Arriving into Mühlviertler Alm, after leaving the rather impressive Melk Abbey, was something of an eye-opener – in part because it’s not a part of Austria I knew much about; but mostly because it looks nothing like the idea of Austria I had in mind.
Here you’ve got stunning rolling hills, which look even amazing as they create wonderful silhouettes against each other in the setting sun!
I wish I had more time to stop for photos but this would mean a very late arrival to where we would be staying for the night – Wanderreithof Heimelsteiner.
Wanderreithof Heimelsteiner is a farmhouse up in Mühlviertler Alm (in Upper Austria) and spoiler alert – this turned out to be one of my favourite experiences in Austria till date.
The biggest reason why this is so is definitely the people – as we found out when we arrived (well over an hour late) to the locals at the farmhouse having evening drinks and very lively conversations. They were so warm and immediately made you feel right at home. We joined in for drinks before even heading up to drop our luggage into our rooms.
We had absolutely no plans for that evening except for a horse and carriage ride through the hills. After a quick beer, we hopped onto our horse and carriage, joined in by some of the locals we’d just been drinking with (a couple in the carriage but most on their own horses) who were very keen to show us their home of Mühlviertler Alm.
This, of course, meant that we got to stop off at a few of the neighbour’s homes – some of whom we’d just met for the first time but were immediately keen to show us their beautiful patch of Austria and share their 15-year-old Schnapps (and more beers)! *Sidebar: The Schnapps was at Plaimer’s, btw.
It’s so easy to feel at home here straight away and by the time we hit the local pub, everyone was chatting with us like we’d been friends for ages! Again, this is a huge part of why this part of Austria just feels so special – yes, it’s really beautiful and all that but the people are just so welcoming – it’s amazing!
For dinner, we were due to have a barbecue with the farmer and his family but seeing as we’d made lots of new friends, our simple barbecue became something of an Austrian party!
Apparently, these impromptu group gatherings are not unusual in these parts of Austria. Coming from London, where it’s so easy to never really get to know your neighbours (like you’ll say hi if you bump into them but you’d be surprised at how infrequently this happens), it makes for such a fantastic and much-welcome change!
The barbecue, which started off with beers, meats and lots of laughing around the fireplace soon descended into singing (loudly) and even more laughter! Before you knew it, it was 2.30am and remembering that we had a fairly early start the next day, we stumbled off to bed, eager to see even more of this part of Austria.
After breakfast the next morning (surprisingly un-hungover), I hopped onto the horse and off we went to check out Mühlviertler Alm!
I say “I” instead of “We” as we found out (though we’d suspected for a while, especially since that time we were in the horse place in Ronda) that Lloyd is allergic to horses. I wish I could I was more supportive but the way he went from zero to super-red itchy eyes in all of 5 minutes was borderline hilarious to me. Also, I’m pretty sure we’ve been on horses before (actually now that I think about it, we definitely did go on horses in the Faroe Islands and in Iceland with no reactions) so the adult onset of this allergy is something I have to admit I found both weird and fascinating… but then again, I did develop hayfever as an adult so I guess I kinda get it…? 😁
I didn’t have my camera with me on the horse and in retrospect, I really wish I did because the woods, mountain tops and valleys we went through were absolutely stunning! The whole entire experience was one of a kind. Absolutely fantastic!
It was such a great way to see the Austrian countryside and one that I can’t recommend it enough!
The locals who were free that morning (and the guests) also join in on the horse ride, which came with beer stops. 😉
Alas, this was our final day in Austria and so, after about 4 hours on the horse, we stopped off for a really delicious lunch at Moser Alm (Lloyd and I went for the lamb ragu and it was just amazing – could easily have had two of that, if we had even more time here).
With that, it was time to say farewell to Upper Austria and indeed Austria as we headed back to Vienna to catch our flight back to London!
Even though we’d gotten to explore 3 distinct parts of Austria, I left absolutely wanting to see even more of this amazing country – doesn’t matter if this is skiing in the Alps in winter or making the most of the stunning natural scenery in Summer, Austria as a whole is stunning and an absolute must visit!