They see a great deal of the world – and still, they love discovering the most wonderful places of Austria. To celebrate Austria’s national holiday, we asked a few of our globe-trotting crew members to reveal their favourite places and culinary delicacies close to home.
Where did you grow up, and why is it particularly lovely there?
Nikola: My home state Tyrol is famous for its picturesque landscape , especially the high mountains , of course, which are so great for hiking and skiing. Winter sports fans will find everything their heart could possibly desire!
Along with all that nature, Tyrol is known for its numerous historic sites and customs. Traditions such as carnival runs to mark the end of winter, Easter traditions , mountain fires marking the Solstice , the magnificent driving of cattle down from the mountain pastures every autumn , and atmospheric Christmas markets in December mean ancient cultures still have a very real presence, year-round, in these parts. This wide variety makes my home region of Tyrol one of the world’s loveliest places .
Patrick: I grew up just outside Klagenfurt , in the small town of Kleinbuch . I love going back there, because you’re surrounded by forest and can enjoy the peace and quiet. I find the view from my room particularly lovely: when I roll up the blinds first thing in the morning and look out, I’m confronted by pure nature as far as Gerlitzen , a mountain where Carinthians love to go skiing.
What is Austria’s best culinary delicacy for you, and where do you eat it?
Nikola : I’m always inspired by the Kaiserschmarren at the Berggasthof Hagstein in Kitzbühl – it just tastes best for me there!
Alexandra : The new wine tavern (“Heuriger”) district just outside Stammersdorf always lures me back to the city limits of Vienna. I particularly like going to the excellent Heuriger Helmut Krenek . This is a place where tradition meets modernity! My favourite dish is Schweinsbraten, or roast pork . And during goose season , there’s organic free-range goose from Burgenland, which goes down just right with sauerkraut and dumplings . Yummy!
Valentin: The Wiener Schnitzel from the Landgasthaus zur Mina Tant in Schranawand is a wonderful tip, as is the knuckle of pork at the Schweizerhaus , in the Vienna Prater. If you’ve got a sweet tooth , then you’re definitely best-off heading for one of the old-style Viennese coffee houses . Café Landtmann , for example. Or if you want to try something that could really only be Viennese, try the legendary Buchteln , or sweet rolls, from Café Hawelka.
What’s your favourite destination for a day-trip in Austria?
Natascha: No doubt about it – Wachau ! Springtime there is the loveliest season for me. During the day, it’s already really warm, the apricot trees are blooming and the grapevines just starting to sprout. As well as their amazing views of the Danube , the stone terraces offer a range of lavish treats including the elegant wine , produced from ancient vines on primitive, rocky soil, delicious apricots and refined saffron .
Patrick: For me, the top day-trip destinations are down by the Wörthersee . I love going for a walk there with my favourite people in the summer, and treating myself to an ice cream. The turquoise water always reminds me a little of the Caribbean ! If you want to see the Wörthersee from above, meanwhile, think about paying a visit to the Pyramidenkogel observation tower – it offers the best views of the Wörthersee and neighbouring towns like Velden, Pörtschach and Klagenfurt.
So tell us your favourite place in Vienna!
Aimen: My favourite places in Vienna are Naschmarkt and the Museumsquartier . On nice days in particular, I can get some sun there and enjoy a coffee with friends.
Alexandra: Lots of different places in Vienna have won my heart over the years. I particularly enjoy the neighbourhood around Burggasse . Picturesque, cobble-stoned Ulrichplatz , with its comfortable bars and creative shops , is often on my to-do list when I just want to take a break from everyday life. The best way to do it is to enjoy a coffee at Erich and drink in both this and inspiration by checking out Steffi and Toni from avant-garde boutique Eigensinn .
Natascha: In Vienna, I feel particularly at home in typically Viennese coffee houses . I can get some peace and quiet, read and hang around here – without constantly being hassled to pay up and move on by the waiters. Coffee and coffee house nostalgia is booming again in Vienna, so I can order my espresso from “Herr Ober”, the likeably stern head waiter, without a care in the world.
Valentin: Being half-Viennese, I suppose I’m more or less bound to have a favourite place ! In summer , it’s definitely the Danube Canal . Enjoying a cool drink there on a warm evening can be incredibly relaxing. I also love to watch the hustle-and-bustle going on there – it makes the Danube Canal even more interesting. And when Christmas is coming, I like to warm up with a glass of punch or mulled wine at the Museumsquartier , or the Advent market in Spittelberg .
Do you have a favourite word or phrase which is quintessentially Austrian?
Natascha : Nur ned hudln! (Don’t be in such a hurry!)
Aimen and Alexandra: Schau ma mal! (Let’s just wait and see…)
Patrick: My favourite word in Austria is “ lai ”. It represents my own origins, and if I use it, everyone immediately knows I’m from Carinthia. The word means “just”. The phrase “Loss lai lafen!” , for instance, would be translated as “ Just let it go !”
Nikola: Ghupft wie ghatscht! (Whatever; I’m easy.)
Valentin: Das geht sich aus! I often get confused glances in Germany for this, for example, because nobody knows what the phrase means. It stands for “It’ll be alright/That’s doable”, or “Don’t panic, we’ll get there”. It combines Austrians’ essential warmth with their charm and a wink of the eye.
Thanks very much to all six of you for speaking to us today! And now it’s the turn of all you readers: tell us in your Comments where Austria is particularly lovely for you, and what some of your favourite delicacies are!