Ziller River Thriller


“We need to relax this holiday, so let’s not do any crazy activities for once,” I suggested to my fiancé, to which he concurred.

On sitting in the rubber ring at the top of the waterfall, I did wonder what our insurance company would make of all this, but I didn’t have long to ponder the point before being thrown down the wall of water.

The rest of the whitewater tubers were younger than us and spoke only German but, despite this barrier, we bonded through shared screams and smiles. This bond was further consolidated by friendly “pushes” when we got our rings stuck in the rocks.

The attire was not flattering: a neoprene wetsuit, a “Stahlhelmesque” helmet, webbed gloves, a lifejacket and rubber boots. And, unfortunately, I was convinced that a UK shoe size 6 was equivalent to a European size 36 and hence couldn’t feel my feet for the majority of the expedition.

Careering down the rapids and spilling down the waterfalls required intense concentration: “I shall be as focused as I can possibly be, despite the fact that I have absolutely no control over this tube: I shall be.” However, in between the waterfalls and rapids the river was fairly tame, and it was during these periods of calm that we had the chance to gaze up above the banks of the Ziller River and take in the gorgeous Austrian alpine scenery. Staring down at us were the luscious pastures of the Penken and the Ahorn: Mayrhofen’s largest mountains.

Further on in the expedition I decided to fall out of my ring and ram my knee into a rock and so, not wanting to miss out on all the fun, it was also at about this point that my fiancé found himself “sans ring”. He was more unfortunate than me, however, and it was only after about a hundred metres of “pinballing” himself against the rocks that he was reunited with his ring.

Later that evening we sat at the table of our favourite restaurant and watched the sun go down. My shorts revealed the prettiest purple and blue pattern on my right knee. Walkers and cyclists wandered past us, having spent the day exploring the beautiful Tirol Valley. Our goulash soup arrived and my fiancé was about to take his first sip, when he lowered his spoon, looked up at me with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, and commented: “this holiday has a certain “ring” to it, doesn’t it?”

H Keeling

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