Christmas Vacation 2021

It’s time… time to close the company laptop and the apartment door to disappear for three weeks. As I’m not a family person, each year I go on a long vacation during Christmas and New Year. Usually, it was a warm and exotic place. This year it’s exactly the opposite.

Winter Wonderland

I have never ever ever spent Christmas in the mountains. Well, yes during my childhood we had lots of snow in December in Poland, but I was mostly spending Christmas at home in Silesia. 2018 I finally managed to spend Christmas on the beach and have been doing that since. At the beginning this year as I made the decision to learn skiing, I also decided to spend Christmas in the Alps. I know that I mentioned this trip a couple of times already on the blog but never spilled the beans about the details. Yeah I am excited as the trip begins with an eight hour drive from Kraków to Salzburg. 

So, what’s the plan and how does the route look like? Well, it’s pretty simple and as a proper project manager I have it all planned… with room for some spontaneous activities.

2911 kilometres through four countries and nine cities in three weeks

17th Dec – drive from Kraków to Salzburg, approx. 760km. Stay over for the night and get a good night sleep.

18th Dec – wake up early in the morning, do some sightseeing in Salzburg till like 3 pm and drive to Innsbruck, approx. 187km. Arrive in Innsbruck and get a good night sleep.

19th Dec – wake up early in the morning to walk around Innsbruck to enjoy the mountain landscape. Around 3 pm drive over to Sankt Anton, approx. 100km. Dinner, rest, and sleep.

20th Dec to 25th Dec – ski madness in Sankt Anton. Just pure fun fun fun. Don’t know what I’ll be doing for Christmas Eve but I’ll figure something out.

25th Dec – drive to Val di Fiemme, approx. 250km. No special activities planned for this day just relax and go for a nice dinner with wine.

26th Dec – chill out day. Well, I need to gather some strength after all that skiing and before more skiing. No special activities planned for this day. Maybe go to a SPA or something. Don’t know will figure it out

27th Dec to 3rd Jan – ski madness in Dolomiti Superski… hell yeah 😀 I have no idea what I will be doing for New Year’s Eve… probably a party with people I’ll meet on the ski slopes or in the hotel.

4th Jan – around 8 am drive to Verona, approx. 184km for a whole day of sightseeing. Wonder what Julia’s balcony looks like in real life. 

5th Jan – a day at Lake Garda. Don’t have any special agenda for it, just drive there and spend a pleasant day walking and enjoying the views. Distance between Verona and Lake Garda is approx. 87km. Get back to Verona in the evening and go to bed early as the next day will start very early.

6th Jan – around 5 or 6 am drive from Verona to Hallstatt, approx. 507km. The plan here is to get to Hallstatt around lunch time. Every travel documentary I watched about charming small towns in Europe puts Hallstatt on the top 10 list. Curious what it really looks like. After lunch I want to do a small walking tour and then continue driving to Vienna. The distance will be around 287km.

7th and 8th Jan – Vienna sightseeing! The agenda is quite ambitious as I plan to visit The Belvedere and see Gustav Klimt’s painting as well as The Hofburg and Schönbrunn. Additionally, lots of walking around Vienna 😀

8th Jan in the evening, drive approx. 462km back to Kraków. 

In total, around 2911 kilometres through four countries and nine cities… hmm yeah, I did spend some time planning it 😀 My bestie’s husband was an incredible help in picking the skiing destinations. Keep in mind that I wasn’t skiing before in the Alps so was completely lost in all those destinations. However, as PS is a passionate skier, he was more than happy to tell me all about it and give me some hints. My biggest fear was that Austria won’t lift the lockdown which was introduced at the end of November… but my gamble paid off. On the 13th December Austria lifted the lockdown for vaccinated people. Meaning I can go and enjoy the snow. 

That’s actually funny. In the past I hated winter and snow and frost and all what comes with it. I preferred the summer and the beach. Well, with all due respect to myself I was an idiot. When I started to learn how to ski, I also changed my mind when it comes to winter. Now I think that winter is pretty cool! For my trip I’m imagining mountains covered in snow, a cosy homestay, a fireplace and me with a cup of mulled wine in the hand… ahhh dreams do come true, right?

Annual leave tips and tricks

Many of my friends ask me – you going away for three weeks? How the hell do you have so many annual leave days? You are constantly traveling somewhere.  Hmmm, magic! I won’t be focusing on how to plan a three-week trip but how to find all those annual leave days in your schedule. 

Truth is that I’ve carried over eight leave days from 2020, meaning I had additional days to utilise on top of my usual 26… so a total of 34. However, my special trick to get more days off from work is to plan trips around public holidays. Every year in January I look at the calendar and check out when and on which weekdays Easter, Christmas, Labour Day and other public holidays fall. Additionally, there is a regulation in Polish labour law regarding public holidays. It says, if a public holiday falls on a Saturday, the employee is entitled to take a day in lieu. In 2021 in Poland, we had two public holidays falling on a Saturday… plus the first January 2022 is also falling on a Saturday 😀 Moreover, some companies have a Corporate Social Responsibility policy. Meaning if you get involved in a fund raising, helping children, cleaning the earth day you get one additional day of leave. Counting all that together I had six additional days of holiday. In the end my total of my leave days was 40! With that number of days, you can easily plan at least a ten-day trip every three months. BUMMM and that’s the secret. Look when the public holidays fall and presto additional off work days can be added to your account.

The drive to Salzburg

Driving towards the sunset… somewhere in Czech Republic
Arrived! Exhausted but extremely happy 🙂

I am a Mozart fan! Yes, no shame in being a fan of a bawdy composer who created great music. Salzburg is the place where he was born and seeing the Mozart Museum was always very high on my bucket list. So, what do you need to know when coming to Salzburg? I drove to Austria. For change I didn’t take any planes or trains as renting a car was way easier and cheaper. Couple of hints for drivers.

The road from Kraków to Salzburg was amazing. I left Kraków at 1 pm and arrived in Salzburg at 9 pm. 760 km in eight hours. Not bad taking into consideration that I did five stops… ten minutes each. The stops were done mostly to either have a smoke or to buy a motorway pass. In the Czech Republic and Austria, the motorways are not free. You need to buy a pass for 10, 30, 60 or more days. They are not that expensive. A 30-day pass for the Czech Republic is around 18 Euros and a 10-day Austria pass is 13 Euros. If you are planning a roundtrip with the car, it’s better to buy a pass that is valid for longer. For example, a 10-day pass in Czech costs 14 Euro and a one for 30 days 18 Euros. Good thing is that you can buy them at petrol stations or special offices shortly after you cross the country border. Well in the Schengen Zone the country border is marked with a road sign saying welcome to Czech Republic for example. 

The best thing about the drive were the Austrian motorways. I had no idea when the four hours passed from crossing Austria’s border to arriving at my hotel. The thing you need to watch out for while driving on Austria’s motorways is the speed limit. It’s between 100 and 140 km/h and just stick to it! Meaning don’t play yippee ki yay cowboy! Also, the motorway driving culture in Austria is on a much higher level than in Poland. For change people know how to use the left lane. Yes, exactly for overtaking. Like Richard Hammond once said – the left lane is like a toilet. You go, do what you need to and leave. Somehow people in Poland don’t seem to get that. There are many many so called drivers who drive slower on the left lane, blocking everybody else… grrrrrrrr! Anyway, does Salzburg match my fantasies? Hmmmm let’s see shall we 😉 A full day of sightseeing awaits tomorrow 🙂

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