Fit for a king: skiing the Hochkönig area

View from a ridge: hot air balloons floating over Dienten
View from a ridge: hot air balloons floating over Dienten

Maria Alm, Feb. 2015 – The western face of the Hochkönig is a steep expanse of snow and rock. “The refuge is up there on the right,” says the waiter pointing to the ridge of the peak that gives its name to the ski area south of Salzburg. We frown and squint through the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling window but all we can see is a vertiginous cliff face. Continue reading “Fit for a king: skiing the Hochkönig area”

Salzburg: Hitting the apricot

High and mighty: St Rupert's facade
High and mighty: St Rupert’s facade

“I give you a bit more”, says our monosyllabic Goth waiter as he brings our second round of marillen liqueurs. It’s getting late and we’re hitting the apricot stuff hard. It helps us forget a staggeringly disappointing dinner in Mozart’s hometown.

Our packed morning in Innsbruck means we’re late on the road – again, it’s becoming a habit. A few days ago, we even had to forgo Vaduz altogether after exploring Feldkirch in greater detail than planned.

But we arrive in Salzburg in warm sunshine. It’s quite hot, in fact, and much more summery than the past few days. Our hotel is on the north side of town on the Linzer Gasse. I don’t know if it’s the hotelier’s Mediterranean accent, the cafe terraces lining the streets, or the general layout of the town, but it feels very southern. Nice.

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Innsbruck: Marie-Antoinette’s mother meets Zaha Hadid

Innsbruck: Zaha Hadid's curvaceous funicular stations
Innsbruck: Zaha Hadid’s curvaceous funicular stations

“I’m not visiting another imperial palace or baroque church until we’ve seen the Zaha Hadid funicular,” I say.

Dr K looks at me with a face betraying absolute incomprehension, obviously concerned that I may have passed the point of no return on the road to cultural redemption.

We’re just coming out of the Hofburg, in central Innsbruck, the palace from which Marie Antoinette’s mother, Empress Maria Theresa, ruled Austria for 40 years.

Now Dr K is casually suggesting that we go on to Schloss Ambras, on the other side of town, when all we really want is a nice mélange and a slice of chocolate torte.

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Feldkirch: Ghosts from the past

Feldkirch: the picturesque market square
Feldkirch: the picturesque market square

“Would you like to try and find the house?”, I ask Godfather P. “No, these are ghosts from the past,” he replies, looking around to gauge the extent to which the place has changed since his last visit here in 1958.

Feldkirch, an old Vorarlberg market town just over the border from Lichtenstein, is our first Austrian stopover on the way to Vienna, and one that we – P in particular – have been anticipating with heightened curiosity.

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