Places that make my heart glad: Austria

I’m feeling a little Europe-sick at the moment. I miss it. I miss the old buildings, the winding cobbled streets, the different languages, the sense of history, the local foods and wines. And so I thought I’d try a little series of posts about places that I love, places that make my heart glad. I hope this isn’t just a collection of holiday photos …I hope I am able to give a little sense of why I love these places.

I’m starting with Austria simply because this week, that’s where I’m missing this week. I flipping LOVE Austria. It’s like a tiny, fairytale country of mountains, lakes and Alpine costumes. I have a real weakness for Alpine things – lakes, mountains, blue skies, green fields, cows with bells on, girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes etc.  I’m fully aware that behind every fairytale is the reality, but as so many of my happiest memories are in Austria, I am happy to think of the place in a rosy, alpine glow.

The view from Salzburg fortress

These are my favourite Austria spots!

Salzburg is probably my favorite place in the whole world – I’ve been seven or eight times. It’s magical – a tiny, beautiful city surrounded by mountains. It has my favorite hotel in the world, the most enchanting Christmas shop I’ve ever been in, a lift/elevator in a mountain and a bar that serves food in savory cones. I first went on a shoestring budget as a student and have since been back on two cycling tours,  for my Sound of Music themed hen weekend/bachelorette party and then for the Christmas markets with my new husband! Just posting these photos makes my heart ache.

Such a wonderful view
How do you solve a problem like getting married?

And then there’s Vienna…a gorgeous, romantic city of music. I love just walking the streets of Vienna – it’s a city where I get such a sense of history. I find it really easy to imagine Mozart walking the streets. We stayed here, in the centre, a sweet hotel that served the best breakfast buffet I’ve ever demolished. Alas, my two Vienna trips were pre-digital cameras so I’m having to turn to the inter web!!

I saw a really bad ‘Swan Lake’ here once   Source
A wonderful mix of old and new on the main square    Source

And try this for perfection…Hallstatt, a teeny tiny village on a lake. If you come by train, a ferry meets the train and carries you across the lake to the car-less tiny village. It has a tiny church with a macabre ossuary – the graveyard is so small that you can only lie there 10 years before they move your bones into storage. I’m kind of gutted I came here with my lovely friend Jess instead of with my husband, it’s so romantic. I’m also gutted that I came here in the days before digital cameras.

It’s incredible, isn’t it… Source

These three places are firmly all on the tourist trail…but for a reason – they’re wonderful. However we also discovered tiny little villages on bicycle routes we’ve done, all dominated by their village church, often with painted buildings and a ruined castle. It feels like everywhere in Austria looks like it’s straight out of a fairytale.

Once upon a time there was a giant who married a midget…

Other things I love about Austria. How people actually do walk around in national costume – dirndls and lederhosen. The wonderful bike paths that are spread across the county – my first ever cycling tour was in Austria and it was one of the happiest weeks of my life. I fell in love with the smell of wild garlic in the woods. How clean it is. Wooden barns in green meadows. The chalets in the mountain villages, bedecked with geraniums. Onion-domed churches in tiny villages. The plethora of slightly saucy underwear shops in one of the most straight-laced countries I’ve visited. The wonderful Alps. Apfelstrudel with cream. Garlic soup. And oh the Christmas markets!

Christmas shop, Salzburg
Green meadows and wooden barns
WolfangSee in deepest winter
Old waterwheel, near Bludenz

When we move back to the UK, Austria will be top of my list of places to revisit. A part of my heart will always belong there. And then there’s the Salzburg Half Marathon –  this could be fun?

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Nicola J says:

    Forgot to tell you (seeing the Austria pics reminded me), we’re doing a village show in October, “A musical historical tour” – telling the story of how 4 musicals came to exist and get on stage: Anything Goes, Sound of Music, Oliver and Calamity Jane. I’ve written the script, will be singing with the choir for the adult sections (Anything Goes/Calamity Jane), and by default of age (everyone else is under 15 or over 50), I’m also now singing the Maria parts for the kids sections of SoM and Oliver. How hilarious is that! Am taking it slightly seriously as haven’t done solos since we sang at school (remember Jesus Christ SuperStar and West Side Story?…!), and am doing singing lessons with a lady who is an opera singer. You’d love her – she reminds me of you quite a bit! Will let you know how it goes… x

  2. Cathryn says:

    Oh my word I’m so excited for you!!! You’re going to be Maria. What songs are you going to sing?? You’ll be fantastic! Lessons are a good idea…you have a good voice, you’ll be great. I need pictures!

    1. Nicola j says:

      It’s a snapshot of the musical, so we’re doing “my favourite things”, “doe ray mi”, “so long, farewell”, and “edelweiss”. We’re not staging it as such, so no costumes, scenery, etc. I will not be dressed as a nun at any point…

  3. Did I already tell you that we are on Operation Move to Spain? My husband works for a Spanish bank, so we’re trying to wrangle our way into moving there for a year or two. So I just did my first google mapping from Madrid to Vienna. Only 22 hours of drive time. Not too bad, especially considering in that amount of time I’ll drive through at least two other countries. Europe is so cool like that. And I pretty much have to go to that village on the water. So beautiful.

    1. Cathryn says:

      That’s so exciting. Spain is lovely and I have a really good friend in Madrid!! OOOH I’m excited for you!!

  4. Beautiful pictures! I’ve been to Vienna and Salzburg and loved both 🙂 I wish I had made it out to some smaller towns too, they look so cute!

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thank you! I loved the little towns and villages..even the tiniest towns are beautiful, and oh so clean!! It’s a lovely place.

  5. Jen says:

    I went to Salzburg almost 15 years ago. My friend and I went there on a day trip from Munich, just so we could do the Sound of Music tour!! We also randomly came upon a free dance performance in the middle of the park, with the dancers in traditional outfits. It was fabulous.

    1. Cathryn says:

      We did that SOM tour for my hen weekend, I’ve never laughed so hard. My abs hurt for a week!!! It’s a great city!!!

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