lonesome roads

Finding the Wonder in Winter: Austria Adventures in Solo Travel

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Winter and I have a complicated relationship. I despise it and loathe it and fear it, and in turn it gives me no heed at all and returns relentlessly every year.

In its impersonal might, it forces me to acknowledge the power and the glory of a blizzard, the tricky beauty of a bitter cold and piercingly sunny day, the glee of kids tossing a snowball at an unsuspecting parent.

Solo female travel in Hallstatt Austria
I mean this is ok I guess.

But mostly it just makes me want to burrow under the covers and sleep through the short days, the long nights, and the cold that wants to paralyze me.

But what about the beauty?!

Ok ok, so winter can be really pretty. This is especially true in Austria, where I spent the past week.

Hallstatt village in Austria in winter
This is also fine. Hallstatt was fine.

I took in the deeply civilized beauty of Vienna, at the opera and in the famous cafes and the incredible museums. The elderly women there are my idols, in their fur coats and red lipstick and well-earned hauteur.

Then I moved onto Salzberg where I snobbishly avoided anything Sound of Music related (nuns singing in meadows is not my thing)(is that even the plot? don’t tell me, I don’t care).

And finally Hallstatt, a town so famed for its quaint Alpine beauty that a Chinese mining company built a complete replica in China. That’s where nearly all the pictures in this post come from, because damn it’s beautiful.

Hallstatt Austria river in winter
I mean this is also ok.

Beauty is pain

But in exploring this gorgeous village, and the cities too, my feet ached from the cold. My cheeks flushed such an alarming red my mother won’t stop asking if I have a sunburn (nope mom, just the rosacea I inherited partly from your side of the family, thanks). And I look like a walking marshmallow from wearing two coats. I am well out of my comfort zone.

It’s not even that cold here. No sub-zero temps like we get later in Boston.

Change of setting, change of mind?

I always thought that I just hated Boston winters. The always-broken T, the inches of grey slush on every sidewalk, the rage of everyone at the cruelty of nature that they take out on their fellow Bostonians.

And in a place I like as much as Austria, which is full of cozy escapes for this weather, I thought it might be better?

Salzburg, Austria in winter in the snow
Salzberg in the snow is objectively v pretty.

It turns out even in this most beautiful place where winter is full of fur coats and Christmas markets and hot mulled wine…. I still hate winter.

So good news, Boston! It’s not you.

Doesn’t mean I won’t move to LA, though.

11 Replies to “Finding the Wonder in Winter: Austria Adventures in Solo Travel”

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