Schladming: Austria's summer paradisePosted on: 21 August 2017 by Michael Edwards
Baking, biking, hiking, milking, sawing and zip-lining, Michael Edwards explores Thomson's latest summer destination.
Relaxing between ski seasons, Schladming has long been a favourite summer holiday haunt for Austrians and Germans. Now Brits are discovering this window-box-pretty alpine small town, a charming base for a world of healthy adventure and gourmet living. It is just a short flight to Salzburg from UK airports and then an easy hour coach transfer to Schladming.
Far from the madding crowds of Europe's packed beaches, easy living Schladming, with its cafe culture, is a friendly and welcoming summer holiday destination. The Blas Musik Festival, in July, with free performances on five stages throughout the town, is a particularly entertaining time to visit. "But you can always find live music in Schladming," says Albert the manager of the central and historic Kirchenwirt Hotel.
Lakes and Mountains
E - bikes, electronic and easy, are an effortless way to explore the stunning landscape of summer flower meadows, mountains, waterfalls and over 300 lakes surrounding Schladming. But you’ll have to climb to high altitudes to track down the white edelweiss which was so symbolic in The Sound of Music.
The Solktaler Naturpark - no electricity, no gas, no phone reception – has just 1,500 inhabitants living in 228 miles of outstanding natural beauty. Cows, with their bells clanking, significantly outnumber humans.
A taste of the countryside
Rolling out your own Krapfen, a rye flour deep-fried pancake-cum-donut, in a farmhouse kitchen, helps you understand the rhythms and rituals of Styrian country life. After washing your lunch down, with a shot of schnapps, you carry on working for your Agricultural Diploma - if you have opted for a day of country-living; milking a virtual cow, sawing logs for the icy winter ahead, picking up smatterings of the local dialect and learning how to identify surrounding flora.
Sun and ice
When Schladming’s summer temperatures soar towards 30 Centigrade you can always take a trip to the glacier to cool down. A gondola ride leaves you with just a short walk to Dachstein's "Stairway to Nothing." It is a breath-taking viewing gallery protruding 2,700 metres above sea-level with astounding views of the valleys below. Next stop is The Ice Palace, six metres below the glacier's surface. Admiring beautifully lit ice-sculptures on a summer’s day is a surreal experience.
Steiner's Wool World is a hands-on multi-media presentation telling the story of an industry at the heart of Schladming's past and present. The exhibition shows the journey of wool from sheep, alpacas and rabbits to the world's great fashion houses. Although Steiner has adopted computer technology to manage some of their weaving processes, the company judges that some of the original 1888 processes are still best.
Soar like an eagle
Undoubtedly the most spectacular views of the Schladming Valley come from an exhilarating descent on the zip line. A high adrenaline, high altitude 2,500-metre zip-line takes you from high above the tree line, at speeds approaching 70 mph, as you descend 700 metres, nearly half-a-mile, to the valley below.
With Lord of the Rings names and terrain, the Wild Waters region provides a range of trails from family-friendly push-chair strolls to challenging high altitude Alpine treks.
Selecting a moderately challenging hike, glad that I had worn my lightweight walking shoes generously supplied by Dachstein, I stopped several times to photograph spectacular waterfalls. After a couple of hours of exertion, passing wild strawberries and wild blueberries, a cup of hot chocolate or a bowl of noodle soup at a cosy mountain hut refuge is very welcome.
Even with a weak pound, Schladming is surprisingly good value. The Schladming Dachstein Sommercard issued by hotels to guests, with free bus and cable car rides, free entry to Woll Welt and over 100 other attractions will ensure that many more travellers will be heading for Schmalding in the near future.
Thomson Lakes and Mountains (020 8939 0740) offers a week's all-inclusive holiday in Schladming from £525 per person (based on two sharing) including flights from Gatwick and transfers departing in July. Direct flights available from all major UK airports.
To navigate Schladming, proper shoes are a must, Dachstein’s famous footwear is now available in Britain too.
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