Author: Michaela Schwarz
When I find myself sitting on the main square in Steyr with a morsel of magnificent gateau melting on my tongue, I have to congratulate myself. Not just for having ordered this sweet dream of chocolate and nuts with redcurrant jam, but for having taken a trip here in the first place. The historic town centre has a richly deserved reputation as one of the loveliest squares in Europe. The Bummerlhaus, a late Gothic mansion, is an architectural gem that you simply have to see. It takes its name from the golden lion looking down from the facade that the locals affectionately mocked as looking like a “bummerl” or a dog. The combination of the historic town centre with its quaint courtyards and the picturesque confluence of the rivers Steyr and Enns make this town very special indeed. I send silent thanks to the restaurant owner in Linz who gave me this tip while we were chatting. “What, you’ve never been to Steyr?” he said, seeming a little offended. “You’ve missed something there - and while we’re on the subject: You should take a look at Enns and Gmunden too."
I look at the map and lo and behold, these two towns are also within easy distance by car. My curiosity has been awakened, and so a short time later, there I am, standing in the centre of Enns. A map of the town? No need for that, as I love simply setting off and enjoying whatever crosses my path. I finally find myself standing in front of the mighty Stadtturm that I’ve heard offers a up wonderful view of the historic town centre. I’ve also heard you can admire it all night long - as a guest in the hotel, which has opened high up inside the ancient walls. It's not often you get the chance to experience something like that, so I'm delighted to find that there is a room still available. I climb my way up 71 stone steps (and count them all on the way up) until I reach the unusual hotel room, and then the tower is mine alone for one whole night. I feel just like a princess and I’m almost surprised that a lady-in-waiting doesn’t appear to dress me in my night robes.
The next morning as the sun shines through the window of the tower, I suddenly feel the tremendous urge to go for a swim. So on an impulse, I drive on to Traunsee, one of the loveliest and also invigorating bathing lakes in Europe. The water is crystal clear and, depending on how the light falls, can be anything from a rich green to a dark blue. Directly on the shore of the lake is the main square of the old ceramic-making town of Gmunden and I quickly learn that the annual Festival of Lights is taking place just this weekend. And so in the evening, after a glorious day’s swimming, I join the many spectators on the esplanade and marvel like a child at the fantastic spectacle unfolding before my eyes. The brilliant colours of the fireworks exploding in the night skies are reflected on the dark surface of the water.
Unbelievable, I think to myself, how many new and amazing experiences I have had this weekend. I begin to wonder whether I shouldn’t add on an extra day and go hiking on the Traunstein. But then I decide to save that for next time. After all, there’s still so much to discover.
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