It has been 4 months since we went on our last adventure, which seem like forever ago. Things have somewhat calmed a bit here, so borders have reopened so we can travel within the EU.
Mario and I decided we needed a change of scenery, so we decided to head to Austria for a few days. As I prepared for this trip, the weather forecast called for storms and rain every day of our trip. I was worried, but we lucked out. The rain seem to always come after we did our exploring for the day or rained at night. I am so grateful we had decent weather.
Our first stop was about three hours from the house. We were spending two nights at the Hotel Schloss Feinsteinsee Nature Resort located in Nassereith, Austria.
A little back story on why I chose this hotel. A few years back when coming home from a weekend in Italy I passed this hotel, which caught my eye because there was a castle on the hill and located next to a beautiful lake. I starred the location into my Google Map and told myself one day I wanted to spend the night here. Fast forward to today, where Mario, the pups and I would spend two nights in a castle. We booked the royal or King Ludwig suite. It’s every girl's dream to live in a castle, I will settle for a two night stay. I was feeling like a queen as I looked around our massive room, which was a little big for two people. But I am thinking… you only live once, so why not! Our room had 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a kitchen and sitting room. The view overlooked the lake with a waterfall right next to our room. The castle has eight rooms total, there are additional rooms in the hotel. In our tower, our room is on the top level with another room below us. Then the rest of the rooms are in another section of the castle. On the hill behind the castle you can see ruins of the older part of the castle.
After relaxing for a bit, we decided to explore the area. Since the castle is on the hill and we drove up a hill to get there, we decided to take the stairs down and walk towards the lake. The pups enjoyed all the new smells! We took in the views of the lake and headed back towards the room before the rain storm blew in.
As I listened to the rain I did a little research to learn more about the castle. Fernsteinsee Castle has been in documents since 1519. With its location off the Fernpass many important guests stopped to rest there. In the Middle Ages, the Fernpass street was one of the most important trade routes from Germany to Italy. In 1780, the castle and lands became private lands.
The next morning, I walked around half of the lake. I learned this lake is one of the 100 most beautiful dive sites in the world, according to the sign I translated. The water is turquoise which offers amazing views. In the middle of the lake is an island which houses the ruins of Sigmundsburg which used to be a Gothic style hunting lodge for Duke Sigmund. However in 16th century the hunting lodge became uninhabitable, so the Duke stayed in the castle. You can hike to these ruins, but sadly I never found the time due to the weather. The room below ours is called Herzog (Duke) Sigmund which I found interesting.
Our adventure today was heading to Lake Resia. “Kirchturm im Reschensee” in German, “Campanile nel Lago di Resia” in Italian. A little history is a reservoir was constructed combining two lakes to create this artificial lake for the production of electricity. It caused the villages and ancient hamlets to become flooded in 1950. The church of Old Curon steeple which dates back to the 14th century can be seen. Information here. Legend has it that, on winter nights, when the lake freezes and the bell tower can be reached on foot, the bells can still be heard (the bells were actually removed before flooding the town). Information here.
The lake was a 1hr 15min drive from the castle. It is right over the border into Italy. Italy marks country # 5 for Trooper and Sissy and grateful they are great travelers. Trooper and Sissy have visited Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Italy. As we drove the views were amazing and we enjoyed passing through the small towns. We arrived around 10:30am and the parking lot was already packed. We got our parking ticket and found a shady spot under a tree and took in the views of the lake. You can walk and bike around the lake. We had a quick lunch before heading back to the hotel.
The next morning was rainy, so I wasn’t able to explore more of the lake. I hope to revisit so I can explore the rest of the lake and the ruins. After checking out, our first stop was Lake Blindsee, which was about 20 minutes from the castle. Lake Blindsee is at the foot of Fernpass connecting Austria to Germany. The lake’s altitude is 1,000 meters above sea level, so the water stays quite cold even in the heat of summer. Information here. We paid 6 euro to enter and then drove down the steep one way mountain road heading towards the lake. After parking the car we headed towards the lake. While there we saw divers in the lake and numerous people around hiking the trails. We found a bench and took in the views.
From there we headed towards the Hotel Gundolf which is where we needed to check in for our stay at Apartmenthaus Nature, which is located in the village of Kofels near St. Leonard in the Pitztal area of Austria. We have never explored this section of Austria before. After checking in we headed towards our apartment where we would be spending the next two nights. We were staying in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment which offered a kitchen, sauna and garage parking spot. There was a small backyard for the dogs which overlooked the mountain stream. We were also given the opportunity to order fresh bread from a local bakery which would be delivered to the apartment.
After resting for a bit, we headed out to explore the area. Everywhere you looked you saw views of the waterfalls, mountains streams and mountains!
The next morning, I headed in the opposite direction as yesterday and walked a bit taking in the views. This trail runs right along cattle grazing and a mountain stream.
Our adventure of today was heading to the Mandarfen cable car station and taking the gondola (cable car) up to the top of the mountain. At the top is Lake Rifflesee which is Austria’s largest natural mountain lake. Our stay included the summer card which grants us free admission to the attractions around the Pitztal area. After parking the car, we boarded the gondola. This was the first time Trooper and Sissy ever rode a cable car, they were a little unsure at first but did great! After a few minute ride we were at the top. When we disembarked we were at 2,300 meters above sea level. We decided to walk the Rifflsee Rundwanderweg (Rifflsee Lake Circular Route), which was about 3km and took us a little over an hour. I was so proud of the dogs they did a great job! We did lunch at the Sunna Alm restaurant before heading back down.
We left the next day, early morning, but sadly hitting traffic which added a 1.5 hours to our commute. Another great trip in the books!
A teacher who loves traveling the world.