Summer Living in Austria! (a.k.a. I Blame Too Much Sound of Music)

“I could live here!”

That’s younger Jess talking circa 2006 while driving through Tyrol (western Austria) with Matt.

But let’s back up…

My first trip through Austria was in 2001 with a friend from Oxford (we’re still good friends to this day! she and her husband even visited us while we lived in New Zealand). I then took another friend back to Austria the following year after we visited her friends in Munich (if you’re Salzburg-bound from the U.S., Munich is a great major airport to use)…I had another university (group) trip to Vienna…and then years later, I took Matt to Tyrol (western Austria) and Salzburg area…

…and every time I drove through the green hills during these prior trips, I would look at the picturesque traditional Austrian houses dotting the hills and think, “I think I could live here!”

Nowadays it’s changed even more, but let’s not focus on that: let’s focus on the fact that finally, almost two decades later, Jess finally got her chance to experience living in Austria! (And you might be surprised what I have to say about it at the end.)

It’s one of those “old wishes die hard” kind of situations. Living in Austria had to be done while we had the chance.

But before we moved into the idyllic 300-year-old Austrian home you see above, we stayed in an apartment in Salzburg for two full weeks.

“It’s so CLEAN!” my daughter said, after we’d just been in Edinburgh central for a week. She’s so right.

All my prior trips to Salzburg had been for 4-5 days at most, so 14 days seemed like a luxury!

Mirabell Gardens

I knew exactly the area I wanted the four of us to stay in, and we were lucky enough to get a little place there (there’s not much choice so close to the center, most everything else is further out and I wanted to be IN IT for the two weeks).

Our favorite traditional Austrian restaurant is below, with a view of the sky and THE MOST AMAZING BEEF GOULASH WE TASTED IN ALL OF AUSTRIA.

I went on morning walks by myself through the city…

…and in the nearby wooded hills.

Matt and I had 1:1 dates with our daughters in too many cafes to count…the Austrian coffee + pastries are Jess-approved.

One of the things I love about Salzburg is that it’s such a walkable city. I highly recommend it if you haven’t already gone for it!

New to me this time was Eisriesenwelt, the largest ice cave in the world! Just less than an hour from Salzburg.

But first you had to take a series of cable car rides up, and hike a bit…

…until you come to the interesting entrance of the cave!

They give you these lamps to hold:

And through the ice caves you go!

We all enjoyed it but MAN, IT WAS COLD! I know, “ice caves, duh”…but I mean it was really cold.

So cold that our littlest daughter eventually started almost falling asleep on daddy as she got colder and colder…but we exited in time. 🙂

After all that, we warmed up in the sun in the lovely typical Austrian-summer way: Drink Beer in Sun with Alpine View.

If you know Salzburg, you’ll know where this is! THIS is our front gate…now you know why I picked this central spot! 🙂
My oldest daughter was the only volunteer to sit in “the spot”!

I always tell people to go to the trick fountains in Salzburg. It’s super easy to get to and super unique! Even after 3 times, I’d still go back again and again with new people each time. It was one of the top places I wanted to take my daughters.

We also took them on some alpine slides, starting with the easier ones…

Then moving up to the longest alpine slide in Austria a few weeks later!

They loved it so much that we went back yet again another day! 🙂

A friend flew out from the U.S. to spend two weeks with us in Austria, so we drove up to Munich to pick her up…

And as it was a hot day and we all needed to stretch our legs, we went to the inevitable Hofbrauhaus just for fun!

Part of the reason she came out during the time was to celebrate one of our daughter’s birthdays in our 300-year-old Austrian house!

starting to set up for my daughter’s party
view on one side of our house
part of the interior

“You’re the first Americans to ever stay in this house!” our landlord told us.

He was in so much shock that we were American, he couldn’t keep talking about it.

“How did you FIND this house?” he asked incredulously over and over. Matt would just look at me and smile, knowing the countless hours I’d spent scouring the remotest parts of the internet for my idyllic Austrian hillside house dreams going back to 2001…

Many hours spent at “our” picnic table, just talking and enjoying the view…

While our friend was visiting, we did a beautiful hike to waterfalls…

…went horseback riding…

…took her back to Salzburg for a day…

…and ate too much rich Austrian food at all kinds of heights! (From Salzburg basement restaurants to the top of this Tyrolean tower’s balcony!)

I only realized we needed to document the spaetzle after we’d eaten most of this at this Salzburg restaurant we’d been to several times before…:) haha the mark of good food is no good pics of it because we ate it…

Then of course more hiking and exploring to work off all the rich Austrian goulashes and spaetzles and schnitzel and dumplings and strudels…

Market day in “our” little town.

One day we hiked up to Wildseeloder in the Kitzbühel Alps, where they have a “haus” or restaurant where we enjoyed our well-earned lunch and drinks before continuing to hike up.

The girls played with the goats for quite awhile!

“Playgrounds of the World” strikes again: we found one of our favorites, which included this ginormous swing several stories high.

Everywhere we went in Tyrol, the balcony flowers are incredibly done. Ev. Ry. Where.

In these posts, I’ve had to edit down tens of thousands of photos of our months there to just a few dozen here, so you’ll have to go and explore more for yourself! 😉

Final note I’ll say is about the summer thunderstorms in Austria: they’re FOR REAL! We can’t even count how many random thunderstorms came during our summer there…it was so cool! We also had thunderstorms while in the Serengeti, but that’s looking ahead a bit…;)

From Austria, we drove through Liechtenstein and Switzerland to go back into Italy

As we explored Liechtenstein one day, we ended up having lunch in a restaurant that turned out to have originally been the first school in Liechtenstein!

The owner spoke great English and loved America and therefore talked to us almost the entire time, told us what to order, and gave us some locally-made ice cream at the end. (Which of course I took a picture of. The ice cream is the #1 thing the girls remembered about Liechtenstein. “Not the ropes course?” I asked them. Shocking.)

Oh, the girls did remember another fact about Liechtenstein that the man taught them: “You can walk through Liechtenstein in one day!”

We’d enjoyed our 2-3 hour leisurely lunch so much that after the ropes course, we decided it was time to head back to Italy! (Or technically, drive through Switzerland to get to Italy…)


If you didn’t see our “before & after” Italy post, it’s HERE!

If you missed the places we lived and/or traveled during our time living abroad, you’ll enjoy seeing

  1. living in the Azores
  2. Madeira
  3. The Canary Islands
  4. living in Sevilla, Spain
  5. Morocco
  6. living in the Scottish Highlands
  7. Northern Italy
  8. …and more HERE! (includes our trips through South and East Africa!)

PS: Following these steps has enabled us to make our dreams a reality, create a home that worked FOR us (instead of the other way around)!

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