The Highlands

A year ago, when travel was considerably less risky than it is right now, I went back to one of my favourite places, Scotland. As it was my second time, I used the chance to travel outside of Edinburgh. I took a day trip to Loch Ness through the Scottish Highlands. I spent several hours on a tiny bus, looking out at the magical, mossy landscape, lochs and mountains. Our Scottish guide, sporting a kilt, told us about monsters and monarchs and about the time this area had mountains higher than the Himalayas. After centuries of ice pressing down on the Earth, the mountains are much smaller than they used to be, but they are still the highest in Great Britain. During our stops I walked on the soft, bouncy ground, made up of many layers of turf and dreamed of riding through these hills on my trusty horse, not meeting anyone for days. I think I would have enjoyed that.

Erlaufsee

Erlaufsee is three hours by train away from Vienna and its current heatwave and so it is a perfect spot for a weekend trip. It’s a mountain lake where you can swim, dive or rent a boat. When we went there last weekend the weather forecast was less than ideal – there was supposed to be a storm and rain showers the whole day. We still went and in the end, it didn’t rain all that much. We managed to explore the lake by boat and enjoy the view before the rain came. Considering the heat in the city, I was glad for the chance to cool down and relax.

Wilheminenberg

Spring came to Vienna after 6 cold months, which is…at least 3 cold months too many. So we decided to finally leave the apartment and take a stroll in nature. Wilheminenberg is easy to reach and not that far from where we live, so it was our first choice. We were actually there for New Years Eve, but because of all the people and the fact that it was night, we didn’t see that much of the area and it’s definitely worth checking out during the day, because you can see the whole city from up there.

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This time we decided to also look for a tower that people told us about and see what the view was like from up there. After getting “lost” for a while on the different hiking routes that circle Vienna, we finally found the tower and climbed its many, many steps towards the sky.

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Mondsee

Some gas stations are boring and ugly. Some gas stations have views like this.

And yet, I don’t own a car.

I was going somewhere with this…

With my life?

No, I was going to Salzburg. That’s when we stopped at the gas station next to the lake. It was a good gas station. It had all the right stuff. It had coffee. And gas, I suppose. That was what, 3 years ago? What is a gas station you remember from 3 years ago? And were you going somewhere with your life?

Do you ever start a post about gas stations and end up with a mid-week existential crisis? Those are all interesting questions.

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Hallstatt

Here’s the thing.

I grew up in Sofia, a city pretty much surrounded by mountains. Every day when I went outside I saw Vitosha – the 2290 m high constant companion to my struggles. Most of the times I didn’t even realise it was there, but I did realise that when it was gone, I missed it. It took me a couple of years of living in Vienna to notice that its landscape flatness left me yearning for something different. It took me another couple of years to start going to Google Maps obsessively looking for the fastest way to get to a mountain.

I didn’t want much! Just to sit somewhere with a glass of something (coffee or wine depending on the hour of the day) and to admire the magnificent earth wrinkles. Who would have thought that it would be so difficult to get to a mountain in Austria – the land has the fucking Alps for god’s sake! But every option seemed too far away or too expensive to a person who was used to having the mountains just, like, right there. But then came my birthday and I was desperate to get out. A friend of mine recommended Hallstatt a couple of years ago and I decided to see what all the fuss was about. It took me, all in all, 4 hours on 2 trains, some minutes on a boat full of Asian tourists and 20 Euro to get there and of course, the same to get back. But damn, it was so worth it! The hotels in Hallstatt were way above my price range, so the whole adventure took place on a single day – my 27th birthday.  Continue reading “Hallstatt”