Wondering “where am I?” and “how do I get to my next point of interest” became a recurring theme in the few days I spent in Vienna.
After getting lost trying to find my way back to the Vienna Hauptbahnhof following a day exploring the city surrounds, I met up with my friend who had just arrived from Berlin. Our first task was to get back across the city to check into our hotel. We travelled on the U-Bahn to Schottenring station which has exits on either side of the Donau Canal. Naturally, we exited on the wrong side and were unable to find the exit for the other side of the canal. After ten or so minutes of looking like muppets trying to figure a way across, and after deciding that swimming across wasn’t a great idea, we jumped on a tram that went over a nearby bridge.
We then checked into our hotel and then immediately headed out to do a small amount of exploring and grab dinner.
The second week of my adventures across Central Europe took me to Vienna.
My Monday morning began very early as the friends I was staying with had appointments before their work day even began. This resulted in me being kicked out of their house before 7am and I was on the first train from Munich to Vienna at 7.30am
The four hour trip from Munich across to Vienna went by very quickly, aided by free WIFI on the train which allowed me to catch up on a little bit of emails and talk to friends back in NZ and Australia. I also spent a bit of time watching the scenery go past the train window, including seeing the sun rise over the Alps and glimpsing the huge Stift Melk (Melk Abbey) in the distance as we approached Vienna.
Once I arrived in Vienna I had over four hours to kill while waiting for my travelling companion for the next week to fly in from Berlin. When he heard that I had arrived so early he forbade me from seeing any of the sights in the centre of town. So instead I decided to put my bags into storage and walk from the Vienna Hauptbahnhof through the Belvedere Schlossgarten and Stadtpark to the Donau Canal.
On my third day in Europe I was up early enough and awake enough to go skiing. Each of the ski fields around Innsbruck runs a free tourist shuttle bus from various areas around the city directly to the ski fields. Find the area where the ski bus departed from was a little tricky even though it was essentially across the road from the hotel as it wasn’t very well sign posted, however, the buses had very clear labels on them and made the hour long ride out to the ski field very comfortable.
The snow that had been falling in the mountains the previous day also fell in the city overnight and as we headed out of Innsbruck and up the narrow mountain road to Axamer Lizum the snow on the ground and the trees kept getting more and more.
Arriving at Axamer Lizum a little after 9am I quickly found the on field ski hire and grabbed a lift pass and headed up the mountain. As the main chairlift from the base area climbed higher we ended up in quite a heavy fog which made the first few runs down the mountain very slow with visibility so low that I was skiing to route markers and having to completely stop to find the next one in the mist.
Fortunately, after an hour or so the poor visibility and light snow lifted and I was able to explore a lot more of the mountain. Although the field was “small” compared to some other fields in the alps it still provided plenty of open space and different runs that could be taken. The lower parts of the mountains through the forest was fun as it is something you don’t experience on New Zealand fields and the higher parts of the mountain gave beautiful glimpses through the clouds across the alps.
View from the top of Axamer Lizum
View from the top cafe on Axamer Lizum
Descending into mist
Innsbruck from Axamer Lizum
Following the main route down
Overall, Axamer Lizum was the perfect place for a day of skiing near Innsbruck. The powder was amazing and I was very fortunate to ski on 15cm+ of fresh snow. I would love to go back to both Axamer Lizum and Innsbruck and spend a week or so exploring the other ski areas in the region.
Arriving in Innsbruck after almost 40 hours of travel, one would expect to fall straight into bed, but as it was such a beautiful afternoon I decided it go up to the top of Nordkette instead.
To get to the top of Nordkette you catch a very modern Funicular from the edge of the Innsbruck city centre to the suburb/village of Hungerburg. From here you switch to two cable cars which take you to the top of the mountain. At the top I walked around for at least 30 minutes in snow that was literally knee deep. The ski runs off the top were the steepest I’ve ever seen. After deciding against trying to get to the absolute summit of the mountain in the deep snow I headed back down one cable car to grab a traditional Austrian lunch – Apple Strudel and Red Bull.
Despite not being in Germany I’ve wanted to visit Salzburg for a long time. Salzburg is just under two hours by train from Munich and made for a great day trip.
After getting off the train, I found the tourist office to get a map and directions to the key things I wanted to see: Mozart’s Birthplace, the Cathedral and the Fortress.
The tourist office provided me with a suggested path I walk through the city to get to the Altstadt (old town) where most of the tourist attractions are. This path was meant to take me through a beautiful park, but unfortunately, many of the gates and sections of the park were closed due to snow.
Eventually I found my way into part of the park which was rather pretty in the snow, and then crossed a bridge into the Altstadt.