Our drive into Austria from the Czech Republic was preceded by a sign with a large red logo and a bunch of German words. We found later, this said; “You must buy a vignette to drive on these motorways”. We are waiting for the bill in the mail… The other thing we noted was the dramatic change in the roads themselves. Winding and sweeping roads gave way to direct motorways with a well defined berm.
We were also greeted with a lot of cloud, to be followed by a heavy dousing of rain as we reached Salzburg. On the plus side, our motel bed was shaped like a red race car. The plan for the next day was to return to Berchtesgaden, the area where Mitch proposed. Tams’ parents really must have wanted to see the romantic side… Unfortunately, all we got was an even heavier set of rainfall.
Arriving, we found some hire bikes. The idea was to ride around the surrounds and get a good dose of exercise in. That lasted all of a couple hours as we returned to the bike shop, completely saturated to find the Bike Shop was closed for the next hour, We dried off in the local bakery before walking through the Documentation Obersalzburg, a museum nestled among Nazi ruins. We could have stayed hours on end with the audio guides. There was so much history. Here, you have a really good look at how the Nazi’s rose to power, from the seeds sown in the First World War, to the many benefactors and personalities responsible for planning such a horrible genocide.
Arriving back to the race car bed for a hot shower we learned of Tam’s sister Anna’s engagement to Tim in Dubrovnik, an amazing location in on the Adriatic. Finding a place to celebrate with some champagne was now on the cards.
With a break in the weather we made south for the Tyrolean province and the Carnic Alps. Stopping by the lake in Zell Am See we started our climb up towards the Großglockner-Hochalpenstraße (or Grossglockner high alpine road). This is a scenic toll road that costs about NZ$40 to pass. Along the road there are waypoints where you can discover different parts of Alpine nature. At the first stop all we could smell was the clutch burning! We didn’t manage to any edelweiss on the nature walk. Apparently they are protected from picking.
As the snow melt was rapidly retreating many animals were out for spring, including the marmot. This critter is a rodent about the size of a rabbit with large front teeth and a big flat tail. Climbing higher up the views were breathtaking. We saw large slips cross the road from avalanches. A crew was at hand to rapidly carve a new path.
Driving into Lienz to get a spot of Wi-Fi (to book another nights accommodation), Mitch found a place in St Lorenzen, only 8 miles as the crow flies, but was actually a 35 minute drive away… It turned out to be all worth it, because our village accommodation was nestled in between the amazing views of the Alps and the Dolomites. Here we got to see some rural Austrian life. This included much to Tams’ horror, a couple cows being lead to the slaughter. An old lady who could only speak in German invited Rich to help cut the lawn with her scythe.
The following day we took a walk in the high meadows – real Sound of Music type stuff. Marg wanted to try on her best Julie Andrews impersonation.
The road to Slovenia took us through the Karawanks Tunnel. 7.8km of long passageway, enough to get Tam nervous. You would go blue trying to hold your breath. This time round Mitch identified the vignette sign and we got a shiny $10 holograph to slip on the front windscreen. Only a half hour till our stay in Lake Bled.