We almost didn’t make it to Austria, with a 45 minute journey to the airport taking 2 hours as we were forced to take to the country lanes to avoid the M25. We then found ourselves in the slowest check-in queue ever such that we actually checked-in after it had technically closed and arrived at the gate after boarding had started. So the relief of actually making it was such that when I saw a cream tea on the extortionately priced menu on the plane, even the second mortgage cost wasn’t going to put me off. Naturally I paired it with cocktails.
We landed in Salzburg to a rather grey scene and a forecast for more of the same for much of the coming week – it was to be a week of contrasts – epic rain and sweltering hot days.
The first day was one of the hot ones and we decided to attempt the walk around the lake, which came with the option of a boat ride back from the other end if needed. Here are some pictures of the Lake and it’s surroundings.
On the Sunday evening a free open-air concert was scheduled – the local school has an outdoor stage built into the front of the building, and several nights each week free recitals take place. Concerned it might be popular, we got there early. As you can see, someone had got there before us to reserve the best seats in the house. I think they may have been German.
Part-way through the concert, the heavens opened, but it all carried on regardless.
Having done our research for what we wanted to do during the week, it was quickly decided that on Monday we had to go to Bad Ischl, a spa town where Emporer Franz Josef went for his hols every year for 60 years. It was on one of these holidays in 1914 that his nephew got shot in Sarajevo (you may have heard of it, it’s been in the news a bit recently) and a week later after some failed diplomacy FJ signed Austria’s declaration of war against Serbia. It so happened that the 100th anniversary of this official start of WW1 coincided with our visit so we timed our trip to the Kaiser’s holiday home where the deed was done for the anniversary itself.
It was a bit bizarre walking past the war memorial in Bad Ischl and seeing a group of people there commemorating the day. We left them to it and made our way up to the Kaiservilla.
The tour was in German but we had translations and invited to skip ahead by the guide, the others did. I, however, opted to stay with the tour as I quickly picked up that a lot more information was being imparted than was on the written guide, even with my rusty 25 years out of practice German.
After a few rooms we got to the corner study where FJ signed the declaration and also wrote a manifesto explaining to his subjects the reasons for the war, a copy of which was on the desk. Photos weren’t allowed inside so the below is from a postcard.
A walk around the town was followed by an ascent of the Katrin mountain by cable car.
Back in Fuschl, we opted to take in sunset over the night’s drum and percussion concert.
But we did turn up to see what the concert was like. We made the right call.
Tuesday was the last decent weather day for a few days so was appointed the day for me to climb a mountain (properly, not by cable car this time). Schober had been selected in advance for this purpose, by the highly scientific method of scanning Social Hiking to see what peaks were listed in the vicinity (well if I’m going to go to the effort of walking up something, I might as well make it count towards the stats). While the girls went to a local Mill I headed in the opposite direction climbing out of Fuschl through forest to begin the ascent of firstly Frauenkopf, a secondary summit.
Halfway up a sign warned of the difficulty of the route and I wondered what was in store.
In truth it was just a bit steep, but no worse to climb than many fells in the Lakes District at home. I reached the top and had the summit to myself. Unfortunately because of the cloud the views weren’t much.
A short walk along the wooded ridge brought me to the bottom of Schober’s summit rocks, the scramble up being aided by metal staples. Half a dozen people here and some better views, the patches clearing in the mist to reveal the Fuschlsee below and the jagged ridge of the Schatzwand stretching away to the east.
I started the descent finding the going steep and tricky. In several places metal ropes were in place and sloping mud and tree roots made the footing iffy. I looked down on the Wartenfels ruins below.
I was relieved to get to the ruins which I explored for a while before continuing down through the forest to Fuschl. With no sign of the girls I decided a beer on the terrace was in order.
Wednesday was an almost total washout and became a lazy day. The forecast for Thursday wasn’t any better but rapidly running out of week we had to endure it. A wet day in Salzburg was clearly the right time to do a walking tour…
By Friday the choice of what to do was now being further complicated by us consciously leaving stuff for a future holiday and it took a while to agree on where we were going. In the end we opted for an exploration of St Gilgen and a trip up the Zwölferhorn. Yes another cable car, but we then did at least walk to the summit, and I then hiked over to the next summit of Pillstein.
Saturday was another hot one, but we couldn’t go too far away because of needing to travel to the airport mid-afternoon. So the day was spent around Fuschl in games of giant chess, lazing on the beach and, in my case, a walk around the lake to sketch the mountains.
We got to the airport and were first in the check-in queue, getting from coach to the departure gate in around 5 minutes in total. Shame there wasn’t much to do airline and that we didn’t find out our flight was delayed until we got there. Outside it was perfectly obvious why the delay – a sudden torrential rain shower and thunderstorm which prevented anything taking off, including our incoming plane. We made it home eventually and started making plans for a future return trip to Austria.