The Gorgeous Oetztal of Austria

Scenery in the breathtaking Oetztal

May 20

We spent the day in one of the most scenic valleys of Austria, the Oetztal, near Innsbruck. The Oetztal is perhaps best known for the discovery of the “snow man,” nicknamed “Oetzi,” found frozen in a glacier high above the valley floor. Oetzi is now in a museum in Bolzano, across the border into Italy.

European Focus guests George and Susan Then at a high pass near a ski resort

The Oetztal features eye-popping views around every corner. Quaint villages, shepherds working with their floppy-eared sheep and stunning alpine peaks, covered with up to three feet of fresh snow on May 17 when we were there made this a day to remember.

The cascading Stuiben waterfall was one of our destinations on this clear, cold day. Fresh snow was still sticking to the pine and other trees throughout the area, adding to the beauty. A relatively easy hike takes one to several viewing platforms where one has a great view of nature’s power.

A tiny chapel outside a village in the Oetztal. We were amazed at the detail and decoration inside this non-descript church.

Along the road we encountered ski towns which were completely empty of people. Huge hotels, closed. Restaurants, bars and cafes, all shuttered. The season had just ended and now these towns such as Obergurgl and Hochgurgl and others will sleep until October. The staffs of these places are all working in Australia or America or in southern Europe. One enterprising cafe owner was open and we stopped there for apple strudel and a cappuccino on our way back down the valley. There we met a pair from Stockholm who were on vacation in the area. We laughed when they told us that “The Norwegians hate the Swedes. There was a time when the Norwegians were poor. Now they have oil.”

Speaking of oil, the price difference between Austria and Italy is startling. A liter of diesel fuel in Italy: 1.86 Euro. In Austria: 1.42 Euro.

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