On two-wheels from Krimml Falls to Mozart’s romantic Salzburg

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Zeller See stretches away before you and its aquamarine waters seem to merge with the bluest of alpine skies. All around, towering peaks scrape that same blue sky and the tinkle of cowbells drifts down from the Erlhofplatte…. You savour another mouthful of delicious Pinzgauer Alpine Cheese, and the fresh bread you bought at Lumpi’s Feinkost this morning. And you relive the breathtaking journey down from the towering Krimml Falls. And the adventures ahead as you meander north into Bavaria’s Berchtesgaden Land and on to Salzburg.

Yes, this is really happening; you pinch yourself and with a smile, enjoy the luxury of wondering what’s happening back at work… for all of five seconds. Then, with another sip of Gruene Veltliner, you’re back on Austrian time. You’re in a meadow, across the lake from Zell am See, with a bicycle beside you, and not a care in the world…

It seems like an age since you were fitted out with your bicycle, given a lift up to Krimml and climbed the path beside the thundering falls. At 380 metres high, they’re the tallest mountainside falls in Europe! And don’t you know it. Later, with wind in your hair, alpine sunshine on your cheeks and the undiluted exhilaration you thought you’d left behind in primary school, you freewheeled most of the way down the valley. As the afternoon shadows lengthened, you reached your hotel in Hollersbach, nestling beside the tumbling Salzach in Pinzgau's heart.

Towering peaks and delicious strudel

Yesterday, you rode an amazing scenic valley, travelling mainly, on dedicated cycle routes between towering peaks as you pedalled east, always downhill, before discovering Kaprun. There, you downed the richest, creamiest hot chocolate and two slices of delicious strudel. It's not a problem when you're on holiday. Anyway, you probably burned it off on the last short ride north. To Zell am See, over there, across the lake.

Today, you’re circumnavigating the lake, before riding one of the ultra-modern Porsche-designed cable cars up to the Smittenhoehe. From there, you’ll view the dozens of 3,000-metre high peaks you can see from Zell am See's 'home mountain'. And tonight? Dinner and a few drinks in one of Zell’s stylish restaurants – al fresco on the outdoor terrace…. Mental note to self: try the Salzburger knokerl for dessert, if they taste as good as they look...

Impossibly blue lakes and swooping downhill rides

Tomorrow, after breakfast, you’ll leave Zell am See and continue along the deep, wide, glacially scoured valley of the Saalach to Lofer. And after that? The Pillersee is a gentle climb, and the trout from the impossibly-blue mountain lake are to die for. And like the run from Krimml the other day, returning to Lofer is an easy, swooping, valley descent.

Into Bavaria, to visit Hitler’s infamous Eagle’s Nest…

After that, your adventure takes you into Bavaria, to the enchanting Berchtesgaden Land where – so you’ve heard – Hitler gave himself a stunning mountaintop hideaway as a fiftieth birthday present. In a couple of days, as well as seeing the Ramsau’s amazing chocolate-box church, you’ll get to know Berchtesgaden town. And take an excursion up to the Eagle’s Nest to survey Bavaria from where the Fuehrer stood… .It’ll be breathtaking and thought provoking. And, quite simply, awesome. Rather like the whole trip, in fact.

On to Mozart’s Salzburg

Even then – it seems so far away from this meadow beside the serene Zeller See – there will still be two more days to enjoy. Two more amazing days to enjoy as the route – meticulously planned – takes you back into Austria and the heart of Mozart’s birthplace.

How many Mozart Balls can one person eat anyway?

Of course you’ve seen The Sound of Music (just a few times)

And you’ve heard all about the water tricks in the Heilbrunn Palace. And you remember trying chocolate-dipped Mozart Balls many years ago when someone brought them home from a trip to Austria. They were so delicious…How many could one person eat in a day and still have room for a sumptuous schnitzel and knokerl supper in the evening? Ah yes, those light, fluffy, sweet Salzburger knokerl again...What a pleasant, completely indulgent thought.

You, a bike and not a care in the world

And why not, you’re on this Austrian cycling holiday for 11 amazing days; on alpine time; just you, the jaw-dropping alpine scenery and a bike.

And not a care in the world. Which is, after all, exactly what the best cycling holidays in Austria and Bavaria (or anywhere, for that matter) should be all about!

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