A little alpine fix for the two of us before the holidays, because the children responded with, “Anywhere but Tirol” when asked where they wanted to travel for the Christmas break. They just don’t get it.

Dashing through the snow.  We departed a snowy Vienna and the Wiener Alpen as we pointed my 6-horse sleigh toward the Salzkammergut last Saturday.

Our first destination, though not technically in the Salzkammergut was the entirely adorable little town of Steyr. The town’s castle, Schloss Lamberg was hosting a holiday market, inviting visitors with its snow-covered path and cozy setting.

While wandering through the castle and the market stalls, I peered out a window. IBEX! Seems they just like chilling in the former moat of the castle, all of which is part of Naturpark Steyr.

Old Town Steyr is a post-WWII rebuild (the region is close to Linz and was big into manufacturing during the war, hence the damage) but was no less charming than the castle; and its exceptional Christmas market was well worth our time. A pause for Wild Käsekrainer and Bratwurst, plus a shared mug of Glühmost that we found considerably more to our enjoyment than traditional Glühwein, too.

Brummelhaus, the building on the left, is a Steyr landmark noted for its Gothic architecture.

Back on the Autobahn. Sunshine and snow kissed Tannenbaum. One can almost breathe in the fresh alpine air from this snap.

By mid afternoon we had reached Schloss Jaidhof in Fuschl am See, hosting its small and sumptuous market in a gorgeous setting. If one could not find a gift or two or three here, then all hope is lost for thee.

The requisite pause at the Mondsee rest station for the classic snap. We never tire of this view.

Our lodging was in Mondsee, a suite in the Iris Porsche Hotel. Boutique (just 14 rooms); in the heart of the town; and an indulgent getaway. The presence of a Porsche parked in front of the hotel on its website might mean that it is associated with the Austrian Porsche family, but I am not certain.

The desk chair in our suite. Iris or Jellyfish? You decide.

Translations can be amusing sometimes.

The Christmas market within the Basilica was enchanting; local artisans selling handcrafted everything I did not know I needed. We sampled the Bockbier Schnapps, but it being that we do not know how distilled Ibex antlers might taste 😉 we just appreciated the craft of producing a spirit of 42% alcohol content.

In the town shops proper, plenty of tourist souvenirs. Believe it or not, I did not purchase one of these towels.

No lonely goatherds here.

Krampus in a Trachten store window.

For dinner we did not choose the Iris Porsche’s Falstaff three-fork restaurant because, in another believe it or not, the menu did not inspire us! Instead I had made reservations at a different restaurant owing to its intriguing Mediterranean-ish menu. We began with grilled prosciutto-wrapped sheep cheese with Cumberland aspic.

Colorful but perhaps not award-winning in aesthetics, my grilled Sea Bream with almond and saffron polenta more than made up for that in taste, however. Perfectly tender fish, and lightly perfumed polenta.

During the early hours of Sunday I rose to close the window I had left open for the night (fresh alpine air and all). Still magical, even at 0236 and -8C.

Breakfast. We do not get too excited about breakfast in European hotels because how exciting can one make the bread/meat/cheese/yogurt combos? But breakfast at Iris Porsche awakened us to the possibility of what could be.

Look at this omelette. Even I, one allergic to eggs, wanted to sample a forkful of this billowy deliciousness. But I had my made-to-order, “Beef Carpaccio with Wasabi Mayonnaise” for happiness, along with herb-marinated goat cheese. So civilized.

After that luxurious start to the day, a walk to the lake. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Not really wanting to head directly home on Sunday, we dawdled a bit in nearby St. Wolfgang and its market. The little town was refreshingly not crowded with tourists, so we could enjoy the sights and do a little shopping. I have a fondness for the blends from Salzkontor, a store specializing in, well, salt from the local mines, and dropped in to refill my supply.

Austrian humor.

I also have a fondness for alpine decor.

You knew at least one of the antlers would be coming home with us.

And that was that. A basket in the wagon was filled with treats; and we were filled with holiday spirit. Homeward bound.