Innsbruck and Gruner See, Austria

Travelled with: rented car from Hertz
Duration of Trip: 2.5 days
Overall cost of trip: $310 CAD
 
I spent my May 24 a little differently this year! My friends Taylor, Joonas, and I decided to rent a car and go for a road trip. Even though I don’t drive, I love road trips, and I was extremely excited to finally see Austria from this perspective!! Everyone that I’ve talked to has told me this is something I definitely need to do before leaving Austria. You really take in the beautiful country, and have a totally different experience than from a train or bus. I appreciate Austria so much more after this, so I’m so happy I had the opportunity to do this. Before this weekend, I have travelled through 2 of the major cities in Austria, Vienna and Salzburg. I have been to smaller towns like Hallstat and Linz, so going to Innbruck was a city I was really looking forward to. The car made it so much easier to see all these places.
 
In all honesty, we had absolutely NO plan, which is something I usually am not a fan of. I like to have an idea of where I’m going and plan a head so we don’t run into any problems. But again, WHEN IN EUROPE, you go with the flow and no plan is sometimes the best plan, and I really learned that this weekend.
 
Just as an overview, we drove from Krems, to Graz, to Gruner See, then to Innsbruck (through Munich, Germany.)
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We started our day a bit late on Friday. We had planned to see Gruner See (Green Lake,) as we’ve all heard amazing things. Gruner See is in a small village in Styria called Tragöß. It is surrounded by the Hochschwab Mountains.  Our car drive getting there was nothing short of beautiful…The route we took to get there had me staring out the window in awe the entire time. One of the routes to get there was around a mountain, only allowing one car to drive on the road at a time! I haven’t experienced something like this since my family and I did a road trip the Maritimes in Canada. We surrounded by mountains and trees and it was just unbelievable; it was so pretty. Even when you have great destinations, sometimes the route getting there is just as good.
We got to Gruner See at 8pm, as it took us a lot longer than expected to get there. We were ready to go see the Lake, when we noticed a big map stating that it was a 40 minutes hike to get there! We didn’t think we’d have enough time to spend there before it got dark, so we decided to drive to the next big town, Graz, spend the night there,  and then set out early the next morning for the hike. Graz is the second largest city in Austria, and also a huge student town, AND the hometown of Arnold Schwarzenegger! (Yeah, I had to google the spelling of that.) 
 
Another joy of last minute trips is last minute planning of everything- including where we were sleeping! As we were driving through Graz, we realized we needed a place to stay. Thank God Joonas had data on his phone, because we were driving and googling hotels. We couldn’t find a decently priced hostel, so we found a pretty good hotel, relatively close to old town! We settled into our hotel, and took a bus to the city centre for dinner and drinks. Graz had a really cool vibe and it was all students. I wish I could spend a little more time there! 
 
The next morning, we set out for Gruner See- finally! We had to back track a bit, but it was 100% worth it: 
After spending the afternoon here, we began our drive to Innsbruck! We did NOT expect the drive to be so long…almost 6 hours! We drove through Munich, Germany, as well, where there was a lot of traffic. I find it so odd that you can travel through a country and not get stopped at the border. We literally were able to drive right through, and we didn’t even know we were in Germany, until Joonas got a notification on his phone to turn his data off. Super weird judging off how much security there is to cross borders in North America! 
We arrived in Innsbruck around 8pm with the same scenario as Graz, we drove around for a bit while we tried to find a hostel/hotel. We finally ended up finding one that was in town, which was super convenient! The hotel was so cool- it had a beautiful balcony and a loft bed. We then went to a few bars and met up with some guys from Laurier. Really makes you think of home when you’re seeing people that go to your home university on the other side of the world! One of my friends took us around to a couple of bars and a club. The nightlife is Innsbruck is SO different then anything we’ve seen before. In Krems, the latest we’ll stay out is 4:30 am, but in Innsbruck, that was the time they were going to clubs at. We went a couple bars, and then lined up for a club.
One of the guy asks the woman at coatcheck what time they were closing that night, and she responded with 9am. NINE AM. We couldn’t believe it. It was crazy, you went down these stairs into something like Jimmy’s in Krems, but it was completely blacked out, you had no concept of time. No wonder people leave there so early the next day. 
The next morning, we checked out of our hotel and walked around Old Town Innsbruck and by the water. It is so pretty, especially with the alps in the background! It was a completely different vibe from Krems, as behind all of our building is vineyards. Both are nice, but completely different. 
We walked around for a couple hours before heading back to Krems. There was the final hockey game of Canada vs Finland so OBVIOUSLY we couldn’t miss it. From Innsbruck to Vienna, it is only 4.5 hours. We dropped the car off, and headed for the train back to Krems, just in time to see the end of the game, and see Canada win gold!
I had such a great weekend and I’m so happy I got to drive across Austria. I really recommend doing it if you have the time. It’s a completely different perspective and you’ll have such a better appreciation for the beauty of the country by doing that. You go from big city in Vienna, to small villages with cows, the colourful houses with Alps in the backdrop. Unbelievable. 
TODAY also marks 1 month until I finish my semester!! I cannot believe how fast this semester went by. Something I have been thinking about and planning since the summer after first year…!
After this month, I will set off for backpacking for almost 2 months! 
Until my next adventure,
Larissa 

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