Autumn in the foothills of the Austrian Alps reminds me of growing up in northern New England. The foliage is perhaps not quite as exuberant, the villages of course quite different in appearance, but still there is a certain small-town quality that is in many ways universal. The peaks recall New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the rolling pastures and wide-spaced farms reminiscent of similar Vermont scenes, the yellow birches juxtaposed against the deep green pines recall remote Maine forests. The green-gold mountain streams are much the same, the acrid scent of woodsmoke mingled with the sweet earthy smell of rotting leaves trigger deep olfactory memory, the orchards and cider presses reassuringly familiar.
We often do our vacation planning backwards. We’ll get online and search for enticing accommodation in, say, an entire country, then start putting together a holiday based on the original puzzle piece of where we’re staying. So it was with our stay in Reinsberg, Austria. We found a great-looking farm outside of the town of Reinsberg, in the Mostviertal region, decided we wanted to stay there, then began to find out if it was in a place worth visiting. It was, so we did.
Reinsberg itself is no gem, a nice enough but rather nondescript little town strung loosely out along Route L1655, a minor capillary linking no-place-in-particular with nowhere-at-all. The region, however, is lovely, and there are tidy villages scattered throughout, such as the town of Gaming, with its fourteenth-century Carthusian monastery, now home to a Franciscan University study abroad program.
As you might imagine, there is excellent hiking in the area, with several trails accessible right from our farm. Nearby is the Naturpark Ötscher Tormäuer, which has marvelous trails, our favorite being along the Erlauf River.
The road winds for several miles along the river, ending at a small car park at the confluence of two streams. The trail on the left leads up along a ridge overlooking the river, then drops down to the water for the remainder of the walk.
You can do it either as an out-and-back, or cross the river and scramble up a very steep slope to a tiny village where you can grab a bite at an even tinier restaurant – we can’t recall the name, but it’s the only one going so it’s hard to miss. That section is a bear, particularly with young kids, but the rest is all down hill and the loop is much more interesting than retracing your steps.
I was dying to have my oldest son catch a fish, and even though it’s fly-fishing only (we were spinning), you needed to obtain a permit, and being out of season anyway, we made a few sly casts. Four, to be exact, and caught (and released) three gorgeous rainbow trout. If we ever make it back we’ll do it all proper and legal like, because it’s a magnificent stretch of water for fishing.
Where to Stay:
Tiscover is by far your best resource for information on Austria, including accommodation. Our farm, the Einkehrhof-Poggau, was situated on a hillside with views of the surrounding mountains, and had a two-bedroom apartment and one with three.
If you’ve read any of our other posts you’ll know that we’re enamored of farm stays, and as always the kids loved all the animals – cows, sheep, chickens, pigs, goats, rabbits and cats – and spent a lot of time in the adventure playground, which had, in addition to your standard slides and swings, a cave, boulders to climb and a balance beam, as well as lots of buggies and three-wheeled carts to pedal. The farm produces most of its own food, and the Mayer family have homemade sausages, hams, cheeses, apple most, schnapps and fabulous bread on offer.
You’ll have to go elsewhere to get hot meals, but the self-catering apartments are equipped with full kitchens, so you can always make your own. The nearest supermarket is in the town of Gresten, about a ten-minute drive.