My Austrian adventure

Yusra looking out at the greenery of Gosau. This was how the view looked like from the hotel room there.

Having the opportunity to wake up to the soothing sounds of a river flowing from a nearby hill and the pleasing landscape of Austria, easily makes it one of my most favorite trips. It was hard to miss the floral decorations of cottages, local coffee shops and road signs leading to the village we stayed in, Gosau. What really made Austria stand out was the thrill its countryside had to offer.

Living in a more rural area, versus the rush at the center of the city, allowed me to take a vacation from my usual busy, technological life. We walked to breakfast, took hikes along the stream and held cordial conversations with our neighbors. It was very minimal, yet a new, exhilarating experience. If we used our car rental, I think the maximum amount of driving we did was around 10 minutes to Hallstatt, which was a bigger village, but still homey.

When w
e first arrived to Gosau, I was unsure about how this trip would turn out. Being a small village, everyone was closely knit together; which is why as outsiders we attracted more attention. Additionally, our drastically different appearance often made heads turn. Even though I don’t mind attention, it was pretty uncomfortable having schoolboys shouting out “
nǐ hǎo” to me laughingly; fortunately it didn’t take long for me to get used to being the odd one out.

On our first day, we decided to hike up a steep hill along a stream while admiring the foliage and livestock nearby. Halfway through the hike, I found a small staircase that led down closer to the stream. As I went down to look around, all I could think about was how much it resembled the landscape in Snow White: the flowing river, butterflies, flowers all leading up to a nearby cottage. At that moment, I felt like I was living in the Disney movie, exploring new areas and going out of comfort zones.

A vacant plaza within Hallstatt. Being a tourist area, most of these homes were rented out to visitors.

Even dinner time felt like I was living in a classical Disney movie. While we were asking around for the best place for fish in the area, the residents sent us to a local cottage restaurant run by a family. And it was fully packed, the hosts came and greeted all who came, treating them like family, dancing along to the traditional music; to them every meal was fit for a party.

Unfortunately, by the time there was a seat available, the family ran out of the fish they caught earlier. And since they weren’t open everyday, we never got to truly take part in that scene. The next place we went for dinner, which wasn’t as lively as the cottage, had the most amazing food I have ever had. To top it off, we ended our days by indulging in rich, creamy hot chocolate on our way back to the apartment.

When we weren’t hiking and exploring more of Gosau, we were at Hallstatt, taking in the view of the little village and its reflection on the lake. There, the sweet scent of honey lingered from nearby pastry shops and a line of swans followed us as we strolled along the lake. In short, magic happened. Each flower, each cobblestone I interacted with seemed to have a life. Even though it was heavy with tourists, everything seemed so serene and comforting.
No amount of pictures, videos or words could capture what I experienced in Austria. Living in a small village and disconnecting myself from the rush of the world while still being able to explore and learn new things was the true vacation. And I believe that if possible, everyone should visit Austria to really feel that life-changing experience.