Austria: Road trip inspirations

 

~Scribbles from the road~

Start:

Vienna, 1 PM

A warm and fuzzy Spring day. 17 degrees Celsius and thin traffic. A couple of hours later, a butter-smooth highway leads us out of the concrete world, to abundant nature and tranquility.

“As I roll down the windows, the unfamiliar sounds of the road barge in and everything else gradually ceases to exist; I am out on the roads again and I have company too. But my mind is fast falling into a trans and I am in my unusual, silent mode. I have to focus on the road for I want to remember these moments forever. Although I am not very sure why. I am usually torn between living in the moment and revisiting the past on repeat mode.

I miss those days when I used to carry a journal to scribble random thoughts from the road. Cell phones and ipads cannot replace that. As I try to sort my hair seized by the highway wind, I try to rearrange my thoughts to jot them down later. Most of the time it pretty much works. But not always!

When I am back in the mundane life, a great part of my thoughts is lost. Hence, I resort to poetry.

You may not be a poet but somewhere someone has already written down your feelings, in better words.

But this time, I am using the fuel pump break to jot down my thoughts. The journey has only begun. I have 1200 kilometers of adventure awaiting me. At the end of the road there awaits another story of a lifetime- a tale of misty mountains, green meadows, Spring flowers, and of course abundant history as if laid out only for our rear-view mirror”.

Austria road trip

A lonely road in the morning hours

Austria road trip

Spring time is perfect for a road trip in Austria as you can see both snow and brand new Spring foliage

Austria road trip

Also snow capped-mountains and wild flowers

First stop:

Bad Goisern, 5 PM

Sleepy little town! Empty streets and storybook houses! Not too many human beings in sight. 

” Perhaps the town-folks take the metaphor ‘sleepy-little-town’ too seriously! By 5 PM the town is almost like a ghost town. The only thing open is the pub and there is no drinking water to buy. The surreal beauty of the forest and the houses combined isn’t helping either in shaking off the spooky feel. Luckily, the hotel we are staying has dinner.

Amidst the descending darkness, a group of bikers makes a grand entry piercing the silence of the mountains and suddenly the hotel comes alive with their shenanigans. For the rest of the night, it remains the same sleepy little town. But when the first rays of the morning hit the valley, this is the prettiest little town I have ever slept in.

This is the place where you are woken up by the tinkling cowbells in the early hours of the morning and the first sight you see is a pretty pink house with smoke coming out of its dreamy kitchen.

When we are out on the roads again, the mountains and the lake follow us until we lose track of time”.

Austria road trip

Somewhere near the High-Alpine Road

Austria road trip

When you pass places like this you got to stop the car and admire the view

Austria road trip

One of the most stunning railroads I have I ever seen

Second stop:

Hallstatt, 10 AM

A 7000 year old salt mining village. A UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Spring flowers everywhere I look! Lost my heart there. My happy place!

“ I sit by the lake and watch time slipping away but there is a certain kind of nonchalance about this place. Even the hurrying tourists slow down for a languid stroll around the village, to peek at their own reflections in the crystal clear waters of the magnificent lake or just to hop onto a boat to feel its vastness. The Spring bloom makes me thank my stars. I will be forever obsessed with those cherry blossoms perfectly set with snow-clad mountains at the backdrop.

Every fleeting moment here makes you wonder how your time in this place is limited; how a simple visit is not enough to know what it is like to live here or to spend a lifetime cocooned within its boundaries. Then, I don’t want to be a tourist anymore.

But I know that the real romance and thrill of travel lie deep in those fleeting moments filled with the realization of impermanence and everything unfamiliar. I have to return to appreciate it”.

Read more about our Hallstatt experiences here– Lost my heart to Hallstatt

Austria road trip

Sweet contemplation!

Austria road trip

If only words could suffice!

Austria road trip

The emoji like scene!

Third stop:

Zell am See, 2 PM

A lake with ‘bluer-than-the-sky’ waters scooped inside tall snow-clad mountains! The most amazing vista of the stunning high-Alpine mountain road and a crazy Alpine Coaster ride to put the stamp of remembrance. 

” There is no greater pleasure than the pleasure of chasing nature in a car. Endless meadows disappearing into the Alps, gorgeous waterfall dancing down to the valley beneath, solitary railroads with no trains in sight, horses & cows grazing happily in the hay barns and the meandering roads taking us to the land unknown- all of this and I ask myself only one thing. Can the destination be better than the road?

Well, I think not! The road is where the magic lies. We only stop to rest and reflect.

In the pretty town of Zell am see, it is siesta time. The otherwise touristy lake front looks abandoned at this hour. The Alpine Sun is so close that despite the snow and the cold mountain wind I can feel it burning my skin right through my clothes and it is threatening to melt my ice-cream. Or is it because I am finding it hard to concentrate as the whites of the mountain is distracting me from my vanilla scoop?

Hours later, we are done with a crazy Alpine Coaster Ride and already at Krimmler Waterfalls. The gushing fall looks scary in the depleting evening light and the mist rising out of the fall’s surface is giving me goosebumps, not because it looks scary but because the chill of the night has just descended. I suddenly remember the most epic encounter of my life with a forest spirit in Norway back in 2015.

(Read more about it- Chasing ‘Huldras’ in the Norwegian woods)

We better call it a night”.

Austria road trip

Those lucky horses!

Austria road trip

You can’t eat your ice-cream and click it too!

Austria road trip

The stunning waterfall in the evening hours

Fourth stop:

Salzburg, 8 am

Canola fields and the Bavarian Alps! Ancient fortresses and medieval market squares buzzing with tourists! Mozart’s hometown and the city of The Sound of Music.

“The exhaustion from all the excitement has kicked in now! It will be only realistic to skip touristy spots and have some last rendezvous with nature before we hit Vienna. A little peek at the old town of Salzburg and a few on-the-radar  monuments later, I am, literally, on cloud nine at an elevation of about 1,776 meters. I look down and see nothing except endless beds of snow and clouds.

We had left behind the beautiful vista of Salzburg about a thousand meters ago.

The sky has a hint of pink but mostly it is blue. The weather is perfect for a stroll around this mountain station carefully erected perhaps for the sole pleasure of touching the clouds or enjoying the snow.

On sunny summer days, one can see Bavaria, I heard. But unfortunately, I am wearing shoes too dangerous for a stroll in a snowy mountain. I could sit here the whole day but we have the roads callings again. Sitting in a Canola field and enjoying a little picnic sounds like good fun”.

Austria road trip

View from the Untersberg furnicular in Salzburg

Austria road trip

The top of Salzburg-view from the top of Untersberg

Austria road trip

Somewhere in the outskirts of Salzburg

End:

Vienna, 7 PM

Music, nightlife, and classy coffee houses! The great Danube and unrealistic expectations!

“The magic of the night-time Vienna is hidden in its alleys. Everywhere I look, I see high-art, classy music, and opera going crowd. But I am too tired to explore. A fun dinner sounds better.

The young crowd dispersed on the streets and the pub corners give off an Amsterdam-like feel but nothing can beat Amsterdam’s night life. It just casts a spell on you.

(Read more about Amsterdam- Amsterdam: Postcards & random musings)

Staying in a hostel for the very first time makes me realize that you are never too young to explore and see the world. I wish I did this 10 years ago.
Daytime Vienna looks just like another European city. The city’s old world charm has failed to work on us as the magnificence of the images from the countryside are so hard to wipe off.

The great Danube doesn’t impress. It just looks like an unkempt canal. The famous apple strudel is a messy blob of apple chunkc and dough even if it is from one of the oldest coffee shops in Vienna and the hop on- hop off is a total rip off. But I am in love with the red trams. May be I need another trip to explore Vienna at leisure. For now, it is time to retunr to Helsinki”.

Austria road trip

One of Vienna’s most stunning architectures

Austria road trip

The funny looking statue I spotted from our tour bus. The guy on the left looks bored.

Austria road trip

Hopping on to one of those is the best way to see Vienna’s streets

If my scribbles are too confusing, here is a map of the places we covered. It is one of the most popular road trip routes in Austria and I have not an ounce of regret for doing this. Rather, if possible, will do it again and again.

Austria

Route- Vienna-Bad Goisern-Hallstatt-Zell am See-Salzburg-Vienna

Facts:

Best time to travel: Spring time as it is neither too hot nor cold.

Place on the same route we didn’t cover: Innsbruck (close to Zell am See)

Best starting point: Vienna or you can drive from Germany and Hungary

Recommended time: 7-10 days

P.S:

It was a very hectic trip as we covered about 1200 kilometers and 4 different places in 5 days and 4 nights! I have been guilty of romanticizing road trips all the time but it comes with lots of hassles and stress.

If you think the joy of chasing the unknown is stronger than the stress then we are on the same page.

However, sometimes things are so uncertain that your whole plan comes to the verge of falling apart. This Austria trip was no exception and it has only pushed me to talk about those uncertainties involved and how we don’t count the exhaustion while planning our itinerary. We were denied our pre-booked car at Vienna Airport simply because we had Indian driving licences which according to our research was allowed (to drive) in Austria. But you cannot really do anything if a certain individual decides to give you a hard time based on his mood or perspectives.

I am not sure if it was a scam as the next counter readily agreed to give us a car at a much higher rate of course. Desperate times, desperate measures.

So it is best to have an International Driving licence. The company that denied us the car was Avis. I am writing this because two different companies sitting next to each other gave us examples of 2 different laws. One of them was definitely wrong. So it is a must to check with the car rental company before booking. Or better, simply book a Sixt car as they let us drive in Spain, Croatia and Austria without any hassle.

Also, when we visited Rovaniemi in Finland, I had casually mentioned our airbnb host about my blog. Later, he informed me that he and his wife were travelling to Croatia because my blog posts on Croatia’s various places inspired them to go and experience it. This makes me so happy that I am able to inspire at least a few people to go and see these places. This , in turn, has inspired me to post more travel inspirations. 

You can read about our road trip in Croatia here-Road trip in Croatia-Off my bucket list

 

 

2 Comments

  • freebutfun July 19, 2017 at 10:43 am

    What a perfect time for this post; we were just talking with my husband about the next road trip destinations, and we are both interested in Austria. Don’t know if it will be next year yet (we have other aspirations as well…) but this gave me a good idea of how much time would be needed, a rough idea of the distances and a confirmation on Austria being a good destination for us! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Jutismita July 19, 2017 at 11:15 am

      Thank you so much for reading. Yes, Austria is definitely worth a week-long road trip with family. I just can’t stop talking about it. I hope you enjoy your road trip as much as I did.

      Reply

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