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Everyone has their Austria.

Hello, everyone!

I would like to share with you an article from the Russian forum devoted to a trip to Salzburg, Gosau, Hallstatt, Bad Ischl, Vorderstoder, and Linz (Austria). This article was translated from Russian to English with the permission of the author and traveller Svetlana Nigmatullina.

Perhaps every traveler has his/her own Austria. For some, Austria is "woven" from palaces and gardens, churches and extensive museum collections. Others admire the restaurants and shops. The third kind is crazy about ski resorts and mountains. The fourth, the fifth, the sixth... Every traveler has his/her own Austria.


Upon arrival in Salzburg, I was immediately struck by the smooth asphalt roads and sidewalks. Public transportation is stress-free and very punctual. All buses are adapted for the wheelchair.

Unfortunately there was almost always and everywhere a problem with access to historical buildings, though it wasn't a problem for us as we didn't have a "museum mood" and most of our tours were just sightseeing and hiking.



Surprisingly the weather was sunny but with cool wind during the day and chilly wind at night. The infrastructure of the city is modern and amenities are quite comfortable. Houses, churches and even the masters who create under the watchful eye of curious tourists — all is real!

Perhaps each of us spending time in places far from home pay our attention to not very interesting things or to something that we do not have time to notice because of our daily routine, work or something else. But on vacation, especially abroad, when you have time to walk slowly through the streets and look around, in addition to architectural masterpieces, in the field of view necessarily fall showcases, monuments and flower beds. And it is not because "they" have better and we have worse. It is a moot point and the views are always subjective. They are just different, and every country has its own unique features.




It is not necessary to write about all sights of Salzburg. About this beautiful city, full of history, souvenirs and "Mozart" chocolates were told more than once.

"Mozart" Chocolates.

Speaking of "Mozart" chocolates — the popular brand turned out to be the worst chocolate I have ever tried. It is not a chocolate, rather a soybean.

Briefly about four sights we have visited in Salzburg:

Mirabell Palace and gardens are part of the Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Palace of Mirabell offers beautiful views of the old town and Hohensalzburg Fortress the largest, fully-preserved fortress in central Europe.

Mirabell Palace and views of Hohensalzburg Fortress.

Despite the large number of tourists, the Mirabell Garden struck me at first sight by its splendor, brightness, abundance of floral scrolls on lawns, fountains and sculptures depicting scenes from Greek mythology, romance and a truly royal luxury. Any superlative adjectives can be attributed to this wonderful garden!

The Mirabell Garden.

The Mirabell Garden is not just a regular garden. It is one of the finest examples of landscape art.

The Mirabell Garden.

2) Trick fountains — the world-famous fountains hidden in the shade of bushes and trees at Salzburg's Hellbrunn Palace. The trick fountains have inspired visitors for about 400 years. The name of the fountains justifies their purpose because they can switch on at any moment and drench you with cold water from head to toes. The pressure of the water, which flows down from the Alps, causes the watery surprise.

Trick fountains at Salzburg's Hellbrunn Palace.

Trick fountains at Salzburg's Hellbrunn Palace.

Hellbrunn is the former summer residence of the Salzburg Prince-Archbishop Markus Sittikus. It was related to the Medici family and was built between 1612 and 1619 based on the model of Roman villas in Italian style for hunting, recreation and entertainment.


The trick fountains at Salzburg's Hellbrunn Palace like 400 years ago is the popular spot, and their visit, for some reasons, entails a tour, whether you want it or not. Therefore, we bought the tickets for 9.5 euros per adult and for 6.5 euros for a person with a disability, and we joined the mixed multilingual group of tourists. The tour was in English and since my English skills are poor, I did not understand a lot. Though, in general, I could guess and I could gather some information from other sources. It is a beautiful place with noble fishes in the ponds, and it was my sacred duty to make photos.

The noble fish.

The Salzburg Prince-Archbishop, walking with his guests, did not only talk about the precariousness of human destiny and the ephemeral world but also showed outlandish mechanisms in his park. For example, the Mechanical Theater, built in 1750, whose imposing size and accurately detailed construction could hardly be suspected in the park, is the most recent element in the mechanical, water-operated and music-playing treasures at Hellbrunn. The water puts the figures of 256 people of different social classes and occupations in motion .

The Mechanical Theater at Hellbrunn.

There were a lot of pensioners among the visitors, and many of them took the wheelchairs to stroll through the park. The wheelchairs are provided at the ticket window for free.

The elderly tourists.

3) The Mozartplatz Square — a small patch in the heart of the old town of Salzburg, which is always very touristy but still worth visiting. The Square stands a bronze statue dedicated to the great composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791). It was cast and raised in 1842.

Many people come here to listen to the world-famous Salzburg's peal, daily ringing music of Haydn and Mozart from the bell tower .

The Mozartplatz Square .

4) One of the most popular places in Salzburg is the Residenzplatz, which is the main, stately square in the heart of the historic center. In the middle of the square sits a grand baroque fountain, which is made of marble and is considered the largest baroque fountain of central Europe. On the other side of the square is the New Residence decorated with a bell tower. Three times a day: at 7:00, 11:00 and 18:00, the bells of the New Residence perform their famous sound of chimes.

The Residenzplatz.

The baroque fountain.

Knowing myself and my desire to look into the most secret corners of the country, I tried to see as much as possible. So, suddenly I ended up in Gosau.


Gosau is a little town near Austrian Alps. The town is without streets and houses flourish randomly in the fields. There we stayed in a small apartment hotel.

Gosau — a little town near Austrian Alps.

In the courtyard of the hotel we met the most Russian landlady Luba. Although she was a woman of a few words, she asked me how and why I ended up in a place like this. According to her, she has met Russian tourists only once in this hotel. It's not exactly easy to get here and she has never seen travelers on wheelchair around these areas, so she was very surprised as well as the local bus drivers who never operated the lift for a wheelchair before. You could see that they did not know what button to press although any transport is completely adapted for people with limited mobility.

Upon entering the hotel is a ramp. On the first floor is a two-room apartment decorated in a traditional style but without a balcony. Everything was nice but not as convenient as promised while booking. I had no complaints to the kitchen and the living room. However, the bedroom was very small with a very soft bed, so I slept on the hard couch in the living room. The toilet and the shower were in separate rooms, in which it was impossible to turn around on a wheelchair. But everything was trivial once I saw the view the next morning!

Near the apartment hotel in Gosau.

The view from the apartment hotel .

The Alps.

The freezing water channel is in silver color and limpid. Ecology!

The view made the greatest impression in my life. It has left me open-mouthed and I lost the power of speech. I was sitting and kept pinching myself because I could not believe in these beautiful views around me.

The Austrian Alps


Austrian floodplains.

We were lucky with the weather and we decided to go to the small photogenic lake Gosausee, which is of spectacular beauty. The Russian landlady offered us a ride and it took us 13 minutes to get there. The parking place for people with limited mobility and a bus stop — they're all right!

In the background of the lake Gosausee is the Mountain Mass — Dachstein. Around the lake illuminated an equal path 1.5 meters wide. It is an ideal place for a walk on a wheelchair, though it takes more than an hour to walk on this quiet side-street.

The lake Gosausee and the view on the Mountain Mass — Dachstein.

We decided to have a snack at the restaurant by the lake. Thereafter, despite the fact that we made such a long trip, we took a chance to walk back to the hotel and we never regret it.

A walk back to the hotel from the Gosausee.

There were almost no cars and no people on the road. We have become used to the deserted places.

On the way to the hotel we stumbled on to another lake and the museum of the local history. The summer season started in two weeks and the museum was closed. However, we have managed to look into the territory of the museum.

The unknown lake, just as beautiful as the lake Gosausee!

Next day, the Russian landlady of the hotel gave us a coupon, which granted us the right to ride the bus free of charge and get discounts in the local coffee shops. The local bus stop is in front of the hotel and the bus, as always, arrived in time. With one change, we arrived at the UNESCO World Heritage village of Hallstatt within 30 minutes.


I do not remember when the first time I saw the Hallstatt's picture. But I remember my reaction very well. "It cannot be that this place exists in reality!", and the ideas about how I leisurely stroll through the fairy-tale village streets went through my head. Hallstatt is the door to the fairy-tale world.

The fairy village Hallstatt.

Many tourists, whom the travel companies offer the tour to Hallstatt, do not hide their astonishment, "what is there so interesting to see in the village whose population does not exceed a thousand people?" However, having come back home, you'd ponder for a little where to start your talk… to more accurately portray the exciting atmosphere of this beautiful historic place.

The uniqueness of the Hallstatt telling is the fact that the Chinese built a clone of this picturesque village. So great was their admiration! Interesting is the fact that the number of Chinese tourists in Austrian Hallstatt has not decreased but instead, increased. Seeing the clone of the Austrian's village, the majority has a burning desire to see the original.

Most of all, Hallstatt struck me with the feeling of the unprecedented isolation from civilization and contentment exists in this place.

Indeed, Hallstatt, surrounded by mountains on all sides, with its nestled color as if toy houses on a hillside and the blue lake with swimming swans, imparts home coziness, heavenly peace and a sense of unusual security from world's tribulations.

The lake in Hallstatt.

The lake in Hallstatt.

Against the background of the lake and Hallstatt.

In fact, the village itself has only two streets and local people can pass through by car only on one of them!

The coastline is so narrow that the highways are withdrawn in tunnels which are laid in the rocks above the village. The train station is nowhere to be seen. It is located on the opposite side of the lake. Passengers have to get to Hallstatt by boat.

Over there, on the opposite side of the lake, there is a cable railway by which I easily got to the observation deck and once again enjoyed the beauty of the region. The ticket price for the cable railway was 11 euros but pretending to be the local, I bought the ticket for 6 euros.

Speaking of disability benefits, when purchasing the transport or sightseeing tickets, the Russian certificate is invalid almost everywhere. In addition, you are not allowed to use the special parking space. In my opinion, it is one of the international stupidities.

The accessible cable railway.

Bird's-eye view of Hallstatt.

On the observation deck.

Bad Ischl

On the way deep into upper Austria, we visited Bad Ischl — the town of retro style. Over there, after a bite of more chocolates in the famous confectionery "Zauner" founded in 1832, we went to Kaiservilla, the Summer Palace of Emperor Franz Joseph in Bad Ischl. But, unfortunately, we were only able to see the first floor of the villa, with nothing there ahead of us but a gift shop. We were also unable to walk in the park. There were stairs and repairs everywhere. We did not understand for what we paid the money for and why we were not warned about the inaccessibility.

The Kaiservilla.


Our final refuge was a rented house of Marianne, a music and English teacher in the municipality of Vorderstoder. The mountains there are lower but the meadows are wider and the milk is sweeter. In Vorderstoder, we essentially walked on the paths, roads and even meadows, breathed crystal clear air, ate, slept, read, stared out of the window through the rain at the Alps and drank milk! How delicious Austrian milk is! Every morning, the hostess brought us the milk from the farm and the taste of the milk in Austria makes me want to cry. It is thick and sweet!

The Marianne's house in the municipality of Vorderstoder.

What do you need more for being happy?

A white donkey got a portion of croutons.

There were a lot of Austrians wearing national costumes. At first we thought that they dressed up for special holidays but it turned out that in Austria, people still wear traditional costumes in their daily lives. Marianne has more than 40 traditional costumes.

As if time had frozen.

Marianne showed us all the neighborhoods and the most beautiful views.

Austrian backwoods.

Abbey church, also known as cathedral at the Pyhrn.

Inside the church.

Marianne also agreed to give us a ride to Linz.


Linz is the third-largest city of Austria and Hitler's favorite city. Hitler described Linz as his "home town". He lived at Humboldtstrasse 31 in the heart of Linz when he was 16 years old.


Having arrived in Linz, suddenly it started to rain, and to prevent wasting time, we decided to ride the steamship "Linzerin" along the Danube. It was a good idea and the idea of sailing up the second largest river in Europe brought even more pleasant feelings. Without someone's assistance, I was able to climb inside the steamship. We ordered tea and "Linz" — a traditional cake of the city and looking around, hearing the story of the area and country.

Sailing on the steamship along the Danube.

Next day, with the bags full of gingerbread, chocolates and pumpkin oil, we went home.

Austria is one of the countries I am in love with and where I had easily "walked". I know, I will be coming back to the realm of candies and gingerbread houses, and of course to the Alps.

Svetlana Nigmatullina

Translated by: Evgeniya Nikolaeva

Edited by: Kit Wan Chui

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