Learn German in Kitzbühel: Student Reviews
German and Hiking in the Summer
One week German and Hiking in Kitzbuhel
I wanted to work on my German language skills and get some exercise walking in the hills. I hoped to gain some additional confidence in German. The language lessons were well run and the tutor was very friendly and positive. He also took us on some excellent excursions to the town centre and to the top of one of the mountains.
I do not find German easy and I struggled to learn extra skills. However this was no reflection on the course. The lessons were good, with a good range of learning and conversation. It was a shame there were only two students in my class, however this gave us additional chances to talk. The German language school in Kitzbuhel was within easy walking distance of the town centre. The teachers were friendly, though seemed a bit non-plussed by my motives in learning German. Kitzbuhel is an excellent location for teaching German and experiencing the beautiful countryside.
BEST ASPECT: Experiencing the beautiful mountains and history of Kitzbuhel.
WORST ASPECT: My frustration at not being able to master a language!
Social activities, evening meal, walks and tour of mountain top were all excellent. I think I needed more lessons, perhaps one or two evenings of conversation would have been useful. I spoke to others in the Guesthouse and to the landlady and I enjoyed evening meals in restaurants and the Internet Cafe was friendly place. The accommodation was a bit basic but the landlady was very friendly and helpful.
CESA’s course organisation and booking were good.
I would definitely go again and recommend others to go too!
I’ll not forget the joy of walking along the top of the mountains.
Elaine: Wanderwege in Kitzbuhel
German and Hiking in Kitzbuhel.
I fell for Kitzbuhel on sight, there are only two main streets but they are made up of medieval houses, lovely mountain cabins mixed in with pastel-colour burgher houses, so clean, so tidy and so neatly set in the Tyrolean landscape.
The population jumps to some 20,000 during the busy ski season January to April, and is at it’s worst (or best if skiing is your thing) during the famous Kitzbuhel Super G and slalom race on Hahnenkamm, when over 70,000 spectators crowd round the slopes, late January every year. However for me and my new companions, Kitzbuhel comes into its own in the summer – when the snows are all but gone and everything is a verdant delight, a celebration of sunshine, fresh air and solitude. I adored the colourful Alpine flowers, but can’t name them! I was staggered by the breathtaking panoramic views of the Kitzbuhel Alps and Loferer Steinberge mountain ranges.
Our group was mixed, a 50+ German guy and a couple of girls from France and a 22 year old from Sweden, a married couple – also Brits in their 40s – and me. There were others on the German language course I’d joined, but these were the hikers – the ones who when the grammar was learnt and the lessons were done, wanted to hit the paths and trails, not the shops and cafes of Kitzbuhel!
I went to hike and to improve on my school girl German language skills. The German and Swedish guys were dedicated hikers with expensive boots and the hiking sticks that are popular locally, made of lightweight carbon fibre with shock absorbers (especially handy when going downhill). I wore trainers, good ones, but they still marked me out as a hiking amateur, along with the French girls.
After classes on the first Monday we were given a guided tour of the town, internet cafes, banks, bars, supermarkets and boutiques. Thursday and Saturdays were group hikes lead by college staff. On the first hike up we were taken up the Horn. Some went the whole way, led by the College Director. Others (myself included) took the gondola half way and hiked the rest. We stopped at the Alpenhaus restaurant which had the most amazing terrace and breathtaking views. Some of us carried on up to the absolute top of the mountain, others got our cameras out and ordered another round of drinks!
I enjoyed going off hiking with one or two other students and then we’d pick an easier route, one time going along the “Schleierwasserfall” route. “Schleier” = “veil”, “Wasserfall” = “waterfall”, this is the spectacular middle point of the hike. You can actually stand under the waterfall and watch it crash down in front of you (if you’re brave enough to get behind it!) Another afternoon we decided to stay in the valley and enjoy a much easier hike to a village called Aurach. The coffee shop is typical of the local style, with lots of wood and has the most delicious “Esterhazy” cakes.
It was a great two weeks. Relaxing, energising, entertaining AND educational. I’ve returned to London having polished up my German and feeling healthier than I’ve done for ages. It was good to escape the noise, pace and pollution of the city and just wind down, chat, eat and chill.
Hiking recommendations from the German language school:
1/ Take the Hahnenkamm gondola for an amazing sunset walk (it stays open until 11.00 pm on Fridays, from June to October). There’s a great route down along the race track, which takes around 2 hours. CESA & the school staff recommend that you hike up it and get the lift back down – much easier on the knees!
2/ One of the best walks is from the middle station on the Horn. You get the lift half way up the mountain, then walk the most fabulous ridgeway for about an hour and a half, until you get to a Tyrolean mountain hut. The lunches here are the traditional hikers’ platter with locally produced meat and home-baked bread. This is something you can really enjoy, having built up an appetite after all that stopping and taking of photos!
3/ If hard-core hiking isn’t for you – the college organise (or can advise you about) a range of easy walks for novices, all of which are well-marked walks around Kitzbühel. A popular destination is Lake Schwarzsee, one of the warmest bathing lakes in the Alps. This takes about 40 minutes from the school, but is almost entirely on the flat. This lake is a perfect mirror, getting its name (the Black Lake) from its peat floor. It’s a favourite place for those looking for natural cure water and outstanding relaxation.
4/ If you want to save some pennies, May and September are great times to go out – you should get a good deal in one of the local hotels (even the luxury ones), as it’s off peak season (for skiing and hiking), although check carefully to see that they are open as quite a few close in the low season. This is also a good time for those looking for peace and quiet – not so many tourists!
5/ Think before you hike!
Sensible Gear for 1-Day-Hikers to pack:
Light or Matches
Fleece jacket or pullover
Money and Credit Cards
Health insurance number and documents
Mobile phone or emergency communication systems
GPS system, altimeter and compass (if hardcore)
Food and Water
Hiking map (scale 1 : 25,000 or better) and guide book
Rain gear (water proof jacket, hood for the backpack, trousers)
Sun glasses and hat, sun blocker
Torch or head torch
Paper & pencil
Pocket knife or similar tool (I prefer Leatherman)
Watch and alarm clock
Medication for individual needs (check in advance with co-hikers)
Lines and bandages
Distress signals (flares, flags, hooter)
Joanna: A week in Winter
Basically I wanted a break. January was getting me down and I felt I needed a week in the snow AND I’d promised myself all the previous year that I’d brush up my German language skills – so I decided to call CESA. After that it’s was just a question of packing.
There are no bad weather conditions, there are only bad clothes. So they say, and my down filled ski jacket certainly seemed lovely and warm despite it being -5°. I’d just got out of the taxi and was standing in front of my new home for the next week a Pension in snowy Kitzbühel. It looked a lovely place, really chocolate boxy, exactly as I’d imagined it to be. The lady of the house opens the front door and smiled at me. Then she begins speaking German… “Guten Tag,” I said hesitantly in reply. What have I let myself in for? My smile turned to a waxen grimace as doubts about my ability to survive the week threatened to overwhelm me. Thankfully her encouraging look and kind words gave me the strength to cross the threshold and I found myself wafted into the warm building and a cup of coffee thrust into my hand. My room turned out to have lots of yellow pine and white linen and turned out to be the perfect retreat for homework and sleep! Outside my window there was a balcony and beyond that snow, snow and yet more snow. Yesssssssssssssss! Suddenly the week didn’t feel so daunting and my spirits lifted.
The next morning I walked around the house and down the lane in the snow (one of the shortest and most enjoyable commutes I’d had for a long time) to get to the German language school. I even had a companion – Stefan, a 35 year old Swedish computer programmer who stayed at the same Pension as me. He’d been to the school before and warned me about the College Director, who turned out to be quite a character.
“He’ll tell you a woman’s place is in the kitchen, but he’ll shut up when you get the accusative and dative right in the test,” Stefan grinned.
A test! Seems cruel, but actually it wasn’t too bad, and only took around 40 minutes. I fetched up in the Director’s class and braced myself for the Austrian style of humour Stefan had warned me about. I remember being asked about my journey and how I’d settled into the Pension. I managed a few replies (not totally monosyllabic thank goodness) and was frankly just glad I could understand what he was saying to me. I’d been promised by CESA staff back in the UK, that there would be a maximum of 6 students per class, so I was prepared in advance and had expected to have to work hard. Classes were certainly small and truly there was NO WHERE to hide! There were 4 in my class, aged 26 yrs to 42 yrs of age and of different nationalities. We were expected to speak German at all times. Jokes were made (mostly they were bad) but there was definite progress and my confidence in myself grew as the week went on.
After lessons each day we would walk back to the Pension together and got changed quickly. After German grammar, endless discussions and the inevitable pronunciation corrections our heads were reeling and we were keen to grab our skis from the ski room and rush out to the bus stop. We headed up to the famous Hahnenkamm lift station and then the slopes. The great thing was that we could all get on the bus without paying as anyone wearing ski clothes could travel for free.
When I needed to hire skis etc, at the beginning of the week, the group waited for me (and the other new girl) while we were kitted out and someone from the School was on hand to help with translating to ensure it all went smoothly.
The lift up the face of the Hahnenkamm was SO steep, with breathtaking views over the town and the range of mountains surrounding it. The shock of all that fresh air at the top always galvanised us, as we followed our ski leader to the first ski lift. After about an hour on the slopes, we’d generally stopped for a late lunch. Occasionally a student would choose to eat a sandwich or something in the lift up and then they could just keep skiing straight through (but I wasn’t that serious a skier, and most of us enjoyed a chat over lunch before heading back for a second ski session). There was enough snow during my week to ski down to the valley, so at the end of each afternoon we ‘d snake down the mountain and always seemed to gravitate towards the beer and gluhwein stands, can’t think why!
A couple of students would head back to the Pension after the skiing, but I generally joined those who stayed on, and caught a later bus back. It was great to chill out, investigate the restaurants (great food by the way, terrible for the waistline, but thankfully the skiing solved that one for me) and chat with the rest of the students. Aprés ski was alive and well in Kitzbühel! I normally headed back to the Pension after dinner out with the group, to complete my homework, others weren’t always so dedicated (and it wasn’t unknown for homework to be completed over breakfast prior to school!).
On the Thursday after lessons it was quite windy so I skipped the skiing with two fellow students (two Italian ladies) and we hit the shops (I felt the need for a pair of moon-boots), then finished up in the local cinema. It was great to see how much of the German spoken in the film I could understand (not all of it sadly, but certainly more than I could have at the beginning of the week).
Having to pack up on the Saturday and fly home to the UK was hard – the slopes were still calling as I headed back to Munich. If I get the chance to go next season I certainly will. Frankly if you want to stretch your German skills beyond the typical, “Wiener Schnitzel und ein Bier bitte” then I’d recommend you invest in a week in Kitzbühel. It was fun, I loved the people and the German lessons really worked for me!
Jenny Linnel: German Course
I expected my spoken German to improve considerably. I also expected grammatical aspects to come more naturally by the end of the course. Generally I expected it to be a great way to meet people and become accustomed to the new environment with people in the same situation as myself. I expected my skiing to improve along with my knowledge of teaching methods.
My spoken German definitely improved and I became more confident using it. My grammar was reinforced but still didn’t come naturally. In general the course was definitely a great way of meeting people.
I think that the lessons were good for me. The language school in Kitzbuhel was great, and was in a good location. The staff and teachers were always friendly and approachable.
The best part of the language course was the moment when I could suddenly feel the language coming together and realised how much progress I’d made without even noticing it.
The travel arrangements worked really well. There was never a problem. I also felt the balance between free time and lessons were perfect. All of the eating arrangements worked really well. I really enjoyed our trip to Schwarz See, walks in the surrounding area and drinks in a quiet bar in town.”
Kitzbuhel is a great place. It has great facilities for communication: two Internet cafes, and Internet phones. It has great places to eat, both in the town and on the mountain, where you can find traditional Austrian dishes or more standard food. The people were great and I always felt safe, walking alone at night poses no problems. I would not call Kitzbuhel cheap but you can live cheaply there. Eating and drinking out can be expensive but it all depends on your lifestyle. There are several nice places to eat and drink that are reasonably priced or there are some more expensive places it all depends which you prefer.
CESA was great and all the information provided was very helpful.