World Map

Victor's and Barbara's Travel Diaries

Austria 2013
We spent time in Austria on two parts of our holiday. The first passage was while heading south to escape a cold and rainy Germany, pointing towards Croatia and the Med.  The second was on our way north, after visiting Italy and Switzerland, and in this leg we spent about 2 weeks in the Tyrol, our favourite place in continental Europe.

First Visit
On 12th May we left a rainy Wildsteig, in Germany, and crossed the lower Alps to Zell-am-See, where we found a B&B for 2 nights. This was amazing value, we took halb-pension, giving us breakfast and a 3 course dinner for 35 euros per person per day! The sun came out for us, and we took a series of 3 ski-lifts to the summit of Kitzsteinhorn, 3029 metres above sea level.  At the top we were in the thick of a thriving summer ski-season, as there is  deep snow everywhere at this altitude!  We walked through an amazing tunnel to the other side of the mountain, with views that you would only expect to get from a helicopter!

The next day we drove through the Gross-Glockner Pass, visiting the Franz-Joseph Glacier for the second time (Our first visit was in 1999).  We could see that the glacier had retreated since our previous visit. We continued south and east, crossing into Slovenia through the Werzer pass after skirting Villach.

From the top of Kitzsteinhorn - 3029 metres Franz Joseph Glacier
From the top of Kitzsteinhorn at 3029 metres. Franz Joseph Glacier, near the Gross-Glockner pass.
Second Visit
We reached Landeck from Switzerland's Engadine valley on 17th June, and stayed at a B&B overlooking the town. The next day we drove along the Inn valley to Stams, with its huge cathedral and music school in an old monastery. We had some trouble finding a place to stay, we ended up at a nice B&B but it was noisy at night because of the drunken workers talking very loudly till after midnight. So the next day we searched again, and found a great apartment in a chalet at Langenfeld . We had the entire upstairs, above the family home on the ground floor. From our balcony we could see snow-capped mountains on both sides of the Otz  valley. We used this as our base for 8 days. Our first few days were hot, then the weather turned cool with intermittent rain.

Stuiben Falls, above Umhaussen in the Oetztal. Niederthai, the village above the Stuiben Falls.
Stuiben Falls, above Umhaussen in the Oetztal. Niederthai, the village above the Stuiben Falls.
We visited Stuiben Falls, where a furious river called the Horlachbach drops 589 metres, flows through Umhaussen, and joins the Oetz.  It has very impressive clouds of water shooting up and an amazing rock-climbing route right beside it. We took a steep walking track to explore alongside the falls. In the evening we attended a concert in Langenfeld, by the local marching band. All the players were dressed in Tyrolean costumes, it was a great spectacle. Another day we drove to Hoch-Solden, a ski town which was like a ghost town out of season, not a soul to be seen in the whole place! We visited Timmel Pass,  2090 metres.

Stuiben Falls, above Umhaussen in the Oetztal. Niederthai, the village above the Stuiben Falls.
View from Hoch-Solden in the Oetztal. The Langenfeld band assembling for their street march followed by a concert at the town hall.

Another day we made a delightful visit to Piburgersee, a lake in the mountains surounded by pretty woodlands. We also saw white-water rafting on the river Oetz.
Otzi, the stone-age ice-man Niederthai, the village above the Stuiben Falls.
Otzi, the stone-age ice-man Victor by the lake at Piburgersee.

Yet another day we visited Otzi's village near Umhausen. This is a recreated stone-age village, based on the body, clothes and tools found on the "ice-man", who was preserved buried under snow in the high mountains for thousands of years.

On 27th June we left Langenfeld and drove to Munich, staying at a hotel near the airport. The next day we flew home to Adelaide via Singapore.