For fresh mountain air, real cooling and a terrible cell phone network, I drive to Lunz am See in Lower Austria.
But sometimes I just want to get out of the city and into nature. For fresh mountain air, real cooling and a terrible cell phone network, I drive to Lunz am See in Lower Austria.
© imago / Volker Preußer
Not for smartphone lovers
It is best to take an analogue route description with you for the journey, because Google Maps cannot be relied on from Scheibbs at the latest. Once the sleepy place is reached, the reception doesn’t get any better: there is an E network in some corners, but 3G is a luxury. What at first (also to me) sounds like sheer horror turns out to be a real blessing after a few hours: asking strangers for directions, taking a wrong turn or unexpectedly getting caught in the rain, is what makes life really exciting . Getting involved in a conversation with regulars in the country inn also gave me one or the other idea for the next story. The panorama along the numerous hiking trails on and around the Ötscher can be enjoyed much better with your own eyes than with your smartphone, and calls and e-mails have no chance of disturbing the idyll.
Pizza instead of home cooking
A dip in the Lunzer See, which rarely reaches more than 16 degrees even in summer, guarantees real refreshment. For the less courageous, there is a small tour by pedal or electric boat. If your stomach growls afterwards, instead of hearty home-style cooking, there is wafer-thin tarte flambée or pizza on the spectacular terrace of the wooden clapboard hut Chez Pierre, plus a huge selection of craft beers. (Alexa Lutteri, Chronicle)
Kleinriedenthal – like in the old days
I’m standing on the Schatzberg in the northwestern Weinviertel and look into the sunset towards Retz. The Waldviertel and the Wettererscheide begin right behind it. To my right, a good two kilometers away, is the Czech border, and then Znojmo will soon come. It’s less than an hour from here to Vienna. I discovered this place a few years ago while looking for a farmhouse.
© Ricardo Herrgott
It is a corner steeped in history: Hussite Wars, Hungary, Sweden, the Thirty Years War, the Habsburgs, the Napoleonic Wars and the Iron Curtain years, when time almost stood still here. Who wanted to live on the border with the Eastern Bloc? But that is exactly what defines the Retz region today. The light hill country with lots of wine and the Pannonian climate create one of the driest regions in Austria. The architecture of the villages on the border into the Waldviertel has almost been preserved. The area is not built up and shaken up, alleys with whitewashed wine cellars can still be discovered in every village – ideal for long bike rides. The old farmhouses are made of clay and often have wonderful gardens.123helpme free essays The fields are tilled, the vineyards are cherished and tended all year round, old cultural assets and still little technology, nothing modern disturbs.
The light of the sunsets from the Schatzberg has something magical about it. The wide, baroque landscape delights me, who comes from the mountains, every time anew. Sometimes I have to smile at myself: I grew up in Tyrol and learned to love the flat countryside. When I stand on Schatzberg, I wish that time would stand still here. (Ricardo Herrgott, photographer)
Maria Kirchental – calm in the forest
We were often there with grandma. Somehow a mystical place, hidden in the forest. The Archdiocese of Salzburg calls it “healing”, I discover during my internet research, and yes, it may be true. The pilgrimage church Maria Kirchental is located near Lofer. It is, which is what made it so attractive for us children, an utterly improbable place. A baroque church, designed by the famous Johann Fischer von Erlach (who also drew the plans for the Salzburg Collegiate Church), in the middle of the Pinzgau Alps. At the end of a small valley. Cannot be seen from below. Built between 1694 and 1701, according to legend, on the site of a wooden chapel in which a statue of the Virgin behaved miraculously (keyword: tears).
© ullstein picture – prism
A salutary place
A hiking trail leads up from St. Martin bei Lofer (approx. 40 minutes). There is a 600 year old miraculous image to marvel at and an impressive collection of votive tablets. The Kirchentalwirt (10 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed on Mondays) offers boiled beef, schnitzel and more, as well as homemade strudel and overnight accommodation. Pause, stretch your legs, let your mind wander. (Anna Gasteiger, Domestic Policy)
Kalkalpen National Park – untouched nature
Dense, fragrant forests, high mountains and clear streams – the Kalkalpen National Park was founded in 1997, and the 208 square kilometer area in southwest Upper Austria, in which even the lynx live, has been under nature protection ever since. It has now been three years since I spent a few days with my children in the national park’s wilderness camp for the first time. Supervised by two rangers and together with a manageable group of adults and children, nature was explored away from the hiking trails. Brave people (I wasn’t one of them) bathed in the ice-cold mountain stream. We discovered animal bones in an abandoned burrow and wandered through the pitch-dark forest in the middle of the night without flashlights. Only now and then did fireflies sparkle in the thicket. It was scary, but in retrospect it was so nice that we’ve been coming here every summer since then.
© Kalkalpen National Park © F. Sieghartsleitner Kalkalpen National Park
But if you have enough of the tranquil nature of the national park at some point, you should make a stop in Windischgarsten. There is one of the longest summer toboggan runs in Europe: it is 1,523 meters long and descends over 230 meters in altitude. (Christine Lugmayr, life)
Lake Neusiedl – gentle and wild
The gray of the water, which turns into a strange, washed-out green-gray on sunny days, is as mysterious as the gentle wind that blows incessantly over its shores. Lake Neusiedl is as unique as its play of colors. It invites people to bathe and offers protection to the birds. More than 200 feathered species nest in the national park in Seewinkel. The lake gets its color from its wonderfully soft mud bottom. Many consider the often murky water to be not entirely clean. But that is just one of the errors that circulate across the lake. Another is its harmlessness. In a few minutes in a violent storm, the calm, shallow water can change into a meter-high sea. But that is rare. The trips to the lake crowned every summer of my childhood. What an adventure when a school of small fish passed me on my dives. Nothing has changed to this day.
© Gerhard Wild / picturedesk.com
Water and birds
Back then, I was comforted by the sweet grapes my parents bought on the way home in Weiden / See about the end of the season. The tours of discovery through the wonderful bird paradise remain unforgettable and repeatable all year round. (Susanne Zobl, culture)
Steyr – a magnificent pearl
The enchanting city of Steyr usually only attracts national interest for the same sad reason: the flood. When the rivers Enns and Steyr overflow, the images of people wading along the Ennskai in rubber boots, over the umbrellas and the barricaded shop windows, can be seen. Steyr then pays the high price for a location that amounts to a great gift on all other days of the year. Because hardly any other city in Austria is so idyllically embedded.
© Copy Rights by Henryk Sadura Travel Photography
Built close to the water
And nowhere is the spectacle behind it so beautiful to watch as from the water tower there. Even as a little boy I stood fascinated on the platform of the medieval tower and watched the wild, young, sometimes high-spirited and often turquoise shimmering Steyr as she poured into the much more sluggish and at the same time graceful Enns. From the tower it goes up to the baroque Lamberg Castle, which again reveals the view of the roofs of the city. A spiral staircase later leads back down on the other side to the bank of the Steyr and over a bridge to the weir ditch. It is worth visiting the Work World Museum there, which points the way back to the 19th century. At that time Steyr was one of the centers of industrialization in Europe and was known as the “Austrian Manchester”. The exhibition not only clearly shows the unimaginable conditions under which people worked in the armories of the time, but also exemplifies the history of the city in the Nazi era in the gallery of memory. It is more contemplative in the center of Steyr. The town square alone is a feast for the eyes for all architecture lovers.
The mix of houses from the late Gothic, Baroque and Rococo periods forms a fascinating work of art. You can marvel at the many cozy cafes that can be found along the narrow streets of the old town. For me, Steyr remains a city to fall in love with – unless it’s flood. (Christoph Lehermayr, abroad)
Kitzeck im Sausal – vacation in the south
My way to the south is very easy: at the Vienna city limits on the A2, via the change to Graz and up on the A9. Shortly before the Slovenian border – where the column of tourists to Croatia and Italy is slowly becoming viscous – I take the Leibnitz exit and I’m 15 minutes later: in Kitzeck in Sausal – my southernmost corner of Austria.
© Markl Michael / Gusto / picturedesk.com
It is easy to explain why it pays off to take the two and a half hours drive from Vienna. If you are looking for relaxation, a quick look at the lush green hilly landscape or at the gentle blue waves of one of the many bathing ponds is enough to get away from everyday stress. If you want to do something, you can go hiking or cycling, swim or take a sailing course. Or simply try regional delicacies such as Welschriesling, apple cider, beetle beans with seed oil and celery or trout fillet bread in a local tavern or buy them at the farmers’ market to take home. The educational program is not neglected either: in Kitzeck there is the world’s largest Klapotetz (the wooden frame is supposed to drive away birds with its sound), in the nearby Preding the zoo beckons. For more culture, Graz is only an hour’s drive away, Maribor is only 45 minutes away.
For almost 16 years I have been drawn to Sausal – and there is no end in sight. If only because two and a half days there can easily keep up with the relaxation potential of two weeks in Italy. (Isabell Widek, Domestic Policy)
Herrensee – the things that don’t exist
Until the late 1980s, Litschau and the Herrensee, right on the edge of the Waldviertel municipality with its 2,300 inhabitants, marked the end of the world. At least the world as we knew and know it. In the thick forests all around, fox, rabbit and democracy said good night to each other. Because immediately behind it ran the Iron Curtain, the strictly monitored border to the Eastern Bloc.
© Martin Siepmann / imageBROKER / picturedesk.com
Country-loving city dwellers
Those who could left the structurally weak region around Litschau, and so the Herrensee became a lonely postcard idyll. It was only at the beginning of the noughties, when postcards were also dying out, but city dwellers using cell phones and sending e-mails began to yearn for a single shift, that something like life returned to the region. Old, abandoned courtyards were renovated and converted into rural second homes, overstretched Viennese mingled with the reserved, taciturn locals, and so at the end of the world a new, multicultural microcosm emerged – an atmosphere of mutual, generally benevolent sniffing. When “Braunschlag”, the ORF series filmed in the immediate vicinity, became a success, Litschau even achieved a certain Bobo prestige. Since then, in addition to farm products from the region, the local supermarket has even sold “Spiegel” and “Süddeutsche”, and the quality of local restaurateurs has also improved noticeably. Nevertheless, Litschau and the Herrensee still tend to represent the things that don’t exist: a nice little seaside resort (even with a pool), yes, but not a swanky thermal spa; a few pedal boats for rent, yes, but apart from a small buffet there are no beach bars like on the Danube Canal or on Ibiza. The Herrensee is basically a big omission. The greatest that I know. (David Pesendorfer, news writer)
Karseggalm – a little journey through time
There are more than enough beautiful alpine pastures in the “Valley of the Pastures”. 40 can be hiked in Grossarltal – one of them is particularly beautiful. And quite old: At 400 years old, the Karseggalm is the oldest alpine hut in the valley. We are here once a year. Because only here is there something that the other 39 alpine pastures don’t have: sugar moas. A homemade farmer’s bread with a lot of sugar on it. So easy, so good, at least my children think. But even if you don’t fancy a carrot, a detour to the Alm is worthwhile, which can be hiked in a good 1.5 hours from the Sonneggbrücke car park – either across country over hill and dale or via a comfortable forest path.
© TVB Grossarltal
Lots of clay and an open fire
There is no electricity in the hut, the floor is still covered with clay. Interested visitors are welcome to climb a steep wooden ladder and take a look into the hay-lined bedrooms of the Alm – or the copper kettle that hangs over an open fire in the hut. This is where the typical sour cheese and kneading kas of the Grossarl Valley are made. The great 360-degree view at 1,603 meters is also free. (Kathrin Gulnerits, Deputy Editor-in-Chief)
Bellevuewiese – up to kiss
In the very north of Vienna, in Grinzing, where the houses get lower, the alleys narrower and one wine tavern is lined up, a street begins to screw its way upwards, which – if it hadn’t been named after a former inn – like that sounds like the place it leads you to: Himmelstrasse. At the end of it there is a meadow that no one forgets who has stood on it. What, you are probably thinking now, is supposed to be so magical on a bland patch of grass? Your name gives it away. The Bellevuewiese provides the most beautiful view of Vienna that I know. The 38A bus goes directly there. Here I picnicked in the sunshine, cried in the rain and once in the middle of the night – but please don’t tell anyone – I got the best kiss of my life while the capital shone below us.