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Curious what backpackers do in Austria? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Nach dem Dauer-Regen gestern bis auf 2000 m, waren die Bedingungen für eine Off-Pist-Tour eher schwierig. Die Lawinenwarnstufe ist auch hoch und der Schnee ca. 20 cm total mit Wasser vollgesaugt. Deshalb blieb heute nur eine kleine Tour am Pistenrand, entlang dem markanten Felsriegel vom Hohen Ifen, die aber bei bestem Wetter ein echter Genuss war (abgesehen von den vielen Holländern die uns entgegen kamen😂). Mit dem Hahnenköpfle hatten wir dann auch noch ein schönes "Gipfel-Ziel" erreicht. Anschließend gabs auf dem Pistenparkplatz noch selbst gekochte Tortellini und das in der ersten Reihe. Was will man mehr.Read more

  • Gallneukirchen was a free stopover on the car park of the town sports ground. It was just over a kilometre out of the centre and so nice and quiet. It rained on and off for the two days we stayed and we spent much of the time in the van with Vicky knitting and Will playing Christmas tunes on his flute. We did see a game that looked a bit like curling being played in the sports ground, although there wasn't any ice.

    At night we turned on our battery operated Christmas lights and a large house beside us would turn on the lights that adorned their 30 foot conifer. Unlike many other towns, Gallneukirchen hadn't gone in for Christmas in a big way, it seemed quite a practical town and we managed to find a few bits and bobs for the van that we'd been looking for for a while.
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  • Having reached the north western Austrian border, we set off eastwards, through the Austrian lake district and towards Vienna, where we plan to spend Christmas. The going was flat on the motorway and as we moved in and out of valleys and you could tell which ones had industrial chimneys even before you saw them, due to the light smog hanging in the air. As well as this artificially produced haze, there were valleys filled with morning mist and at one point it hid a lake (Mondsee) which appeared only when we were nearly at its shore. It was a serene sight, with features fading the further they were from us.

    Arriving at the large Gmunden car park we couldn't see any designated van parking but there was a fluorescent clad official who told us to park up. We were very lucky to have arrived when we did because in another 15 minutes the car park was full. There dozens of people heading to and from the far end and so intrigued, we followed them, to find a hut selling entry tickets. We didn't know what we were buying entry to but we thought we'd go for it based on the number of people who'd travelled to be there.

    The big attraction turned out to be a Christmas craft market called Schlosser Advent due to the fact it was held inside two lakeside castles and their grounds. The first castle was called Landschloss. We entered its central square through an archway to find huts arranged around an old central tree under which was a quartet of traditionally dressed men playing seasonal tunes brass instruments. The second castle (Seeschloss) was reached by a wooden bridge over the lake Traunsee. There were floating palates supporting lit Christmas trees, a nativity scene and angel to name but a few things. The Landsee market was inside the castles first floor rooms which were impressive in themselves.

    We enjoyed looking at the stalls here more than in Salzburg because there was a far greater range of original handmade products, often with the craftspeople behind the stall creating new items for us to see how they did it. There were some fascinating processes, such as the hand weaving of angels using threads on wooden spools that were plaited around an array of individually placed pins. A chainsaw and angle grinder was used to carve faces in a tree trunk, candles were dipped and wire twisted into jewellery... we could go on but it would take a lot of time to list all the different crafts on exhibit!

    It was exceptionally busy for a Thursday so we searched the date on the internet and found out it was a public holiday to celebrate the immaculate conception!
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  • Carrying on in our journey towards Vienna, we encountered the River Danube once again (we'd stayed near it at a stopover in Germany where we were lucky enough to see an otter!)

    Ardagger Markt wasn't a big village but the 5-space stopover was next to a skate / bike park; part of a larger area that provided great outdoor leisure facilities such as an all weather pitch and adventure playground. Before long, a local family arrived with a little bike, trike and sit on car and the children (aged about 5, 4 and 3), began racing up and down the ramps. We were saying how great this was and musing that both Germany and Austria seem a lot better provisioned than the UK in terms of open access leisure facilities, when Will received a text to say Dudley Council are going to close the Leisure Centre. Point made!

    On the approach to Ardagger we'd seen hundreds of clusters of mistletoe growing high up in bare branched tree canopies. Although it had been on sale at markets and flower shops we'd not yet got any, so set out to try and find some. We found a large field with lots of smaller trees, most of them supporting balls of healthy looking mistletoe that was just out of reach. As is so often the case, persistence is the name of the game and before long we came across a recently pruned tree, whose branches were still on the grass... along with plenty of mistletoe! There was too much for a space as small as the van, so we left most of it, but Will couldn't resist a kiss under a huge clump. Unfortunately for Will, Vicky wasn't keen on how long he'd let his beard grow!

    Back at the van, we were settling in for the evening when a car pulled up and the driver knocked on our door. It was a local who was involved in setting up the stopover, he was very friendly and said that although the water tap was turned off, we could use the drinking water fountain just a few hundred meters away to fill up!

    The overcast, foggy and sometimes rainy weather wasn't very inviting the following day but we wanted to make use of what daylight there was, so took a stroll along the riverside. The Danube was a lot wider here than in Germany, but the flow wasn't too fast and we were considering a canoe trip. We found a few possible launch sites and although the fog gave the scenery a lovely autumnal feel, the cold and rain decided us against a paddle and we returned to the nice warm van for scrambled eggs, a hot cuppa and stollen.

    Later on Will set himself the task of baking traditional Austrian Christmas cookies; a task Vicky was very happy to have him occupied with for more than one reason!
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  • Merry Christmas everyone!

    We squeezed in a final pre-Christmas market on the morning of the 24th. It was the last day of St Stephansplatz market and the adjacent St Stephans Cathedral had been an impressive sight when we'd passed it on the tube, so we were looking forward to visiting that too.

    The combination of towering gothic spires and a mosaic tiled roof made this Cathedral stand out and we paid the €4.50 entry fee to climb its south tower.
    It was exciting to see glimpses of Vienna from a different perspective through the small slit windows as we climbed the spiralling stone stairway. However we were disappointed when we reached the watchman's tower half way up and weren't allowed to go any further! There were views in 4 directions through windows but they were limited. Unfortunately we may have been spoiled by some of the great steeple-top panoramic views we were treated to in Germany!

    Following a look through the traditional market and a brief stroll around the wider area, we returned to our pitch to ready our small space for Christmas day. We met midnight with a bottle of bubbly and a small present to each other.

    On Christmas day we relaxed in the van for the whole day, only going out to take Poppy. We'd had to be careful and not buy any presents for each other that would take up too much space. Our main present to each other was a new camera that didn't need separate lenses. The functions on the old one had been failing, the internal sensor was scratched and the different lenses took up a lot of space and weight.

    We really enjoyed texting, calling and Skyping friends and family later in the day. A big part of Christmas for us is being around them, if not on the day itself, then in the lead up to it. It somehow felt less Christmassy not being able to do this (that and the lack of mince pies, crackers, Christmas cake and pud!)

    We are glad to have the opportunity to experience Christmas in a foreign country and we had a lovely day, but part of our journey is about gaining a different perspective, challenging and sometimes changing or consolidating our ideas of what is important to us. We are VERY much looking forward to spending time with lots of people next year!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Austria, Republik Österreich, ኦስትሪያ, 오스트리아, オーストリア, អូទ្រីស, ଅଷ୍ଟ୍ରିଆ, ออสเตรีย, ອົອດສະເຕຼຍ, An Ostair, Áo, ʻAositulia, Aostria, Aotrisy, Austerrike, Austri, Austria, Áustria, Àustria, Austria nutome, Austrija, Aŭstrujo, Austurríki, Ausztria, Autriche, Avstrii, Avstrija, Avstriya, Avusturya, Awsteriya, Awstria, Awstrija, Awusituriya, Eysturríki, i-Austria, Itävalta, Nuortariika, Oostenrijk, Oostenryk, Öösterriek, Orílẹ́ède Asítíríà, Österreich, Österrike, Østerrike, Ostiriya, Ɔstria, Østrig, Østrigi, Otilisi, Otiriis, Otirishe, Otirisi, Otrîsi, Rakousko, Rakúsko, República d'Àustria, اتریش, اتريش, آسٹریا, النمسا, نەمسا, אוסטריה, Αυστρία, Австрија, Австрия, Австрія, Аустрија, Аўстрыя, ཨསྟྲི་ཡ།, ཨས་ཊི་ཡ, Ավստրիա, ავსტრია, अष्ट्रिया, ऑस्ट्रिया, ઑસ્ટ્રિયા, ఆస్ట్రియా, ಆಸ್ಟ್ರಿಯಾ, ஆஸ்திரியா, ഓസ്ട്രിയ, অস্ট্রিয়া, অস্ট্রিয়া, ဩစတြီးယား, ඔස්ට්‍රියාව, オーストリア共和国, 奥地利