Magical morning at the Green Lake (Grüner See ) in Styria

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Up until about two years ago, I’ve never heard about the Grüner See (Green Lake) in Styria. But then there was this article about it in the news papers and it got nominated to be one of Austria’s most beautiful spots. I started wondering why neither I nor anyone I know has ever been there, since it’s pretty close to home and honestly… hence the size of Austria, pretty close to about every corner of good old Austria! 😉

Two friends and I had the idea of doing a little more homeland exploring whenever we have some time to spare and when the idea of going to Grüner See came up, we were instantly hooked.

Before I tell you about how amazing our trip to the lake was and how much I fell in love with the crystal clear water and the surreal colors of the lake, I’m going to tell you some useful facts about the Grüner See – Just in case you want to put it on your bucket list! 😉

  1. It’s not an ordinary lake

When planning a trip to the Green Lake, make sure to plan it during late spring or the early summer month. Its water comes from the snowmelt from the karst mountains surrounding it. Therefore the time after the snowmelt or during it is the time where the basin that becomes the lake will be filled up the highest and it is also the time of the year when people used to do spectacular diving and underwater photo-shootings. The lake reaches its maximum height usually between May and June.

  1. It was a divers paradise

During the month when the water is at its highest, the Green Lake was a paradise for divers. Diving through the green meadows, along hiking trails and tree trunks or floating by a bridge and benches isn’t something you experience every day.
Hence to the massive increase of tourists going there though, it is apparently prohibited to dive there since January 1st of 2016. Maybe the hype about it will fade eventually (although I don’t think so! :P) and I’ll have the chance to dive there too.

  1. It’s a tourist attraction

Since the articles I mentioned above, the Green Lake has become quite a tourist attraction. During its peak season and especially on weekends it is definitely a good idea to get up early and be there before ALL the OTHER PEOPLE are.
My friends and I got up at 4.30 in the morning to get there before the rest did and it certainly paid off. We had the lake all for ourselves (besides the ducks and ravens) and the chance to take in all its magical and peaceful glory.

  1. Pack some plan B breakfast

If you want to see the Green Lake without a bunch of people blocking your view and you decide to get up early and be there during the early morning hours, make sure to pack some plan B breakfast. Although there is a restaurant quite close to the lake, it probably won’t serve food in the early morning hours on a weekday! 😉

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  1. Don’t litter and respect the area

Although I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t cross your mind anyway I simply have to mention it here: Don’t leave any trash or food leftovers in the Green Lake area! There is a bunch of trash bins along the way around the lake, so it’s not much of an effort to put everything you want to get rid of in there. Camping and open fires are also prohibited. It is a strictly protected nature conservation area and once you’ve seen the beauty of it with your own eyes, you’ll realize why the rules to protect it are strict like that.

  1. Bring a drone

If you own one or know somebody owning one, bring a drone.
The lake by itself is breathtaking, but seeing it from above is something you’ll never forget. My friends and I had the chance to borrow a drone and I’m still in awe with the pictures we got from it.

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As I mentioned already, we got to the Green Lake in the early morning around 7 a.m. We were the only people there and approaching the lake after a short walk through the woods left me speechless. I knew the lake was famous for its amazing turquoise color, but the intensity of it still surprised me. The water is crystal clear and you can see all the way down to the lakes stony ground.
Heather flowers surrounded the whole lake and the grey karst mountains in the background perfected the whole setting. Since the three of us are mad about taking photos we stopped about every meter for new shots and it took as ages to circle the lake. A few ducks were following us all the way, probably waiting for us to feed them with something, and from time to time you could see the reflection of a raven flying over the lake mirrored on the surface of the water.

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Since we got there so early and the sun didn’t break through the misty clouds yet, it was a bit chilly at the lake, but nevertheless we stayed there for about 2.5 hours. There was simply too much beauty to discover to even think about leaving earlier.

Even on our way back to the car, we didn’t come across any other people and back at the parking lot we realized how lucky we were. Around 10 in the morning the cars started to flock in and I’m pretty sure, being surrounded by a lot of other people would have totally ruined this magical Green Lake experience for me.

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See 2

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Photo by: Rene Salaböck

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Paddywagon experience

I have to admit, I’m usually not a big fan of organized tours. I always feel like they don’t give me a proper chance to explore and take everything in. But since I only had five days in Ireland and the alternative option of renting a car and driving around on our own scared us too much ( …. with all the driving on the wrong side and so on! ;P ) , we decided to try out one of Irelands most famous and most popular bus tours. Paddywagon.

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Everything happens on the wrong side.
It hasn’t been my first visit in a country where driving on the left is considered the RIGHT side! But this time, I have to admit, there were a few quite funny and a bit embarrassing moments which will be remembered and some definitely shared!

We booked our tours a couple of days in advance on the Paddywagon website. We wrote them an Email, asking if there are any special discounts for students and then got told that there isn’t an official one, but they would be happy to offer us a 15 percent discount if we book online. So if you are sure about the days you want to do a bus tour while in Ireland, book online! 🙂 For the more spontaneous people of you, there is always the possibility to just walk into their office and buy a ticket there. We had people on our tour who just showed up at 7 am, 15 minutes before the bus left, and they still got a ticket! 😉

Our Paddywagon experience started around 7 am, we were lucky to live quite close to their first pick-up stop, the Paddy’s Palace Hostel. I really recommend to get on the bus at this stop, especially in winter, when waiting outside is not fun at all. They have a lovely check-in area there, which provides you with magazines and brochures while waiting and the staff there can give you lots of information about the tours and Dublin in general. Also you will be one of the first to enter the bus, which means… all the best seats are still available!

We followed Jon, the Paddywagon driver  to the bus and right in front of the door he stops and turns around… looking at us with his stern eyes and  says: “ I’m the driver“ . Since he introduces himself a couple of minutes ago, we didn’t really understand why he felt like he need to explain who he is again, but all of us were like „Yeah“ , but Jon, looks at us again and says without even smiling the tiniest bit „I’m driving the bus“. Really confused now we stood there, until we realized… we were lining up in front of the drivers door. So we quickly changed to the other side and he let us in the bus….

This is when I first realized… I really liked the Irish humor; it’s kind of dark, whacky and sarcastic. Most of the time, when talking to an Irish person, I wasn’t even sure if he/she was serious or not and only after I reflected on the situation a bit, I realized it was in fact just another joke. This Irish humor is also one of the reasons why I really enjoyed the ride with Paddywagon.

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The two drivers I was lucky to meet on my daytrips to the Giants Causeway and The cliffs of Moher, have been two of the funniest people I’ve met in the world. Especially our driver Jon left me rocking with laughter every ten minutes.

Another thing that really made time fly bye was the facts on Irish history the drivers tell you whenever you reach a place that comes with a tale or with some important historical background.
The drivers also sing and not just once… sometimes maybe even a bit too much (for my taste at least) but since it’s traditional Irish songs they sing for you (while driving of course) it just adds up to this feeling of… „getting to know the real Ireland a bit“.
And I know, I know…. riding on a tourist bus is probably not the real Ireland, but I had a feeling that all the stuff they were telling us on the tour and all the songs and everything, wasn’t just for touristy purposes, but really a part of the Irish culture.

Additionally to all the On-the-bus things I liked about Paddywagon, I really liked the way they planned their bus stops.
I’m one of those girls, who already worries about the next bathroom stop when entering the bus, car or whatever means of transportation. On the tour we stopped about every 1,5 hours. You always had the chance to walk around for a bit, buy a snack and use the lavatories without feeling rushed!

Another big advantage of traveling Ireland with Paddywagon was that the drivers definitely knew the best restaurants, coffee places, tracks and photo locations, and they were always happy to share that information. This way I successfully avoided the bulks of tourists at all of our stops and I was able to take some beautiful pictures without hundreds of fellow travelers photobombing.

We did two day-tours with Paddywagon. On our first day, we went up to Northern Ireland to see the Giants Causeway and the next day we took the tour to the world famous Cliffs of Moher. On the way there we saw quite a bit of the Irish countryside and stopped at a couple of truly amazing spots. I definitely fell in love with Ireland in these two days.

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More about the cliffs and the causeway in my next post. 🙂 For more pictures, check out my Instagram.

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http://www.paddywagontours.com/