Thursday, 19 May 2016

Grünau: Crystal clear waters in the Alps || Travel Diary

The view of Grünau from our bedroom window

(Travel Day 27)

Day 1:
We arrived in Grünau and were greeted with a warm welcome from Gerhard (the owner of The Treehouse Hostel). Who had Lasagne ready for our arrival, or alternatively Vegemite toasties for the Australians who needed a taste of home. He was very accommodating to my dietary needs and because I'm a special snow-flake I got a specially prepared meal. 

After filling our bellies the Busabout Bus left us to it, carrying with it many people who thoroughly regretted not including Gruenau im Almtal on their travel list.

The Treehouse is located in a beautiful area of Gruenau. Situated right on the banks of Schindlbach creek, surrounded by forest.

To make the most of our stunning surrounding and explore the area. Chris and hired bikes from Gerhard (€9 for our entire stay). So we started on out ride towards Lake Almsee.

As we were leaving Gerhard warned us that he could hear a thunderstorm nearby. We went anyway.
It was a little dicey there for a time. As we were trying beat the rain and avoid getting caught in the storm. In the end we only had experienced a small sprinkling. (Meanwhile back at the hostel is bucketed down.)

We thoroughly enjoyed our ride through the forest roads. Siddeling and crossing creeks and rivers filled with glacial water that was so incredibly clear that it looked like a vibrant shade of aqua blue against the white stones, clearly visible beneath. The photos really don't do it justice, it was breath-taking and I was obsessed with the brilliant colours.

As we approached Lake Almsee we were greeted a sneak peak of the Alps in the distance. Which was just a taste of the spectacular scenery to be-hold at the end of our bike ride. The photos just don't capture the shear size of these mountains. They were so massive and imposing even while being a fair distance away still.

Expand this photo to see the full panorama

At the turning point of our bike ride there was a sweet little Austrian restaurant on the shores of the Lake. So we helped ourselves to a couple of radlers. An appropriate mid-cycle refreshment, as "Radler" is German for "cyclist". A refreshing break, in a stunning location.

On our return journey we saw a deer just under cover of forest, which dashed away as soon as I stopped. We also saw a dead snake on the road which was a novelty to us Kiwis, who are not accustomed to having snakes in our forests. It was definitely worth the 40km round trip for the views. The Lake also had a "No motorboats policy", in order to keep noise pollution to a minimum.

The rest of our day was spent socialising with our Busabout friends and enjoying Gerhard's homecooked delicious meals for dinner. Which always included a salad and dessert. They were all much appreciated and longed after meals after eating cheap takeaway meals for most of our trip.

Day 2:
Our second day in Gruenau was rather rainy. The other guests went and did the bike ride we had raved about, although they got a lot wetter we did the day before. While we enjoyed an all you can eat breakfast.

We went for walk in the other direction this time, our soft-toy tuatara came along for the journey. The rivers were flowing fast, the foliage was damp and all the animals were coming out of their hiding places. I also got all excited about seeing Austrian cows with bells on, who came running across the field to meet us.

Upon arriving home we all enjoyed Gerhard's home-brewed dry cider, and warmed out bellies with Goulash for dinner. Our whole time in Grunau was super chilled and just what we needed.  A group of us all went to the games room and learnt how to play "Killer". Which is a variation of pool, with simple rules: you need to pocket any ball every turn. 5 misses and your out. It was very fun and included everyone, as opposed to playing in teams. We played darts, had Jaegar shots and lots more cider. I won one round but Chris was deemed champ of "Killer".

Last day:
Raining again. We tried to book a horse riding tour, but no luck in the rain. Big breakfast. Chatted. Other Busabout group turned up for Lasagne. They had 14 people staying rather than just 5, but we were quite happy with our little group, who we bonded with well. We all said goodbye to Gabby, who had liked Grunau so much, that she decided to stay at the Treehouse for a few months to help out. We then got on the bus to Salzburg.
Slightly blurry photo of our Grünau gang.

Quick Summary (TL;DR)

Duration of stay: 2 nights
Was it enough time?: Yes and no. If it had been sunny the entire time, we would have seen a lot more. But there would always be more to see if you stayed longer.
Where we stayed: The Treehouse
Time of Year: May
Best memories: The bike ride to Lake Almsee and making new friends
Worst memories:Not being able to go horse riding
Top tip: Get out and explore as much as you can. Stay at the Treehouse and ask Gerhard for advice.
Next time: In summer we would go horse riding, in winter we would go snowboarding.
Grünau in a few words: Beautiful, Peaceful, Outdoors  
Recommended?: Yes! Of all out travels Grünau has a special place in our hearts.
Overall experience: 9/10. It would be 10 if we had more sun, but the rain gave us a chance to get to make good friends.
Next destination: Salzburg, Austria.

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