Just above Italy sits little Austria, three quarters of it bulging with mountains. We had the opportunity to visit the center, right on the edge of the Alps last week. The picture above was the view from our balcony (when the clouds permitted). We stayed in a hidden away little town called Gosau. If you could see directly behind that mountain, you would have a glimpse of the stunning Dachstein Glacier, which we only rarely saw ourselves. Thankfully, the almost constant clouds allowed us plenty of time to play without too much rain.
Heading out, the boys were duly impressed by the speedometer registering 130 km/h in our rental van (did you know that minivans are considered luxury rentals in Austria? Ouch). The parents were impressed by the Danube Valley and the fact that they could find their way with four boys. When we entered the Salzkammergut area, we wandered through "a little town on a gorgeous lake with a mountain by it" (just repeat those words continually throughout this entire trip report and you'll have summed up most of it ... for those who are interested, it was Gmunden on the Traunsee with the imposing Traunstein flanking it). The boys aren't jaded tourists just yet ... they loved it. And the ice cream. They also spent a great deal of time trying to catch birds. Silas spent a great deal of time convincing his parents that travelling with a 2 year old is just plain stupid.
Day 2 was spent in truly picturesque Hallstatt, the oldest town in Austria. It was first settled by the Romans and Celts. We even walked on Roman flagstones. A local shop had renovated and discovered the Roman ruins beneath their building. We enjoyed (between bouts of Silas's crying) visiting that. We end up deciding to come back to Hallstatt on another day later in the week.
While the scenery was fantastic, we also have to give a great big thumbs up to Austria's playgrounds. This one in Hallstatt also had a zip line, a boat IN the water, an island and what we call The Octopus.