Frequently Asked Questions

This is the start of a list of FAQs, or Things you might like to know and Questions we believe you should ask. We’ll expand it in the course of time.

How is the Food?

We’ll eat almost all of our food at restaurants and alpine huts. We’re never more than a couple of hours away from the nearest meal or beverage.

Food in restaurants and is traditional Austrian meat-based fare with regional and local specialties thrown in.

Salzburg’s special dish is called Salzburger Nockerl, a delicious egg-white soufflé you have to try at least once.

A regional dish in Hallstatt is a local variety of Arctic Char, caught in the lake only a few hours before it’s served. It’s delicious.

At its most basic level, Austria offers a large assortment of sausages and cold cuts. And if you ever find better bread, anywhere, I’d like to know.

To my knowledge,  Austria has more kinds of dumplings than any other country in Europe.  They come in many different shapes, doughs and sizes, and they appear in all sorts of dishes, from soups to deserts.

Food at the huts is of the more basic basic variety. It’s geared towards providing you with calories and energy for hiking and climbing. In addition to a variety of sausages or dumplings, some of the common offerings are: Wiener Schnitzel with Potatoes and Salad, Lumberjack Steak with Potatoes and Cabbage salad, Cheese Dumplings and Salad, Kaiserschmarren (scrambled pancakes – a fluffy and rich desert dish that can be enjoyed as a main meal) with Compote.

Vegetarians, like Roland, have it a harder, especially in small rural communities. Most restaurants, even huts, offer vegetarian dishes, but it’s not clear what exactly that means. Many consider cheese, butter and milk vegetarian foods, and there is plenty of that to go around.  But if you are avoiding animal fats, then you may join Roland in eating very simple food with lots of bread. He also plans to make special requests from chefs. We’ll see how that goes.

Drinking Water

Water is safe to drink everywhere in Austria, whether from the tap or a public fountain.  Even springs bubbling from the mountain side are generally safe. On the Gosaukamm trek, however, we need to carry enough drinking water to get us to the next hut. We are hiking over porous limestone where water seeps through the rock. There are few springs.

When you order “water” in restaurants,  the server will bring you a bottle of mineral water. If you simply want to drink tap water you need to specify “Leitungswasser”.

Weather

We selected September because it is one of the drier months in Austria. Days can be crisp and clear in the mountains and perfect for hiking.

However, there is no getting around it: it rains a lot in Austria. We would be lucky indeed if we could spend a week in the Alps near tree line without rain. Weather in the Alps, as in all mountains, can be unpredictable. Although it’s not likely, we could see snow in the middle of September.  But if it does snow, it won’t stick around for long. At any rate, we are never far from shelter and never in treacherous terrain. Also if  the weather looks too bad for hiking in the morning, especially if there is a possibility of snow, we’ll stay in the hut and wait until it’s safe to continue.

Note: Bring 3-layer clothing and good rain gear. Lori and I once hiked in the Alps a whole day in the rain with nothing more than an umbrella and warm clothing. It was memorable.

Do I Need to Exchange Money?

We don’t find it necessary to exchange money in advance anymore. We use ATMs when we need cash, and we use Credit Cards when necessary. You should carry some cash with you to cover expenses.

Do I need a Passport or Visa to Enter Austria?

Entering Austria requires only a valid passport.  You don’t need a Visa to enter an European Union Country like Austria from the US.  Entry from other European Union Countries is similar to traveling from one State in the US to another.

If you fly into Germany, for instance, you will go through immigration before you leave the airport. From there you are free to travel to Austria (or Italy, or Switzerland, etc.) without having to go through customs at a border.

What is the National Language?

The language of Austria is German. What you’re likely to hear, though, are various forms of a Bavarian dialect and not the High German spoken in only a small region of Germany. Mountain dialects can be incomprehensible to German, unless they are from neighboring Bavaria. Even then it can be hard to understand a local dialect used in a neighboring valley, let alone in a different part of the Alps.

Fortunately, Roland was born in Salzburg and speaks a common dialect, so language won’t be a barrier. He can translate for you in case you really need to get a point across. He has experience with that.

Also, English is a compulsory subject, now, and most younger Austrians speak English well enough to communicate basics. Even so, if you’ve ever studied another language in school and you’ve not used it in practice, you know that complex ideas are sometimes lost in translation.

Travel Tip

Buy a travel guide to Europe with a section on Austria. The Rough Guide to Austria has a lot of detailed information on basic travel information and places. Lonely Planet Guides are also good. Personally, I’m a Rick Steves fan. He is the master of travelling light, and his guides are highly practical. You can also find a lot of useful information on tavelling in Austria, or for that matter anywhere in Europe, on his website: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/

http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/  Check there first.

What About Tipping?

During the trek, we tip as appropriate (tipping for meals, drinks and services in Austria is not the same as in the US (service personnel are paid living wages), so leave it to us. Just in case you believe someone deserves an additional gratuity, you will need to treat that as a personal expense, but ask us first for guidance.

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