After spending a few vacation days in the Eastern part of Austria for the beginning of the year (see more about this here), we headed to Innsbruck, in the West side. We chose this city because of the popularity of its surrounding ski slopes and also for a change of scenery from the usual towns in Austria. The plan was to work during the day for Thursday and Friday and then enjoy the Saturday doing some snowboarding before heading further to a new location.
Because in Innsbruck we didn’t find any co-working places to fit our taste, we booked a hotel that had a good option of space for work: a bar at the 12th floor offering a nice view over the city, serving very good coffee and with little surrounding noise – good enough for having team calls. Adler’s Hotel is one of the most working friendly hotel we have ever stayed in and it has become our standard to compare it with when we want to stay in a hotel during work days.
Austria is one hour behind the timezone both Victor and I have to work, so there was no major change in our usual program. We worked from 8am to 3 or 4pm, leaving us some time after to explore Innsbruck on day light. If I haven’t mention it before, neither of us is keen on museums in the cities that we visit, but rather on exploring the streets, admiring the architecture, learning more about the culture or trying the food. And that’s what we did in Innsbruck too.
The downtown area is a lovely historical one, showing buildings with a specific Tyrolean style. You can find here some of the country’s most stunning Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque constructions. Some of the streets are narrow, resembling Italy in some way, and you can find elements of the culture in the decorations on the walls of the buildings. People of all ages were to be found in this town, probably because is the main destination for winter sports in Austria.
About the winter sports, around Innsbruck there are up to 32 ski slopes available for the public. Also, the number comes from the fact that Innsbruck was host to the Winter Olympics in 1964 and again in ’76. Some of the most popular ski slopes are Nordpark/Nordkette or Patscherkofel. Both can be reached by public transportation from Innsbruck, Nordpark being intermediate to expert terrain while Patscherkofel being more beginner and intermediate. A more family friendly ski slope around the town would be Kuhtai, or if you are in search of some Olympic legacy you can try Axamer Lizum to find the trails that have been named after theraces they hosted at both Winter Games. A popular ski slope more far away from Innsbruck, at aprox 90 km, is Sölden, one of Europe’s most renowned Ski & Snowboard Resorts. With 144km of slopes, Sölden is the favourite among Austria’s ski enthusiasts.
Because we had only one day available for leisure and Sölden would have taken some of our time just to drive there, we chose Axamer Lizum to do some snowboarding for a few hours. And because Victor had his collar bone broken during the same activity, also in Austria, two years ago, the decision to spend the Saturday like this was not lightly taken. Fortunately, we gathered all our courage and went up the mountain. The slopes were not crowded at all and we kept stopping every once and a while to admire the specific Austrian mountain views, which we almost have forgotten from the previous years. Victor was still a little frightened by the memories of leaving the slopes with a helicopter (not for pleasure), so we cut our day a little short, but with a few more steps further towards leaving the fear behind.
On Sunday, we headed to Salzburg for three days where we would continue to work during the days and explore the city at evening. What has thrown us off was the fact we couldn’t find easily a hotel that would be work friendly. We finally decided to this one due to its closeness to the mall where we were hoping to find at least a Starbucks or a cozy coffee place to use as an office.
Arriving there, we noticed the hotel was not really in the heart of the city like we assumed by looking on the map, but a few miles a way in an area that didn’t seem that safe. Because of this, any time we were going to visit the city, we took the car just to be able to feel safer at night. The downside of this: we were loosing time with driving and finding parking places, than spending it exploring the city.
Tip: If you work remotely and travel, choose accommodation close to the city centre, not to lose time with finding places to take the lunch during the work day or with transportation during the evenings.
Salzburg is a lovely city, but it surprised us very much that after 8pm it becomes like a ghost city. No one would be on the streets, all the shops would be closed and people would be just outside some restaurants in groups of 2-3 people socialising. Some other restaurants would be empty and we would be the only ones having dinner there. We didn’t found out why was this happening, but we just assumed it was because of the winter season and for Salzburg not being such a touristy city.
Also built in a Tyrolean style, Salzburg is resembling Innsbruck quite a bit with the same narrow cute streets and hills surrounding it. Every other 100m you would find a shop with Mozart souvenirs, especially their famous candy. We wanted to visit Hohensalzburg Castle and get there by car, maybe enjoy some views. But in the evening it was closed and there was no possibility to get there driving (point won by the disadvantage of working during the day). We settled for the Mirabell Gardens, which offered us a view to the fortress instead and some quiet walks on the alleys that during the summer are full of colourful flowers. Some other attractive point of Salzburg is the ‘Love Locks’ bridge, that kind of bridge that you never miss in the most popular Europe’s tourist destinations.
Lessons that we learnt from Salzburg:
- If we choose to stay in a hotel when we work during the day, the room should be bigger and should offer a desk. Or at least have an option of a big lobby with good internet or a lounge/bar/restaurant where we can spend more time working. Spending three days in such a small room like we had, made us feel quite uncomfortable when we were synchronising with the team calls.
- We should always have a portable router with internet data with us. The hotel internet was awful and also our roaming mobile data was not the best, making it difficult to complete our tasks.
- Weather we choose to stay in a hotel or apartment when working remotely, we should always make sure there is an option for food nearby. You might be getting stuck in some work/meetings and the time might be limited to go in a search for a restaurant.
On a Wednesday, we left for St. Wolfgang right after checking-out from Salzburg. Being only at 50km distance, it took us approximately one hour to get there, so we sacrified our lunch for this. Luckily, the breakfast at the hotel was big enough and we tried to have it as late as possible not to be hungry soon.
Wolfgangsee is another one of the most beautiful Austrian lakes and all I can say is that I completely fell in love with the place and I would definitely come back there. I don’t know if it was because we were two of the maybe 20 people at most that were visiting the village at the time or because the cute houses across the lake, but I liked it even more than Hallstatt.
We booked two nights here and being the only ones in the whole building, the landlord gave us the best room on the premises. And the views from the terrace were just wow! Even though outside there were only 5 degrees, we hardly wanted to come back in. The studio was cozy enough for working also, only the shower was directly in the bedroom and not in a separate room, like we would have expected.
Tip: A lot of hotels/pensions in Austria have their shower/tub in the bedroom, so make sure when you book your accommodation that this is not the case, if you are not comfortable with it.
We spent the rest of the day finishing our tasks and then went out for dinner because we were starving with the lunch being skipped. We stopped at the first restaurant we found and couldn’t be more happy with the choice. It was called See-Eck and it served only two dishes using the fish catch of the day. The waitress was so nice that she stayed with us for a while (being the only ones there, of course) and explained us more about Wolfgangsee, the dishes and the wine list. Also, we found out that during this time of the year, only 3 restaurants at a time are open and they do a rotation until the peek season when they all open.
The second day we explored more the town, going on every street we could find and admiring every cute house we saw. View spots over the lake could be found often, and the village being so peaceful made us not want to leave the place ever. We saw on the streets as many people we could count on one hand, but we would not want it any other way – the most relaxing time.
After checking out the next day, the landlord told us about a coffee place where we can have some brunch. We headed right there and it was so nice and with a tint of coolness that we made it working place for the day. A few goulash soups,pies and implemented tasks later, we headed back to a last stop in Vienna before driving back home.
Lessons learnt from the whole road trip, regarding working remotely:
- We should book at least 3 or 4 nights of stay in the same place to make sure we have the time to explore it and also not to be tired from moving from place to place in a short amount of time.
- We should make sure we have access to a washing machine once a week. We ended up buying clothes so often, only because we booked only places with no possibility to wash them. The dry cleaning was also not an option because we would get the clothes back later than our stay.
- We should book apartments rather than hotel rooms. It seems we really need the space for when we work and a kitchen would be helpful for cooking some quick lunch.