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BT Jun 4th, 1998 05:01 PM

Just returned from 1 week Venice & 3 weeks rural Austria
We just returned from a month long trip to Europe mostly spent in Venice (my fourth trip there) and rural Austria.
We traveled by train part of the time and by rental car the rest. In Austria we did a lot of day hiking and stayed in places such as Alpbach, Wagrain, Kaprun, Hallstatt, Melk, Seefeld and Oberkirchen and visited many lakes and towns in those areas as well as nature spots (and the Grosssglockner highway). Also went to Mauthausen concentration camp. We also were in Innsbruck and Munich for a few days. If anyone has an questions about those areas I will do my best to answer them if you ask them here. Please note, I am NOT a shopping fan and seldom note where we ate, so food or shopping questions
won't work for me usually.

May Jun 5th, 1998 08:51 AM

Hi, I am planning a visit to Austria in summer but staying in big towns with side trips to small towns. My lack of German makes me too nervous to try to stay in small towns where people might not speak English!
I would like to know if it's worthwhile visiting Hallstatt on a daytrip from Salzburg as it is rather a long trip?
I also thought of taking a train from Vienna to Melk, the boat to Krems and a train back to Vienna. Is this feasible?
One last question: What's good in Seefeld?
Thanks and appreciate your help.

Chris Tschida Jun 5th, 1998 11:12 AM

We're going to Vienna, Salzburg, and Venice in August, and fear the heat and crowds in Venice. We'd like to stay somewhere between Salzburg and Venice for a couple of days, and have been looking for a place to get off the train. Considered taking the train to Verona and renting a car there to go to Lake Garda. Any comments or recommendations for wonderful scenic places? Should we skip the car altogether and just focus on where we can get on the train?

BT Jun 5th, 1998 02:41 PM

Why it is true that Austrian's don't speak as much English as the Germans do, IMO small towns in Austria are so nice that it's worth it to visit them even if you don't speak German. You'll still get by......tourist office folks speak some English and they can help you arrange accommodations (and every village in Austria seems to have a local tourist office. And if you get there after hours they often have a computer screen in front of the office that can help you book rooms.....that can be switched to English so at least part of the descriptions are in English).
As for Hallstatt, it is *wonderful*.......IMO you should go there if you can. We spent 4 days and 3 nights in Hallstatt and I wish we had another day or two there actually as there is much to see and it really is a very quiet, peaceful an island really cause of the big restriction on cars entering the whole town (gates on both sides and the highway runs through a tunnel above the town so you can't see or hear it). I've been to Salzburg twice before, but we didn't go to any cities this time. One tip in general I can give is to stay in zimmers instead of hotels or pensions as it saves a lot of money and is more personal too. As for Melk and Krems....... We had rented bikes for the day in Melk, rode around for a while, then took the bikes on the boat to Krems with the intention of riding bikes back to Melk. It started raining shortly after we boarded the boat. The rain got heavier and heavier all the time. BTT we got to Krem it was pouring! We had no rain gear and the boats in May stop running early (the last boat back to Melk left only 15 minutes later....this was about 4 PM although it was staying light until 9:30 PM or so). Thinking quickly we got someone to take back the bikes and we walked around the old town of Krems (called Stein.....nice area) for hours, ate dinner then went to the train station.
Turns out there is no direct train from Krem to Melk! That was a surprise as they are only about 40 km apart and in a straight line. We had to take a small train all the way to St. Polten, wait in a quite nasty train station there for over an hour, then switch to another train to Melk. I don't know about how the connections are from Melk to Vienna, but it may be round about like this. And then to Seefeld; Seefeld is a nice spot. Great hiking. Very nice indoor/outdoor public pool with a unique sauna/spa area.
We did some very nice hikes to lakes and meadows in the area (cable cars not running till the end of June BTW).
The little church in the meadow is very well known and photogenic (and do I have the photos to prove it <g>). They also have a casino if you are into that.....and an outdoor stage for music. When we were there they had a 40 piece all accordion band from Germany husband liked that a lot (I think you have to be a European to like accordion music IMO <g>). Hope this helps.

BT Jun 5th, 1998 04:30 PM

To answer Chris: August will probably be quite warm in Venic, but IMO any month is a good month to visit Venice (my favorite city in the world). It's always possible to get away from the crowds in Venice.....most hang out in St. Mark's Square, near the Rialto Bridge, etc., so just avoid those places except at night or early morning. Remember that renting cars in Italy is far more expensive than in Austria and even more so than in Germany, if expense matters to you. That's partly cause of taxes and partly cause Italy makes you pay for more insurance when you rent there. How long would you rent the car for......just to drive to Lake Garda? Rental cars give one more freedom but they are not always the best choice. As for where to stop off if you have a few days to go from Salzburg to Venice, I think Hallstatt is a good choice as it has much to offer for everyone......hiking, swimming, ice caves, salt mines, churches, shopping, boating, etc., and all in a very nice setting. If you want a bigger city Innsbruck has some nice things to do and the mountains are quite dramatic. IMO avoid Zell am See.......guidebooks mention it a lot and we did NOT like it......the lake is nice but the town is so ugly IMO that one should skip it. Many Austrian lakes have nice walkways around at least part of the lake, but not at Zell am See. Hope this info helps you.

Gabriel K. Jun 11th, 1998 03:44 PM

I have a question about Venice which is what is there to do there is we're there for a few days? What are things not to miss and what is worth skipping? What about the islands around Venice I've heard about. Which one's are worth going out to and how do you get there?

Monica Jun 12th, 1998 05:52 AM

Gabriel, Venice is a wonderful place. With no cars, buses, or motor scooters, it is very peaceful. I was there in May and loved it! Venice itself is a museum. Wander everywhere. See the Basilica, San Marco Piazza, the Palace Ducale and bridge of sighs, the Campanile, and the Accademia museum. Visit the Jewish Ghetto too. There are lots of other museums that can keep you busy your whole trip. We went to Murano, the island where the glass factories are. It was a nice boat trip there. Walk away from the front factories and discover Murano and the better priced shops. Also, there is Burano, further away, which is very colorful. Lace is made there.

Richard Jun 12th, 1998 11:47 AM

May; Because we ride our bikes, my wife and I are the flip side of your situation, we avoid the cities and stay in small towns and day trip into the cities, Salzburg, Vienna e.g. We speak no German other than polite phrases, thank you, excuse me, etc. Two years ago we rode our bikes through Austria, from Krimml Falls, along the Salzach to Passau and then along the Danube to Melk. A month ago we did Germany, from Rothenburg to Fussen, and we have never had a language problem. TO BT; On our Austria trip we also visited Maulthausen, really depressing and grim. Also been to Dachau, but no comparison to the stark reality of Maulthausen. <BR>

BT Jun 12th, 1998 05:17 PM

To answer the question about Venice. IMO the best thing by far to do in Venice is just walk around. Everywhere and at all times of day and night. This was my fourth visit to Venice (all for at least 4 or 5 days) and it wasn't until now that I saw the Doge's Palace (and we only saw it because it was raining quite heavily that day, so better to be inside for a while), We got up early (before 6 am) and got out there before the tourists (and even before most locals). We got a 3 day pass for the vaparetto's and rode to the islands and the further reaches of the city. Burano is a photographer's dream. Every time I go to Venice the houses are more colorfully painted! Torcello is quiet and small. The cemetery island of San Giogio Maggiore is very interesting and peaceful. Giudecca is also a nice quiet residential island we visited one day. Unless you have been to Venice it is hard to adequately describe it. The number one thing is what a *huge* difference it makes to be in a city with no cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, bikes or skateboards. And even the amount of boats is limited and quite small. It is so quiet! Everyone walks everywhere.......and the streets are *totally* mazelike. One huge surprising maze where you are never sure what will be around the next corner. It could be another quiet residential street, or a busy commercial street full of shops, or a small quiet canal, or a big open mostly empty square, or the very wide busy Grand Canal. It's like being inside a mystery novel! People hang their bird cages out their windows so you can hear tropical birds singing all over and the sounds of someone playing the piano somewhere drifts from an unseen window. It's my favorite city in the world!

Zak Jun 12th, 1998 07:05 PM

<BR>I'be been to Sachenhausen, Dachau, Mauthausen and Thieresenstadt before. Mauthausen is the bleakest. It's also the only one of the 3 that has a gas chamber that was used (the one at Dachau was built late in the war and never used). The day I went to Mauthausen there were many groups of Austrian teenagers there on school field trips. They were laughing, smoking, shouting, running and behaving very rowdy. I felt angry to see that and that the teachers (who were far behind and not paying any attention) were not telling them it was a solom place and to be quiet like in a church.

Igal Jun 12th, 1998 09:20 PM

Couple of questions about Vence: <BR> <BR>1. we plan to arrive in Venice by car and want to spend there a few days before continuing on. So my question is where can one leave the car (rental) in the meantime? <BR> <BR>2. Do you have any recommendation for a not too expensive hotel in Venice? <BR> <BR>Thanks

Monica Jun 13th, 1998 06:32 AM

Venice hotel: We stayed at the Hotel Galleria just next to the Accademia bridge and the museum on the Grand canal. We paid L150,000 ($85) per night including breakfast in our room. Nice place. Look down this web site for my story on my trip to Italy entitled "Just teturned from 2 weeks in Italy: My LONG story with hotel and restaurant information." Better yet, I'll bring it to the top! <BR>

BT Jun 16th, 1998 01:11 PM

To Igal: Sorry I was away on another short trip so just read your post now. We had thought about renting a car in Munich and leaving it outside Venice while we were there, but we decided to rent a car later in Innsbruck. However I did look into info on where to leave a car in Venice. You have to leave the car outside and there are two big parking lots. One is more expensive than the other. The best info I found on this was on the Mining Company's Venice pages. Rick Steve's site also had info on this subject. As for hotels, we stayed at the Hotel Riva and really liked it. About $100 a night for a quiet room overlooking 3 small canals and near San Marco's (but far enough away it was quiet) <BR> <BR>

Holly Jun 18th, 1998 01:11 AM

<BR>did you go on the grossglockner highway which is an expensive toll road in the high alps. If so, was it worth the $30 for the 4 miles?

BT Jun 20th, 1998 07:07 PM

<BR>We did drive the Grossglockner Road. IMO it's worth the expense. <BR>Be sure you drive it in good weather though. If the weather is bad you won't see much and it won't be worth it. Weather can change a lot fast in the Alps happened the day we were there. IMO the most expensive thing in Austria is the very short elevator like car that goes down to the Franz Josef Glacier there at the Grossglockner. That was $8 *per person* for a ride of about 1 minute. The trail to the side is free but very poorly maintained and steep. We walked down and rode up (it's $5 one way). I think they keep that trail so bad (and it is the worst trail I have ever seen that is in frequent use) to force people to use that outrageously expensive car down to the glacier. Also expect large crowds all over at the stops on the roads......tons of buses and motorcycles ride this road. Still, it is worth it to see as the mountains are quite spectacular

Stevie Jun 20th, 1998 07:16 PM

Has anyone stayed at the Hotel Bisanzio in Venice? Good location? Clean? etc...Thanks.

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