Crystal Blue, That was the name of the 2016 World Rowing Tour which inspired this trip. It is both an evocative and an accurate name. The lakes are stunningly beautiful, the water ranging in hues of blues and greens. Surrounded by rock walls, high mountains or wooded hills, each lake has a distinctive character, as do the towns which dot the shores. Rowing is the perfect way to experience the Salzkammergut, the Austrian Lake District. You will drop your oars into six different lakes, all readily accessible from our base in the spa town, Bad Ischl. And while the water may be cool, the warmth of the welcome is anything but. Austrian culture, history, hospitality, food, wine and beer are all as spectacular as the rowing.

This special region in western Austria has attracted tourists since the mid-19th century, when aristocrats from Vienna and other cities discovered the mountains and the lakes, and the healing power not only of the beautiful landscapes and out-door pursuits, but also of salt baths. The Emperor established a summer home in Bad Ischl, and the city retains a regal air. All that fresh air generates a good appetite. Native char and whitefish are fished, cooked and served to your plate. Mountain pastures produce cow, goat and sheep cheeses. Home-made sausages and smoked meats from local farmers are perfect with the hearty breads baked in wood ovens. Oh, and then there are the deserts. The tradition of cake and coffee arrived with the aristocrats and has happily remained.