Finally got a chance to upload pictures from this past weekend’s field trip! We headed out to a little town called Maria Zell, which is just a couple of hours away right where the Eastern Alps start in Styria, which makes it a good day trip if you’re craving some mountain air (and in our case, mountain sunshine).
I’ve actually been to this little expertly manicured hamlet before, so I feel like I have some authority to declare that January isn’t quite the best time to go. The town basically shuts down, unless you’re up for a day of medium grade skiing. In December, they have a wonderful Advent market, complete with live animal manger, and in the summer, well…it’s just the summer and a great time to enjoy a glass of white wine after the sights.
Nonetheless, we still had a wonderful time, and finally got to take the cable car up to the Burgeralpe to check out the view, which I had missed on previous visits. The drive to Maria Zell is a relatively easy one, however, if you’re headed up when there’s snow, make sure you have some legit tires on your vehicle – this is no place for a Fiat Punto on scooter wheels, as there is a segment of two-lane switchback road that may or may not be plowed. Here’s what to check out when you’re there:
1. MariaZell Basilica – This is essentially the main attraction of the town, this gothic-romaneque melange of a structure not only houses the shrine to the Virgin Mary, but also is the final resting place of Cardinal Mindszenty, the Hungarian dissident, and it accomodates nearly one million pilgrims a year.
2. Pirker’s – Don’t leave Maria Zell without some of their trademark lebkuchen (gingerbread) which is some of the best in Austria. There is the cafe on the main square (closed in January), and also their shop up the road. Since they make their own honey for the gingerbread, they also sell it’s by products, like religious figurines made out of beeswax.
3. Wildsaibling Restaurant – this hip little bistro (closed in January) serves one young Vienna family’s fresh and smoked fish, right out of the MariaZell waters – don’t miss the pan-fried pike perch. Enjoy local white wines to round out the meal.
4. Burgeralpe Cablecar – simply the best view in town, skis optional.
All photography by The New Diplomat’s Wife.