Where the Alps begin

Even before I moved to Vienna, I was really excited that I will have an opportunity to see the Alps. Some people looked at me with pity. They said ‘Come on, Ewa! Don’t be silly, there are no mountains in Vienna and alpine resorts are more than 400 km away!’. Yes, it is true that Vienna is at least 5 hours drive from Innsbruck, but on the other hand it does not mean that there are no Alps in this area!

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The Northern Limestone Alps (Nördliche Kalkalpen) already extend from the Vienna Woods (Wienerwald). Thanks to the proximity to the mountains there is a high quality water in the city. Nobody (but the tourists) buys butteled water in Vienna becouse there is no reason to do it. Fresh spring water is supplied from the alpine sources via 120 km long pipeline, the beginning of which is located in Schneeberg mountain.

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The Schneeberg (Snow Mountain), which is 2076 m high, is located only 65 km as the crow flies from Vienna. On the slopes of the mountain lies a small town Puchberg am Schneeberg. It is very easy to get here from Vienna and the route mostly covers the section of the highway, so in less than an hour we are in the mountains quite similar to the Polish Tatras.

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Fortunately, only the mountains look similar. The town of Puchberg am Schneeberg it’s the opposite of crowded and cluttered by ads Zakopane. Here you can find some peace, soothing silence and… a lots of snow!

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Parking fees, billboards advertising the bank loans, market stands with Chinese souvenirs and fast food bars are the things you deffinitely will not find here. Thank God!

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It was the 6 th of January, The Epiphany. All the shops were closed and the streets were totally empty. Well, almost…

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I think that the best way of exploring new places is just choose the way that you like most and walk ahead without any specific plan. So we did!

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After more than an hour hiking up the hill we reached a wooden hut. Hengsthütte is located on a height of 1012 m. There is a Schneeberg Railway (Schneebergbahn) stop, but it did not work that day and the tracks were covered by snow.

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There are wooden sledges at the beginning of the trail, which we can take and go uphill to the hut and then toboggan. There is no charge for that, sledges just stand in the snow and everyone can take it and go to the Hengsthütte.

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In Hengsthütte you can taste tradicional Austrian dishes. We have ordered Kaspressknödelsuppe and Bratwurstsuppe.Kaspressknödelsuppe is a clear soup with cheese dumplig. Bratwurstsuppe is a special soup for Christmas with sousage and potatoes, which is very similar to traditional Polish soup ‘żurek’. I tasted also Himbeer-Gsprudla, wchich is lightly sparkling raspberry juice, and drank delicious coffee.

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It’s a pity that we had to go back but it began to dusk. It’s hard to believe that less than an hour’s drive from Vienna is so quiet and peaceful place that you can even hear the snow melting in the sun. While there were almost no snow in Vienna, in Puchberg am Schneeberg we could burry up to the waist. I wish I could visit this beautiful place once again!

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