Auf Wiedersehen Oestreich!December 29, 2016 in Austria
We explored Austria over two trips and will remember it as two distinctly different parts.
Our first experiences were of the beautiful mountain ranges of the West, traversed by steep hair pin roads from which the ground often rose or fell steeply away at either side. Little wooden fronted houses and farmsteads nestled cosily in valleys with snow capped mountains behind. The high altitudes and resultant low air pressure sometimes made things difficult, for example the fridge wouldn't light and the water pump was less effective, but we got by. The country wide ban on staying overnight outside designated areas also restricted our options and made for some long days driving between stopovers, but the landscape was so stunning and different from what we knew that it was worth the difficulties.
Our second trip took us to Central and Eastern Austria where there were still hills and mountains, but they weren't so extreme. Urban and industrial settings were more dominant. Unfortunately, with these developments came visible air pollution which was a shame. The presidential election rerun that took place while we were there caused a little anxiety for us, but the comfortable defeat of the right wing candidate by a former Green Party leader brought some much needed political good news and made us feel more welcome. Austria was an amazing place to experience in the run up to Christmas! The markets were atmospheric and original with new as well as traditional hand crafts taking centre stage. Decorations focused classic fairy lights, real trees and branches. Mistletoe grew in great swathes, large baubles decorated garden trees and streets were lined with Christmas trees we'd seen being grown on farms.
The sub zero temperatures caused problems with the van but they helped us get in the Christmas mood and gave us some amazing scenes with the resulting thick frost, ice, icicles and snow! It was interesting to see the ski towns with the artificially produced snow winding white ribbons down the hills. The white wine was good, although at this time of year we tended towards warming glüwein!
We'll remember Vienna with a smile. It is now our favourite city and we could have spent a lot more time there. We prioritised the markets and only looked in from outside the palaces, opera house and museums. There are also many more grand old cafés with delicious cakes to sample!Read more