To this point I am writing this blog, I still can not drive, both car or bike. lol. This fact sometimes make my friends around me upset. Sorry not to sorry. Anyway, for this little short trip to Europe, I offered an idea to my friend : what about we rent a car? I mean, don’t you wanna drive a long the region stopping by at random cute town, just to sip a coffee and feel the air? I am lucky to have a very nice travel bud who always say YES almost to anything, as long its not jeopardizing her life, she said. Since this is the first time we drive, I meant… she drives. So I don’t wanna burden her with a long and exhausting drive.
Therefore I created the itinerary that way more make sense which was making Salzburg as the based city and split the travel days into 2 :
1) Salzkammergut Region (Fuschl, St. Gilgen, Bad Ischl, Bad Goisern and Hallstatt) – Total driving time 4 hours return
2) Tirol Region (Innsbruck, Hall in Tirol, Pill, Schwaz, etc) – Total driving time 5-6 hours return
Renting the car
We had been eye-ing on the right car to rent even weeks before the trip. But we never settled with the car that we wanted (Read : good car condition, inexpensive, and reliable rental company). Because every time we found the car we thought we like, it always end up with finding another options that seems better but actually fishy. The research was a bit time consuming, so we kinda postponed the search for a while. Until it came to only a week left before the departure. And we barely have time to do research again so we just quickly picked the most reasonable one.
We decided to use Buchbinder and booked a small car that cost like USD 300 for 2 days. My friend was a bit reluctant to buy full insurance, but I convinced her so because I don’t wanna take risk to lost silly thousand of dollars just because not wanting to spend a hundred more bucks for insurance. (I will tell you later!)
The Salzkammergut Region
Salzkammergut is a region in the northeastern part of Austria, stretched from Salzburg to Hallstaat. It is also widely known as Austria lake district that ornamented by a handful of pastel towns dotting across the area. Actually it is very do-able to get around by a bus, but .. I demand more flexibility in time and destination so I opted with a mini road trip from Salzburg all the way to Hallstaat.
To be honest, I don’t really have time to research each town one by one in this region, so we just spontaneously visiting the towns that look interesting from the map or from it’s name. lol.
St. Gilgen or Sankt Gilgen is one of the town we stopped by because of it’s interesting name. Actually we also keen to go to Fuschl am See (First lake town you’ll pass through if you drive from Salzburg) but the road to the town center were pretty narrow. And somehow the name of the next town which is Sankt Gilgen sounds way more inviting. So we decided to skip Fuschl am See and straight went to Sankt Gilgen. Pardon my shallow judgement.
Instead of driving to the center of the town, we preferred to park the car in a common space by the big road and walked down the street that heading towards the lake.
Oh holy boy, soon we got to enter the town, I was so amazed by the beautiful colors of the buildings and houses that lingers within the Austrian Alps backdrop. It was just dramatically pretty! I was wondering if people actually lives there. Because it looks like the town is made for instagram purpose.
Unexpected thing happened when me and my friend were murmuring to each other, trying to find a place to eat with a lake view. Suddenly a woman turned her head to us and asking ‘Indonesian?’ I bet she overheard our conversation.
After a short introduction, apparently she is also Indonesian that lives there. She is married to Austrian and has been living there for 17 years where they ran a souvenir shop just by the lake. I mean, wow, right?! Because she said that she is the only Indo who lives there so it is pretty coincidence to meet her by chance like that.
She knew that we were looking for a place to eat so she recommended and walked us to a good restaurant called Brunnwind that a bit far off from the center but still nestled by the lake. She whispered ‘you’re lucky, only local knows!’ and hell yeah she was right! Clearly, without her, we would have not find this place. What a meant to be!
Bad Ischl is the 2nd town we went after St. Gilgen. My eyes got widened when I saw the name on the map and easily recalled it. If you watched a Netflix Series called ‘The Empress’, you’ll know why. This is a town where Sissy and Franz Joseph I first met and fell in love to each other. I was a bit crazy over The Empress and I am so glad I watched it before I went to Austria, because apparently the story about Sissy and Franz was that big in this country. They were the monarch who have big influence to Austria.
Compared to St. Gilgen, Bad Ischl is definitely bigger with population 3 times higher as well. The city divided by Traun river where each side impressively pretty. Too bad I did not spend so much time here, a cup of coffee by the river would have been perfect.
Hallstatt is actually the main destination in this mini road trip. The town that never missed to be on the list of the prettiest town in the world. It also has been sitting on the top of ‘Autumn must go place’ in my bucket list. Yes, I always dreamt of visiting Hallstaat during its prettiest period – Autumn. Not winter.
I was in total awe when we drove along the main road entering Hallstaat town. The autumn foliage was perfectly framing all the traditional Austrian houses that pile up on the side of the hills, exactly like what I always picture Hallstaat in my mind.
Although it was raining a little when we arrived but I think the moment was even more hopelessly romantic. The rain added up the tranquility of the town. Every town in Salzkammergut are beautiful, but Hallstaat is more that just beautiful, it offers serenity and captivates your mind at the same time.
What makes me more thankful is that the place was surprisingly empty. Tourists were seen in manageable amount, very different with what people usually warned that the place going to be so packed you will not able to find a good spot without a single human in the background. Guess I was lucky!
Well, this is my first road trip in Europe, but I think Salzkammergut set the bar too high. Everything just too pretty, the alps, the forest, the lake, the towns are completing one another. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND whoever visited this area, please please please rent a car and drive across the region. And don’t forget to buy insurance, because …
It happened on our first 30 mins drive. So, as I said earlier, we got a pretty big car it takes some time for my friend to get used to drive it. Especially when back in our country we do left driving, while here in Europe or Austria, it required right driving. Due to a bit of miscalculation, the right side of the car hit the pavement quiet bad when we were driving. We thought it was okay but apparently it torn the tire a bit and scratched the wheel. We were lucky we did not get a flat tire, but still kind of flustering.
Seriously though, we were very thankful that we bought that insurance in the first place. When we returned the car, a couple of days later, we got e-mail from the rental company. It stated that the cost of damage was around €800, and it will fully covered by the insurance. We indeed paid the damage first with our deposit, but it only took a week for the insurance to payout. Totally hassle-free! Hence guys, if you rent a car, buying insurance is A MUST.