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?
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 …
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!
“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!
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.
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.