Austria - Alps - 5 summer days

This year 2019, we were visiting our family in Stuttgart, and two long weekends in a row in the beginning of June got us thinking that it may be a good opportunity to cover 5 working days gap between them with a dreamy trip to Tyrolean Alps where one can actually hear the amazing music of cow bells and breath crystal clear mountain air.

Day 1. Driving from Stuttgart to Austria

We've rented a car with Sixt and begun our journey at around 7:20.

Man, I miss driving in Europe! It seems that jackasses who take the left lane on a highway and remain stuck to it all the way till the destination, were all left in Ontario. In Europe, if the right lane is free, you must take it. And you appreciate the rule in just a moment once you joined an autobahn: when you are in a no-limit zone slowly moving 160, someone who wants to pass you at 220 definitely needs left lane free, so don't take it if you don't really need to. Just be careful, those guys jump and disappear from/to nowhere.

We did not waste day light stopping in the cities like Munich because are not big fans of churches or museums.

Being much more interested in green, wet and live things, we made our first stop (washroom breaks don't count) after 3 hours drive at Tatzelwurm Waterfall. It was just a small detour from the main route and definitely worth it. Short hike, stretched legs, a couple of selfies, and we are back on the road approaching Austrian border.
Important: at any gas and/or rest station before Austrian border you need to buy a permit to drive on Austrian autobahns (vignette), basically a sticker which should be displayed in the top corner of the windshield on the driver side. Minimal 10 days vignette cost 9.20 EUR.

Next stop (in Austria): Kaiserklamm. 

Timber was a major source of income in the Brandbergtal valley until the 20th century. The logs were drifted down the valley by the torrential Ache river. Trails made by woodsmen over the past few centuries make the Tiefenbach and the Kaiserklamm gorges accessible to the public. 

We did our homework before the trip and found out that spending a 2-3 hours in this place on our first day drive may be a good idea, and yes it definitely was.

From the Kaiserhaus to the end of the gorge approx. 1 km and approx. 30 minutes walking time. Also count lunch time if you did not have it already, and hiking back to the car.

People suggest to bring a swimsuit on a hot day, the water is clean and refreshing. There are definitely a few places down the river, easily accessible from the road, where bathing permitted and make sense. We did not do it though because of still a long drive ahead, and not so hot weather. But you can keep the opportunity in mind.

Finally around 7PM we've arrived at Gastehaus Stotter in Neukirchen where we booked 3 nights. If interested, there are more pictures of the valley, some views and videos from our balcony here.

Day 2. Grossglockner

Family-run Guesthouse Stotter is quietly and centrally located in green meadows in the National Park community Neukirchen am Gro├čvenediger, surrounded by the rolling hills of the Kitzb├╝hel Alps and the snow-covered 3000s of the Hohe Tauern. It's very cozy, clean, quiet, convenient and spacey. The view from the big balcony is especially awesome. Check out this cow bell music: video from the balcony with cow bells.

Next morning starts with a nice delicious breakfast buffet (included in the price) which Christine begins to serve at 7AM. Big advantage offered by the guest house is the Sommercard (also included in the price). Christine issues them right after the first breakfast on the name of each guest. The card is valid for the entire stay, comes with the manual, and you can use it in a lot of places to void the admission or ticket fee. 

One of the expensive attraction where the card pays the fee is the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse - scenic road where you otherwise pay at the toll booth 36 euro. So, we re-prioritized our plans and decided to take advantage of the magic card as much as possible, so this scenic road became our first target. 

On our way to the toll booth, where we were going to test our Sommercards, we briefly stopped by 2 other places: Stubachtal and Enzingerboden.

The second one looked very promising from Internet and we were going to take a seilbahn (cable car) up to the mountains and watch the glacier there, but apparently most of funiculars are open only on weekends or after June 20. Keep that in mind if you do want to hang there; we did that before in Grand Teton National Park and were not very impressed.

Day 3. Krimml Waterfalls

Even if this feature was not included in our free Sommercard it would make sense to visit it, but it was, and we decided to devote our 3rd Aline day to Krimml. Read the manual coming with your card carefully if you don't want to pay 5 euro for parking: the free parking lot is P4.

With the impressive fall of 380 meters over three levels, Krimml Waterfalls are the largest in Europe and the fifth highest in the world. A shady path created by Austrian Alpine Association leads directly to this breathtaking natural spectacle.

We spent an amazing and refreshing day in Krimml and even next day took a good-buy look at it from the Gerlos Pass.


Day 4. Gerlos Pass

Another scenic Alpine road prepaid with Sommercard was Gerlos Pass. We simply showed the cards at the toll booth and did not even notice how much was the fee (something about 10 euro I guess), but it definitely worth it. On the way, you cannot miss Speicher Durlassboden (artificial lake accumulating water from upstairs glaciers). 

If you drive down the Gerlos Strasse and stop at the free parking lot downstairs the Gasthaus Seestuberl

you then can climb up the stairs and find a restaurant, a souvenir shop and a hiking trail going on the top of the dam around the lake. Some impressive equipment is right there in the South-West corner of the lake, and by looking at it you can actually figure out how the water level in the lake changes at different times:

More pictures of the lake are here. We stopped by another lake in Schwarzachtal for a picnic lunch

then a few times simply to enjoy the view

and finally in the afternoon arrived at the Gastehaus Gerti.


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