühel is the best skiing destination

    […] with black slopes (or ‘dark blue’ as my teacher likes to call it), as you could read in this article, but I’m sure they’re just as good. If you want to you can try out the route of the […]

    Reply

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