Having been to only cities for my past 11 trips, it was refreshing to finally go on a road trip. This time, it was to the mountainous city of Salzburg, the 4th largest city in Austria. With an average temperature of zero degrees Celsius, the mountainous terrain made it seem even colder. Fortunately for us, while London was experiencing Storm Ciara, Salzburg had perfect weather throughout our trip.
We started off taking the train from London Liverpool Street to London Stansted Airport. With a journey time of only an hour, the ride was definitely more pleasant than the coach rides I have been used to. Kuan Yang forgot to print his boarding pass, so instead of going to the counter and paying an exorbitant amount to Ryanair to print the pass, he simply checked in with his phone, before approaching the counter at the boarding gates telling them that he lost his boarding pass after getting through security. If any of you ever find yourself in a similar situation, Ryanair staff will be more than likely to assist you as long as you have proof that you have checked in and gotten through security.
Landing in Salzburg
After a short 2 hour flight (which we spent fast asleep), we finally landed in Salzburg. We headed straight for the car rental (SixT) to get our car. While going through the administrative procedures of collecting the rental car, the rental agency kept trying to sell us additional services like extra GPS, more insurance and many more miscelleaneous add ons. Trusting in Darrel’s capable driving, we kindly declined all their offers. When we arrived at our car, we were pleasantly surprised to see the car equipped with all the features that the salesperson was trying to sell us. In addition to that, the manual car that we rented was actually auto, making driving up and down mountainous areas much easier.
Our trip got off to a very interesting start. Upon exiting the airport, we headed down the highway, and I accidentally made a wrong call to stick on the same lane instead of flushing right. This resulted in us driving to Germany for a brief moment. What was more hilarious was the fact that this wasn’t the first time this happened. The last time Darrel was driving (back in Dec 2018), I accidentally made a wrong call, and we ended up travelling to Belgium instead of Netherlands (from Germany). Nonetheless, we laughed it off and were soon (albeit about 15 km of extra distance) back on track to our first destination, the Gollinger Wasserfall (waterfall). A short 30km drive away, it wasn’t long before we ended up on what seemed like a closed park. With part of the pavement having eroded away and cordoned off, we skirted around the edges to ascend up to the waterfall. Fortunately, the climb up wasn’t as long or as steep as we thought it would be, and we soon arrived at the waterfall.
The Gollinger Waterfall may not have been as strong or majestic as the many waterfalls in Iceland (which I still feel is the best place to go for scenery), but the area around it possessed a sweet sense of tranquillity, that I very much appreciate. After a few photos (and a few slips on the ice), we headed back to the car, and made our way to Lake Gosau.
After an hour’s drive, we arrived at Lake Gosau. A beautiful lake surrounded my mountains, Gosausee looked splendid in the photos you find online. However, as we arrived in winter, the lake was frozen, and the lush greenery it possessed in spring and summer are but just barren trees. Despite that, we had much fun throwing snowballs into the frozen lake, and trying to knock off icicles off some of the platforms. Here’s a picture of my prized win when I managed to land a direct hit on a really huge icicle. After a short walk around the lake, we went back to the car, and left for the main highlight of the day, Hallstatt.
Prize of the day
Hallstatt is a village on Lake Hallstatt's western shore in Austria's mountainous Salzkammergut region. Being about 1.5 hours away from Salzburg Airport, most tourists present in Hallstatt are there on guided tours, with huge buses being parked near the entrance of Hallstatt. After finding a place to park our car (with exorbitant parking fees of 3 Euros an hour), we took a walk around the small village, admiring it’s sights and sounds. What surprised us was that Hallstatt was actually 50% Asian (I’m kidding but not quite). Expecting to see only a few tourists in what seem like a remote village away from the city, we were taken aback to see buses full of Chinese and Korean tourists, who were well equipped with selfie sticks and the latest Huawei camera phones. As we walked through the village, it became quite apparent why there were so many tourists. With breath-taking scenery and quaint little village houses straight out from frozen, it seemed was though we were living in a fairy tale. In addition, the clear skies added on to the picturesque atmosphere, and we were glad to have been able to take many great photos.
Having seen all that we needed to (Hallstatt wasn’t too big), we returned to our car, and drove straight to our accommodation at Bad Ischl, a small town about 70km from Salzburg. A quaint airbnb, located in the suburbs of the town, the house was extremely well furnished and owned by a kind old man. With heated flooring and large rooms, we were very content. What was interesting to note was that the people in the area did not lock their doors. When asked why, the old man replied that there were no “bandits” (a word I’ve only seen in Maplestory and children books) in that area.
After putting our things down and lazing around for a bit, we headed back to the town for some Thai dinner. Once again, the portions served in European countries never fail to impress us, as we had a very filling meal before turning in for the night.
After a good 14-hour sleep, we left our accommodation for the Red Bull HQ located near Fuschlsee. One thing that really stood out about their HQ was how amazing it looked. Instead of the normal office spaces that one sees in shows or in government buildings, theirs had a very open concept, with interconnecting buildings that gave the place a futuristic touch.
Red Bull HQ
After a visit to Red Bull HQ, we proceeded Wolfgangsee, another lake by the town of St Wolfgang. With the lake reflecting the outline of the town as well as the mountains surrounding it, it was quite a pleasant sight. Moreover, the clear weather made the photographs look even better.
Wolfgangsee and lunch at St Wolfgang
Following lunch at St Wolfgang, we headed to Hintersee. A distance away from civilisation, Hintersee was not known as a tourist attraction, but instead more of a natural trail for locals. Upon arriving there, we were glad to see that there was hardly anybody else in the area. With scores of mountains surrounding the area, as well as still waters, the environment was perfect for photography.
Following our trip to Hintersee, we drove 55-minutes to the town of Fucking. Apart from the name of the town, there was nothing too special about it. Nonetheless, it provided us with some cheap thrills, and soon enough we were on our way back to Salzburg. After having dinner at a nearby restaurant, we settled for the night.
The Fucking exit
With our flight at 10, we left the hotel at about 7 in order to reach the airport on time. All in all, it was a trip I really appreciated, and one that was very much different from the previous few trips to the various cities. With a touch of nature very similar to that of Iceland, I would definitely recommend Salzburg/Hallstatt to anyone that’s able to find a group of friends to drive to.
In awe of icicles