- This Time Try Something Different by Shari Hearn
So you've planned your trip
to Austria. You're going to visit all the popular Austrian sites: Vienna
(no doubt to tour the Sigmund Freud Museum), Innsbruck and Salzburg. And
you'll have a fabulous time.
But, while you're visiting
Austria, why not take the road less traveled? That's right, go a little
off the beaten track. But, where, you might ask? Hmm... I think I have
a few suggestions:
beautiful long valley, with gorges and deep green forests, in the state
of Tyrol, located in the western part of Austria. What makes the Oetz Valley
so memorable? First, there are the many waterfalls you'll find there, including
Stuibenfall - the highest waterfall in Tyrol.
You'll be mesmerized as you
watch how the falls dance with the sunlight. Hiking trails abound in the
Oetz Valley (sometimes referred to as Ötztal Valley), with some footpaths
so gentle they are perfect for families with children in carriages. And
if hiking's not your thing, there are numerous scenic drives to experience
the beauty by car. There's even a scenic drive to view Stuibenfall.
Of course, no visit to the
Oetz Valley is complete without Otzi the Ice Man, who was found in the
area in 1991 by two hikers. Oh, you don't know about Otzi the Ice Man?
Scientists speculate that he was a man between 40 and 50 years old who
was caught in a heavy snowfall 5200 years ago. Otzi then fell asleep and
froze to death. The freezing weather immediately mummified Otzi, turning
him into Otzi the Ice Man.
Though Otzi no longer resides
in the Oetz Valley (his new home is the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology
in Bolzano, Italy) his legend certainly remains in many of the attractions
around the valley.
Another "off the beaten track"
destination in Austria is Hallstatt, one of Austria's oldest settlements.
Hallstatt boasts having the oldest salt mine in the world. It could also
boast being one of the most colorful. You'll certainly have a great time
just walking among the colorful old 16th and 17th century homes which populate
But, what really sets Hallstatt
apart, and makes it worth taking the road less traveled, is St. Michael's
Chapel, built in the 12th century, which sits next to the ossuary. Not
exactly sure what an ossuary is, are you? Well, it's a place such as a
vault) for holding the bones of the dead.
You see, space is at a premium
in Hallstatt, so when people are buried they're only buried for a certain
period of time (10 years being the average) before they are exhumed and
their bones are placed in the ossuary. For a small admission charge, one
can view an array of skulls in St. Michael's chapel. It seems sculls have
been on view in St. Michael's since the 18th century, often times decorated
with wreaths. Now, if this isn't off the beaten track, I don't know what
Feel like some outstanding
views and incredible skiing? Then look no further than Bad Gastein.
Yes, that's right, a destination
with the words "Bad" and "Gas." Just don't think about it. Because Bad
Gastein is quickly becoming noticed by world travelers. And with good reason.
Located just an hour outside of Salzburg, Bad Gastein offers some of the
best skiing in the Alps. However, with its challenging ski slopes and old
world charm, you might not have Bad Gastein to yourself for long.
But, skiing isn't the only
thing Bad Gastein is known for. Bad Gastein boasts seventeen natural springs--both
outdoor and indoor--infused with radon gas from deep within the earth.
This bubbling water gives
the baths healing properties with temperatures between 45 and 51 degrees
Celsius (113 to 123 degrees Fahrenheit). It's said the baths are natural
remedies for sufferers of arthritis and other ailments. So, now you have
three more spots to add to your Austrian itinerary. So, go ahead, plan
a trip off the beaten track. You'll thank yourself.