Soelden, located in the Alpine valley of Oetztal-Tirol, is an area of Austria that will let you glimpse into the world of James Bond. A place that will generate thrills and spills leaving you most definitely shaken and stirred!
A study has calculated how far 007 has travelled to save the world - an enormous 276745.2 miles across 24 movies, with Austria having been the location on three separate films. It is a country known for its epic alpine surroundings and tailor made for adventure sport junkies.
In 2015, the world’s most famous film franchise used the ‘Gaislachkogl’ Mountain to shoot key action scenes of ‘Spectre’. This Bond movie granted the town of Soelden, located in the Alpine valley of Oetztal-Tirol, a unique and lasting legacy. Key action scenes from the film have now been honoured through the creation of ‘007 Elements’ a stunning cinematic installation at over 3000m and opened in 2018. Inside, a series of bunker-like concrete spaces across 1300sqm, present the most dramatic scenes of ‘Spectre’ and delve into the world of 007, past and present.
Ascending the ‘Gaislachkogl’ by gondola, it is easy to see why the production team selected this dramatic location offering a 360 degree sweep of the jagged snow-topped Oetztal Alps, but also why the installation encourages ‘would-be’ James Bonds to find their very own adrenaline-fuelled active adventures within the valley and there are plenty of options to do so.
The Oetztal Valley is one of Tirol’s top mountain biking locales; even before reaching 007 Elements, the gondola passes over the heads of mountain bikers racing down the winding single and flow trails, part of a dedicated area called ‘Bike Republic Soelden’. One of which starts at 2,658 metres above sea level and at seven kilometres in length is the longest trail of its kind in the valley. Depending on the season, bikers or skiers will have the same sense of amazement as I did to see a Landover balanced perilously and almost absurdly on a series of spikey rocks. This was one of three vehicles used in the opening chase scene of ‘Spectre’, which the production team intentionally left up in the mountain and now links into the new ‘Elements’ experience.
With barely time to catch ones breath from this homage to James Bond, then the Valley is home to Austria’s largest, trendiest and craziest adventure park ‘AREA 47’; a name that conjures up images of the evil lair of a Bond nemesis or some form of military installation for secret agents. However, AREA 47 is a thrill-seekers haven maybe even heaven, most definitely a training ground for adventurists and the odd professional 'Cliff diver' courtesy of a 27m high dive board, the centre-piece of a 20,000sqm swimming lake within a complex of 95,000sqm.
Located between two major bridges (road and rail), two fast flowing rivers (Inn and Ache) surrounded by forests and high-peaked alpine mountains, AREA 47 cleverly uses the natural and man-made topography to maximum advantage. The park offers some 35 different types of activities that will get the heart bursting rather than simply pumping, ranging from white-water rafting to canyoning and mountain-biking to wake-boarding, a hybrid of water skiing and surfing, on a cable towing system spanning 420m in a secondary and dedicated lake.
As I arrived to the site, a brave soul jumped, bungee-style from a platform constructed at the top of a huge road bridge pillar, swinging like a pendulum, whilst across the River Inn on the other pillar, a figure clasped the grand climbing wall motionless and lizard-like, as they planned their next move. In between, silhouetted figures, navigated a 27m high rope course, moving from one obstacle to another.
Descending at speed from the ‘Flying Fox’ zip-wire, crossing the River Inn and the 20,000sqm swimming lake, was a good perch to view someone being propelled from a water cannon, whilst another was catapulted from the ‘Steigl’ blobbing air-cushion, as more queued at the top of the 18m high surf-slide to be jettisoned across the surface of the lake like a skimmed-stone.
“Area 47 is for professional athletes too” mentioned Jessica Isak, a representative of the park as we toured the facility; “the guy cycling passed us is Dan MacAskill a legendary trial mountain biker” she said, before pointing towards another person walking towards the 27m dive platform “he is a professional cliff diver, David Coulturi, who we sponsor” she added. The complex is where thrill-seekers overlap with elite athletes, yet both feed off each other and the laid-back hipster culture innate within extreme sports, was most evident in the beach bar and River Haus Bar & Grill, which hosts regular DJ sessions.
One thing is for sure in this part of Austria, nature will leave you “shaken, not stirred!”
For more information:
Interrail tickets purchased through www.Internationalrail.com
Accommodation – www.aqua-dome.at