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Phespirit goes to Austria
Fuschl am See     September 2001

AROUND AUSTRIA

Map of Austria

1 Fuschl am See

There is not much of anything in Fuschl am See, which makes it a good place to go and get away from it all.

It has an unimposing church, a tourist office, two supermarkets, a couple of local shops, a selection of hotels and a few restaurants. It is a good base for a variety of walks - mostly up hill - and it has good bus connections for Salzburg and nearby villages.

But New York, it is not.

Trivia corner: the word 'See' indicates that the place is on a 'lake'.

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2 Salzburg

Apparently Austria was the only place in the world where the film The Sound Of Music failed, closing in Salzburg after just a single week. Now it has become a local industry with dinner shows and location tours and souvenirs to be found all over town.

Even Phespirit could not escape the curse: where he should have been walking through the Mirabell Gardens humming snatches of Mozart, instead he caught himself mumbling incoherently about whiskers on kittens and suchlike. Oh dear.

Fortress Hohensalzburg is the pick of the attractions in Salzburg, followed by the Residenz palace and gallery, the 'Dom' cathedral, and (ahem) Stift Nonnberg, the convent where ..... Oh dear.

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3 Bad Ischl

Bad Ischl, situated at the confluence of the rivers Ischl and Traun, is a town small in compass but large in historical significance, for here is located the Kaiservilla, Imperial residence of Franz Josef I.

This is where, in 1914, the Kaiser put pen to paper, declaring the Austro-Hungarian empire to be at war with the Serbs. Both sides turned to old friends for help and shortly after World War I kicked off, with everything then getting a bit out of hand.

Guided tours of the villa are given in German only, but information cards are available in English, so Phespirit tagged along.

Trivia corner: the word 'Bad' indicates that the place is a 'spa'.

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4 Hallstatt

Hallstatt, the self-styled "world's prettiest lakeside village", clings to hard grey rock where the Dachstein mountians meet the chilly waters of Hallstätter See. It is indeed pretty, if a mite touristy.

Phespirit passed the time by visiting the Catholic charnel house, browsing the wares of a mineral shop built on Roman ruins, and starting an argument with some French women whilst on a boat trip around the lake.

Well, they wouldn't move up.

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5 Dachstein Höhlen

These are the Ice Caves of the Dachstein Mountain Range. Three separate cave systems are open for visitors; Phespirit toured just one of them: the Giant Ice Caves. It requires a cable car ride and a fifteen minute hike just to reach the cave entrance. Once inside everything is plain rock or spectacular ice. Formations include:

  • The Hall of Stalactites;
  • King Arthur's Cathedral;
  • The Ice Palace;
  • Parcifal's Cathedral;
  • Tristan's Cathedral;
  • The Ice Chapel;

Get the idea?

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6 Fusch

Fusch is the first small village one passes through en route to the Hohe Tauern National Park via the south road from Zell am See. It is a mountain-fresh cluster of pensions and shops which primarily cater for outdoor types about to venture into the wilderness. Thus, it is more of a gateway than a destination in itself.

All stained wood, sculptures and flowers on balconies.

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7 Pasterze Glacier

Of course, the whole point of coming to the Pasterze Glacier is to enjoy the superb view of Großglockner - largest mountain of these parts - but on a misty, cloudy, rainy, altogether wretched day one cannot even see the base of the mountain, let alone the peak.

So Phespirit settled for a walk on the glacier.

Several yards in, a warning sign looms into view depicting a man falling to his death through a large crack in the ice.

Careful steps back.

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8 Freistadt

A quaint mediæval town just south of the Czech border. It has a central town square and a church with a nice tower and there are some nice building façades. And there is a fountain in the middle of the square and some flags too.

Phespirit found a supermarket and bought a chunky Kit-Kat.

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  1. Fuschl am See
  2. Salzburg
  3. Bad Ischl
  4. Hallstatt
  5. Dachstein Höhlen
  6. Fusch
  7. Pasterze Glacier
  8. Freistadt
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Fuschl am See Salzburg Bad Ischl Hallstatt Dactstein Höhlen Fusch Pasterze Glacier Freistadt