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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Truly a fascinating and historic city, dominated by the fortress on the hill that oversees old Salzburg.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As we got further into Salzkammergut and closer to Hallstatt, the scenery really gets spectacular.
Next stop was Hallstatt with its much photographed village at the edge of the lake Hallstattsee.
Both Fussl and Hallstatt are places where you could easily spend a week or so, just relaxing and soaking in the setting.
Next stop after Hallstattsee was Gosau, our base for the next few says.
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.
A local setting in Baa-Alm where we had lunch.
The hairs on the hat come from the goatee of a local mountain antelope.
Locals in their tracht (regional dress) at Gosausee, at a little guest house where we had beer, wine and some great home baked pastries.
Good bye from Gosau and the Salzkammergut
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.
See you in 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.
and a view of the Danube from the nearby Aggstein castle which is being restored.
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.
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.
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.