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Old 21st May 2024, 00:05   #1
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8 Days Trip Through Austria

A good travelogue written today is better than a perfect travelogue written next week
-Anonymous

Just completed an 8 days trip to Austria between 11th-19th May 2024 and I thought to write a small travelogue before I get caught in day-to-day work. Kindly excuse me if the travelogue appears too short or concise.

Planning:
We are a typical family of four residing in Thane, MH comprising of myself, A mechanical engineer, my wife and two young daughters of 9 years and 3 years of age. Our last trip to Europe was in Summer of 2019 to Switzerland and we had been yearning for a long trip back to Alps since then.

I have been researching on visiting Alps since last one year and zeroed down on Austria mainly because it offered very scenic beauty on par with Switzerland and also gave an opportunity to have a quick glimpse of European History with a focus on Hapsburg Empire.

We decided to spend around 6 days/5 Nights in Salzburg and 2 days/3 nights in Vienna in month of May. May is regarded as a shoulder season when its nice and warm but not overcrowded with tourists. In Hindsight, it was a good decision.

I did a fully cancellable flight ticket BOM-VIE in the month of Dec. 2023 costing around 3.2 Lacs through Lufthansa. Onward Ticket was through Frankfurt and return ticket was through Zurich.

Fully cancellable hotel Bookings were done through Booking.com. In total we stayed for 8 nights in 3 different hotels. Having 2 kids, I went little overboard on the hotels and booked suites in all 3 hotels having minimum 2 beds. Hotels cost me around 3.0 lacs for a total of 8 nights.

Schengen visa was an X Factor in the whole trip and so we decided to apply early for it. We applied for Schengen visa slots in Feb’24 and got a booking for visa application in VFS located in BKC on 22nd March. Visa cost for the full family was around 24k. We received visa within 5 working days.

I held on to car rentals because there was lot of confusion in various travel forums if international driving permit was required or not. Having driven cars before in US and Europe on a normal Indian Driving License, I was pretty sure that international driving permit is not required. However, I got doubtful after reading various forums and thought that there may have been changes in the requirement recently. In the end just 2 days before trip, I took a leap of faith and booked a car from Avis Car rentals using Booking.com. Car rental cost me around 35k including additional insurance and baby seat and booster seats for the two kids. I didn’t take GPS as google maps works just fine. My hunch on driving license was correct and international driving permit is not required to drive a car in Austria. You should have a clear and legible Driving License in English which you need to present at the time of taking the car on rent.

In the meantime, I also did extensive research on places to visit through You tube, travel blogs and travelogues like these and made a broad day to day plan for the trip.

4 days before the trip, I got 2000 Euros in Cash for sundry expenses.
With all loose ends tied, we eagerly waited for the trip to start.

11th May, Day 1: BOM-VIE
We took a Lufthansa flight from Mumbai to Frankfurt with a 2-hour break in Frankfurt and then a 1-hour mountain hopper from Frankfurt to Vienna. We landed in Vienna at 1130 local time.

We spent around 1 hour getting local Sim Card (25 Euro with 400 mins of local/international call and 25 GB of data) and train ticket from Vienna to Salzburg. The train station is located right below Vienna Airport, and you get direct train to Salzburg. Train ticket for 2 adults and one kid (kids less than 3 year old are exempted from ticket) cost me around 170 Euro on the spot. If you buy ticket in advance it can cost you less. The train journey was around 3 hours with WIFI on board and we arrived in Salzburg by 5 pm. Our hotel (Imlauer hotel pitter) was 10 mins walk from Railway station and very centrally located. There was an Indian restaurant located close to the hotel. Everyone was tired after a long travel and we called it a day after having a Indian take away dinner at the hotel.

12th May, Day 2: Salzburg
Today was our 1st sightseeing day in Austria and everyone was very energetic. After a hearty breakfast in the hotel, we left for sightseeing. We bought an all-inclusive 24 hours Salzburg pass which costs approx. 30 Euro for adults and around 15 Euros for Child above 6 years of age.

We started with a quick visit to Mirabell Gardens which was walking distance from our hotel. There was an open air Mozart concert happening there and the vibe was perfect.

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We took our time to walk through the bridge on Salzburg river, the old town and arrived at the funicular. It just takes a minute to get to the top of the fort through the Funicular and we spent around an hour there just going around and looking at the pretty Salzburg town and the countryside.

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We got down from the fort around midday and took a stroll through age old streets to arrive at the bus station. We took a 30 min bus ride to arrive at Untersberg cable car station. Cable car takes around 10 minutes to take you the top of Untersberg mountain. The view from the top of mountain was breathtaking with Alps in the background and Salzburg River and plains on the other side. They still had snow at this time of year, and we spent some time frolicking in the snow and taking pictures. We had a nice Turkey Schnitzel in the mountain top restaurant and came down around 3 pm.

Once back in town, we went to the natural history museum but since we had less time in our hand, we had to rush through. Our elder daughter really like the museum and so we decided to do the Vienna Natural History Museum in detail.

Just next to Museum is the river boat station. We took a 40-minute river tour which was good. The driver was very funny and told several anecdotes in English which made the tour a pleasant experience.

All these activities including public transport were covered in Salzburg card and we did not have to spend anything else. I found Salzburg pass to be a good value add in terms of money and we easily did attraction worth of 70 Euros using a 30 Euro pass in a day without stressing ourselves too much.
With all activities of the day behind us, we went to the bridge nearby. It is a belief that if you put a lock on the bridge with a wish, your wish will come true. We bought two locks from a nearby store and abided with the local custom 😊.

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It was a short walk back to the hotel. Day 2 ended with an Indian dinner and every one filled with a sense of accomplishment of having achieved so much from the day.

13th May, Day 3: Kaprun, Kizsteinhorn
Today was the first day of car hire. Went in morning to Avis car rental which is located right next to train station and got a car. Car hire was swift. I took lot of pictures and videos of the car to limit liability in case of any damage. Avis gave us a Toyota Corolla Hybrid. It was my first time driving a Hybrid and for first few times, I couldn’t even make out if the car was switched on or not as the car is very silent.

We started for Kaprun, a Ski town located at the bottom of the Kizsteinhorn mountains and took around 2 hours to reach there with multiple breaks to admire the view and click photographs.

We reached at the cable car station which has a free parking adjacent to it. We paid around 150 Euro (I don’t remember the exact amount ) for the ticket to top of Salzburg which is at 3029 m above MSL. You have to do back-to-back 3 cable car/ski/gondola ride to reach the top of Salzburg and takes around an hour.

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The mountain was full of snow and for tropical dwellers like us, it was a great experience. They also have a WIFI at the top and we called all our nears and dears and showed them live snow. It was end of Ski season but still few Skiers were on the top of mountain. This area is known for skiing, and they have almost built a highway like network of ski rides in the area.

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We also did a small hike to another panorama point through a mountain tunnel which was mildly strenuous. We had a nice lunch at top of Salzburg Mountain and made our return journey back to Salzburg.

Today we checked out of our first hotel and shifted to another property (Pension Bloberger Hof). Pension Bloberger is located at the edge of City in a very scenic area right beside the mountain and gives you a feel of the countryside. With a car in hand, city was just few minutes away and could be reached in few minutes. After freshening up, we made a quick trip to City Center and had a sumptuous Indian Dinner.

14th May, Day 4: Hallstatt
With back-to-back heavy travel days, we decided to take it easy today. We had a nice relaxing drive to Hallstatt, a picturesque little village located around 80 kms from Salzburg. The route to Hallstatt is very scenic and we would have collectively said “WOW” at least 100 times looking at scenic mountains and alpine lake during the drive.

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We took around 2 hours to reach Hallstatt and parked in P2 which cost around 8 Euros. For a change we encountered some crowd in Hallstatt and it felt like a proper touristy place. Nevertheless, we had nice relaxing walk around the shores of Hallstatt Lake. For lunch, we chose a small Mom and Pop restaurant where we were served with grilled trout and parsleys potatoes. The view from the restaurant was something to kill for.
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We spent close to 3 hours in the village in walking around and went to the selfie point from where you get a full view of Hallstatt. However, it was sad to see that Hallstatt is suffering from over tourism and village locals have placed signs at many places requesting tourists to abide by rules, not make noise and respect their privacy.

There are many tourist places near Hallstatt including an old salt mine and Dachstein Ice caves. However, we decided to give a slip to both and not to stress too much over them.

We wanted to do a lake tour; However, we missed the last boat by 5 mins. With the day ending, we bade goodbye to spectacular views and returned to hotel through Gosau which looked equally beautiful. However, we did not stop in Gosau and continued back to hotel.

Our hotel had a small pantry and today was a self-cook dinner day.

15th May, Day 5: Werfen- Eiseriesnwelt, Burg Hohenwerfen
It was a packed day today. We had chosen attractions in Werfen, A city approximately 30 mins drive from Salzburg.

First on our agenda today was Eiseriesnwelt, World’s largest Ice Cave. The ticket to the caves is around 150 Euro for the 2 adults and one kid, however its totally worth it. Tickets include price of cable car and guided tour inside the cave.

We reached there by 9 am, parked the car in free parking and had to do two steep hikes of 30-40 mins each with a short cable car ride in between just to reach the mouth of the cave. Reaching the cave mouth itself is physically demanding, however the view enroute is spectacular. We had multiple photo breaks on the way, and we made to cave with both the kids.

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We had to wait for 10 mins for the guided tour in English. The cave is humongous and only 1 km of the cave is accessible. Even those 1 km involves 1400 steps up and down and ascent of around 150 meters. My wife and younger daughter could not go beyond first 100 steps and decided to withdraw. I decided to continue with the tour with my elder daughter and was glad that we did the cave tour. Personally, I have never seen anything like this before and it was an unique experience of my life.

Due to low temperatures inside the cave, there are ice formations present throughout the year. Ice formations consists of towers of ice more than 10-15 meters high, naturally formed ice rinks, ice tunnels etc. there are no artificial lights inside the cave and tour guides carry some temporary lights to make the ice sculptures visible. The naturally forming ice sculptures are spectacular and awe inspiring.

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We took around 1 hour to complete the ice tour and we were delighted to reunite with wife and younger daughter at the end of tour. We had nice downhill walk and reached the car parking in 40 odd mins.

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We searched for a local restaurant in town of Werfen and had a nice, relaxed lunch consisting of Austrian Delicacies like Grilled chicken and fish platter.
With tummy full, we drove to Burg Hohenwerfen, a medieval castle located 5 mins away from the city center. The tickets cost approx. 40 Euros for the full family and included a funicular ride to the top, birds of prey demonstrations and castle tour.

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The castle was like a fairy tale located at the top of a mountain. We spent some time roaming around the ramparts of the castle. Every day at 315 pm they have a falconry show which includes live demonstrations of flying and hunting skills of falcons, kites, and vultures. It was great to see the diving skills of falcons which were made free of cages at the time of demonstration. The trainer was rotating small pieces of meat using a long rope and falcons could judge the exact point in 3D space where the meat would be and dive and snatch the meat from the clutches of the rope. It was great to see this apex predator in action.

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We concluded the visit with a one hour long guided tour of the castle which was both entertaining and informative. The castle has almost 1000-year-old history and has changed hands multiple times between local war lords, Turks and Hapsburg nobility.

It was a fulfilling day and both me and my elder daughter were proud of completing the physically demanding cave tour.

We concluded the day with a trip to the Indian restaurant In Salzburg city for dinner.

16th May, Day 6: Gmunden, Rental Car Return, Trip to Vienna
It was our last day in Salzburg, and we had time till 6 pm to return our rental car. We had a choice of either doing a small palace tour in Salzburg or doing a trip to Gmunden, a small town located on shores of lake Traunsee. We finally decide to do a quick tour of Gmunden as my younger daughter wanted a boat ride.

Everyone was little low on energy today. Having already done Hallstatt tour, Gmunden had nothing additional to offer. We made a quick ride to Gmunden, had a boat ride of lake Traunsee which cost us around 40 Euro and had a quick dash to Salzburg to return the car after filling gas. Since the car was a Hybrid, it gave excellent mileage and I had to fill gas only once which costed around 40 Euros.

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If one is doing Hallstatt, Gmunden can be avoided. Hallstatt is much more spectacular and picturesque.

We took a train ride back to Vienna which cost around Euro 170, and we were checked in our hotel (Kaiserhof Wien) by 8 pm in evening. Today I tried local food delivery app Foodora to order Indian dinner. Food delivery for first time was free of cost, however they accepted only credit cards and no cash on delivery.

17th May, Day 7: St. Charles Church, Natural History Museum, Walk around St. Stephens Cathedral.
As per weather forecast, it was going to be a rainy day, so we decided to include all indoor activities today.

We started our day with a visit to St. Charles church which was walking distance from our hotel. Church visit cost us around 40 Euro which is expensive in my opinion and can be avoided.

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It was a church with a giant fresco painted on the Church’s dome which was beautiful. There is also a nice cross section of church model kept there which gives an idea of the scale of the dome. You can climb to the top of the church which gives a nice view of the Vienna skyline.

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We completed the church tour in an hour and went to Natural History Museum which was located close by and costed around 8 Euros by Taxis.

Natural History Museum is located in a museum complex which consists of many museums and Hofburg Palace. Tickets costs around 18 Euros per adult and children below 19 have free entry. Natural History Museum is quite rich in its collection and need minimum 4-5 hours to do full justice to it. However, we had two small kids and couldn’t spare so much time, so we only did the sections which are interesting for kids. They have a vast collection of animal specimen, and my daughter was really excited to see all kinds of animal’s specimen and skeletons of huge mammals like elephants, bears, Elephant seals and whales. They also have a huge minerals collection which we didn’t see in detail. Unlike other museum, they have a good cafeteria located on 1st floor and serves Austrian and selected Asian food. We had some salads and curries as lunch and left after that.

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Once out of the museum, we took a long walk from Hofburg place to St. Stephen’s cathedral. It was quite a nice walk along street filled with high end branded store. The street was filled with tourists and it felt warm and alive. Having already been to one cathedral in the morning, we have St. Stephen’s cathedral a miss and returned back to hotel.

We had a takeaway dinner from a nearby Indian Restaurant.

18th May, Day 8: Schonbrunn Zoo, Schonbrunn Palace, Naschmarket, Donauinsel
Today was the last day of our vacation and everyone was in a mood to make the most out of the last day.

We started our day with Schonbrunn zoo which was around 6 kms from our hotel and took us half hour to reach. We took a taxi using local taxi app “Bolt” and costed us around 20 Euros.

Schonbrunn zoo is almost 300 years old. It is good and very well organized. Having been to Mysore Zoo recently, I didn’t find it to be too different, but our kids enjoyed it to the maximum. The highlight of the zoo were two polar bears who were restless in their enclosures and gave a grand view to all visitors. Also, the zoo has a nice collection of other marine animals like Penguins and Seals, and you can actually watch the seals swim underwater which was quite a sight. We had a lunch of burgers and salads in the zoo cafeteria and we got out after spending close to 3 hours.

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Schonbrunn palace is located within walking distance of the zoo and the way to palace passes through nicely kept gardens. It was a nice walk-through tree lined walkway to arrive at the backside of the Schonbrunn palace. The place is very well kept, and it glimmered in the sunshine. Schonbrunn palace was used extensively by Franz Joseph I, last emperor of Austria Hungary Empire and it has lot of historical value.

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I took a imperial tour of the palace which costed around 73 Euros but it was worth it. The tour covered most of the living quarters of the palace where Franz Joseph and his wife Sisi used to live and it was covered in old world charm and opulence. We spent close to one hour doing the tour and it was one of the highlights of our whole trip.

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We were out of palace by 4 pm and decided to go to Naschmarket, a local market dotted with restaurants and local shops. It was a one-hour tour through the market punctuated with stops for buying gifts for folks back home. With gifts done and local produce checked and few of them tasted, we still have hours of daylight left.

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We decided to add one last visit to Donauinsel, a riverine island located in middle of Danube. We took a U1 train from Karlsplatz to Donauinsel which costed us 2.4 Euro for adult and 1.2 Euro for kid above 5 years. It was interesting to see that there is no ticket checking in metro train and it works on an honor system. It really speaks a lot about honesty and maturity of an average Viennese. On Donauinsel island we were surprised to discover that an Asian food festival was in progress. We had some nice Thai Food and Rock music sitting on the grass and imbibing the vibes of a historic European city in its best and liberal form.

After spending some joyful time there, we called it a day and with that our perfect family vacation came to an end.

19th May, Day 9: VIE-BOM
After an eventful week, it was time to return back. We had an early morning flight from Vienna to Zurich and we connected to a late morning flight from Zurich to Mumbai. The return trip was uneventful, and we reached in time to fulfill our national obligation of voting for the ongoing general elections.

Last edited by vb-saan : 22nd May 2024 at 09:08. Reason: Spacing for better readability. Thank you for sharing the travelogue
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Old 21st May 2024, 12:21   #2
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Re: 8 Days Trip Through Austria

Quote:
Originally Posted by RashmiRathi View Post

First on our agenda today was Eiseriesnwelt, World’s largest Ice Cave. The ticket to the caves is around 150 Euro for the 2 adults and one kid, however its totally worth it. Tickets include price of cable car and guided tour inside the cave.
https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...ml#post5392079

Nice travelogue and photos! Thanks for sharing!
After seeing your photos in the Salzburg trip photos, It reminds me of my trip to Salzburg in 2014!! Especially bordering Germany (Baveria) and Salzburg, these are beautiful places, and the landscape is fantastic. Ice Cave (Eisriesenwelt) is worth visiting in Salzburg.

1. Salt Mine - hallein salt mine - https://www.austria.info/en/things-t...-mines-hallein
2. Eagle Nest,Königssee:

The above 2 places in Salzburg are not part of your plan during your visit. It is worth visiting those places.
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Old 21st May 2024, 13:22   #3
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Re: 8 Days Trip Through Austria

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Originally Posted by JacksonStorm View Post
https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...ml#post5392079

Nice travelogue and photos! Thanks for sharing!
After seeing your photos in the Salzburg trip photos, It reminds me of my trip to Salzburg in 2014!! Especially bordering Germany (Baveria) and Salzburg, these are beautiful places, and the landscape is fantastic. Ice Cave (Eisriesenwelt) is worth visiting in Salzburg.

1. Salt Mine - hallein salt mine - https://www.austria.info/en/things-t...-mines-hallein
2. Eagle Nest,Königssee:

The above 2 places in Salzburg are not part of your plan during your visit. It is worth visiting those places.
Thanks for your interest in my blog....

1. I couldn't visit salt mine because they don't allow entry for kids below 5 years. I didn't wanted to leave my younger daughter.
2. I did research a bit about Konisgssee but my assessment was it was more of a Hotel and less of historical value.So, decided to give it a miss.
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Old 21st May 2024, 14:49   #4
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Re: 8 Days Trip Through Austria

Very well written. Picturesque photos and places.
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Old 21st May 2024, 16:16   #5
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Re: 8 Days Trip Through Austria

Wonderful travelogue and photos. And glad to see there is still snow in May. We had done a trip to Switzerland last April and caught snow up in the Jungfrau region. Have always thought where will we go next to top this - now I seem to have an option Will refer to this when planning our next Europe trip for sure.

Just curious about your handle/title. Apologies if it’s presumptuous on my part but is it a hat tip to the epic poem by Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’?
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Old 21st May 2024, 17:49   #6
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Re: 8 Days Trip Through Austria

Really nice travelogue and pictures. please share more details of the driving experience on Austrian roads
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Old 21st May 2024, 19:44   #7
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Re: 8 Days Trip Through Austria

Great travelogue. Thanks for sharing. It has been quite a while since we visited Vienna. At least 15-20 years ago and it was raining constantly.

Time to book another trip!

Jeroen
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Old 21st May 2024, 20:38   #8
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Re: 8 Days Trip Through Austria

Nice travelogue! And yes Austria is amazing country to visit. Every where you turn your eye is a potential snapping point!

If you had some more days you could have moved based for Salzburg to Zell Am See and visited Kaprun.

Apart from Salzaburg another location to go around is the lake district. Very close by and potential stay point as well.
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Old 22nd May 2024, 10:31   #9
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Re: 8 Days Trip Through Austria

Thanks for the travelogue, just in time. Will be there from 1st June till 15th June in Salzburg, so this helped!

Being a motorcycle enthusiast, I intend to visit the KTM factory in Matteghofen!
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Old 22nd May 2024, 10:36   #10
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I Posted this by mistake. please ignore

Last edited by RashmiRathi : 22nd May 2024 at 10:39. Reason: mistake
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Old 22nd May 2024, 10:38   #11
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Originally Posted by Evyas View Post
Wonderful travelogue and photos. And glad to see there is still snow in May. We had done a trip to Switzerland last April and caught snow up in the Jungfrau region. Have always thought where will we go next to top this - now I seem to have an option Will refer to this when planning our next Europe trip for sure.

Just curious about your handle/title. Apologies if it’s presumptuous on my part but is it a hat tip to the epic poem by Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’?
Hi,
We did visit Jungfrau in 2019 and we found Austrian Alps to be equally beautiful. Only difference is Switzerland is slightly better organized in terms of public transport, tourist amenities, information etc. In switzerland, we never felt the need to hire a car. However, in Austria, car seemed to be must.

On the name of the handle! Yes, Its inspired by the Epic Poem. We grew up reading and admiring this beautiful poem of "Veer Ras". Inspired by this , I have named my car "Rashmi" which means morning rays of sun and consider my self as the "Rathi" which means charioteer. Hence, the name "Rashmirathi". Thanks for asking
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Old 22nd May 2024, 10:41   #12
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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
Nice travelogue! And yes Austria is amazing country to visit. Every where you turn your eye is a potential snapping point!

If you had some more days you could have moved based for Salzburg to Zell Am See and visited Kaprun.

Apart from Salzaburg another location to go around is the lake district. Very close by and potential stay point as well.
I did visit Zell Am see and Kaprun from Salzburg. Both places are close to each other and around 1.5 hours away by car. However, these places are little secluded and I wanted to stay closer to the city due to kids and hence, decided against staying there. if you are travelling without kids, these are good options to stay.
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Old 22nd May 2024, 11:03   #13
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Re: 8 Days Trip Through Austria

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Originally Posted by wheeledwanderer View Post
Thanks for the travelogue, just in time. Will be there from 1st June till 15th June in Salzburg, so this helped!

Being a motorcycle enthusiast, I intend to visit the KTM factory in Matteghofen!
Wish you happy travels ! Enjoy your stay !
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Old 22nd May 2024, 19:19   #14
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Re: 8 Days Trip Through Austria

Quote:
A good travelogue written today is better than a perfect travelogue written next week
-Anonymous
Just WOW.
It reminds me of my last year's Europe visit. Though it was for work, I will finish a long pending travelogue very soon.

Thanks for the motivation.

Last edited by satish.gawai : 22nd May 2024 at 19:20. Reason: added the quote
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