Matt Carroll's Hidden Austria: Episode 5 – Alpbachtal

The Alpbach valley – a refreshing antidote to modern life stress – where life is relaxed, traditional lifestyles still prevail, and the people are incredibly friendly.  At lest this is what Matt experienced. But what does Sarah – – think of the Alpbach valley?


“We loved the hiker’s haven of Alpbachtal higher up in the Tirol. We found blissful pastures emblazoned with buttercup-filled meadows and the quaintest alpine architecture. It’s the sort of views that make you want to breathe it all in, take a mental picture, and freeze frame them forever. “

More adventures on Sarah’s and Terry’s Austrian summer adventure you will find here.

Tags: , , ,
 Martina Jamnig on 29.07.2011  |   No comments

Matt Carroll's Hidden Austria: Episode 9 – Zell am See-Kaprun

There’s much more to Zell am See-Kaprun than the gorgeous lake and pretty town. Take the cable car up to Gipfelwelt 3000 (and beyond), to the Hohe Tauern National Park, and you’re in for a real treat – as Matt finds out. National Park ranger Andrea gives him an insights into the mystic world inside the mountain.  


But what are Sarah and Terry – – thinking of Zell am See-Kaprun. Find out below.  

“It’s impossible not to be hugely impressed by Zell Am See and the spectacular Lake Zell. Just a few kilometres away Kitzsteinhorn’s peak presides over some of the most delectable vistas in the Alps. At its summit we were thrilled by Peakworld 3000, for us one of the best mountain attractions in the world.”

If you are interested whatelse Sarah and Terry experienced in Austria click here.

Tags: , , ,
 Martina Jamnig on 26.07.2011  |   No comments

Matt Carroll's Hidden Austria: Episode 10 – Lake Constance

“A city laced with modern art, culture and quick escapes into nature (plus a charismatic Old Town it seems to overlook.)” Abigail – Inside the Travel Lab – visitied the region of Lake Constance in Vorarlberg. What does she think about it!? Below you will find her view on the region.

“With a dagger deep in his chest, he leans back, eyelids closed, a staircase eating into his cheek. Crowds gather beneath to take photos as his hand clasps a slab of writing and the lights of Switzerland begin to come on in the distance.

 He is this year’s setting for the Bregenz summer festival, a floating stage that rises out of the calm Lake Bodensee (Lake Constance), ready to depict the drama of the opera Andre Chénier. Previous years have seen La Bohème, Aida and of course, Tosca performed here, where Daniel Craig scrambled across a colossal burning iris as James Bond in Quantum of Solace.

This is Bregenz, the capital of the Voralrberg region in western Austria. On the one hand a calm, quiet slice of urban mountain life with lakeside beaches, cycling, quiet cafes and hiking routes. On the other, a haven for daring, provocative, contemporary art.

The opaque cube of the KUB challenges the waterfront, its letters standing for Kunsthaus Bregenz, which roughly translates into art house. The exhibits inside range from press mash-ups about body-image to DVD cases of Will Smith’s Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Last year, the art escaped the confines of the KUB to straddle the mountains in the guise of 100 bronze figures of Antony Gormley .

Fresh, modern and innovative, Bregenz wants to say. We don’t just have stages, we have floating stages. We don’t just have a lake, we have a lake with two names (Lake Constance and Bodensee), a lake that borders Germany and Switzerland, with Liechtenstein not far away.

We have fun, we have fashion – and we still have an atmospheric Old Town that we’re almost too cool to tell you about.

The posters and publicity point to the future but Bregenz shouldn’t be in such a hurry to brush off its past. Old Town Bregenz still oozes with charm with its cobbled streets, painted shutters, stone fountains and traditional murals. Deep peach and soaked turquoise facades provide a thoroughly lived-in, Austrian look.

There’s even a whisper that the restaurants here serve Wiener Schnitzel. But I might not sound cool enough if I told you about that…”


Abigail King is a freelance writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. She has circled the globe twice, camped in the snows of Kilimanjaro and Patagonia and tracked down tigers, turtles and panda bears. She’s then had a hot shower and embraced the city life of New York, Rio, Paris and Tokyo.

She blogs about unusual journeys at Inside the Travel Lab

Tags: , , , ,
 Martina Jamnig on 22.07.2011  |   No comments

Montafon – Vorarlberg’s Outdoor Playground

Our next video is online: The Montafon in Vorarlberg! Abigail King Inside the Travel Lab visited the region for us. Find out what she experienced there.  

“Part of me knows that people are waving at me – and part of me smiles in response. On the other hand, the people waving are a good fifty metres below me on solid ground, whereas only a metal cable about as thick as my thumb separates me from clear, thin air.

This is via ferrata, or klettersteig as it’s called around here. It’s a modified kind of rock climbing whose origins date back to World War One, when soldiers unused to snowy peaks had to fight to the death on the mountains. Nearly 100 years have passed since then and I’m really, seriously hoping that death won’t be involved here.

Lukas, my guide, was incredibly cautious. At least at the beginning. “Are you sure you want to go?” he asked, looking at the scheming clouds overhead. “After all, I mean. It is raining.” Lukas, my dear, I’m British. If I never did anything because of the rain, I’d never do anything.

And so, moments later I found myself stepping into a flimsy harness, strapping on a hat, fumbling for gloves and re-examining both the metal carabiner-like clips and my own sanity.

I’d done this once before, sure, and it was exhilarating in that kind of “wow, that-was-great-but-would-I-really-want-to-do-it-again-kind-of-way.”

Turns out, the answer is a wobbly yes.

Montafon, the quieter area of Vorarlberg in west Austria, loves its outdoors. In winter there’s skiing and snowboarding, naturally, and summer sees the usual hiking, climbing and mountain biking you’d expect to find in the Alps. Yet there are new kinds of adventures available, like this purpose-built klettersteig route and an indoor climbing centre for when the weather moves from unpleasant to downright vile.

When that happens, there’s also käsespätzle, the local cheesy dish to warm you from the inside. I had my first taste of käsespätzle in Schruns, a village so small the receptionist refused to give me a map.

“It’s Schruns,” she told me. “Cross the river and walk past the church and you’ll find anything you want.”

She was right. Despite its size, Schruns does have a lot. Babbling stream, check. Characterful church with domed roof, check. Wellness spa, cafe and museum of local culture, check, check, check.

It also has, as I discover a short while later, clinging on for dear life, a purpose-built klettersteig within driving reach of the town.

Actually, klettersteig has that perfect blend of adventure. The harness and clips should save you from serious harm should the worst arise. Yet most of the time it gives those untrained in mountain climbing (aka me) a taste of scrambling up that slippery rock. A foothold here, a reach there, a mind over matter exercise all the way through.

“Look down,” says Lukas at a certain point. Two words I try to ignore. “Look how high you are and how far you’ve come.” Knuckles whitening, I do look down. That’s when I see the people waving. “Want to really give them something to look at?” he asks. “Abseil down from here.”

It’s Montafon. Why on earth not.


Abigail King is a freelance writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. She has circled the globe twice, camped in the snows of Kilimanjaro and Patagonia and tracked down tigers, turtles and panda bears. She’s then had a hot shower and embraced the city life of New York, Rio, Paris and Tokyo.

She blogs about unusual journeys at Inside the Travel Lab

Tags: , ,
 Martina Jamnig on 19.07.2011  |   No comments

Fête Impériale in Vienna

Upon arriving at the Fête Impériale we were taken aback by the amazing décor and grandeur of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. Most people arrived in the traditional Viennese “Viehacker” a type of open topped, horse-drawn carriage. These can be hired throughout the year in Vienna and added both tradition and glamour to the evening.
After the champagne reception we took our seats and watched in amazement as the ball started with the ballet. This can be seen here in my video.

Another clip from the opening.

The ball was a fund raising event for the Lipizzaner horses and was co- sponsored by Casinos Austria, who were giving away free chips to play the night away.

Throughout the evening I felt just like Cinderella, but unlike her, I was able to stay and party way past midnight and into the early hours. Bettina

 Bettina Greiner on 15.07.2011  |   No comments

One day on the Eagle Walk in Tirol

The Eagle Walk in Tirol is one of the simplest ways to enjoy nature and the mountains. (watch our video here:  Matt Carroll’s Hidden Austria – Episode 4: Eagle Walk in Tirol ) But let’s see what Andy – -says about it.

Whether visitors arrive in Tirol in western Austria by air or overland it doesn’t take long for them to recognise that they have arrived in an outdoor paradise. Although well known for its winter sports Tirol also offers some of Europe’s best hiking terrain; I was here to sample the delights of one of the region’s most spectacular trails.

Andy Jarosz

As part of the Tirol Tourist Board’s efforts to attract summer visitors to the region, the Adlerweg, (Eagle Walk) was set up in 2005. It connects a series of routes from a pre-existing network of paths that criss-cross the region. While the main route is 280km long and broken neatly into 23 stages, there are 1480 km of trails to choose from.  In this way the Eagle Walk can accommodate both the serious hiker who is looking for a challenging long-distance trail, as well as the casual day tripper who is looking for a gentle walk in beautiful surroundings.

I fell into the day tripping category (I would have loved to stay longer but will just have to return another time). I met the Project Coordinator and my guide for the day, Georg Pawlata, in Innsbruck and we set off for the start point of section 16 of the Eagle Walk, some 30 km north-west of the city. We walked around 8km along a relatively flat path and having been blessed with unbroken sunshine I was able to enjoy the Alpine scenery at its most spectacular along this short section of the walk.

Many different species of wildlife can be spotted along the Eagle trail. Eagles are often seen, although mainly on those sections that are over 1500m above sea level. Equally spectacular is the sight of one of the 60 native pairs of alpine bearded vultures. Marmots are a common sight, while mountain goats and capricorns are also seen along the path. Lynx also wander through the higher regions, although a hiker is unlikely to have a big cat encounter here. Sadly on this occasion I left the Eagle Walk without a sighting of anything, large or small.

So was the trail named so because of the sight of eagles flying above the path? Not so, explains Georg. “We wanted to connect together the most beautiful points of the region. We had to think very carefully where the trail went. Once a route was created we thought hard about the name. At one point one of our team stood back from thGaistalalm_Andy Jarosze map, looked again at the line we’d drawn and said “Wow! It looks like an eagle!” From that point the name of the trail was obvious.”

We stopped for a break at the Gaistal-Alm alpine hut. There are many of these huts along the route, offering hikers accommodation (often including a shower) and a hot meal. We enjoyed a hearty home cooked lunch while looking out over the magnificent valley with its soaring peaks; if only I didn’t have a flight to catch that day, I could have lingered here all afternoon.

The Tirol Tourist Board have followed the lead of other long distance trails and created a reward system, where walkers can collect stamps in a booklet for each stage of the Eagle Walk that they complete. Prizes range from a bronze medal for 5 stages completed to a gold medal, T-shirt and a chance to win a Tirol weekend for two for those who complete all 23 stages.

The full Eagle Walk can only be attempted in the summer months, as the high elevation of some of the sections means that the winter snow does not clear until the end of June. Most visitors however will choose to walk one section of the walk and stay in a hotel nearby. Whichever way you choose to experience the Eagle Walk, you are guaranteed to be treated to some of the best Alpine landscapes along the route.

Tags: , , , ,
 Martina Jamnig on 13.07.2011  |   No comments

Three cities, three stories to tell – Salzburg

If you have already watched our video Matt Carroll’s Hidden Treasures: Episode 2 – Graz, Innsbruck, Salzburg
you probably know that Matt’s favourte city is Salzburg.

But also Heather seemed to have enjoyed her stay there. She visited the city in April with her family. You will find her stories on her blog.



More things to see in Salzburg
Riding the Unicorns in the Mirabell Gardens
Podcast from Salzburg and Lake Wolfgang in Austria

Cars, Planes and Smart Food at Hangar 7 in Austria

Tags: , , ,
 Martina Jamnig on 12.07.2011  |   No comments

Three cities, three stories to tell – Innsbruck

Innsbruck , definitely one of my favourits! Which is obvious as I studied there. (watch our video here: Matt Carroll’s Hidden Treasures: Episode 2 – Graz, Innsbruck, Salzburg ) But let’s see what Andy – -says about it.

“My return to Innsbruck was long overdue. I had been here once before in the summer of 1987 as a teenage backpacker. I remembered nothing about the city itself; only that I had been A Jaroszstruck by its spectacular setting among the Alpine peaks. I really enjoyed my latest visit to Innsbruck. In fact I’d go so far as to list it among one of my favourite European cities. It’s easily covered on foot, full of impressive architecture to admire and enjoys a relaxed vibe. Oh, and the mountains: they are still there, looming over the city and creating that picture perfect backdrop.

My time in Innsbruck was limited, so I had to move quickly between sights. I have a soft spot for a good view, so the mountains on either side of the city drew me in immediately. On the north of the city the modern Nordkettenbahn takes visitors from the city centre onto the mountain tops in around 20 minutes. It feels strange to start a journey up a mountain by heading down an escalator but the starting point of the cable car journey feels very much like an underground station. Soon enough I had left the warm spring afternoon behind and had stepped out onto ankle deep fresh snow at the Seegrube station. There is a restaurant and café here where you can enjoy your dinner while admiring the view of the city, over 1300 metres below. The cable car runs every 15 minutes and the last car up leaves the city at 7.15 each day.

I paid €24 to ride the Nordkettenbahn and only later realised that I could have purchased an Innsbruck Card for €29 that would have covered the cost and a lot more besides.

On the other side of town one building dominates the skyline. It is the Bergisel skijumping stadium, opened in 2002 and designed by famous British architect Zaha Hadid. Innsbruck was host to the winter Olympics in both 1964 and 1976, and this became one of the world’s most important skijumping venues. Now a popular visitor attraction, those of us who can barely put on a pair of skis, let alone consider hurling ourselves into the air off a vertigo-inducing slope, can admire both the modern building and the achievements that took place at this arena. 14 infoboards provide an introduction to skijumping and the history of this stadium. A cable car runs from the entrance to the base of the tower, and a lift then takes visitor up to the viewpoint and a restaurant. The prices here are surprisingly reasonable, whether for a meal or a cake and coffee.

City Centre
If you prefer to enjoy your view within the city itself then head for the 15th century City Tower. Here you can enjoy 360 degree views of the roofs of Innsbruck and of its many beautiful buildings.

Innsbruck’s most famous sight is without doubt its Golden Roof. Built for the Emperor Maximilian I by the Archduke Ferdinand IV in the 15th century, the roof consists of 2657 fine gilt copper tiles. The square below the roof attracts a constant stream of tourists who flock to take a picture and visit the museum of the roof within the building. It is worth taking a look at the roof in the night when the lack of sunlight makes it look a very different dull green.

Bell Museum
One of the quirkier museums of Innsbruck is the Bell Museum, on the road out to the Bergisel skijump. Here you can learn about the history of bells and see the workshop where the Grassmayer company have been making bells for over 400 years. The museum recently won the Best Museum award from the National Ministry of Culture. A variety of bells are on display, and there are plenty of opportunities to make your own noise in this hands-on museum. It’s hard to tell where the museum ends and the factory begins and I was left to wonder into offices and workshops without any sort of guidance.

More on Andy’s experience in Austria you will find here.

Tags: , ,
 Martina Jamnig on 11.07.2011  |   One comment

Three cities, three stories to tell – Graz

For food, history and culture, you can’t beat the Austrian cities of Graz, Innsbruck and Salzburg. In our video Matt meets ‘slow food’ pioneer Andi in Graz, who takes him shopping; in Salzburg he soaks up some culture at a classical concert; and in Innsbruck a local guide walks him through the ancient streets.

Here is Matt Carroll’s Hidden Treasures: Episode 2 – Graz, Innsbruck, Salzburg 



That is our view, but to get an objective / non-Austrian view we also asked Andy Jarosz – – to visit the cities for us. Here are some of is highlights in Graz.

“I didn’t know what to expect from Graz. Although it is Austria’s second city in terms of size, it is very much overshadowed in terms of tourism by both Vienna and Salzburg, not to mention the winter sports resorts to the west of the country. Yet in a little under 24 hours in this pleasant city I found plenty to attract a visitor to Graz, the 900 year old capital of the southern province of Styria. Here are just a few of my highlights of a city that is blessed with many sites of historical interest.

High on the hill overlooking Graz is Schlossberg, the city’s dominant fortress. Its clock tower is visible from almost anywhere in Graz, while the collection of buildings and monuments tell a story of the battles fought and the many heroic defences of this strategically important part of Europe. One of the highlights of the Schlossberg is a look inside the Kasematten, once a building that housed hundreds of prisoners within its walls and now a large concert venue.

You can reach the Schlossberg in three ways: using the funicular railway, by means of a spectacular glass lift that ascends through a gaping hole in the rock, or on foot via the 260 steps that wind their way up the hill.

 Styrian armoury
I’m not normally a fan of visiting armouries and seeing a collection of suits of armour and rifles, but this one is quite different. Rather than having one example of a particular weapon or piece of armour here they have displayed every artefact that has been found. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of pikes, daggers, guns, armour plates. It looks more like a warehouse than a museum and there is enough material here to fully equip a re-enactment of a major battle. 

 Kunsthaus Graz
The museum of modern art is full of the quirky and weird exhibits that you would expect, but the real star of the show is the building itself. Something akin to a lumpy blue submarine, this bold structure comes to life at night when the LEDs on its surface create a mesmerising pulsing effect.

 An eye-catching sight whichever way you look at it, this artificial island on the river was created as part of the city’s celebration of being the European Capital of Culture 2003 and has never been removed. Now home to a pleasant café Murinsel is likely to remain a permanent fixture on the river Mur. It looks most striking at night when it is bathed in blue light. 

It is not uncommon to find an animated clock in Austria and the one in Graz is indeed a fine specimen. With the first performance of the day at a very civilised 11am and a fine café directly underneath, it is the perfect excuse to sit back with a slice of cake and a coffee and watch the 5 minute show.

 Double spiral staircase
A description can’t really do this justice, but it is well worth a look to see this masterpiece of Gothic architecture. It is also probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever found to photograph.

 Eggenberg Castle A Jarosz

A 40 minute walk, or 10 minute tram ride out of the city is Eggenberg Castle, a grand 17th century palace commissioned by Prince Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg. The house is built around the concept of the universe: four towers representing the seasons, 12 gates for the months and 365 windows for the days of the year. The grounds are very attractive and if you arrive early in the morning the only noises to break the silence are the cries of the preening peacocks within the park.

More on Andy’s experience in Austria you will find here.


Tags: , , ,
 Martina Jamnig on 11.07.2011  |   No comments

Matt Carroll's Hidden Austria: Episode 1 – Burgenland

It is done: Our first video of our Hidden Treasures road trip is online. Birdwatching, wine & great food – discover with

 us Burgenland, Austria’s eastern most province. We hope you like it.ANTO_MJ

Matt Carroll’s Hidden Austria: Episode 1 – Burgenland


To give you an experts view – you already read about our personal experience – we have asked Karen Bryan, founding editor of Europe a la Carte, to visit the region. Here is Karen’s feedback:

“I loved St Martins Therme & Lodge for its location by a small lake, the friendly goats in a pen  just outside the entrance, the outdoor swimming pools and the focus on locally produced food and drink in the restaurant. The village of Rust was very picturesque with storks nesting on many of the chimneys.  The Katamaran Restaurant/Cafe has some very tasty cakes and views of Lake Neuseidl. The city of Eisenstadt  is very impressive with Esterhazy Castle, the Bergkirche and the Haydn Museum. There are lots of small family run wineries dotted all around the area, many just by the roadside, so very easy to find.

Fortunately I know a few words in German. As English isn’t that widely spoken in some of the more rural areas, make sure you take a phrase book with you. I didn’t like the fact that it is still permitted to smoke in many cafes and restaurants in Austria.”

Would you like to read more stories of her discovery tour? Visit 


  • Seven Things to Do in Burgenland, Austria
  • Review of St Martins Therme & Lodge, Burgenland, Austria
  • Photo Tour of Rust in Burgenland, Austria
  • Photo Tour of Eisenstadt in Burgenland, Austria

    Tags: , , , , ,
     Martina Jamnig on 08.07.2011  |   No comments