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Zell Am See (Austria)

AUSTRIA | Sunday, 6 May 2007 | Views [1680]

Striking view from the house we stayed at in Austria.

Striking view from the house we stayed at in Austria.

Laura Writes:

From Vevey, the four of us took a train to Zell Am See. This was an eight hour trip and we had to change trains three times. It was our first long distance train trip. Up to this point we had taken trains in Spain, but this was the longest. The trains were also different to the previous ones.

The trip was very enjoyable, as we got to see some incredible scenery such as snow capped mountains, rivers and lakes, typical Bavarian style houses, old churches on hill sides etc. This made up for not getting to see all that much in Switzerland due to the bad weather. It was also great to have a compartment just for the two of us for quite a long part of the journey on one of the trains (my parents had a Euro train pass, so they went in first class). What was also interesting about these trains, which we had observed in Spain for the first time, was the speed (from 250 to 500km per hour). We were both pretty impressed!

Well, we are still in Austria after spending almost two weeks here, however, we are leaving tomorrow for Troviso in Italy, which is very close to Venice. We will be driving there and it will take around 4 hours. It should be an interesting trip, however I'm really reluctant to leave this house with all its comforts.

The house we've been staying in is absolutely incredible, and it is more like a palace than a house. The house also has three floors with furniture dating back 300 to 400 years (we are afraid to touch anything!), a chandelier and great paintings. All this has apparently been passed down from generation to generation. A special feature of the house is the second dinning room which is very unique. This dinning room has a natural stone wall protruding inside the room. This wall was left there as a mistake was made when cutting through the rock to level out the land. Apparently, more rock should have been cleared to allow enough room for the construction of the back rooms of the house, however, it was decided that it would be left untouched and has become a feature of this dinning area, the cellar and the games room. It is very effective. It also has a great atmosphere, especially when candles are placed on the wall crevices and lit in the darkened room. Nigel and I even have our own seperate area on the ground floor of the house with a kitchenette, bathroom with a spa bath, television and bar.

While in Austria, we have been to visit the Hohenwerfen fortress of the higher clergy. This dates back to the 11th century. Unfortunately most of the fortress was only accessible with a seperate tour which we did not take, but we did get to see the falconry museum and a falcon flight performance which was impressive, especially seeing the falcons, giant owls and eagles flying so close to us.

We also crossed the border into Germany a couple of times, once to Munich and the second time to Koeningssee lake where we took an electric boat to another part of the shore line which had walking tracks, yellow spring flowers everywhere and typical Bavarian houses as well as a church from the 12th or 13th century which looked very impressive.

Yesterday we went to Salzburg (the birth place of Mozart) and even though we arrived a little late to go into the museums, residences etc. we did enjoy walking around and getting a sense of the place. We also went into a very old cemetary in the church grounds which also had a catacomb dating back to 1027. This was was facinating but kind of eerie at the same time.

The highlight and my favorite trip was to an ice cave (the Eisriesenwelt) which is the world's largest ice cave (approximately 1 km in length), with formations created by the ice masses that have towered up during thusands of years. Even though it was a very warm day outside the cave, inside it was below freezing, and we really had to rug up before going in. There was also an incredible gust of wind which almost blew us away as we steped through the entrance door. This strong wind was due to due to the temperature difference between the outside and the inside of the cave, as explained by our guide. This trip was a worthwhile experience and I wished we had had more time to contemplate and reflect on this incredible work of nature. Unfortunately, photos were not allowed to be taken, therefore, we bought some postcards which we will try to include in our picture gallery.

There was something else I've been wanting to say. While we've been in Austria, I have been reflecting on how sightseeing, so far, has been just that; sight seeing (just a visual impact) without a real connection to what I've seen. Once you've seen it, it is like ticking it off the list, but it leaves me with an empty feeling inside. My question to you all is: How do you really feel and appreciate a place and make a deeper connection that leaves behind something that you will carry with you forever? After all, it is said that travel is food for the soul.

Tags: adventures


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