Welcome to Austria

A country that a week ago was in lockdown and now life seems quite normal… does it really? All you need to know how the tourist situation looks like after the lockdown. Plus, some nice stories and lovely pics.

First day skiing this season!

It’s Austria not Australia. I have no idea why people are often mixing up those two countries… Austria is the country in the Alps where you go for skinning not surfing. After we made that clear, the thing you probably are interested in. How does it look like after the recent lockdown?

Pretty normal I would say. The main point is that you must carry your covid vaccination certificate everywhere. The general rule is that the lockdown was lifted only for vaccinated people. Meaning to go to a restaurant, museum, or hotel you need to be vaccinated. Only… I doubt that all those crowds at the Christmas market in Innsbruck were vaccinated. That’s the point not everybody is asking you for the certificate, some ask and have a glimpse, some examine it very closely, and some even scan it. For example, at the hotel reception in Salzburg I was asked for the certificate and the guy just had a glimpse at it. On the other hand, at the hotel reception in Innsbruck, nobody asked me for the certificate. Before entering the Christmas market in Salzburg everybody who wanted to enter the market needed to show the certificate and get a wristband. To walk around the open-air market, you should wear a mask. You see carrying a vaccination certificate is a must but not everybody asks for it. 

Another point is… masks. In Austria only FFP2 masks are allowed. Meaning you can’t cover your face with a surgical mask, a scarf or a tissue… nope. If you are not wearing a FFP2 mask most probably you won’t be allowed entry in a museum or shop. It’s a bit weird… anyway the good point is that you don’t have to wear a mask outside, only inside. So not like last year in Spain and Portugal when you had to cover your face even outside.  When it comes to the ski slopes, yep you are asked for a vaccination proof every time. Today I was asked for it when buying my ski pass, when entering the restaurant at the ski slope and when entering the restaurant in the city. In case you are not vaccinated you need to show a negative test result. Attention! It has to be a negative PCR test; antigen tests don’t count. Meaning don’t even try to go to Austria if you are not vaccinated.

Welcome to Salzburg

How charming! Think that is a very appropriate word to describe that town. It’s not big so you can easily see it all during a day… maximum a day and a half. For me the main point was to go to Mozart’s birthplace. Yes, I absolutely love Mozart. Sadly, the museum was disappointing. I expected more music, visuals, something interactive and all I got were paintings and dioramas. Fun fact… there are Mozart’s hair wisps as exhibits… hmmm creepy. Apart from the Mozart Museum you can go to see the fortress. The way up the hill is a bit steep but the view over the city is beautiful. For the lazy ones among you there is a rail carriage taking tourists up to the fortress. Additionally, there are a couple of churches which you can visit if you are a fan of Christian architecture. I preferred to walk around the town, enjoy the Christmas market and other food markets. At those I ofcoz had a bratwurst and brezel. Life doesn’t make sense without those 😉 What I really loved were the amazingly decorated shop windows. Colourful Christmas baubles and Christmas lights everywhere. I made approx. 20 thousand steps during my sightseeing walk. Instead of rushing from sight to sight I preferred to relax and enjoy the city on foot. 

Salzburg is a good stop if you are traveling through Austria and looking for a place to stay the night over and see some lovely views. I wouldn’t go there for longer than two days unless you are a fan of hiking. Don’t get me wrong, I feel in love with Salzburg as it’s charming. I would love to stop by for a coffee again when driving through Austria but that’s all. 

One thing I would like to say though the staff at hotel Flair is amazing. It’s very rare that the hotel staff is genuinely warm and kind. The check in time was till 7 pm and I arrived at 9 pm. They prepared an alternative check in for me… which didn’t work. Luckily the owner was still in the hotel, so he opened the door for me and gave the keys to the room. Next morning, I got a free coffee. Extremely nice people work there. 

Welcome to Innsbruck

The fastest way to Innsbruck from Salzburg is via Germany. I know how that sounds but it’s the truth… and you know what’s the best thing about driving in Germany? Indeed, motorways without speed limits. <Sneaky Smile> Fine there are speed limits on some sections but there are also sections where there is no speed limit. Now… guess what was the maximum I drove with my rented Mazda CX-5? Answer is 191 km/h. I didn’t have the guts to go faster.  

First impression of Innsbruck? It’s a fairy tale town. They went mental here with Christmas decorations and the Christmas tree on the market square is made from Swarovski crystals. Yeah… nice! It’s more lovely and charming than Salzburg and it’s surrounded by mountains. Luckily my hotel room has a mountain view. After checking in I dropped my luggage and went straight for an evening walk around the town. It looks just magical. Christmas lights everywhere, mulled wine sold on every corner and delicate frost to bite your nose. Can it get more, I don’t know more? Yes it can. One of the streets around the Old Town was called Fairy Tale Street and decorated accordingly. Another The Giant Alley and again decorated accordingly with statues of giants. I rarely use that expression but Innsbruck is just magical. My personal highlight of Innsbruck was the Bergisel Ski Jump. Yes, I did see a ski jump before but this one is kinda special. Bergisel is one of the four places where the Four Hills tournament takes place at the end of December and beginning January. Couple of years back I was a huge fan of Sven Hannawald, the first ski jumper in history who won each event in one tournament. The second one in history who did that was Kamil Stoch. 

However what annoyed me a bit was the lack of restaurants with traditional Austrian food. Geez I saw Asian, sushi, Italian places everywhere but no place with Austrian or Tirol cuisine. Eventually found one place after a very long search. Generally, would I recommend going to Innsbruck? It’s a great place for a one max two-day stopover. Like Salzburg it’s not a big town so you can easily see it within a day. The mountain views are very much incredible!

Welcome to Sankt Anton am Arlberg

The Mecca of skiing! Arrived here yesterday and have to say it’s a big WOW. If you are imagine a charming little winter town it definitely will look like Sankt Anton. All those lovely traditional alpine houses which got converted into hotels. Snow everywhere and a bit of frost to remind you that you are in the heart of the Alps. I expected huge crowds at the ski lifts and on the slopes but no. Waiting time for the ski lifts was approx. 3 minutes. Shorter by miles compared to the waiting time for ski lifts in Poland. What about the slopes? OMG, amazing, long and very well prepared. Attention! The blue slopes, so the easy ones are a bit steeper than in other regions… steeper but manageable. Must admit that the first run was dreadful for me. Today was my first-time skiing since March. However, from the second and third run I remembered again how to ski so it started to be a pure pleasure. Was skiing for five hours today and at the end was more tired than after a pole dance workout with my instructor. Tomorrow will be another fun day on the snow. Still can’t believe how beautiful it is here. The mountain views are just breathtaking. All the shades of blue, the snowy mountain tops and the sun that gives you the feeling of warmth when the cold wind is blowing. It is truly a winter wonderland. Would I recommend coming here? Definitely, a great place to stay, to ski although a bit expensive… but hey you can’t have everything, right 😉

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