Finding peace and calm, letting go, allowing impressions to sink in – travelling deliberately and slowly. “Slow travel” puts conscious enjoyment before hurried consumption. The secret is to purposely take the time to look about and take in the pace of your setting instead of once again packing your suitcase for the next stop on your itinerary. To sit on a secluded dock and gaze at the reflection of clouds chasing each other’s shadows in a calm lake. To stroll through an outdoor market and revel in the busy atmosphere. Or to accept the spur-of-the-moment invitation of a wine grower among idyllic vines to sample one of his wines, accompanied by a comprehensive homily on the evolution of the wine from grape to wine glass. These are memories that will still come back to you months later and bring a smile to your lips.
A slow but intensive means to discover Austria is on foot. Placing your feet one in front of the other in regular cadence allows ordering thoughts and rhythmically filling your lungs with fresh air. Whether gentle strolls or ambitious mountain tours – the journey is the reward. The Alps make it possible to escape the civilised world: far away from motorways and supermarkets, walkers rely on their own endurance and the power of their muscles. Standing at the summit – no matter how high or how low – peering down at the world provides an indescribable feeling of freedom and inner peace. Unforgettable, an overnight stay in a mountain hut, in which dinner tastes twice as good after all that fresh air and where the stars shine brighter than anywhere else. Hikers are left, too, with the gratifying feeling of leaving nature behind exactly as they found it.
Those in the know who want to be at one with nature will chose the Villgraten Valley in Tirol: far away from the bustle of everyday tourist attractions, a world awaits travellers where they can hike or ski without the technology of cable cars or T-bar tows. Houses from ages ago and huts on high mountain pastures that are manned in the summer summon the traveller to a very special experience: a contemplative journey into the past.
“Slow Travellers” yearning for pleasures to remember will find the many and varied Austrian organic enterprises to their liking. Whether organic farm, organically oriented bio-guesthouses or even the elegant bio-hotel: they all focus on produce at one with the seasons, nature and the specific region. Guests are invited to have a personal holiday experimenting, tasting and appreciating. Once again, these are places where the tourist learns that travelling means taking time to stop and contemplate.
Incidentally: those who can forfeit speed and instead choose eco-friendly travel by bus, train or boat are not only doing the environment a service, but will find the transition between daily routine and holiday easier to manage. The slowly changing landscape, the chat with the new acquaintance in the seat across from you, or the first encounter with a foreign language are welcome occasions to close the door on everday life and happily anticipate the trip about to begin. On the return journey you can once again watch the now familiar landscape or passing mountains while rejoicing in that feeling of unfettered freedom you had at the summit of the mountain, preserving the memory.