Mountains, forests and lake in Austria!
Before we came to live Austria, my husband, who was born here always liked to tell us about the enjoyable holidays he used to spend with his family in the Pack lake when he was a kid. He used to go swimming on the lake, for walks in the mountains and he also used to collect berries in the forests, which were later turned into delicious jams. So it was not surprising that one of the first places we visited when our family moved to Austria was precisely the Pack lake! We stayed in a typical guesthouse at the entrance to the lake for a few days, and it was the owner who told us there was a piece of land for sale nearby and he gave us the name and contact number of the owner.
We eventually bought that piece of land and soon had a typical Styrian wooden blockhouse facing the lake! The area is only about 45 minutes from the city of Graz where we live and we soon were to find that the place had many attractions depending on the seasons.
This is the best season in the Pack, as it is at 800 mts, so it is a few degrees cooler than Graz and the air is also better, as there is no fine dust pollution there. One can go swimming on the lake, spend a relaxing time on a boat, or go fishing, as the lake is always well stocked with trout. There are several cafeterias around the lake, where it is possible to have ice creams, coffee, beer or soft drinks and where one can also have boats for rent.
There are also a few guesthouses serving typical local food all year round, including sweets like apple strudel and different types of cakes, like apricot, plum or one of the various berries that grow in the area. Summer is also the time when one can stay in one of the caravan parks at the end of the lake and many visitors like to stay there.
In the summer months one can purchase strawberries and blueberries from a farmer, or pick them yourself from the side of the road or the forest. If one is feeling energetic, one can also follow one of the numbered walking trails, for which one can buy maps, or walk around the lake, where one will go past farms and forests.
If one goes fishing but does not catch any fish, one can always go to a guest house and order trout there, or buy some from farmers who grows them!
Probably one of the favourite seasons is autumn, as it is then that people collect various types of mushrooms from the forests, including popular ones, like Herrenpilz, Steinpilz and the egg yolk coloured Eierschwammel. This is also the time when Sturm (early wine) is available and it is customary to visit a buschenschank, which is the name given to places where wine-growers serve their early wine and also offer a limited selection of food, like country bread, spreads, sausages and cheeses. It is also traditional to sell roasted chestnuts to accompany the Sturm.
The Pack lake is very close to the Styrian Weinstrasse, which is the wine growing area, and it is also known as the Styrian Toscana.
Late Autumn is also the time when one can eat game, like venison and there are many guesthouses that specialise in preparing those dishes.
This is probably one of the favourite seasons for young and old. There are a few skiing areas nearby, like Salzstiegel, Hirschegg, Hoiswirt, Modriach-Winkel and Hebalm. Skating and ice hockey are also popular once the Pack lake freezes. It was almost traumatic for me when I first saw a mother pushing her baby in a pram on the lake, and I still don’t feel comfortable, even when I know the ice is about half a metre thick!
In addition to alpine skiing, snowboarding is also a great popular with the young, although older people usually prefer langlauf or cross-country skiing instead. Tobogganing is also much fun for the whole family and people can even try it at night time!
Especially after a long and cold Winter it is always nice to enjoy the longer and warmer Spring days and it is in the countryside that this is more noticeable. People also start thinking about the coming summer months, so most start growing flowers to decorate their balconies, which will reach their peak in a just a few months.
Especially if it turns out to be a white one, Christmas can be a most beautiful time in the Packerstausee, as children have holidays until after January 6th! It is also traditional for them to go out and choose their own tree to have it cut. Groups of children usually come around at this time too, collecting money for the church, bringing myrrh and singing Christmas carols. Guesthouses will have probably baked a selection of typical Christmas biscuits too, which they will gladly share with their guests as they wish them a Frohe Weihnachten!
The frozen lake will have probably started to melt by this time and it is customary to give people coloured hard boiled or chocolate eggs then. Hard boiled eggs are also hidden away, so that kids can have fun finding them, even though sometimes they will only turn up in the summer if they were well hidden!
Book about Styria
Other of my Austrian links
- Kitzeck, Austria: highest wine growing area in Central Europe!
We took some visitors to Kitzeck, a village in southern Styria, which is supposed to be the highest wine growing community in Central Europe. We had lunch up there and also tried different types of wine, as well as visiting the wine museum there.
- Styria and the Lippizaner horses
Barely 35 mins from the city of Graz and its many attractions, is Lipizzaner country, with its green meadows, rolling hills and cute traditional villages. This area has much to offer the visitor in addition to horses.