Austria less known and less discovered, with mountains and lakes will welcome the children
Lake Fuschl? Lake Wolfgang? Lake Mondsee? They don’t sound familiar, do they? It’s worth changing that, as Austria, much-loved by Polish tourists due to its excellent skiing destinations, has a lot to offer also during summer. The Salzkammergut region is simply enchanting, offering beautiful mountains and crystal-clear lakes surrounding them, so picturesque that even our small children kept saying over and over again: “It’s beautiful here” – Żywek and Nela will tell you a bit more about this in their Through the Eyes of Żywek and Nela tab.
How to get there? For example, on the way from Poland to Italy – from our border, there is a distance of 600 kilometres to cover, which makes this region an excellent place to stop when travelling with children and caring for their comfort as well as the length of your rides. You leave the motorway before Salzburg, and after a few minutes you will find yourself in a completely different world, to comfortably recharge your batteries before continuing your journey.
You can of, course, get there intentionally and deliberately, which we fully recommend. To take a trip to the Alps in the summer, to hike in the mountains or ride a bicycle on perfectly-prepared paths – paths that are demanding but offer great views as well. The Salzburg region has not (yet?) been discovered by Poles, as evidenced by the very fact that majority of local attractions don’t even have pages on the Polish-language version of Wikipedia (as at the end of May 2018). However, don’t take opinions stating that if aunt Wiki doesn’t know something or can’t tell you about something in Polish this means that it doesn’t exist seriously – the region is doing really great and you can feel as in a fairy-tale there.
We planned our stay at Fuschlsee for less than three days, but if it hadn’t been for the fact that Venice, located 450 kilometres away, and then Maggiore, Garda and Como lakes were awaiting us, we’d have probably stayed there longer. Time has really stood still there, and people live in tiny Austrian towns at a languorous pace. Away from the tourist hustle and bustle, you can talk calmly with a Kosovan waiter, who is delighted to refresh his knowledge of the Polish language, and find out that there are almost no fellow countrymen in the region, and Sankt Gilgen, a village famous for its beautiful decorations and holiday fairs, is practically decaying from January to March.
– This is when I leave Sankt Gilgen, because for how long can you live this slowly? – Florenc asked us, also clearly indicating that we would have to wait a while for the fresh trout ordered. Not because there was a lot of guests in the Fisher-Wirt restaurant so beautifully located at the very lakeside of Wolfgangsee, but because no one there is in a hurry. That’s why the Kosovan first told us his story, and then the story of the place where he worked: – In a few years, the area will be modernized, this building will be demolished, and the best hotel in town will be built, with more than twenty rooms. The restaurant, however, will still be there, as it offers a brilliant view of the mountains and the lake. The best view. The other eateries are also good, here everyone will be well-fed, and tourists don’t complain about delicious ice cream, but due to the views it is best to sit at our place. Especially in May and June, as during holidays there are more people here. But still, um, it’s not overwhelming. Is this a good word? – asked the Kosovan and added that Sankt Gilgen is visited by a lot of... Koreans, whom he has long since learned to distinguish from the Japanese at first glance. – They like to associate this village with the history of Mozart, even though Wolfgang Amadeus himself was never really here. His grandparents, grandmother and even his sister lived here, but he never made it to Sankt Gilgen.
It is of course best to follow the composer’s footsteps in nearby Salzburg (20 kilometres towards the centre by a mountain road, there’s no point in driving on the motorway). In Sankt Gilgen and the surrounding areas, it is better to focus on the music of the nature and the wind blowing up and down the mountain trails. Zwölferhorn offers the best view – you’ll be enchanted with the view of all three postglacial lakes mentioned at the beginning from the height of 1,522 metres. It is, of course, best to climb to its peak – a few-hour hike along the well-marked trails nearby is said to be a real treat (we believe the locals when it comes to that and add this item to our “to see in a few years” list), but with children and on a hot day it is easier to get there in an old gondola lift. Four-person cabins look like miniatures of the former Kasprowy Wierch cable cars, and the views are otherworldly – both of the village you depart from and of the surrounding lakes. The ride takes about fifteen minutes (the cabins aren’t in a hurry, either), and you can immediately see that the little gondolas aren’t suitable for transporting skis. They instantly break the stereotype of the Alps the winter sports enthusiasts try to adapt to skiing downhill wherever possible. There, at Wolfgangsee, Mondsee and Fuschlsee, winter is even a calmer of a season than the lovely spring or autumn and the only more intense holiday period.
Interestingly it is also worth mentioning the Schloss Fuschl, apparently the favourite hotel of the Austrian aristocracy (to admire the views, you can go there for a coffee, but you have to remember to wear long trousers and an appropriate footwear, i.e. not to wear sandals, flip-flops, etc.), where a museum devoted to Empress Elisabeth of Austria is located, herself being known to a wider audience from beautiful, though old, “Sissi” films. Some of the scenes from these classics were filmed there, at Fuschlsee, and Romy Schneider, who starred in the title role, together with the crew also savoured the local fresh fish. No one is big-headed in the hotel-owned tavern below the castle, the staff is really easy-going (note: they don’t even speak English in the smokehouse, which proves how little tourists have discovered this place), and you can prepare yourself a picnic worthy of the empress herself at the tables by the very lake. Even during a stopover while on your way to Italy, it is really worth to see this Austrian gem, hidden among the mountains, or the Alps, still undiscovered by Poles.