Creative Artists & Austrian Comfort in the heart of the Aussee Summer Mountain District

The “Ausseerland” mountain district is one of the most beautiful Alpine districts of Austria. It is characterised by a classic sense of beauty, the one you would find in the Sound of Music: Crystal-clear mountain lakes, soaring granite peaks, lush meadows & forests interspersed with the colourful patches of houses, flowers & people in their typical “Dirndl” & “Lederhosen” dresses. Arriving here immediately slows you down and paints a smile upon your face. “Magic words & mountain wellness” is what we already came to experience at Hotel Erzherzog Johann last summer. This time, my friends and I are back for the Creative Summer Festival at the very Erzherzog Johann hotel, whose party kicks off at the SKY Spa rooftop terrace.

SKY Spa. Summer. Creative Festival. In one of the most gorgeous landscapes of Austria (yes, I do say that despite my love for my own backyard, the wine growing districts of the Kamp & Wachau valleys). Once again, we are tempted to say: Austria, we have arrived. (as is the slogan of the Austrian National Tourist Board). Because, what else could we possibly desire looking at … this?

Ankommen & die Magie des Ausseerlandes spüren: Zum Beispiel auf der Dachterrasse des traumhaften SKY Spa im Hotel Erzherzog Johann.

Feel the magic of the Ausserland mountain district, for instance at Hotel Erzherzog Johann’s fancy rooftop terrace for this year’s Creative Summer Festival event.


Hier begrüßt uns die engagierte Gastgeberin Regina Stocker mitsamt ihrem Team zur Präsentation des Ausseer Kultursommers in seiner musikalischen & literarischen Vielfalt.

Our host Regina Stocker, managing director of the Hotel Erzherzog Johann, welcomes us to a “summer full of creativity, art & literature” in the Ausseerland district.


Besonders in Erinnerung geblieben ist mir die charmante Adelheid Picha, welche uns von der Kulturinitiative ARCHE Grundlsee berichtet - und wie schön es dort just jetzt zur Sommerfrische in den Bergen sei.

One of her charming guests and speakers is the Austrian actress Adelheid Picha, who talks about her love for the Alpine lake “Grundlsee” and the artists there. We are so excited to travel in and experience the entire creative district here!


Highlight unter all meinen "Begegnungen im Ausseerland" ist jene mit dem Künstlerpaar Martyn & Tomiko van den Hoek, welche unterschiedlicher (Herkunft & Sprache) nicht sein könnten, jedoch als Pianisten am Klavier stets zu einer Einheit verschmelzen. Wunderbar ... !

A highlight among all my meetings with the creative artists of the Ausseerland is the encounter with this charming pianist couple, Martyn & Tomiko van den Hoek. They could not appear more different in origin and looks, yet form a music harmony that I have hardly ever seen before. Beautiful! Such a delight listening to them both gently touching the piano!


... wie auch hier, in der freien Natur des Konzert im Alpengarten nahe der Stadt Bad Aussee, deutlich wird.

… or here at their outdoor concert in the Alpengarten park near the city of Bad Aussee.


A “Plätten” boat trip on Altaussee lake serving sparkling wine and … Herbert Stocker. This man certainly knows how to woo his guests! But what is a “Plätten” boat trip?!

Like you, my travel blogging girlfriends Gudrun Krinzinger, Katja Wegener and I are eager to know that. Despite being from Austria and nearby southern Germany, we have never taken a local “Plätten” boat trip either. Taking a cruise on this specially-designed, rather tall & narrow mountain boat, is a MUST-do activity for all those travelling in the Ausseerland Salzkammergut district. If you throw in dear Herbert Stocker, himself a typical Ausseer man who has many a local stories to tell, you are guaranteed an experience of a kind. And if that is not enough, there is always the sparkling wine, the sunshine and a pristine mountain lake to top it all off …

Am malerischen Bergsee von Altaussee erwarten uns die typischen "Plätten", mit denen wir gleich "in See" stechen werden ...

Located upon the shores of beautiful Altaussee lake, these so-called “Plätten” boats welcome us for a boat trip across the lake.


... Herbert lässt die Plätte zu Wasser - jetzt nur nicht die Balance verlieren!

… Herbert invites us all to get on board – don’t lose balance there, Katja!


Und schon geht's los: Während der Fahrt über den Altausseersee erzählt uns Herbert Stocker alles Wissenswerte zur Region und seiner Tätigkeit als Berg- und Flugretter im Ausseerland - eindrucksvolle Schilderungen ...

And off we go: Our trip leads us across one of the most beautiful mountain lakes I have seen around my own country, while listening to the interesting stories local mountain rescue expert Herbert has to tell …


... während er so mir nichts Dir nichts mal eben Gudrun selbst das "Plätten" beibringt ...

… all the while simultaneously teaching us how to manoeuvre the “Plätten” boat: Gudrun appears to have real talent for it …


... diesen Ausflug werden wir alle so schnell nicht vergessen: Danke lieber Herbert für die schönen Stunden am Altausseersee!

… we will not forget this trip in a lifetime: Thank you so much, dear Herbert, for making the magic work on us!


Carrying on about meeting the local people of the Ausseerland. We are in for a piano jam session with Martyn & Tomiko van Hoek, including a vocal work out with Austrian actress Ines Kratzmüller. Creativity it is!

“Well, we did not know what to expect either … We too are really excited about this”, Martyn admits ahead of our creative piano lesson at Erzherzog Johann hotel. Wearing a beautiful, tranquil smile, his Japanese wife Tomiko is a stark contrast to his quick and almost nervous movements. When it comes to playing the piano, though, they become one and the same through music, also teaching their piano skills during master classes. I am a little nervous as my last piano lessons have been ages ago … Ahead of this creative piano workshop at Hotel Erzherzog Johann, my friends and I have all but the same thought: What if we “cannot do it”?

The good thing about it is though: It does not matter! All that matters is the fun we have, and there is a whole lot of inspiration and improvisation to take from the piano! “This e-piano is able to play more than 200 different instruments and tunes, so go for what you like”, Martyn beams at us. Starting with some simple techniques, I soon realise that I have forgotten much less about playing the piano than I feared: It is so much fun playing again! Once our fingers are ready, there is no holding back: We love the tunes, and even melodies and rhythms (!) we are able to produce between the three of us. Adults playing and indulging in the art of the moment – we did not want to stop, ever!

Klavier-Improvisations-Workshop im Hotel Erzherzog Johann: Was für ein Fest der Begegnungen (toller Klänge und Hände am Klavier!).

Piano workshop at Hotel Erzherzog Johann: Having fun improvising tunes, rhythms and melodies from a set of more than 200 different beats on this e-piano. Cool!


Tomiko steht uns stets zur Seite, um uns zu verbessern und unseren Klang zu schulen ...

Charming Tomiko is at our side, watching over our fingers and ears should we become too carried away …


... und auch Ines Kratzmüller tut ihr Bestes im anschließenden Stimmentwicklungs-Workshop in entspannter Atmosphäre ...

… and actress Ines Kratzmüller also does her best in training our vocal chords for becoming expert speakers, in this very relaxed and laid-back atmosphere …


Danke, liebe Ines, für diesen tollen Nachmittag, an dem wir laut und deutlich gesagt haben, was uns auf dem Herzen liegt! :D

Thank you, dear Ines, for an afternoon full of speaking confidence! 😀


Das Gute am Standort Hotel Erzherzog Johann für unsere Kreativ-Reise ist, dass einem überall freundliche und herzliche Mitarbeiter begegnen.!

The good thing about making Hotel Erzherzog Johann your base for creative explorations in the Ausseerland district is that friendly people are everywhere among the staff.!


Hier fühlen wir uns schon bald sehr "zuhause": Im Gespräch mit Regina Stocker planen wir den nächsten Ausflug in die Dirndlwerkstatt am darauffolgenden Tag!

We really feel at home here in no time, talking to our host Regina Stocker about organising a creative “Dirndl” workshop where we actually get to take our photos in, and even buy, our very own Dirndl dresses!


“Dirndl” Dressup in the Ausseerland: The so-called “Trachtenbiennale” Dirndl show is on from 18-20 July. Peter Veigl helps us choose the best one for each of us!

Delightful. Simply delightful, that is trying a perfect-size Dirndl tailor-made to your body shape by the expert eyes and hands of Peter Veigl in his Dirndl workshop. The top part of the dress I choose is a fresh burst of green, coupled with a cute white blouse and even a special “Dirndl” bra! Without realising it at first, I have already chosen the colours of the typical “Ausseer Dirndl“, promptly deciding to buy the tailor-made piece for myself at a cost of € 400,-. Happy, very happy, I feel like a princess in a fairytale being shown different robes and patterns in order to complete the lower part of my dress. All the attention is on me and the best way possible to present … a woman’s body in a Dirndl dress! Because this needs to be said: A Dirndl dress suits every woman, which is why it is such a fantastic dress. I already love what it does to me!

Glück beim Reisen, das: Eine Begegnung mit Peter Veigl in seinem Handwerksbetrieb des Ausseer G'wand in Bad Aussee. Seit über 23 Jahren beschäftigt er sich mit dem Ein- und Verkauf erlesener Stoffe und schneidert Dirndl zusammen mit seinem Team ...

Happiness while travelling, is meeting a local character such as Peter Veigl in his Dirndl dress workshop, where he has tailored the traditional Austrian Dirndl of the Ausseerland district for over 20 years … Wow!


Los geht's: Beim Anhalten der verschiedenen Stoffe und Muster für die Auswahl der richtigen Schürze komme ich ins Schwärmen ...

He knows what to do and recommend: Trying different models and colours for my dress, I do start feeling like a princess in a fairy-tale. I really enjoy this – and so does Peter I think. 😉


Auch Gudrun neben mir entscheidet sich für den Kauf eines Dirndls: Gratuliere, liebe Gudrun!

Travel bloggers’ delight: Buying Dirndl dresses from Peter Veigl in Bad Aussee.!


Auch die Lederhosen hier im Ausseerland sind nicht von schlechten Eltern ...

The typical leather trousers worn by men around here are very pretty, too …


... und wie es wirkt, wenn gar eine Japanerin ein Dirndl trägt, das könnt Ihr hier sehen!

… and if you ever wanted to know if Dirndl dresses are only for Austrian people? Japanese piano artist Tomiko looks really good in one, too!


Last but not least, we meet the creative artists of the Ausseerland district during a crafts market at Ödensee lake, beautifully tucked away at the foot of the mountains … !

Lacemaking, embroidery, felt making, woodturning, singing, playing, … the creativity of all artisans put together around lake Ödensee draws in the crowds from near & far. Gudrun and I, two creative souls, are drawn to such ladies as the “lacemaking trio” who enchant us with their creative focus on an art totally foreign to us. Then of course, we are also drawn to the quintet of pretty young men rowing across the lake and making music on the boat! When finally we get to taste the typical “Steirakas-Nock’n” local cheese spaetzle, we have arrived at what feels, sounds and tastes like the Ausseerland Salzkammergut mountain district of Austria.

Um die Mittagszeit am Ödensee: Das Licht der Sommersonne taucht Bewohner wie Natur in unglaubliche Schönheit.

Arriving at Ödensee lake around midday, makes everybody being bathed in a very special summer light.


Geklöppelt wird von denen, die's können: "Eine meditative Tätigkeit, nur das Lernen regt mitunter ziemlich auf", schmunzeln uns die Damen zu.

Lacemaking is a true art mastered by only few: “It takes a lot of practice, but once you know, it can become a meditation”, is what the ladies tell us with a wink.


Schönes Stimmungsbild mit Handwerkskunst & Kreativität am Ödensee

There you go girls: A typical creative summer workshop in Austria.


Diese Jungs haben es uns angetan: Musik auf dem Ödensee inmitten des Ausseerland!

“The boys are back in town”: Cool music as we walk around Ödensee lake.


Check out more from the following photo gallery about my creative summer trip to Ausseerland district. The next post about the Ausseerland will be focused on nature & food tips around Bad Aussee & Erzherzog Johann hotel, some sensual delights for the soul. Stay tuned!


Disclaimer: We have been invited by Hotel Erzherzog Johann for the creative summer festival in the Ausseerland district. All opinions are my own.

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