n the geographical middle point of Austria, in the Liezen District of Styria, is the little municipality of Grundlsee, with a population in the vicinity of 1,200. Within easy reach of Salzburg, Graz and Vienna, this charming village overlooks a lovely lake of the same name, the largest of the severallakes in the District. In terms of magnificense of view, it would be hard to beat little Grundlsee.
Styria is in the southeast of Austria where it borders Slovenia as well as the other Austrian states of Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Salzburg, Burgenland, and Carinthia. Within the Liezen District, which occupies the northwestern area of Styria, you will find Auseerland, a lakes district with steep mountains, lush pastures, quiet Alpine valleys, thermal springs, orchards and fields, castles and palaces. This is where you will find Grundlsee, smack dab in the “green heart” of the country, also called (in German) the “green march” due to its deep forests.
There is plenty to see in the region, including the abbeys of Admont and Seckau, the palaces of Herberstein, Kornberg, Ehrenhausen and Trautenfels. Nearby Mariazell, a centre of religious pilgrimage, is also well known for winter sports. 143 kilometres (89 miles) N. of Graz, it is picturesquely situated in the valley of the Salza, amid the north Styrian Alps. The object of veneration at Mariazell is an image of the Virgin Mary reputed to work miracles, carved in lime-tree wood. This was brought to the place in 1157, and is now enshrined in a chapel adorned with objects of silver and other costly materials.
Not as fancy or famed but lovely nevertheless, within Grundlsee itself you will find the Grundlsee parish church, the Sacred Heart of Jesus consecrated, where you are welcome to join the congregation for worship.
A boat ride with a motor boat (the Rudolf or the Traun) is also a must, as is a walk through the dark forest to Lake Toplitz and small Lake Kammersee, the source of Traun River. And don’t miss the Lippizan studfarm in Piber, an absolute must for each visit to Styria.
A trip you might find especially interesting is to the tiny town of Hallstadt (a bit of a drive, but worth it), where they “timeshare” their cemeteries. Hallstatt (pop. 946 as of 2001) is known for its production of salt, dating back to prehistoric times. Some of the earliest archaeological evidence for the Celts was found in Hallstatt.
A fairy tale village surrounded by cobbled streets and ivy-covered guest houses, this is a major Celtic archaeological landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site set on piles right into the Halstattersee. (With a population of under 1,000 you can walk the whole town in about 10 minutes). Today, apart from salt production, which since 1595 is transported for 40 kilometres from Hallstatt to Ebensee via a brine pipeline, tourism plays a major factor in the town’s economic life. Tourists are told that Hallstatt is the site of “the world’s oldest pipeline”, which was constructed 400 years ago from 13,000 hollowed out trees.
Some of Hallstatt’s oldest archaeological finds, such as a shoe-last celt, date back to around 5500 BC! And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, on June2, 2012, it was reported that Chinese mining company China Minmetals Corporation built a full-scale replica of the entire town in Huizhou, Guangdong province.
As for the timeshared cemeteries, there is so little place for cemeteries that every ten years bones used to be exhumed and removed into an ossuary, to make room for new burials. A collection of elaborately decorated skulls with the deceased’s name, profession, date of death inscribed on them is on display at the local chapel When you are short on burial space, you have to get creative.
In summertime at Grundlsee the main activities are swimming (that water is cold!), fishing, sailing — in short anything lake-related — as well as all the outdoor activities you can imagine in the “Dead Mountains” as well as shooting and tennis.
And then there’s the neighboring town of Bad Aussee, which serves as the economic and cultural center of the Styrian part of the Salzkammergut lakes region. With a population of 5,086, the town is said to be the geographical midpoint of Austria, symbolized by a stone monument in the centre of town. In addition to museums and other tourist attractions, there is also a spa in the city centre, Vital Bad Aussee, that offers medicinal brine baths and the Kneipp Cure therapy, which was invented by the German priest Sebastian Kneipp. This therapy combines cold-water treatment, diets, and outdoor exercise. The town also sponsors a music festival that runs for several weeks in the spring of each year, called the Ausseer Jazzfrühling.
There are two ski regions accessible from Bad Aussee: Loser and Tauplitz. The Loser Ski Region boasts an amazing view of the Dachstein Glacier and has been recently modernized. At the Tauplitz Ski Region, you can also go cross-country skiing or sledding in the evening and curling, tobogaganing are available, too.
In spring, a special attraction in the region is the annual Daffodil Festival when millions of daffodils are in full blossom on the mountain meadows at the end of May. An astoundingly beautiful sight!
A perfect place for timesharers to stay at any time of year is at the Mondi-Holiday Hotel Grundlsee (aka Ferienclub Grundlsee where Ferien = Holiday). This resort offers studio, 1- and 2-bedroom units, all built in the so-called “Ausseean” style featuring a lot of wood.
This is an RCI Gold Crown Resort and according to personal reviews from many sources it richly deserves the honor. Part of the Mondi Holiday Club chain it is also a ClubAffiliate with Diamond Resorts International.
Located at the highest point of the gently raising lakeside, the views from the various units are stunning no matter which way you’re facing. Especially in the larger units on upper floors, you will find lots of glass to optimize your views, and nice balconies to take advantage of in the warmer months. The down comforters on the beds will keep you so cozily warm you may find yourself reluctant to get out of bed in the morning– until you see the mist rising from the lake and the day’s adventures (and restaurants) begin calling you.
Dining options at the resort include a restaurant, a bar and lounge and room service. There is also an indoor heated pool, a hot tub and a laundry on-site as well as a gift shop and complimentary Wi-Fi in the rooms.
Grundlsee may not be exactly a household name, but that may be part of its charm. Imagine if everyone knew about it and flocked to it by the tens of thousands. It would soon be ruined.
So keep it to yourself. It’s just exactly right, just exactly as it is.
Web sites with more information about the area:
- http://www.seeblickhotel-grundlsee.at/de/ — The resort’s web site
- http://www.grundlsee.at/ –The Grundlsee Web site (Choose your language)
- http://ausseerland.salzkammergut.at/ –About Ausseerland
- http://www.austria.info/us –The Official Site of the Austrian National Tourist Office.
- http://www.austria.gv.at/ –Another official site about Austria
- http://www.lonelyplanet.com/dest/eur/aus.htm –Good fast facts
- http://www.piber.com/ — The Lippizaner Stud Farm in Piber
- http://www2.lib.uchicago.edu/keith/austrian-beer.html–The Austrian beer guide
“On the Road” is a compilation of destination ideas, resort reviews, videos and more gathered from a variety of sources that includes our readers.
The purpose of “On the Road” is to showcase some of the magnificent places in the world to visit, to give you an idea for someplace to go that you might previously not have thought of or known about. In most cases, but not all, we have provided a brief overview of a timeshare resort in the spotlighted area. Most of those resorts are either RCI Gold Crown or I.I. Premier quality. However, these resorts are not usually the only timeshare resorts in the area; be sure to check in your exchange catalog for a complete listing of available resorts. Check it out— enjoy yourself, go somewhere new this year!
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