On to Austria
17.07.2014 - 18.07.2014 28 °C
- 14Th to 17th July
ON TO AUSTRIA
Only two hours drive today from Tata. Motorway most of the way which was again mostly occupied by lorries. It was pretty free moving until the outskirts of Vienna. Was amazed what a huge place it is, it must have taken a good half hour to skirt the area from one side of Vienna to another at 80mph!
This B&B in Sparbach used to be a farm. The original farmstead house was completely renovated and extended 22 years ago so they could sidestep from agriculture. Now there are 9 guest rooms and 3 apartments. The farm buildings forming a rear courtyard seem to be let out to store carts and machinery. In the carpark there is a swimming pool! The water is 33c, what a stroke of luck. By the pool there is a 20ft+ apricot tree, absolutely laden with fruit. It survives because the courtyard faces south and the buildings take the edge off the wind, even so I think it must be exceptional to last this many winters. The fruits are deeeelicious.
Our hiccup of the day was finding somewhere to eat. Everywhere we went or were told to go to was closed. It seems that, owing to the skiing season, which is where most make their living, they shut in the summer. We finally ate down in Baden, went into a buzzing trendy place, El Gaucho, better title would be El Groucho!, which was not exactly the traditional inn we had a fancy for. Never mind will find one another day. Tomorrow we get to go to Vienna.
Having made good time here on 14th and after last night's fiasco in Baden, we set out for Vienna itself. What a well organised public transport system. We drove to the nearest park and ride, about 5 miles away. Parked the car and crossed the road to the train. We had no sooner paid for our ticket than a train arrived and we were on our way to town. One change and about 20 minutes later we were standing outside the cathedral. We strolled around and saw Mozart's Museum in the flat where he lived for most of his composing life, then wandered down the precinct to the Opera House where we decided to go on a tourist bus around the city. This was a good move as it became a really very hot day and being on top with the roof open there was a welcome breeze and we could both enjoy the views. This trip took about an hour and thoroughly recommend it for you to get your bearings. There are several alternative routes, depending on how much time you have in Vienna and what interests you.
Back at the Opera House we felt peckish so we wandered around to see what took our fancy, we found an old style Viennese bistro tucked down a side street and had a nice refreshing lunch. It was amazingly busy, there were 5 working away in the small kitchen and about 6 waiting on staff. For a small business it was impressive the amount of meals they were serving. Having refuelled we set off down the precinct once more and took coffee and chocolate torte in the famous Sacher Hotel. Made my day, to actually get there at last, though needed to walk a few miles afterwards! Thought came to me that if ever Flybe do flights to Vienna from Exeter perhaps we could have a girls weekend here, for shopping, eating, music et al?
The heat climbed up and up and we dodge in and out of shops for some air conditioning, I was planning on buying some Austrian choccies to bring home, but the penny dropped that apart from the risk of me eating them en route, they would not have survived the heat all that way back to UK.
Gaestehous Andrea serves a very good selection at breakfast, with real fruit juice and even makes a decent cuppa! Also the homemade jams in abundance.
Getting back to base, we quickly went down to the pool to cool off in 33c water, yes 33c heated by the sun!!, well as close to cool as it was possible. The tractor arrived home whilst we were in the pool, not much room for manoeuvre into its shed, and intriguing to watch from water level!
Went out for what we intended to be a short trip to explore our surroundings, off the main roads to a place called Hainfeld and then from there to Pottingen. What a drive that was, hairpin bends for miles. Someone recently brought up the joys of cats cradle, well cats cradle is nothing to that 20 miles! Hairpin bends for miles and miles, everywhere we went we met hoards of motorcyclists. At one cafe there were 70 parked outside. They seemed to be just cruising up and down specific sections to make sure they got the bends well rehearsed. It was a truly great route and terrific scenery and views to boot. Shall miss these alps and forests when we get back. Didn't see or hear many birds though on our photo stops. It was all enveloping silence, except for the roar of bikes approaching, and one Maserati!
Another speeding fine today, E20 this time, but think he let B off lightly as we said we were hungry and had been looking for somewhere to eat. He recommended us to look out for a sign indicating Austrian local style bistro food which is cheap and tasty, so we will look out for that tomorrow.
Back to another hot swim and farewells to Vienna.
Apricot jam making went on all day yesterday, Frau Andrea made upwards of 30 jars and gave us one as a parting gift today. We set off for Salzburg but first went to get diesel, not at the garage where the chap doesn't take cards, nor does he give change! So you get the nearest he gives for the money you have in your hand! Must be a good line that one?
The GPS decided to take us for a wander along quieter roads today, half motorway and then countryside. Mind you, some of the towns were rather busy ones, but went through one, Neustadt which look a good place to revisit if we have time.
It was also hot today, so we went into Salzburg for the evening. Allegedly a quieter time to visit, though there were not many shops open, but we did get a good look at the buildings, riverside walk and sat in a square on the way to Mozart's Birthplace to have supper. Took pictures of me with his statue and Bernie. There is an evening concert on Friday but whether we get there is another matter. The town is very visitor friendly in being compact, and being by the river there is that added appeal. Plus, the castle astride the burg set overseeing the town. Lots of great shops there, and Prada is opening soon. Took a snap of two pigeons surveying the windows as if they were queueing for opening bargains!! The ubiquitous horse tours were doing a great trade and a rickshaw bike tour too. Summertime is good time to visit, but possibly earlier in June might not be so hot. There seems to be a good selection of events laid on in all towns and cities. Pop, classical, comedy and so on.
Nearby to where we are there are three lake areas which we aim to explore tomorrow. We had lunch at Dachstein, which we found out later is the head of a chairlift and stomach grabbing viewpoint, am not sure about visiting that one!
PS on one of the local inns from Sparbach, when we passed it last evening it was open and the carpark was absolutely jammed with Mercedes, Audis, all kinds of sports cars etc. So, memo that Tuesdays that one is closed, not sure though that we will be that way again.
One thing is apparent in Austria, vis a vis the newer EU states. The prices are rocketing, no longer 75p for a jolly good coffee, now 3E and more for a teaspoonful. Prices of everything much the same as at home.
Wherever you go in Europe it would seem, the internet is fraught with frustrating delays. Tonight, no signal, and I foolishly thought would upload stuff to the blog. No way, 35 rooms are let and looking around, most of the women have at least 2 handsets they are trying to log on with, let alone the menfolk! Fico is not alone.....
Bright and early start, though we were still the last down at breakfast. Visited Fuschisee, Wolfgangsee, the largest of the lakes closest to Schwaighofen. Then we went on to Attersee which is even bigger. Coffee time, so we found a car park, which was free, sat on the terrace overlooking the lake and we decided to plunge in. The water was crystal clear, the bottom is pebble, but they are rounded, so don't dig in your feet like the ones on some British beaches. The temperature was 22c, somewhat lower than the bathwater at Vienna guesthouse, but refreshing. The lakeside was well equipped. Water ski trips for hire, boats for hire, bathing area for children complete with slide and two large pontoons for adults off from the walkway out into the lake at distances of about 30 and 60 metres. Next to the coffee shop was a grass "beach" with trees for shade as well as brollies.
We must have spent about 2 hours there and B actually started to get a tan now. Several times we have seen those mesh bundles of stones used as front garden fencing, and today they were around the frontage of the coffee house. It looks a bit weird considering the size and bulk, to say the least, but suppose that in view of the fact that ice and snow might mean that it saves cars or lorries sliding into them ?
We drove around a bit more to Mondsee, which was also well equipped for swimmers, sailing etc. Finally to Zellersee, which seemed to be mostly locals attracted there as there was no formal holiday set up, just cars abandoned every spare piece of ground and people with umbrellas, chairs and picnic tables perched along the lakesid. Then back to base.
Next target was the Salt Mines at Hallein, well, although it is only a fairly short run, allegedly, it took nearly and hour to get there, only to find that it was shut. Just as well as the sign advised that you should be suitably attired with sturdy shoes and warm clothing due to it being 10c at most inside! Amazed that tourist attractions shut so early here, 4.30 or 5.00 is about all they manage. The charges in Austria are pretty steep for entrance to various attractions, and given the employment situation, it seems strange that they do not seem to try and expand the period of trading during the light evenings to catch a lighten a few more tourist coffers.
Not to out done, we thought we would then go to the cable car at Bertchesgarden. Only a stone's throw from the Salt Mine. However, closing time was looming, but what really scuppered it was the open chairs to sit in going up. On the leaflets it shows a gondola cabin, which would have been fine, but swaying open chairs with no soft snow to fall on, was more than my nerves could stand!! Coward.... Still the views down to Salzburg were great and the road was nice and twisty. Looking up you could see tractors at incredibly steep angles turning hay and even baling! Couldn't help wondering how many over did the steepness...
Final night in Austria, on to Germany in the morning. Dinner on the terrace watching the sun go down on the mountains. Gotta make the most of it, time is beginning to slip away now towards Roscoff. Now we have had lovely swims in the lake, looking forward to more in the Black Forest.
On our run to the lakes, between Schwaihofen and Wolfgang See, right alongside the road, in under the trees was mile after mile of cycleway. It was being extended too. Which brings to mind that, considering the number of cyclists we have seen around, we have only seen one cyclist who was pelting along with no regard for other people on the path. Even on the road cyclists seem to be much less inclined to be in Tour de France mode.