Embarking on an Austrian Adventure

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Embarking on an Austrian Adventure

Be honest, how much do you know about Austria? It’s next door to Germany, it was the birthplace of everybody’s favourite Terminator and it is a great place to go skiing and try some interesting beers (but probably not at the same time). Beyond that, many start to struggle.

In some respects that is a shame, because this is a country with a rich cultural heritage and some amazing experiences to enjoy. But on the other hand, it means you can arrive with the spirit of a pioneering adventurer and will not be surrounded by tourists in the way that you would when checking out the highlights of France or Italy.

No adventure should follow a prescribed path, but here are a few suggestions to help you along your way.

Be a culture vulture in Vienna

Ah, Vienna – it meant nothing to Ultravox, but classical music aficionados know it as the city where Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn and others composed and performed some of the most famous music in human history.

Today, the legacy lives on, and even if you are usually more into Robbie Williams than Richard Wagner, there is no experience to match a night at the opera. It’s not all old ladies in furs, you’ll find a cross section of people of every age and background, and it might just open your eyes to an art form that you would never otherwise have discovered.

Tickets sell like hot cakes, but you can book them online well in advance here – doing it that way will ensure you get the best price, too.

Swim in beer

From the sublime to the ridiculous is a well worn phrase, but you will struggle to find a better example than this. Starkenberger can best be described as a beer resort. The medieval castle and grounds contains a brewery, a beer museum, beer quizzes and seven 13-foot beer pools, where you can literally immerse yourself in warm beer.

Each contains 42,000 pints, and apparently, it can work wonders for skin conditions, psoriasis and even open wounds. Just knowing that is enough to ensure you won’t be tempted to drink it.

Starkenberger lies in the small municipality of Tarrenz, approximately 40 miles west on Innsbruck.

Stephansdom crypt

After that, you probably need something sobering to contemplate, so it is back to Vienna to take a look under St Stephen’s Cathedral. The place looks foreboding enough from the outside, but when you enter the underground crypt, you will find a network of catacombs containing the remains of 11,000 people.

If you are of a robust constitution, venture into the ducal crypt, where for reasons that have never been wholly explained, the internal organs of Austrian royalty from years gone by are preserved in jars. If you ever had the desire to get a look at the pickled remains of Empress Maria Theresa’s intestines, you almost certainly need psychiatric help, but this is a place where you can scratch that particular itch before you check yourself in.

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