Austria Visit-2011

The Austria visit in 2011 covered a significant area of Austria, from the Western part in Tirol, to the eastern part in Burgenland. To name a few places and names: Ehrwald, Tirol, Salzburg, Swarovski, Innsbruck, Red Bull, Salzkammergut, Hallstatt, Eisentadt, Schonbrunn, Vienna Boys Choir, Lipizanners, Haydn House of a Hundred Waters, Vienna, Danube, Wachau and much more. Come and take this journey through Austria with me. The journey actually started in Ehrwald, which is west of Innsbruck near the German border and where you’ll find the mountain (Sonnenspitz) that serves as the backdrop to my theme. This post was originally posted on my Innsbruck to Vienna Blog on Blogger and reconstructed here. Enjoy!

In Austria – Ehrwald

Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen Germany was our entry point to the Alps and Austria
Drove from Fussen Germany, where the Neuschwanstein castle (Disney modeled his after this one) is located and then into Austria and Ehrwald, our first stop in Austria. Unbeknownst to me we ended up staying very near the mountain (Sonnenspietze) and setting I used in the heading of the All Things Austria.
A typical scene of the Alps in Ehrwald Austria

Ehrwald is situated in a huge valley surrounded by high alps, which is shared with 2 other villages, Lermoos and Biberwier with ski areas surrounding the valley. This looks like a winter as well as a summer paradise. Hiking cannot get any better either.

This was a typical morning view from our balcony during our stay in Ehrwald Austria
Interesting thing about the food, Wienerschnitzel, goulash soup, fries and cordon bleau are on the menus everywhere, although very good and tasty, they are not calories anemic. Looks like almost everything is fried and butter is not spared. I would guess that the meals are geared towards a winter type setting.
And now saying goodbye from the Pension Tannenhof in Eherwald, Tirol, Austria.

Wattens to Salzburg

After Wattens and those Crystal eyes at the Swarovsky Crystal World

Fountain head at Kristalwelten at the Swarowski plant in Wattens Austria
we ended up staying in a little village (Orberndorf) just east of Kitzbuhel. What an idealic setting for a world class ski area is Kitzbuhel – ski run after ski run. Forgot to take pics. Anyways, had a great stay there and then on to Salzburg, where we met our friends, Peter and Christine from Vienna, who then also became our tour guides for the remainder of our stay in Austria, and a good thing at that, as Peter really knows the country and its history.
Maypole in Oberndof Austria, Just east of Kitzbuhel
Oh, yeah Oberndorf had a great May pole going – celebrates the coming of spring. Anyways, on to Salzburg – what an interesting and fascinating city. The area dates back several thousand years and owes much of its heritage to salt, which was discovered over 5,000 years ago and was mined as far back as 3,000 years. The introduction to the old city was quite interesting as we parked in what used to be a 4 + levels WWII bunker complex. The entrance is at ground level, right next to the archway.
Cliffs and fortification in Old City Salzburg note the tunnel through the cliff
Truly a fascinating and historic city, dominated by the fortress on the hill that oversees old Salzburg.
A panoramic view of Old City Salzburg with Hohensalzburg fortress overseeing the city
A city rife with UNESCO world heritage buildings, it’s also a cultural center where seats for world class performances will set you back around $1,500+, per person.
Mozart's birthplace would not stand out among the other 15th century buildings unless it was painted yellow  be
Perhaps no wonder since this was Mozart’s birthplace and the setting for the Sound of Music movie, which by the way, although well known in the US and outside of Austria, is mostly a Hollywood creation. There was a Von Trapp Family and they did go to the US, where they own and run a beautiful lodge in Stowe, Vermont. The Salzburg area hosted many of the settings for the movie and we had the opportunity to view a number of these locations. Although OK, most impressive was the setting and buildings in the old City. The fortress, the dome church, St. Peter’s Cathedral, the neat narrow streets, the houses built into the cliff, the buildings built in the early 1400s and still being used, the Getriedegasse, where even Mc Donald had to adapt to the local sign regulations and a Big Mac may set you back a few Euros.
McDonalds in a very prominent district in Old City Salzburg

Now on the Salzkammergut-this has to be one of Austria’s natural treasures.

Salzburg to Hallstatt

As you travel east and south out of Salzburg you come into a region named “Salzkammergut”, which translates roughly into “Salt Chamber Country”. A magnificent setting with high Alps, mountain lakes, little villages, mountain meadows, etc. It takes in parts of the states of Salzburg, Upper Austria and Styria.
The resort town of Fussl Austria and headquarters of Red Bull
And believe it or not the above is the setting for Red Bull’s headquarters, in Fusselsee, where its beautifully architected office campus blends in so well with the natural surroundings. The only give away we could see was a Red Bull vending machine through one of the window panes. The picture does not do the setting much justice. It’s truly magnificent.
Beautifully landscaped and ergonomically designed Red Bull World Headquarters in Fussl AustriapE

As we got further into Salzkammergut and closer to Hallstatt, the scenery really gets spectacular.

Alpine road on the way to Gosau, looking at Dachstein in the Austrian Alpsew
Next stop was Hallstatt with its much photographed village at the edge of the lake Hallstattsee.
Near the center of Hallstatt, Austria - a view of the boat houses
Both Fussl and Hallstatt are places where you could easily spend a week or so, just relaxing and soaking in the setting.

Gosau and Salzkammergut

A stock picture of Hallstatt in Austria - note the glassy Hallstattsee
Next stop after Hallstattsee was Gosau, our base for the next few says.
Out residence for our stay in Gosau, Austria - wonderful accommodations and hospitality
From there we explored quite a bit of the Salzkammergut, from the gondola ride to the top to Dachstein, which is the prominent mountain in the region, to various Health Spas in the area, many of which have hot sulfur springs. This also used to be the getaway area for the Vienna aristocrats. Here’s Linda looking down at Hallstatt. Note the precarious perch on the left – the Five Fingers outlook.
Five Fingers lookout and Hallstattsee from Kripenstein on Dachtein
A local setting in Baa-Alm where we had lunch.
Pasture field at Blaa-Alm in Slazkammergut area in Austria
The hairs on the hat come from the goatee of a local mountain antelope.
Local in the Salzkammergut area in his tracht. Note the bristle on the back of the hat is from a local mountain antelope's goatee
Locals in their tracht (regional dress) at Gosausee, at a little guest house where we had beer, wine and some great home baked pastries.
Tracht worn on as a matter of pride in the Salzkammergut region of Austria
Good bye from Gosau and the Salzkammergut
A view from the Inn at Gosau of the Gosausee and the Glacier
The Tirol and Salkammergut areas hold much of the back country and alpine beauty associated with Austria. The people are friendly but you also get the sense that for the locals, making a living here is not that easy and am sure many depend on the tourist trade. The pricing was fairly reasonable. The guest houses are very clean and well kept and run about $30.00 – $45.00 per person, including breakfast. Eating out in this area is fairly reasonable also, with the least expensive being the beer and wine, which are very good and very inexpensive. A bottle of good local wine may cost $6.00 – $8.00, and can be had for less. Gasoline on the other hand runs about the same as a regular bottle of wine. BTW, currency is the euro and all measures are metric. Hmmm, what a trade-off.  Because Salzkammergut is more native, English is not that prevalent but, the people are pretty helpful and sign language works well:-). Anyways, this is the area you’d want to spend time in if you want to get away but, avoid July and August, as this is when the vacation and tourist season is in full swing.
A friendly cow and resident of Blaa-Alm
See you in Vienna

To Vienna

Left Gosau in the Salzkammergut for Vienna, approaching it from the west side, which in our case took us to the official beginning the Wacau (pronounced Vachau) valley in Melk, then down to Krems and then the Vienna woods. Below is the monastery in Melk.
The Monestary, really an Abbey in Melk on the Danube in Austria.
and a view of the Danube from the nearby Aggstein castle which is being restored.
Looking through a window opening at the Danube, from Burgruine Aggstein near Melk in Austria eoiguh

The valley, which is approximately 20 kilometers long is dotted with small villages such as Durnstein, with its church with the blue tower, and of course vineyards, which is what the valley is known for.

Looking across the Danube at the Blue Church and it's tower in Durnstein, Austria

Both red and white wine can be tasted in all the little Heuringens and Wine Cellars in the various villages. Here’s a hint, if the establishment has a green ball, usually made out of small fir branches, hanging outside the entrance, it means that they are open for business and wine is available. From Krems on to the Vienna Woods, which will be a total surprise to anyone not familiar with the area. Although they sound like big park or a patch of woods, the Vienna Woods are comprised on the eastern end of the Austrian Alps. This is where the Alps terminate and form the western flank of Vienna. Below is a view of Vienna from Kahlenberg, the middle of the three prominent hills in the woods.

View of Vienna, mostly Old Vienna taken from a look out in the Vienna woods.
In this picture, the right side of the Danube is the Old Vienna and the left the new. And the wine heritage of of Vienna is very evident, with all the vineyards and villages surrounding the city. More on that later.
One of hundreds of vineyards surrounding Vienna
And now on to Vienna itself.
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