I love Austria! I love the houses, the people, the food and I guess it was the vibe…
The only thing which is not to love about Austria is the police. They have radars everywhere and everyone drives under the speed limit.
Same as in Switzerland, there are dedicated bike lanes everywhere and people definitely use them. If in some countries people seem to have one car per family member, in Austria people seem to have one family car and one bike per family member.
Innsbruck is clean, beautiful, surrounded by mountains and has decent prices.
But, like always I avoid staying right in the middle of the action, so my hosts this time were Gasthof Post in Sistrans, 10 minutes away from Innsbruck, a true Austrian village.
Given my passion for crystals and my Swarovski jewellery collection, Swarovski museum it was a place I could not miss and it was my highlight for Innsbruck. The museum was much more than I was expecting: very entertaining, full of life and not the kind of museum in which you just admire different exhibits.
I love crystals because they remind me of how we all are: with rough and smooth edges, always shining differently depending on the waves we are riding at the moment and all of us beautiful in our unique way for someone out there.
One quote, which I guess can be applied to many things, including love, remained with me:
“It all depends on the distance. If u get the correct perspective and the best possible stance then nothing can go wrong .”(Hans Magnus Enzensberger, German writer).
It is fascinating what a distorted image you get, how many things you just do not see, if you stay to close to something or someone. Whenever I am in doubt, time and distance seem to be my best friends. They help me to detach myself and see things and people for what they truly are. Because people will always show their true colours and it is only us who, whenever we are too attached to the outcome, refuse to accept it. Once we see things for what they truly are, we can prepare ourselves and step quietly and content towards a new phase, whatever that might involve.
My new phase involved Salzburg and no matter how tired I was, I was also ready for it!
At Salzburg I have chosen to stay in the hills, at Hotel Obermayr, which was really nice and recently renovated and where I ate for the first time the delicious Garlic soup. It will not be for the last time and equipped with the recipe, I promised myself that I will cook it as soon as I am back to Aussie land. And, before I forget there is always, the obstler drink, a very strong drink made of pears and apples, one of their traditional drinks. However, I decided for the future to stick with my Romanian Palinca.
I’ve always associated Salzburg with two things: The Sound of Music and my piano lessons always followed by lectures about different composers, such as Mozart. I remembered sitting as a child on the bench trying to imagine Salzburg. Many things must have changed since Mozart’s time, but the charm of the city still remains.
I have visited Hellbrun Palace, built in 1600 by an archbishop who became wealthy from the salt mines in the region. If the palace itself is not what one could say a masterpiece of architecture or anything else, the gardens with their trick fountains are exquisite. Water sprays out from the most unexpected places and it powers mechanical displays and all of this is done using only gravity.
After visiting the palace, a phrase written in Latin above the main door, stuck with me. It loosely translates as follows: Divine unites the opposites.
Next to Hellbrun Palace, there is a Folk Museum, which tells you the story of common Austrian people and how they were living back in the 16th century.
Once I was done with the cultural side, I was happy to move on to my favourite part: caves and mines.
I have been to Hallein Salt Mines, where for 20 euros I swore I will never go again tobogganing. No matter how stubborn or determined never to give up I might be, I have to accept my limits and tobogganing is one of them. I did hate it and I will always do, unless I go veryyyy slow. Inside the mine they have 2 big slides, going from fast to very fast and I was not a happy camper. :((
Overall, it was a so so experience, as the only thing I have learnt over and over again was what a chicken I am – both in reality and in the Chinese Zodiac. I remember nothing about salt or how it is extracted. I guess you must go there to find out.
My MUST see in Salburg are the Ice Caves at Eisriesenwalt, which are the Largest in the world. Obviously! I never go for the second best 🙂 Although, sometimes I do get distracted 🙁
The caves are 45 km long, but only the first km are covered in ice. The ice is formed in spring when the water from the mountains gets into the cave and it freezes and in some parts of the cave is 25 m thick.
The temperature inside the cave is around 0 C in the summer and -12C in the winter, which did not stop crazy people to get inside in flip flops and t-shirts. Not recommended!
To get to see the caves, you must either be fit or determined to get fit on the way up there. There are 2 steep climbs of 20 min each and a very very steep hike of 90 minutes. However, the last one can be skipped as there is a cable car, the steepest in Austria. Obviously, I chose to take it, but as nothing is as easy as it seams, I had to wait in line for about 2 long hours. To make things even worse, I had to endure seeing 2 German middle age love birds, who did not stop kissing, hugging, touching and could not be bothered by the crowds starring at them. Now I know what means to have eyes only for each other!
Once inside the cave, 750 stairs up and 750 stairs down are all waiting for you. But, you are more than rewarded for all your efforts. The Ice figures, illuminated by the guide using magnesium, are breathtaking. We went through a tunnel dug in the ice, holding in our hands davy lamps like in the old days.The Cave is open from May till October and it is not electrified.
I was very very happy I went there and it was an amazing day!!
As waiting in line for seeing the caves did not make me tired, go figure, I decided to cross the oldest border between Austria and Germany which is at Berchtesgaden, to see the Konigssee Lake in Bavaria.
The lake is beautiful, and you can go for a long walk around it, eating berries on the way as I have done or you can hire a boat. In the winter, the village is very popular for skiing and the village itself is very modern, clean and trendy.
I could not leave Salzburg, before seeing lake Fuschl and lake Wolfgang, made famous by The Sound of the Music.
I could have easily spent a few more days in Salzburg as three were definitely not enough.
I loved Austria everywhere I went!
Tip for women: Watch out for all those Austrian men. They are tall, dark and handsome! 🙂