Austria: Vienna - Salzburg Roadtrip by Gustav Thuesen

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A simple mission, get from Vienna to Salzburg the most beautiful way possible. It can be done in three hours. We did it in three days. Enough time to enjoy the landscape, stop at weird roadside cafes, and take a swim to cool down from the sweltering heat. Here are a few tips and recommendations on what to do and what not to do.

This was the route: Vienna - Burg Plankenstein - Nationalpark Gesäuse - Hallstättersee - Salzburg.

 
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After picking up the rental car we hit the road and the busy streets of Vienna were quickly exchanged with quieter roads. My favorite part was driving away from the main roads and onto small twisty country lanes. I would probably have curated the route a bit more to incorporate smaller roads but it was getting late in the afternoon and we had hotel waiting that I knew would be interesting!

 
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After driving for about two hours from Vienna we made it to the hotel, Burg Plankenstein (scarily close to “Frankenstein”). Burg Plankenstein is on old castle from 1400’s that has been turned into a hotel in recent years. There was not many people there, other than an odd middle aged couple and a man in his late 60’s smoking cigarettes in the inner yard. The hotel itself was restored in a slightly odd way with a mix of old and new. The kind of tacky you only find in Germany/Austria.

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It was a nice place though and the friendly manager had upgraded us to a room with access to a big balcony so we could cool down in the heat - although the thick stone walls kept the heat off bay inside the room. We were hungry after a long day of travelling. Instead of eating at the hotel restaurant we decided to go to the local supermarket and buy some bread and charcuterie that we could enjoy on the balcony. To our surprise the supermarkets close fairly early in Austria (6-7 pm) and we had to race (safely) to get what we needed before closing time.

We got the goods and enjoyed a light dinner while the sun was setting over the Austrian pre-alps.

After we had finished the simple but fulfilling dinner we ventured out to see if we could catch the last rays of the sun before it disappeared. And so we did. A big bright ball disappeared behind the mountains. Magical.

 
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After a good night’s sleep with no interruptions of ghosts or other paranormal activity we enjoyed a nice traditional breakfast: white bread, sausage, ham, and cheese. As it should be in this part of the world.

We loaded our bags in the car and hit the road. Slowly, we grinded our way through the mountains, through small sleepy towns. We made a stop at this small cafe to buy some road snacks: fresh Austrian strawberries. Sweet.

We drove through Nationalpark Gesäuse - we should definitely have made a longer stop there and gone for a hike, in hindsight.

 
Nationalpark Gesäuse, we should have stopped here and explored

Nationalpark Gesäuse, we should have stopped here and explored

 

Next stop was Hallstättersee which we had heard both good and bad about. The good: very beautiful. The bad: very touristy. Both turned out to be true. We arrived at Hallstatt early in the afternoon and immediately decided to move on as hoards of tourists (as ourselves) had invaded the scenic small town.

 
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The lake was beautiful though and in the high noon heat it was a given that we had to go for a swim. We drove on to the other side of the lake to Obertraun which was a bit more quiet and the perfect place to go for a swim! The cold water in the mountain lake came as a relief in the 35c heat.

We decided to return to the town of Hallstatt later in the evening and hoped that most of the tourists would be gone by then. This turned out to be mostly true. Still many tourists in the evening, but manageable. And the light was better for taking photos. Win win. Hallstatt is definitely worth a visit, just know what you’re getting yourself into.

 
 
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We spent the night in not to far away from Hallstatt in a classic roadside Gasthaus. Chinese inspired Gasthaus to be frank. Very tacky.

After spending the night partly surrounded by dragons, we enjoyed another round of bread and ham for breakfast and then pointed the car towards Salzburg. We drove through St. Wolfgang and St. Gilgen which was somewhat bland tourist towns, so we quickly passed through and continued towards Salzburg. We rolled down the steep hill and into the city that is surrounded by mountains to the east, west and south.

The immediate reaction: What beautiful old city! Big old houses in pastel colors with fine detailing, a river flowing through the heart of town and the mountains in the background. Beautiful! From the city there is a view to Gaisbergspitze, a mountaintop. I was immediately drawn and had to know how the world looked from there. So, I spent a morning hiking up there. It was steep: 20 km, 1300m vert. gain round trip (activity link). What would have been a lot easier, was to drive up to Gaisberg before entering the city as there is a road going all the way to the top (you can also take the bus from the city centre). But the view would not have been as satisfying as when you have been grinding, partly blinded by sweat in your eyes, up the steep trail through the forest and then turn around and see the entire city below you and the mountains scaling up in the background.

 
View from Gaisberg, also an avid spot for paragliders.

View from Gaisberg, also an avid spot for paragliders.

 

We got settled in the city, where my girlfriend will be living for the next 6 months as she will be working for Red Bull Media House who has their HQ in Salzburg.

Now we were hungry. The kind of hungry that makes you make bad decisions. We ended up at one of the tourist “bier garten” traps. Not recommended. Go get a burger at Ludwigs or asian at Mister Le. Still need to find the best schnitzel in town. But I will be here on/off the next 6 months at least, so I got time to figure that out.

Can’t wait to explore Salzburg and the surroundings!

 
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Swedish Spring by Gustav Thuesen

Winter was finally easing its death grip as it succumbed to the increasing power of the sun. After a long winter both the natural world and the human body and mind was urging for every ray of sunlight possible. Even if it was just noticeable as a slight touch of a warm hand it was very welcoming as the body was cold to the bone. My girlfriend and I took the trip across Øresund to Sweden as the forecast looked promising.

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First stop was Mölle right next to Kullaberg which is one of my favorite areas in southern Sweden. The small town was still in hibernation as it was waiting for summer to drag people from near and far down to the small harbour to enjoy an ice cream. I enjoy visiting these places in the out of season. It has a special feel to it. Like being alone in an amusement park. We enjoyed the rest of the day exploring the desolate and rugged coast along Kullaberg.

The next stop was Söderåsen. I have been here many times before, so instead of going to the place everyone else visits we opted for exploring other parts of the ridge. We found the perfect campsite, put up the tent and enjoyed a little nap after the hard tent-pitching work was done.

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The following day we got back to the coast as we had planned to go to Skanör, a small coastal town at the very southwest point of Sweden. The sound of the ocean, the rays of the sun, and the salty air made it feel like summer (almost).

It was a perfect little getaway and a taster of what was soon to come: Summer.

If you want to visit southern yourself then click here to check out my guide for southern Sweden.

Canada: The Road Trip Gallery by Gustav Thuesen

Canada. A place I’ve always wanted to visit. When I got the opportunity to go on exchange as a part of my university program at Copenhagen Business School, Canada was the first place that came on my mind. And so I went to Vancouver.

I came a little early before the school started so I could explore a bit of my new backyard. The only thing I had planned was a rental car waiting for me at the airport when I arrived. I just covered a tiny bit of what British Columbia has to offer and it was mighty fine! Mountains in my backyard! I was stoked!

Click on the photos to make them BIG.

Nepal: A Good Start by Gustav Thuesen

This spring I got the opportunity to follow the Danish mountaineer Jakob Urth to Everest Base Camp - from where he would push onwards to the summit. It turned out to be an adventure of a lifetime!

Landing in Kathmandu was landing on another planet. Busy streets, dirty air, - chaos works apparently. Visited a few temples and explored the city on foot. It took a few days to get into the culture…

And then off towards Lukla. We had bought regular plane tickets. But weather didn’t permit us to fly by fixed wing so we jump in a helicopter instead. Second time in a helicopter. First time was in Greenland. Once you’re in a helicopter you know that adventure is on the way!

It was one memorable flight! Through the lowlands and into the mountains - through rain and clouds. Felt like I was in a movie!

As we started the hike from Lukla it started to rain. What do you do then when you’re bad-ass? Buy umbrellas!

We arrived in a small teahouse Jakob had been many times before. We sat in the kitchen chatting, drinking tea and ate lovely food from the wood fired stove. A good start!

Adventure & Outdoor Podcasts by Gustav Thuesen

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I think we all enjoy inspiring stories and interesting insights. Listen to bad-ass stories while training for your next adventure or sit back and get educated on new gear, backcountry safety or maybe environmental issues. Here I have collected my favorite outdoor/adventure/gear/nature/athletic podcasts:   

Alpinist.
“The Alpinist podcast extends our conversations with climbers and community members into a new medium: from fresh interviews to untold stories, and from humorous adventure tales to in-depth discussions of significant issues in the climbing world today.” - Alpinist website.

No shit there I was stories from legends like Conrad Anker but also reflections on why we go to the mountains and the dangers it represents. If you enjoy big mountains you will probably enjoy this.

Gear:30.
Gear nerdery taking to new heights. Diving deep into new boots, ski bindings etc. Interesting to hear the stories behind a product.

Mountain
"
…about adventure in wild places. We tell stories about climbers and explorers, lovers and kidnappers, racers, travellers — and even violinists." - Mountain website. 
Stories from big and small adventures. Hiking, biking, climbing.

MtnMeister
“Exploring the extremes of human endurance, emotion, and intellect.” - MtnMeister website.
Interviews with world class athletes like Ueli Steck (R.I.P.), Aaron Gwin and Alex Honnold. An insight to the pinnacle of human performance.

Outside/in
“A show about the natural world and how we use it.” - Outside/in website
Stories about wild places and how humans interact with those places in various ways. From ecology to the price of skiing. Behind the scenes of the relationship between nature and man .

Talk Ultra. 
About people who run very(!) far. Geeking out on races and training - it is very niche. Makes your half-marathon look like a walk in the park. Listened to it partly while I ran a marathon and they talked about a woman who had run 100 miles in 13 hours – that’s about four marathons at a 3:15 finish time. I thought if she can run four then I can run one! I finished my single marathon in 4:15.   

The Blister Podcast
Talking to industry professionals, pro athletes and cover topics like backcountry safety and trends in gear. If you enjoy being outdoors, listening to inspiring stories from athletes and like gear this is a good one.  

The Dirtbag Diaries
About wild places and wild adventures. Disclaimer: Don’t listen to the “Tales of Terror” if you got a vivid fantasy – going outdoors will never be the same.

Wild Ideas Worth Living
“What if... You could sail to French Polynesia, run from San Francisco to New York, skateboard down the busiest freeway in California, quit your job and ski around the world, start a business, move to Costa Rica, surf every day, get in the best shape of your life, fall in love, and GET WILD?” - Wild Ideas Worth Living website.
About the people who acted on the “what if”, about the doers – not the dreamers. 

Do you have a favorite podcast? Share it in the comments!