We have just returned from a weeks break to Austria where we visited Salzburg and Zell Am See.

We stayed at the ‘Schwaerzler Hotel Neutor’ in Salzburg (Austria) at the beginning and end of our journey and I can say that it was a pleasant hotel, ideally located at the edge of the Old Town.

We then took the train to Zell Am See, Kaprun and rented an apartment at the north end of town (Steinergasse) directly from the owner using Owners Direct. The apartment was well placed for access in to town; rather at the budget end of the scale but very capable. 

It was quite basic but sufficient for our needs. We had a bit of a panic because the key handling agent wasn’t answering the phone when we arrived and the owner booked us into the Hotel Zum Hirchen which was very nice (he didn’t make much profit out of that week!). In the end it turned out that there was just an unfortunate miss-understanding during a difficult period for the agents, we entirely understood and were happy with the actions of everyone in the end.

We walked A LOT. We walked up to the cable car and took it to the Schmittenhohe, walked over to the next peak and back. Also walked to Schuttdorf via the lake and back via the hill walk. Found a really surreal bar open half way up the hill with a very drunk postman entertaining the confused travellers. Took the Schiff boat round the lake and generally relaxed (despite all the walking).

It was verrry quiet, we were told by friends, but a few places were open but not every day. There were a surprisingly large number of young Arab families there on holiday. I assume someone had the idea of advertising to them to fill the off-season. Few things more surreal for a westerner than seeing a lady in a full burqa at the top of a 2000m Austrian mountain. Not that I mind, I would say they seemed like they were enjoying themselves but many of them looked surprisingly bored!

Eating out was incredibly good value compared to many European countries (I’m looking at you Belgium and the Nordics!) and you never went hungry with the portions. Overall it was a great trip and when my partner told her mother about it she wanted to go. So looks like another trip next year!

(Updated: 13th Oct 2009)

I was rather disturbed by reports that a hotel in Surrey, the Metro Hotel, had refused a soldier on leave a room. Apprently it was because in the local area other soldiers had caused problems. I remember when certain pubs and clubs in Dover would refuse entry to soldiers, but that was groups of drunk soldiers tearing up the place. A wounded soldier on leave visiting a friend in a rehabilitation facility is hardly the same thing!

Shame on them. However a recent B&B I visited apparently gives a discount to soldiers on leave! So there you go buys and girls, a nice little relaxing eco-B&B in the middle of nowhere to chill out in. Take a look at The Old Chapel Forge B&B for a soldier friendly place to stay.

 

So,

 We've just returned from Venice, it was lovely and well worth the time. I realised several things while I was out there:

1) I still hate crowds and tourists (wish I could take a tazer on holiday with me)
2) The average American tourist is the most annoying in the world.
3) The Italians are more helpful and friendly than I could have imagined.
4) It's expensive to be trapped on an island who's main income is tourism.
5) Book major attractions off-season and book hotels directly.

  

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