Austria is beautiful at all times, but this small country famous for its sweets and winter sports is especially charming during Christmas period. This time I decided not to visit Vienna or Salzburg, the most popular Austrian destinations during this period, but Velden. I saw a few pictures of candles installation that float on the lake and I was impressed. That was it! I told Bozo that it was a small city, a village even, so there wouldn’t be much walking or sightseeing and he was in. Well, promise of a nice spa hotel helped too ☺
Austrian hotel chain, Falkensteiner, owns one of its most beautiful hotels in Velden, so I looked no more. The price was reasonable and the location was perfect. Just in front of that candle installation that I liked so much. Unfortunately, it was fully booked during our first night.
I found a good replacement in another Falkensteiner, Hotel&Spa Carinzia in a little village called Tröpolach, in the famous Nassfeld region. In the morning we first visited Klagenfurt where we enjoyed a walk through the city center, beautifully decorated with a Christmas market in the main city square, Neuer Platz. The landmark of Klagenfurt is to be found there, the fountain with a dragon and Hercules, who resisted a monster. It is a nice square with a big town hall, Rathaus and a monumental sculpture of Maria Theresa. It was still early, the stalls at the Christmas market were just opening up so we decided to warm ourselves at the shopping mall, City Arkaden. I drank my coffee in just a few minutes and left Bozo in the café to do some shopping ☺ He was happy that way and didn’t grudge. Great coffee and fast wifi will do it!
After an hour of quite successful shopping we walked some more through the city center, that was now full of people, tourists and locals, all enjoying beautiful sunny, though chilly Austrian morning. I liked the statue of chubby dwarf “Wörthersee Mandl”, associated with a legend of the emerging of Wörthersee, a lake that Klagenfurt is on.
We bought some souvenirs at the market, with the smell of sausages and wine all around us. The only shock was the price at the parking garage. Yes, it was in a city center, but we didn’t expect to pay almost 15 euros for a 3 hours parking. Ooouch!!! ☹
We drove from Klagenfurt to our hotel in Nassfeld, and being a ski area I expected snow. I must admit I was a bit disappointed when I noticed just a little bit of snow at the slope behind the hotel, and even that was artificial snow. Snow cannons were working non-stop, while the next weekend was actually the grand opening of the ski season. I guess that was the reason the price of this quite upscale hotel was favorable 😉 The location is very convenient, just a few steps from the main ski lift, Millenium Express. The lift was still closed unfortunately, so we went to check-in at the hotel immediately.
I liked the lobby in Falkensteiner Hotel & Spa Carinzia, a lot. It is the mixture of traditional and modern, with a calm homey feeling. And it is animal friendly. They have a house cat that walks around, even overlook the reception area, I loved that. ☺ We got a room on the first floor, with not much of a view. The room itself was spacious and very cozy, with a nice bathroom, and both a tub and a shower. We decided to hit the pool immediately. It is a nice area, with the indoor pool that stretches outside. I especially liked the sauna area. It has a nice small warm pool outside, and a dark, so called “sin pool” ☺ It has a good choice of saunas and a really nice relaxing area, one even with a small fireplace. It was quite crowded, but enough loungers were provided.
After a great afternoon in the hotel spa, we went to dinner, as we were on half board. I have to admit that it surpassed my expectations. The salad and soup buffet was diverse and the main course was amazing, the best trout I have ever eaten (a la miller). The dessert was also great and refreshing, a peach parfait.
That night we slept like the babies. ☺ The bed was super comfortable and we were tired, happy and relaxed. After the breakfast, we decided to leave for Velden immediately, since the lift was closed and we couldn’t reach the hill top. It was a short ride, less than an hour and our hotel was easy to find. Falkensteiner Schlosshotel Velden is a beautiful old building dominating the view. We left the car and said we would be back around 2 pm for check-in. This little city, that during Christmas period turns into “the city of angels” was so nicely decorated that it was impossible to resist it. Of course, we had to try some Glühwein and Glühmost first. ☺ We picked a nice café on the corner with the view of our hotel. Just couldn’t get enough of that view…
Afterwards, we just walked and sopped the sights and smell of this incredible little Christmas Wonderland. I was sooo happy and excited to have chosen Velden this time. I didn’t feel tired and my legs didn’t hurt, so I decided to keep on walking and exploring some more, while Bozo stayed at the wonderful decorated patisserie just opposite the famous Velden Casino. The architecture is beautiful and oldfashion, and I suppose it would be great even without the Christmas decorations. I saw the exhibition of Christmas trees at the casino, crafts market & craftsmen at work, the angel exhibition, even the real angels, the Krampus parade. I walked and walked, admiring Veldener Advent. Some of the major attractions are right on the lake, the floating Advent Wreath and the floating Native Scene, and can be seen strolling down the lakeside promenade. They are especially beautiful glowing in the dark.
I must have been walking for 2 or 3 hours now and was ready for some refreshment. Of course, while in Austria, one MUST eat cake and pastries. I have been visiting Austria since I was a child and all the best memories include sweets of some kind (at least for me hehehe). I visited Linz many times, the capital of Upper Austria, where my godparents live, and on one occasion we went to a small village called St. Florian (it has one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen). We ate amazing cakes there and took more of them home, for my father and grandfather. We walked home, as it is a nice 1.5 hour scenic walk through the fields, when the paper bag that contained the cakes opened up and all the caked fell into mud. I don’t think anyone could truly understand my disappointment ☹ Well, maybe you can just get the slightest idea how good those cakes were when I remember them even now, after 20 years had passed.
Anway, I found Bozo in “Le Cafe”, still enjoying his coffee and Glühmost, sitting outside with the view of the Casino and crowds of people strolling the main street, Kärtner Strasse. Yes, another great Kärtner Strasse can be found in the Vienna itself, but that is meant for another Austrian story.
I went inside to choose our cakes. It is always such a hard choose uhh… If it was up to me, I would order at least three for myself, but the prices are always quite high, and the thought that I should not eat sooo much sugar is always sitting upon my shoulders. Well, one for each one of us was just fine. ☺ Should I even mention it, they were great!!
We already bought the tickets for the Advent cruise, but decided to postpone it for the last possible departure, at 6pm, since we enjoyed our afternoon in the city center so much. Around 5 pm we finally went to check-in. We were upgraded to a nice deluxe room, on the top floor with the view of the lake. And the candles!!! It was magical and I am so grateful to the hotel staff for giving us that room. We put on some warmer clothes, since after the sunset it was getting quite cold outside and didn’t know what to expect on the boat. However, the boat was cozy and warm, and it had excellent wifi, which made Bozo very happy. Again, we drank Glühwein. ☺
It was a pleasant, 40 minutes ride from Velden to Pörtschach. I also walked outside during the cruise, greatly enjoying the lights of Velden, and then again the lights that revealed Pörtschach. It is much smaller and calmer than Velden, but also very charming. It was chilly Sunday evening so the village was pretty much deserted and all the action was inside the cafes and restaurants. We walked along the lake promenade, went for a coffee at the cute little café in the centre and took the last bus back to Velden. We were the only passengers.
The very first thing upon our arrival in the morning, Bozo saw a nearby pizza place and was lobbying for it the whole day 😉 I was more into sausages, ham and cabbage or similar kind of winter food, but I decided to let it go. It was a good call. Pizzeria da Leopoldo was a nice place, with excellent pizza. Ingredients were fresh and prossuto was cut next to us, so the smell was divine. Pizzeria was just a short walk from Schlosshotel, very convenient, when on full stomach.
The bed was extremely comfortable, as expected. And everything in the room was customized with the touch of the screen – the lights, the curtains, even the temperature. Cool! I awoke at 2 pm and went to see the “my candles”. It was such an amazing sight, available even from our sofa. I was overwhelmed and couldn’t fall asleep again. Plus, Bozo was snoring too loud. I listened to the audio book, but nothing helped. I spent the rest of the night on the sofa, occasionally checking out the view outside. It was a beautiful sunrise over the lake.
We went for an early breakfast and sat for an hour and a half. I don’t remember when we enjoyed our first meal of the day that long. We were not in a hurry, since we would spend the whole day at the hotel’s spa anyway. The breakfast hall was huge, with beautiful chandeliers and nicely decorated in the Christmas style. The food display was great and they even had watermelon, very, very sweet. Even the pineapple was fully ripe, juicy and delicious. Woow, I loved that, I would immediately give them 6*, just for the fruit. ☺
Eventually we checked-out, but were able to use the hotel’s pools and saunas for the rest of the day. It is really a nice spa with many saunas and a nice relax area, even just the women zone. The water temperature in the pools was great, so we spent a lot of time outside, soaking and enjoying the view. The loungers and beds were extremely comfortable, and the health bar was free with great choice of tea, nuts and fruit. We took our time and stayed until the evening.
We fell in love with Velden and will go back again, hopefully during the summer. I imagine it will be quite a sight too!