Austria

After leaving Munich we headed for Austria and the Alps.  We had read about some of the high alpine roads in Austria and decided to head to the Grossglockner, the second most visited place in Austria after Vienna.  Built in the 30’s when the country was in a depression, this incredible road was built purely for tourism, for the love of driving in the mountains.

 

We followed the road through all its hairpin bends to the Franz Josef glacier.  Here we got close up with some ibex and well as a few marmots.  We walked out through a series of tunnels as far as we could before the snow took over the path.  We were lucky with the weather and had great views of the mountains and the glacier.

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Sticking in the mountains our next stop was at the stunning Krimmler waterfalls.  Deciding we’d rather buy ice cream than pay 5€ on parking we rode our bikes to the bottom of the falls and then hiked up the very steep trail to the top of the series of impressive waterfalls.  I’m learning that nothing is easy in the Alps unless you only want to see it from the bottom, and the best views really are from the top!

We stopped in the lovely city of Innsbruck for a day, a beautiful town nestled in the mountains which has hosted the Olympics and Paralympics numerous times.  We wandered through the city centre and along the river, admired the famous gold roof, and ducked into churches to admire as well as cool off (they are always cold and quiet inside when you just need to escape the heat of a city).

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Leaving the city we headed into the mountains to the tiny village of Kuhtai where we hiked up to a pretty lake and then carried on to a nearby peak.  It was a lot of scrambling up and over rocks, and as we neared the top of a very exposed peak the distant sounds of thunder became a bit too close.  As fast as we could (which was not overly fast) we descended the mountain.  The storm did catch us, but not until we were within 20 minutes or so from the van.  And then it is a great feeling to come round the last bend and see your little house waiting there for you, with dry clothes and a thermos full of hot water for tea.

On our last day in Austria we drove over another beautiful high alpine road.  The scenery in Austria has been amazing, the wildflowers brilliant.  It feels like too short a stay, but the road is leading ever onward.

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