Plagued by wanderlust
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a person that doesn’t like to stand still. I love travelling, I constantly want to get to know new places and like to spend my holidays staying active. First of all, you will probably not be surprised by my choice of profession and secondly, you will understand how much I was looking forward to the start of the 2020 cycling season. When hotels were allowed to reopen their doors, I had already packed my suitcase, or rather my saddlebags. And according to the motto, why wander far when the good is so close, my partner and I set out on a Friday at the end of May and cycled a few kilometres from our hometown to Salzburg where the first part of the Alpe-Adria Cycle Path starts. I was excited, curious about the tour, which I hadn’t experienced before, and overjoyed that my wanderlust was finally going to be satisfied.
Leave the spectacular backdrop of Salzburg behind
I really have to say one thing, even though Salzburg is pretty much my hometown – I live only a few kilometres away – the city never loses its magic. As we cycled along the banks of the Salzach with our bikes, looking at the imposing Hohensalzburg Fortress and the enchanting old town, I suddenly got a shiver, because Salzburg is really impressive. And although I don’t like to cycle on flat paths all the time, I enjoyed the first kilometres from Salzburg to Hallein to the full, because it was what pulled me into the distance. As you have come to expect from me, we didn’t use the luggage transfer on this tour as the cycling season had not yet started, and we cycled the almost 200 kilometres from Salzburg to Villach in just three days instead of six. We did this not only because we had so much energy after lockdown, but also because not many hotels were open yet. But I digress. The Celtic city of Hallein with its magical town centre made us feel in the holiday mood straight away. There is an incredibly good atmosphere here that is almost reminiscent of Italy. That’s why we treated ourselves to an Aperol Spritz here – it just had to be done.
I like to go to the mountains
From Hallein it felt like a stone’s throw to Golling, where things got interesting for me. Because to Golling the cycle path runs comfortably along the Salzach. After Golling, the cycle path leads away from the river and into the mountains – which not only brings a stunning backdrop, but also makes the route more challenging. You cycle over gentle hills, past idyllic farms, wide meadows and lush greenery and grazing cows. Here you will find Austria as the whole world imagines it. It was picture-perfect. Then we cycled up the Lueg Pass. Admittedly, that sounds very impressive, but it wasn’t actually exhausting. Once you have climbed to the highest point, you will come to what is probably the most beautiful section of this route. Because here you can let the bike run downhill for what feels like an eternity and concentrate on the beautiful area. Because the sight of the Tennengebirge and Hohenwerfen Castle will grab your attention, believe me.
I realised how beautiful Austria is during this trip, and how diverse it is to us cycling holidaymakers!
Heading further south
The next day we cycled from the Pongau in Salzburg towards the Gastein Valley and on a really spectacular cycle path above the Salzach, from which you have a breathtaking view of the entire Salzach Valley and even as far as Pinzgau. Finally we came across the official cycle route of the Tauern Cycle Path, which led us slightly downhill to a bridge that took us over a spectacular gorge. I was particularly excited about the Klammtunnel, which leads into the Gastein Valley, but actually, I was happy when I got out of it again. It takes just 15 minutes, but as you can imagine, the journey through a tunnel that cars also use is anything but quiet and bright. But since it’s only a short distance, it’s endurable. When you leave the tunnel, you will be rewarded with idyllic mountain scenery. The old mountain farms in the green Alps with grazing cattle make you imagine Heidi and Peter could run over at any time. And this idyllic landscape remained as our companion until the Mölltal. We cycled along the peacefully gurgling Gasteiner Ache to Bad Gastein, where the waterfall in the middle of the town attracted our attention.
Up- and downhill to Villach
The small village of Böckstein used to be known for mining. With its idyllic location, the small streams and stunning backdrop, the place immediately cast its spell over me. From here we took the train and travelled the so-called Tauernschleuse to Mallnitz. Mallnitz is a real mountaineering village and the starting point for many wonderful mountain tours. From here we start a rapid descent into the wide Mölltal. Over a distance of approx. 10km you cycle on snakelike paths downhill. The child inside shouted inside ‘Huiiiii!’. It was really fun! When you arrive at the bottom, a scene awaits you that you won’t be able to get enough of – to the left and right the impressive mountain ranges, the Möll which flows peacefully alongside the cycle path, the vastness of the valley. It was just spectacular.
In the late afternoon we were welcomed with an indescribable warmth in our partner hotel Mölltalerhof. Rested, we set off in the direction of Villach on Sunday morning after a leisurely breakfast. At Möllbruck we came across the Drau, a wide and beautiful river, the water of which offered us a glittering play of colours. Then after almost 200km we reached our destination of Villach. It was just wonderful to travel again after such a long time, to go to a restaurant and get to know new places. After a few hours in Austria’s carnival city, we packed up our bikes and tired bodies and headed on the train to Salzburg. After such a long period of lockdown, uncertainty and isolation, these days were a blessing for us. We got off the train in Salzburg overjoyed. The short trip had put a smile on our faces, which unfortunately slipped quickly from my partner’s face when I told him we would be making the trip back home by bike.