So I went to Austria last week for four days to visit my good friend Val, who lives in the south of the country close to the Italian and Slovenian borders.
And it was fantastic.
Not only did I have four whole days to myself – although two of those were spent travelling – and get to see Val, but I got to experience a beautiful (new to me) country.
I’ve been in a number of European countries, but this was my first visit to Austria and I loved it.
The journey there was quite long. I couldn’t get a flight from Glasgow for the day I wanted, so I had to travel to Edinburgh Airport instead. I flew to Frankfurt and then from there flew to Salzburg. Val met me at Salzburg Airport and we took the bus back to the city.
We spent the night in Salzburg, eating in the Mozart Cafe before finding a local Irish pub where we drank wine and enjoyed the karoake.
The following day we had breakfast in Salzburg and a good walk around. Unfortunately, we only had the morning in the city, but it gave me enough time to see some of it and it’s gorgeous. I now want to return to be a total tourist and go into the Mozart Museum and, more importantly, The Sound of Music Museum, which we found just as we were heading for the train south.
My lovely friend lives near Villach in a brand-new house overlooking the wonderful castle of Landskron, which was shut for the winter (I chose the wrong time of year to visit!). I fully intend to return to Austria at some point and go and explore that castle – I love castles. Apparently, it has a brilliant café where, in the summer, you can sit outside and enjoy the stunning view of the valley.
Talking of stunning, part of the train journey south takes you through Carinthian mountains, which when we travelled down from Salzburg, was about a foot deep in snow. In fact, it didn’t stop snowing until almost the point where we reached Villach. We couldn’t see a lot because the mountains were shrouded by snowfall, but what I did see was an amazing landscape covered in snow, which was oh-so-Christmassy.
Anyway, the following day, we went into Villach for a wander about. Unfortunately (again), they were only just setting up for their Christmas festival (I kept on missing things!), but I got a glimpse of their lights and what the festival would look like with its kiosks and ice skating and glühwein and everything else that goes with it.
We lunched in local restaurant/bar which was just stunning (see the pics – sorry about the quality, it was the best I could get) and the food was lovely. We’d actually asked for a different dish, but I think we mixed the waitress up and she came out with these. It was probably my fault because I said ‘we’ll get the daily special’ to Val and when the dishes came out, Val called them a word that sounded a bit like ‘special’ so I think that’s what the waitress thought we wanted. We didn’t say anything but ate it anyway and it was lovely, kind of like a nice macaroni cheese.
Day four and it was time for me to go home. I was gutted because I had had such a lovely time with Val and seeing this gorgeous country she’s now staying in. So, she dropped me off at Villach station and I began my epic journey home: train to Salzburg (two-and-a-half hours roughly), bus to Salzburg Airport (10 mins), flight to Frankfurt Airport, flight to Edinburgh Airport, bus to Glasgow, train home, picked up at the station by my dad who, along with my mum, were babysitting the kids for me. I was shattered when I got home. I left Villach on the 9.16am train and arrived at my actual home west of Glasgow just after 8pm that evening. As Val said, it was ‘planes, trains and automobiles’! It was so worth it as not only did I get to see my friend and spend some time with her (we had a good laugh), but it totally refreshed me – just four days away made me feel less tired and more energised, so it was well worth the journey.
Anyway, I’d like to thank Val and family for putting me up, my parents for babysitting and my friend, Jill, who was supposed to come with me, but due to circumstances, was unable to go. This time. Jill, we will go again next year, promise!
So, that was my week last week. That’s one thing I love about living in Scotland – it’s only a few hours plane ride away to the amazing mainland Europe.
Food – loved the food. I ate pork schnitzel, Austrian pastry and that pasta type dish, which was lovely. Val also treated me to some Austrian wine, which was delicious.
Scenery – loved the historical buildings, the mountains, the snow, the castles.
People – Austrian people are very friendly and nice and very helpful. Thank you to Matteo who helped me tackle the machine where I had to buy my ticket to the airport. I couldn’t work out how to work it, but he helped. And thanks to all the Austrian people I met. Also like to say a big hello to the British folk I met too – the people on the flights and those in the Irish pub.
Would I go back? – definitely, I loved it.