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Landhaus Lilly, Lake Hallstatt – On the telly … in Australia!

Wendy_KenWe were so delighted to meet Wendy and Ken, who visited recently from Australia.  What a fabulous couple!  They were excited to spend time in our lovely area nearby Lake Hallstatt and to explore the sights.

Wendy also mentioned that the reason they had sought us out specifically and had booked so far in advance was that they had seen us on the telly in Australia!  The TV programme, Escape to the Continent,  followed another couple from the UK who were thinking of moving to our region and set up a hospitality business.  At the time, we had only been up and running for 2 1/2 months so it was certainly in the early days!  We were experimenting and finding out what worked for us in running a new business together.  The programme wanted to show what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ in a new B&B with insights that may be helpful to the potential new B&B owners.

During the original TV show we showed some rooms that we hadn’t yet renovated and it looked like a building site.  Over a year later we were able to show Wendy and Ken the totally remodelled room with its additional windows, separate shower room and brand new kitchen and seating area that we now rent as an apartment.

We’re hoping that we will see Wendy and Ken again one day – and very grateful that being ‘on the telly’ brought us together – how wonderful!!

 

 

Balcony flowers

IMG_3948 Finally the weather has warmed up and the snow has stopped falling on the local mountains … and we have planted our balcony flowers – the first at Landhaus Lilly …

I’m not sure how large they will all grow (and hopefully I’ll remember to feed and water them) – but for now I’m delighted and look forward to them blooming all summer long (with a bit of luck!)

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BBC’s Escape To The Continent, Salzburg, with Anita Rani – now on Netflix!

Landhaus LillyBeing featured on the new BBC series ‘Escape to the Continent’ was not something we had envisaged – just a couple of months after opening Landhaus Lilly!

We moved in Austria in the summer of 2013 … and by the October we were (apparently!) the ‘local experts’ for Rob and Annette, a couple who were looking to move Austria.  It was quite an experience having the camera crew here, together with Anita Rani the lovely presenter.  We had fun during the filming – and have since welcomed guests here, who saw us on the tv 🙂

Netflix now has the ‘Escape to the Continent’ series available … we’re featured on the Salzburg programme – Happy Viewing!

Anita introduced us to Rob and Annette, who were hoping to move to the area and perhaps set up a B&B or a holiday apartment.  It was exciting to meet them, as they were potentially at the beginning of something new and challenging in their lives and their journey was similar to ours a few years ago…  Like them, we spent many hours (well, actually months and years!) … planning and dreaming and wondering whether we could realise our dream of moving to Austria and running a B&B.

We had our trials along the way – we missed out on a house in Austria we had hoped to buy, then after 5 months our house sale in the UK fell through at the last minute and we feared losing the rental property we had lined up to move to (before the ‘big’ move to Austria).  Then Paul had to have a heart operation … Then, the month before we moved to Austria, thousands of pounds worth of damage was done to the house following the flooding in Europe.  So, to be fair – it hasn’t been ‘plain sailing’ – but I’m sure most people who take up the challenge of moving abroad would perhaps have a similar story to tell.  We were also project managing from afar as we were still working in the UK whilst renovation works took place in Austria.  Paul was very busy with long shifts during the summer due to the Olympics and we were visiting Austria to meet with our project manager and the team of local builders every few weeks … it was a hectic time!

The original old smallholding did have a few B&B rooms, but you would have to use the showers and toilets at the end of the corridor.  We were fortunate that the rooms are a very good size – so we completely renovated and updated them so they now have modern en suite facilities. We wanted to keep some of the original Austrian charm and feel of the house keeping, for example, the carved wooden ceiling in the breakfast room, some carved wooden furniture and wrought iron work.

We wish Rob and Annette every success with their exploring so they too can find a place in Austria that they can call home.  Perhaps like us – they may also have people from all over the world come and visit and marvel at this ‘little piece of heaven’ as some of our guests have described the area!

Flower Power – a nature walk on the doorstep

IMG_3690Various flowers have been emerging recently – in the undergrowth, around the trees, alongside the river and pathways near our house and around Lake Hallstatt.  As we take Leo on his (at least) twice daily walks, it’s been interesting to notice the subtle changes in the surrounding woods and pathways from one walk to the next.  Now, I’m sorry to admit that I do not know much about flowers – especially the Austrian varieties that could be emerging at this time of year in the Salzkammergut area.  So – how fortunate we were to have a lovely guest who happened to mention that she saw an abundance of flowers on her walk at the weekend.  We chatted for a while about her walk and then she kindly volunteered to write down the names of the flowers … and as a bonus, she added a little picture and description too, so I would know what to look for …

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So armed with this knowledge I felt a bit like a mini-adventurer on our next walk …  I had a purpose of not just walking the dog and moving a bit – but to see if I could track down some of the flowers as well.  Admittedly we did not go on exactly the same route as our guest – but we did come across some of the flowers and I started to photograph them.  As time when on, however, it was not only the looking for flowers that made the walk so special…

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We are pretty familiar now with the route that we took … and the scenery is absolutely spectacular (we have to pinch ourselves regularly to remind ourselves how incredibly fortunate we are to have such dramatic scenery on our doorstep!)  But during this walk I was looking both at the stunning scenery, appreciating the warm sunshine – and also keeping an eye out for things I could capture in a picture.  I started just looking for the flowers that we had spoken about – but there were so many other interesting things that I wanted to capture as well!  So … our nature walk started with a search for flowers – and ended up being about just noticing (and often capturing on camera) anything that seemed potentially interesting.

IMG_3768I’m still on the hunt for the other varieties of flowers and look forward to exploring again soon on future walks.  But a big thank you to our lovely guest for this gift of knowledge about flowers … it’s amazing what a little chat over breakfast can lead to!

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Skiing with a VIEW! at Gosau

ValentinesSkiingWe spent Valentines’s Day together on the slopes at Gosau … and what a brilliant day! great snow – and some delightful sunshine too.

We did manage to do our chores beforehand – and of course – we were just here checking the snow conditions for our guests who arrive for half term next week 🙂

It’s our first winter season living here and the weather has been rather ‘random’ this year (as it seems to have been in many other parts of the world!)  Last season we visited Obertraun and went skiing in Gosau in January and again in March and the snow was plentiful and there was a massive amount of fabulous snow on the slopes.

It’s not quite the same this year as there has not been the same level of general snowfall in our village of Obertraun and around Lake Hallstatt – however, we’ve been fortunate enough to have had good skiing conditions on the slopes at Gosau. The snow has been cared for and moved around and groomed and this makes for happy skiers 🙂

This year, when we have had a big snow fall – then Paul will enthusiastically get out the snow blower (his new ‘toy’) and clear the pathways and parking spaces.  Then the Fohn wind (think of the winds of a giant hairdryer, coming from the south) has arrived and melted the snow around our house – sometimes literally overnight!  We hadn’t expected to see quite so little snow in our immediate vicinity … but it is fortunately still great on the pistes.  Today we had beautiful sunshine and the occasional flakes of snow to keep things topped up.

Half term is traditionally a busy time and are looking forward to welcoming our guests next week … We hope they have great snow, sunshine, fun and have time to appreciate the stunning views that we’ve enjoyed today!

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Test flight over Landhaus Lilly …

Geoff… well actually, it was Buzzy the octocopter … guided by Geoff and Liz which flew up, over and around the house – taking video footage on the way!

Panoramic views of our house and the surrounding mountains and river are captured on film – but this is only a test run (we didn’t have snow on the ground and sunshine was nowhere to be seen) … so we hope to have another film-making opportunity soon 🙂

See more of Geoff’s video and timelapse work at http://www.vimeo.com/gtimage

 

 

 

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Balloon Week – in Gosau

BalloonEve_Gosau6This week has been ‘Balloon Week’ in Gosau, a village located in the neighbouring valley, where we go to enjoy the skiing of the Dachstein West ski region.  Hot air balloons have been floating around Gosau during the day …  and we have even seen the balloons come over the tops of the mountains and float into our valley and on towards Lake Hallstatt.  They have had a good week weather-wise too … mostly beautiful clear blue skies, not too many clouds – and some sunshine as well!

This evening, at the end of Balloon Week, Gosau hosted an evening display of the bright and multi-coloured hot air balloons again … as balloons of various shapes and sizes stood out against the night sky.  At one point they even ‘waltzed’ (or perhaps more accurately gently ‘twirled around’) to music from Strauss – fabulous!

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Glöcklerlauf

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As we’ve only been here for 6 months, we haven’t yet gone through an entire year of the festivities and traditions … so this evening was a new experience.  In spite of some rain, the village celebrates the eve of the visit of the Three Kings (or Epiphany) on 6 January with the Glöcklerlauf.  The aim is to help banish the evil spirits and welcome the good.  Firstly a group of children appear with the small lantern headdresses and then, as the next taller group joins the parade, so the lanterns get larger and larger!  Different sized bells tied around their waists are constantly clanging as they parade and jump around.  The beautiful and colourful lanterns are made by the villagers over few months leading up to the parade.  They are lit from the inside by candles and carried on their heads around the village square for all to admire.  The parade then divides up and heads off around the village … an incredible sight to see in Obertraun this evening!

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