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Germany, Austria cycle & hike adventure 2009

Germany, Austria cycle & hike adventure 2009

Nov 9th, 2009, 09:07 AM
  #1  
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Germany, Austria cycle & hike adventure 2009

I will post this in segments as time permits.

The overview: 11 days of cycling and hiking in the Salzkammergut of Upper Austria followed by 3 days of hiking in the Hochkonig, a region of of 4 villages a bit southwest of Salzburg. We then returned to Munich for our last 3 days.

Time frame: Sept. 24 - Oct. 12.

The players; 2 adult male friends, 57 & 58 years old

The Tour Arrangements: Made by the TI office in Linz labeled as the Imperial Cycling Tour, 7 nights, 8 days. The cycling was mostly on the signed Salzkammergut path. We added 3 extra nights at Gosau and St. Wolfgang for additional hiking time. This proved to be an excellent decision. You can opt for catagory A or B accomodations, B is less $, the tour is a bit less in price if you opt for off season which is earlier or later. Having been in Europe a few times, we took the B hotels and they were great overall. 2 were actually 4 star.

Transportation; We did this entirely by public transport, airplanes, bicycles, S bahn, U bahn, bus, cable car and ship. My first not renting an auto. It was great.

What the Tour Included: Bicycles w/saddle bags, vouchers for the hotels, ship transport, train transport, saddle bags, map booklet, daily directions booklet and luggage transport daily.

The Weather; Daily were highs of 65 F, lows of 45 F, mostly clear, absolutely perfect for cycling. Only one day of lite rain and fog in St. Wolfgang which did not permit hiking or a trip up on the Scharfberg bahn.

We flew into Munich via a too long a layover in Amsterdam. Arriving late at the Munich airport, we took the last train to Salzburg. We boarded the train discovering quickly it was packed with Octoberfesters returning home and they were heavily intoxicated, male, female, young and old. No seats available until we made a few stops. Arriving in Salzburg about 1 a.m. we walked to the Yoho hostel and crashed into bed with too much noise all night from the hostel residents. Breakfast was good and cheap. We then took a taxi to our first hotel as part of the tour, Hotel Drei Kreuz. A nice older hotel with terrific staff, most helpful and a great fruhstuck. This is where the bikes were delivered. All of the printed info was contained in 1 waist bag which you keep. A nice touch having all the information in one place. We liked having use of the bike in Salzburg prior to starting the cycle route the next day. Luckily, Sept. 26 was St. Rupert's fest in Salzburg. He was the patron ST. of Salzburg. The entire central platz was full of food, rides, entertainment and of course wine and beer including a huge Kaiser Beer tent. Very festive on such a lovely day. We walked up to the fortress to maintain our fitness and naturally the views were stunning. We then rode over to the Augustiner braueri sampling the great beer and food, especially the various marinated salads. We then toured more of Salzburg via our cycles.

The Cycles: These were KTM 21 speed hybrid bikes with lites, the generator is within the front hub. A repair kit and pump was attached. I call them workhorse bikes, very capable, durable cycles. They were great and had water bottle cages. They had an attached lock which used a key, no chains or cables. We brought our own helmets, gloves and clothes. Standard athletic shoes were fine for the pedals, no clips.

To be continued:
hardwater is offline  
Nov 9th, 2009, 03:03 PM
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The Actual Tour Route: The Salzkammergut Tourweg is through the lake district of upper Austria. After the first day of cycling, it became obvious the route was laid out so you traveled the most scenic byways, past the best viewpoints and on the best possible pavement. It was not just to get from point to point, hotel to hotel. The length was 354 km at the finish. About 80% of the route was on hard surface, the balance on crushed limestone. The majority of the route was on dedicated cycling trails, the rest on very low traffic single lane roads.
The route does not go over the mountains rather it follows the rivers which seem to connect the largest lakes of the Salzkammergut. The route does take you up the rolling alpine valleys and above the lakes at times making the cycling somewhat challenging. Within a short time departing Salzburg, you are surrounded by stunning mountain scenery in all directions.

Daily Cycling: The daily cycling avaeraged about 25-46 miles per day. We always made it to our next hotel by about 5 p.m. We poked along, stopping to shop, drink a beer or wine and eat a bit occasionally. Because things are much closer together in Europe, you can't cycle longer distances like you can in America. Too much interference like road crossings, villages and things to see along the way. We thought it was perfect and were never rushed. Darkness came about 6 pm.

Conditioning: We are both experienced road cyclists averaging 75-100 miles per week in N. Wisconsin, our home state, so there was no need to train really. Non cyclists would have to train, the TI center grades this as a #2, (moderate physical ability needed) on a scale on 1-4, 4 being the most difficult.

TBCont.
hardwater is offline  
Nov 9th, 2009, 03:19 PM
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hardwater - great start!!! I'm from Wisconsin too and it has great topography for biking! Keep up the fantastic report!
pauljagman is offline  
Nov 9th, 2009, 03:22 PM
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This is great. I'd love to do a cycling trip like this that stayed mostly on dedicated cycling paths. Looking forward to more. . .
enzian is offline  
Nov 9th, 2009, 11:16 PM
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Yes! This is exactly the type of trip I've been wanting to do for years. This report is likely to get me actually doing it!

Thank you so much hardwater!! I will really enjoy this report. I cycled one day partway around St. Wolfgangsee, and it was wonderful. I hope to be following in your footsteps!

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Nov 10th, 2009, 08:41 AM
  #6  
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Day 1 cycling: The first segment is from Salzbug to Gosau via Golling. I want to add that the tour is set up to start and finish in St. Wolfgang however for 15 E extra you can start in Salzburg instead which made more sense for us arriving from USA jetlagged and bedraggled plus the use of the cycles to see Salzburg. Getting to St. Wolfgang was just more travel logistics. If anyone has a map of Austria you can follow this route quite easily.

We headed south of Salzburg on the Taurenweg actually which follows the Salz River for a long ways. It is very scenic and this part ( on the east side of the river, cycle paths are on both sides though) is crushed limestone. We crossed to the west side north of Hallein to stop at the Kaltenhausen braueri, we being beer snobs and fussy. On such a warm sunny day, we were in heaven. The beer selection was fabulous, our favorite was the unfiltered weiss. Finding it irresistable, we clearly drank a bit too much with lots of riding left. A man opened up their beer depot shop and he gave us packs of Kaiser beer coasters, the repro metal postcards complete with mailing envelopes and we bought real unique Eidelweiss and Kaiser shirts.

We finally went through Hallein, made it to Golling, purchased some nussschnapps roadside from some elder ladies, the bottles with the long skinny necks. It was excellent after dinner throughout the trip. The route instructions say you must arrive by 4 p.m. at the the Landgastof Torrenhoff which in in Torren, a bit west of Golling, perhaps 2 km. Immeadiately up this road, which dead ends I believe, is the famous Gollinger Wasserfall. I actually visited this hotel and waterfall in 2000 but wanted my friend to see as well. It is a somewhat challenging hike and climb to see it, there is s small fee to pay at the hut and you can hike up and above the falls. It makes for a stunning photo from below as well.
When you reach the Torrenhof, a taxi meets and transport you to Gosau, about 25 km. This avoids some travel on roads, it's part of the tour route. The taxi is from Gosau and I saw it parked when we first arrived. After scanning the hotel, I found the taxi driver, a woman about 55 years old who spoke some english. I will add that I speak and read a little german but nowhere fluent. We laid the bikes on top of each other and we departed, she was quite knowledgeable entertaining and made the comment, I think you are the last 2 of the season. I purposely went in this Sept.-Oct. time frame for the fall temperatures, color and Oct. and Nov. have the least rain in this region. I was surprised the tours are sort of over. High season is summer. When booking, they give you the date paramenters of the tours.
After a short, scenic ride to Gosau, she turned right, pointed out our Hotel Brandwirt and continued on. I told my friend, what the heck is going on, we drive by the hotel and she says this is OK. Like what OK? We wanted showers and radler. The road is a deadend after about 8 km and the last 3 were steeply uphill. After swinging around a loop, we parked, unloaded the cycles and she said to ride back, it's mostly downhill, go see the lake. We casually parked the bikes and walked a short ways past a hotel, gift shop, the Gosaukammbahn, the cable car and to the lake, 30 meters
away. The view that we saw took our breath away. The lake is surrounded by steep limestone rock walls, the water is crystal clear, there is no other development in sight and the view down the lake, through the valley and up is of the Dachstein mountain and glacier. It tops at about 10,000 ft. and is surrounded by other peaks as well. We were overwhelmed by the beauty and knew why they dump you off there. After many photos, we truly hated to leave but knew we would be returning as I booked 2 extra days in Gosau for hiking. We hopped the cycles and took a riproaring downhill run back to the hotel. Our bags were waiting in the lobby, we checked in and they gave us an older room ( which was quite large) with a walk out balcony full of flowers and deck chairs. It faced the alpine valley below and mountains above. It was a million dollar view for 3 days. Gosau iself is just a small dorf. I want to add that even if you are not cycling, try to visit this location if in this area. It's a fabulous site to visit and some gentle hikes, such as just around the lake, are easily done by anyone. You won't stop snapping photos. What a spot!!
TBCont.
hardwater is offline  
Nov 10th, 2009, 08:59 AM
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hi hardwater.

we were touring in a car in this area earlier in th eyear - in what passed for summer! looks as if your weather was much better than ours.

looking forward to more,

regards, ann
annhig is online now  
Nov 11th, 2009, 08:48 AM
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Day 2,3,4: These days were for hiking. Our hotel, Brandwirt, was only 200 meters from the bus stop and post office, quite handy. We took an early bus up to Gosausee, soaked in the incredible views and hiked around west side of the lake ( a path circumvents the entire lake). The Austrian commandos were doing practice climbing on the steep rocky cliffs that surround the lake. The trail got steeper as we passed the lake and many hikers were returning past us. They had camping and climbing gear and were passing through having done the over the glacier hike. Again, the scenery became even more stunning as we got nearer the base of Dachstein glacier. Finally we reached another lake surrounded by steeply rising limestone cliffs. It was better than a postcard with an Alpenhutte on the other side. These huts are common throughout Europe and many have overnight rooms and are full of ambience though seasonally open. We stopped, had strudel, radler and rested in a bit of heaven on a bluebird clear day. After hiking back, we took the last bus back to Gosau.

Could we top it the next day? Absolutely. We again took a morning bus up to Gosausee but this time took the cable car up near the top of these mtns, the Gosaukammbahn. Our intention was to cable car up and then take a trail all the way back, a slow descent, back to Gosau. The trail was the Herrenweg. All trails are clearly marked with yellow signposts, distances, services available etc. The views from above were fabulous. Many other hikes can be started from this point to different directions. The hike was about 8-9 km and mostly easy going except for some tight, steep descents.
The views and weather were glorious and the trail came out quite near our hotel. Wow, another bulleye.

Day 5: We departed on our cycles headed to Hallstatt. The bike route was through farm fields, forest and roads. We had to open and close gates at times. Our first stop was in Steeg at the top of Hallstattsee where we had a voucher for the train to Bad Aussee. Again this was by route design, allowing you the gorgeous cycling from Bad Aussee over to the south end of Hallstattee. Just south of Hallstatt are the legendary Ice Caves. Arriving later in the pm, we cycled up ( and walked the bikes), the ticket office said we had time to cable car up and see only 1 ice cave and return. This was a monster cable car and ride up compared to the last at Gosau. The ubiquitous restaurant ( Schonbergalm) hangs on the edge of the mtn but you must walk up a paved but long and steep path up the the cave entrance. It was STEEP. Only 3 of us were on the last tour, he spoke excellent english and was very thorough. Interestingly, they have a grand piano near the end of the tour on a platform and on fridays in August have Hayden concerts INSIDE the caves for a special price. The exit of the cave is far above the entrance and affords some more incredible views. Two more cable cars take you over and higher for glacier visiting and hiking points.
We then returned down, boarded and had only about 3 km to our hotel which I found with ease, Hotel Gruner Anger. It was great stay w/free internet access allowing us to email our wives for the first time. Our room again had a stunning view out the window. I had read some iffy reviews on trip advisor of this hotel but it was totally unfounded. A great room and hotel.

Day 6: After taking many photos of the postcard beauty of Hallstatt in the a.m., we departed for St. Wolfgang via Bad Ischl. We needed another day in Hallstatt to go back up and do more hiking above the ice caves. Another glorious day, with stops in Bad Ischl, the summer home of the Hapsburgs. We did not have time to visit their summer palace. We needed more time here but did manage some tort at the summer, riverside location of Cafe Zauer. It is an elegant spot with equal tort. There year round cafe in downtown which we stopped in to just how beautiful it was. A quick stop at the Loden outlet store for some trachten ( I buy clothes when in Europe) and we headed to St. Wolfgang. We encountered some trail marking confusion but managed to find our hotel in the old downtown, Gasthof Weisbauer.
TBCont.
hardwater is offline  
Nov 12th, 2009, 02:01 PM
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Day 7 - Our hotel room was actually in a building across the street, very nice. Our bikes were left in the parking garage next door on the 2nd floor. The next morning was lite rain, a bit cold and heavily overcast. After the rain let up, we rode over to the Scharfbergbahn ( the cog railway) for the ride to the top and hike. 20 people are needed for a run and there were only 5. The mtn was all fogged in anyway. Dejected we returned for a nap and R&R.
That evening we took a cab out and back to Russbach attending a most delightful traditional Alm-Abtrieb fest, a 3 day fest that celebrates the harvest and return of the cows from the mtns. I saw a poster advertising this. It was held in a barn on a farm with special food, handmade beer from Augustiner in Salzburg and traditional Austrian folk music, 3 groups. It was the real deal with everyone in trachten and a steal for 7 euro. The Zirbe schnapps was mandatory upon arrival, free and made from pine cones which are no open.

Day 8: Destination Altmunster on the Traunsee via Bad Ischl and Ebensee. We boarded an early boat on Hallstattsee and it dumped us off in St. Gilgen and rode the entire south side of the lake and beyond. With fabulous weather again, it may have been the finest day of riding. We reached Ebensee stopping at a park on the south tip of the lake. It was such a relaxing spot to linger, watching the sailing regatta, the stunning mtns surrounding and soaking up the fine sun. The ride up the west shore to Altmunster was wonderful and I found our Hotel Hocheck easily. It has an award winning restaurant and we agreed. We sampled our first Kaiserschmarrn there and a special mushroom dish. Again our patio door opened to a spectacular views of the lake and mtns.
They have their own schapps still and sell it, this is a nice older hotel.

Day 9: On to Nussdorf and Attersee. The route, riding and weather were superb again. We passed through Gmunden and stopped in Schorfling am Attersee for lunch on the lake. We proceeded on down the west side to Nussdorf easily finding Hotel Ragginger, a 4 star. No view this time but we had a large, spacious room and great food.

Day 10: This was our last on the road and longest. The route swung down the lake, then west running on the north side of Mondsee and on through Mondsee, Thalgau, Eugendorf and then entering the north side of Salzburg returning to our Hotel Drei Kreuz. It was a glorious day of riding again but it was sad to ride out of the great mtn scenery. We did have our bikes yet and did some more touring in Salzburg and simply had to return to the Augustiner Brau for food for dinner.
TDCont. with a quick wrap up of this tour
hardwater is offline  
Nov 16th, 2009, 03:43 PM
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Final summary:

We returned to Salzburg and trained back to Munich for 3 nights but only had 2 actual days of sightseeing. This was our first time and enjoyed the city, did the Science Museum our last day on the island.

For anyone wishing to do a cycling trip like this, don't wait. This route has superb scenery, fairly easy cycling and follows the best of the region. We did get quite lost once but I probably missed a sign but I managed to get back on track and eventually found the signed route. But we were real lost! One must pay attention even at the slower speeds of cycling. I would estimate our average speed was about 15 km, sometimes a bit more but this is an easy pace for a 21 speed bike. This also was low season, all hotels had very few other tenants, real quiet in all towns and no other tour cyclers were encountered. It was fine. All the riding was on good surfaces, mostly paved or crushed limestone so it was pleasant pedaling. Each hotel had a place to park your cycles inside overnight, once in a barn. The cost IN U.S. dollars for 10 nights, luggage transfer, info pack, maps and cycle rental was $856.

One great trip moment was an invitation for lunch at a home outside of Bad Ischl. We met a couple at the festival in Russbach and they told us to call the next day when we again passed through. We had no cell so after a stop at a cycling shop, I had him call them. The husband, Hubertus, came down on a motorcycle and led us to them home, a 500 year old house up in an alpine valley on the edge of Bad Ischl. It would be impossible to find this home even with directions and the views were stunning again. Gabi, the wife, had an fantastic lunch made with beer, schnapps, potatoes, creamed leeks and kuchen. It was a memorable act of friendship. Hubertus played his alpen horn for us too. We have lasting memories of this and photos too. This would not happen with car no doubt. For others comtemplating a trip like this, please consider the Salzkammergut route. Our first cycling adventure was fantastic. Don't wait, just do it.
hardwater is offline  
Nov 16th, 2009, 04:15 PM
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Fascinating. Thanks for the excellent report. We did the Tauern Radweg several years ago and found it an incredible experience. I'm interested in how you booked your tour and with whom.
geebee14 is offline  
Nov 17th, 2009, 06:34 AM
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we saw lots of people cycling along the side of the danube, but i hadn't considered cycling around the Salzkammergut.

looks as if it would be a great idea, and not too strenuous.

thanks for sharing it with us.
annhig is online now  
Nov 17th, 2009, 07:14 AM
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GeeBee14: The trip was arranged by the tourist office of Upper Austria in Linz, (www.oberoesterriech.at). Susanne Tumfart was excellent and corrected a couple of errors in our original plan. We added the extra overnights for hiking and needed large frame cycles ( with saddle bags for each bike) due to our size. She was most helpful. I don't think they add an "extra" charge for their services, at least I did not see one on the invoice. We paid for the tour in advance on a CC, no problem. I saw similar tours by private U.S. co. that cost in the thousands of $$. Tourist offices in many other countries arrange these types of tours as well.

Starting from Salzburg, the first section down to Golling is shared with the Taurenweg. Knowing just part of the route, I can agree it must also have some incredible scenery as well. As I mentioned above, the fall is low, low season and most cycling tour options are over by mid October. Being from Wisconsin, many here believe fall is the best season of all. I failed to add in my summary that adding days for hiking only was spot on. The hiking was a trip highlight as well. It afforded the opportunity to take cable cars up and spend the day hiking down. I would have added a couple more days for hiking if done again. The views from above while descending were breathtaking. This was easy hiking, not mtn or rock climbing but you must be in reasonable shape and have good footwear and hiking poles. More strenuous hiking is available.
hardwater is offline  
Nov 17th, 2009, 01:11 PM
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Thanks,hardwater. This is exactly the info I was looking for and have already made email contact with Susanne Tumfart. I agree about the price North American companies charge. It makes better sense to arrange with a European supplier.
geebee14 is offline  
Nov 18th, 2009, 07:43 AM
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Was you stated cost for the 2 jof you, or per person?
bigtyke is offline  
Nov 18th, 2009, 12:04 PM
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Bigtyke:
The cost listed above, $856 U.S., was for 1 person. single supplement was a bit more of course. Considering the horrible exchange rate, we felt it was an excellent value. We shared a room however.
hardwater is offline  

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