We have just returned from an amazing week away in Austria, staying at the Ramada Residences Saalfelden; Give Us Time initially gifted us the break in 2021 but then the global Covid pandemic hit, and put a hold on our break away. Our hosts and their staff at the Ramada Residences were all so kind and helpful; our apartment was huge and had stunning views of the mountains. My daughters Imogen (11) and Darcy (8) loved the pool, and we often had the pool to ourselves; the hotel pizzas were also a firm favourite with them, as was the local beer with my husband Lewis!
We wanted to maximise our time in Austria, so our days were jam packed, but we got to see and experience so many things; the area of Zell am See that we stayed in, and the surrounding areas were stunning, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather! Lewis and I are fans of the TV series ‘Band of Brothers’; we’ve always wanted to retrace the footsteps and visit some of the places that ‘Easy Company’ spent time in during WWII – Zell am See and Berchtesgaden and some of those places.
On day one of our Austrian adventure, we visited the beautiful Zell am See and toured the lake on a panoramic boat cruise; we saw the iconic Grand Hotel where ‘Easy Company’ stayed.
On day two, we visited Sigmund Thun Klamm Gorge and Klamm Lake. As we climbed the (many) wooden steps to the top, the waters roared below us. After hiking to Klamm Lake, the icy cold water was a very refreshing way to cool us down! The turquoise water was so clear and still.
On day three, we had a day of wizardry and witchcraft at the medieval Hohenwerfen Castle, where we watched a bird of prey flying display and toured the castle; the girls were fascinated with the torture chamber and the Knight’s toilet for some reason! During our visit, we also found out that the castle was the film location for ‘Where Eagles Dare’ – one of my dad’s favourite films.
On day four, we visited the epic Krimml waterfalls, Europe’s largest waterfall; Lewis and I were so proud of Imogen and Darcy for climbing up and down all 1465m of it!
On day five, we visited the salt mines in Berchtesgaden and Eagle’s Nest in Obersalzburg. The day started off with us donning our glad rages (boiler suits), travelling by miniature train, and sliding down two wooden slides into the depths of the salt mines (which are still mined in today). We got to watch an impressive lights show whilst travelling by barge on the mirrored lake, which takes its name from the ceiling reflection on the water surface. In the afternoon, we visited Eagle’s Nest (Kehlsteinhaus) which was built as a teahouse for Adolf Hitler on Kehlstein Mountain. We toured the remains of the Berghof (Hitler’s home) and his southern headquarters in Obersalzburg, at the foot of the mountain, before travelling by special mountain bus up the winding road to Eagle’s Nest (at an elevation of 6000 ft). The journey up was a little bit hairy at times, but the views were incredible; there were even some patches of snow at the top which the girls enjoyed touching! Once at the top, we walked through a marble tunnel to the original brass-lined elevator.
On day six, we went on our first gondola ride of the holiday to the midpoint of Schmitten mountain where we did the Schmidolin children’s adventure hike; the hike had lots of challenges for Imogen and Darcy to complete before hiking further up the mountain. Imogen and Darcy had a great time, and the challenges were a great way to break up the hike in the heat and stop the “are we nearly there yet?”. Once we’d descended the mountain in the gondola again, the girls were awarded a prize for completing it the challenge.
We had a brilliant time away and have created so many memories on our first hiking holiday; we are so grateful to both Give Us Time and Ramada Residences Saalfelden.