There’s a way to relate most topics to music and movies and Austria is a guaranteed segue into a Rodgers & Hammerstein montage for me. At this very moment I am channeling Julie Andrews and switching my inner radio station between The Sound of Music and The Lonely Goatherd.
Alas, the months of picnicking on hillsides and spinning dizzily in shaded glens is passing swiftly, but as the holiday season ushers in, there are still a wealth of ways to enjoy a country as beautiful and diverse as Austria. When you rent a car with Auto Europe, travel from the grandeur of the Austrian Alps to the low pastures and beyond as will or whimsy takes you. With dozens of convenient pick-up locations in Austria, including at the Vienna International Airport, adventure is at your fingertips. Auto Europe is offering advice on some of the best family friendly activities and more in Austria!
WINTER TRAVEL ACTIVITIES
BUILD AN IGLOO
Any child that has ever had access to large quantities of snow, has at one time or another, attempted to build a winter fort with varying levels of success. As adults, access to more resources and further experiences to draw from means we can still be the architects of wintry abodes, but this time with improved results! From Salzburg, drive your car rental to Ebensee, where the knowledge of Inuit igloo building is a tradition that is passed on by each subsequent generation. Currently some enterprising individuals have made a trade of teaching groups the art of creating functional igloos of their very own in specialized training seminars. Channel your inner-child and learn how to form a snug and snowy abode as an interesting and alternate activity with your friends or family!
That feeling of anticipation you get as you slowly ease yourself forward until the tip of your sled hangs over the edge of the slope, barely anchored by your body weight from behind. The smallest of movements and gravity kicks in — there’s a moment when it feels like your heart’s dropped out from beneath you as—whoosh, you speed down the hill!
Hop into your rental car and drive to the Wildkokel sledding trail. There are no noted limitations as to what kind of sledding contraption you can utilize to make your way from top to bottom, but if you need to rent one, reserve early because they get scooped up fast! Lifts are available to carry you to the beginning of the trail. The sledding route itself is close to 14 kilometers and is floodlit until 10 in the evening! Depending on your skill level in maneuvering your chosen sled, expect to reach Bramberg approximately thirty to forty-five minutes after your trail run has begun. Sleek bobs, simple sleds and toboggans are available for rent, all subject to your preference and availability.
The capital city of Vienna has a wealth of culture, history and a scintillating nightlife, but it is also an excellent base of operations from which to make day-treks for outdoor pursuits. For a simple excursion into the country, snowshoeing is an excellent choice because it doesn’t require precise technique beyond normal walking coordination (which may be an obstacle), at a basic level, while still providing a potential challenge to the more athletically inclined. It also gives you plenty of time to appreciate the austere, wild beauty of your surroundings. Whether you prefer the wood and leather style snowshoes that look like a tennis racket, or have modernized to the more popular aluminum or stainless steel frames, a set of snowshoes is a great for exploring snow-laden, off-road terrain! Choose to take a guided tour or blaze your own trail through Austria’s exquisitely picturesque landscape.
WINTER TRAVEL FESTIVALS & FOLKLORE
As December 5th approaches, keep a wary eye out for Krampus. A bestial creature, likened to an eerily misshapen satyr, Krampus is often contrasted with Santa Claus. Instead of the generous and beloved figure that rewards good children with gifts and naughty children with coal, Krampus will snatch up less than exemplary behaved kiddies and take them to his lair where they are whipped and tortured for their misdeeds. On Krampusnacht, young men don their Krampus costumes, while adopting the shuffling gait of the figure, in order to scare young children. They participate in krampuslaufs (Krampus Runs), a parade route where they brandish torches and swing the noisy chains and bells that are part of the costume. Santa makes an appearance at the conclusion of the procession to distribute gifts to any seemingly well-behaved children in the crowd.
Christmas shopping, which inevitably incorporates garish sales flyers, double parking and stampedes for “limited time only specials”, are a daunting prospect for young and old. This year, visit an Austrian Christmas Market for some unique gifts! From timeless, hand-crafted toys, delicate artisan jewelry and locally made garb to seasonal ornaments and delicious snacks. With carolers and Christmas trees lending light and musical ambiance in cozy open air markets, there’s sure to be something memorable for everyone on your list.
Wiener Schnitzel is a traditional Austrian dish created from a thin cutlet of lightly salted veal, that is battered and fried. It is served with a lemon wedge and potatoes. Other international versions vary the meat that is incorporated, but the proper Viennese version is made with veal. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, try Apfelstrudel (apple strudel). A delicious pastry of layered dough (similar to phyllo dough) filled with grated apples, powdered sugar and various spices. When it comes to coffee, there is an extensive and precise vocabulary to use in regards to the many variations available for instance Grosser Brauner, which means you’re asking for a large cup with a scosche of cream, while Einspaenner is a strong cup of black with whipped cream and perhaps a side of powdered sugar. One of my favorite things about international travel is discovering new or unadulterated versions of cuisine.
The quick burst of cold after catching a newly falling snowflake on your tongue, finding a patch of untouched powder to make a snow angel, creating the perfect snowball to send sailing through the air. Winter reminds us that there’s still a child’s spirit and wonder in all of us. If you’re traveling to a destination where there are layers upon layers of wintry goodness surrounding you, don’t let age or dignity be a barrier, get out and revel in it!