A Travellerspoint blog

Austria

Europe is On The Move & We're Headed to Innsbruck

sunny 25 °C

Day 59 Saturday July 22 2017
Ljubliana to Innsbruck / Border Crossing / 447 KM

  • Since Plan B is in force and we are now headed back to UK, there is no time to enjoy the lakeside town of Bled or visit the bee museum at Radvolijica, as originally planned.
  • As we leave Ljubiliana in a NW direction towards Austria & Salzburg we see mountains rising in the not so far distance. Driving in western Austria, even on a motorway route, is spectacularly scenic.
  • We are glad we leave the Ljubiliana promptly. The city may be still slumbering on a sunny Saturday morning, but on the various motorways of Central Europe, traffic is already heavily congested and getting worse by the hour. This weekend 22/23 July is one of the busiest of the year for most of Europe, the UK included.
  • As it happens we are headed north and it is only returning holiday makers that share our route. Schools have just finished in many countries and the vast majority of people are going on holiday, on the same day and altogether.

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  • North, south, east & west, as far as the eye can see - a huge human migration is unfolding before our very eyes. Yes it's voluntary not enforced, yes it happens in vehicles and not on foot. But it is still European madness.
  • Some 65 km out of Ljubiliana we queue to cross the Slovenian / Austrian border. It's not passport control, it's a queue to purchase the obligatory vignette.
  • 8.90 euros for a minimum of 7 days. Firstly what a silly amount - 90 cents - all that small change required to service cash transactions.
  • Secondly, that is not the end of the story - in Austria you pay additionally to drive through their longer and extremely splendid tunnels. Within a short distance of the border we pay out a total of 20 euros in tunnel fees.
  • To add insult to financial pain, 50 cents (1/2 euro ) entry is then charged at the toilets at the next motorway service station.
  • It's our first visit to Innsbruck, Austria's 4 th city. Surrounded as it is by high mountains, the vista from the office windows must be very uplifting. You are but a cable car ride away from mountain summits, ski slopes and bike trails.
  • Nala, our hotel for the night, is a short walk from Maria Therese Strasse & the famous Monumental Arch that leads into Innsbruck's old town.
  • Fortunately weekend parking is allowed on the side streets and without charge. We manage to find a space close to our hotel. Otherwise be prepared for a daily fee of around 10 euros.
  • Interior designers have been let loose in the Nala. Yes it's interesting, even eclectic. But light switches are too numerous & complicated, there is no aircon and rooms have bathrooms with sliding glass doors. It would seem that according to contemporary design standards. it is the height of chic to have a bath in the middle of your bedroom and a toilet visible to all.
  • AG comments that they might as well just put the toilet in the middle of the room and just be done with it.
  • Call us old fashioned. We just don't get the appeal. And we have yet to discover anyone who does - except obviously the designers.
  • After another long day on very busy roads AG is exhausted. Sightseeing is restricted to a mere wander around the old town. The main task is to find somewhere suitable to eat. We are craving steak. Woodfire is recommended by reception, but they say they have no space all evening. It pays to reserve in advance at the weekend in Innsbruck.
  • SG navigates a walking trail through the old town purposefully to pass by and check that there really is no availability. It's just 6 p.m. Diners have not yet begun to arrive. They take pity and allocate us a table out on the rear terrace. It's perfect. We're the first to order and to eat. The food, starters & steak main course, is first class in both presentation & flavour. It definitely justifies our perseverance.
  • En route back to our hotel we come across a live music performance in one of the old town's squares. Innsbruck puts on lots of different cultural events during the summer. This evening's concert is part of their annual New Orleans Jazz Festival. We stay a short while and enjoy. But tomorrow's journey, across a Europe very much on the move, looms large. A good night's sleep is essential.

View from Hotel Nala's Terrace - Olympic Ski Jump in Background

View from Hotel Nala's Terrace - Olympic Ski Jump in Background

Religious Icons are Prominent in Austria

Religious Icons are Prominent in Austria

Gothic Window with Over 2500 Copper Tiles in Old Town Innsbruck

Gothic Window with Over 2500 Copper Tiles in Old Town Innsbruck

Another Lovely Drinking Fountain in Innsbruck

Another Lovely Drinking Fountain in Innsbruck

Live Music in Innsbruck with the Golden Roof Behind

Live Music in Innsbruck with the Golden Roof Behind

Night Sky in Innsbruck

Night Sky in Innsbruck

New Orleans Festival in Innsbruck

New Orleans Festival in Innsbruck


Downtown Innsbruck - SG

Downtown Innsbruck - SG

Posted by sagbucks 12:13 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

Driving to Graz in time for Glockenspiel @ 6 p.m.

A scenic motorway day - don't forget to purchase a vignette

sunny 25 °C

Day 4 Sunday, May 28 2017
Landsberg am Lech to Graz 475 km

  • Today we are heading via Munich to Salzburg and then to Graz. There is no sightseeing arranged until we reach Graz where SG takes over the agenda. AG controls the car and driving, SG the accommodation, food and tourism.
  • SG is still getting to grips with the truck systems. Every nook & cranny within the truck interior is filled with something essential. Where have we packed .....? for instance washing liquid, clothes line & pegs? The dirty laundry bag is filling quickly and fine warm evenings permit a small laundry session overnight.
  • As for our daily routine before setting off to a new destination - well a full tank of diesel helps, bottles filled with water & juice, snacks easily accessible and a picnic lunch ready in the truck fridge. German supermarkets are closed Sundays so we stocked up with some basic provisions yesterday evening before checking into our hotel.
  • Then using 2 different satnavs we input the various coordinates of the day's journey ahead. This has been part of AG's preparation. He has verified coordinates of all accommodation booked, of places of interest en route and major junctions where there is a crucial turning to make. We also have, for visual reference and verification, good old paper maps. Our entire intended route across Europe, Turkey and into Georgia Armenia & Georgia has been marked up in highlight pen by AG. Really how can navigator lose her way?!
  • The nature of our road adventures means that we can explore pittoresque, significant and historic routes. Unintentionally we find that we are now at a point on the so called Romantic Route / Romantische Straße. This is a 350 km route that winds its way through the forests and mountains of Baden- Würtemberg and Bavaria. A very lovely part of Germany. Würzburg marks the start and Füssen in the Alps it's end point. It might be a nice road to drive in a small group of classic cars. We make a mental note for a future plan.
  • It's good to have plans - some never happen, some need to be changed and some like this truck trip to Georgia only take place because there was a plan in the first place.
  • Landsberg am Lech has some historical significance too. It was an important point on the Via Claudia Augusta, a Roman trade route that connected Italy to Augsburg in Germany. And it's why a bridge was first built here in 12 century to span the River Lech.
  • This town also has a certain 20 century notoriety. After a trial lasting almost a month Adolf Hitler was sentenced to 5 years incarceration in the Landsberg prison for his involvement in the violent Munich Putsch in November 1923. His crime? Treason. For some reason he was released within 9 months ( good behaviour?! ) but he had time to write Mein Kamf whilst in prison here. As the Nazi movement developed and as Hitler's National Socialist party grew in power and influence, Lansberg am Lech was regarded as destination for Nazi pilgrimage & the party faithful. The only concentration camp to be located on German soil was built on the outskirts of Landsberg am Lech towards the end of World War 2.
  • Wow, a seemingly insignificant place but with such history, good & bad. You just never know. And certainly when AG selected it as a stop over he had no idea. Only the knowledge that it sits near the confluence of several major motorways and had a room at an inn.
  • We may be travelling motorway today but it is a very scenic stretch that leads from Munich via Salzburg to Graz. Alpine pastures, stunning villages & churches, and snow capped mountains in the distance. Oh and the beautiful Chiemsee where there is much sailing activity this fine holiday weekend.
  • Crossing the German Austrian border just before Salzburg is not seamless despite Schengen. There is much traffic queuing to enter Germany - not sure why. Lorries are parked up roadside in a long line. SG suspects that there is a curfew on HGV travel on Sundays in this part of Europe. How sensible to enforce one day when cars have the roads to themselves.
  • There is also a sign announcing the sale of Vignettes for the Austrian road system. Germany has been free but not so Austria. After our experience on our London - Sydney trip when through ignorance & lack of language knowledge we failed to do so in Hungary, we are careful not to infringe national laws. In Hungary we were confronted with first a bribe of 250 euros and later a fine of 100 euros. An expensive mistake.
  • We purchase the cheapest available vignette of 10 euros which allows us travel on Austrian roads for 10 consecutive days. Actually we are only spending one night in Graz and on our return end July one night in Innsbruck. But there is no offer for 2 days driving.
  • And we discover the vignette is not the end of the charging story. We later pay 5 euros to travel through a series of tunnels - on the motorway! And further on yet another tunnel toll of 8.50 Euros. Bring lots of euro cash if you come to Austria.
  • Not for the first time SG wonders why on earth we cannot charge foreign vehicles arriving at a British port a vignette of a certain amount to help fund our roads. It would dispel the very real sense of injustice that we must pay abroad but those coming to Britain by road, drive for free at the British taxpayer's expense.
  • Comfort stops are expensive in Austria too. AG and I have to pay 1 euro for the pleasure!
  • We end up seeing more of Austria than we intend and drive more km than estimated. We get lost. A joint effort. Satnavs, both of them instruct departure from the A8 but the blue motorway signs for Graz contradict. Mistrusting the satnavs, we follow the signs. And then annoyingly the signage runs out. No more mention of Graz. It is evident we should have listened to satnav. We cannot turn around because of the traffic queues in the other direction. There's nothing for it but to follow an alternative but longer route. The paper map comes in handy in giving us a visual perspective to our mistake. We decide to follow satnav in future dilemmas, especially when both are indicating the same route. Never mind about road signs for goodness sake.
  • We arrive in Graz around 4. The modern outskirts of this city are nothing to write home about. So SG won't! We locate our hotel in the old town area thanks to a very large elevated sign - so prominent we wonder how it was approved by Unesco World Heritage officials.
  • However the Kunsthotel is owned by influential people - Red Bull as in the energy drink & Formula 1 Racing Team. It's name 'Art Hotel' is self evident as soon as you enter the hotel. There are original pieces of art hung on every available bare wall. Apparently the collection is not permanent - the owner(s) rotates the artwork between his numerous houses, offices & hotels.
  • We unload the truck and then entrust it to the parking skills of the concierge. It's expensive to bring a vehicle into old town - parking for the night is 18 euros. The truck is too high to fit in most underground carparks. The concierge has a compromise solution. But since we're paying 18 euros, we know it's legal.
  • We plan to do a self guided walking tour tomorrow morning before leaving for Zagreb. This evening we wish to watch the 18.00 performance of the Graz Glockenspiel ( other performance times are @ 11 a.m. & 3 p.m). Then we plan an aperitif in a good place to watch the world go by, followed by a steak supper at El Gaucho. Fearing the quality of cuisine further down the road, we figure it a good idea to build up some nutritional reserves now.
  • The Glockenspiel is somewhat underwhelming. At 6 p.m , 2 figures clad in traditional costume dance to 3 different bell melodies. But their scope of movement is limited and the show a little tedious. We have been better examples of Glockenspiel in Munich & Prague.
  • On the other hand our steak experience at El Gaucho is excellent. Argentinian beef is simply the best!
  • Back at the hotel our room is quiet because it does indeed overlook a brick wall. Management have noted our request. Then we realise we can hear church bells chiming on the half hour. There's just no escape from noise in a city environment. We'd better find our ear plugs.

Graz Glockenspiel @ 6 p.m.

Graz Glockenspiel @ 6 p.m.

Graz Glockenspiel in Motion & in Tune

Graz Glockenspiel in Motion & in Tune

Buskers Hope to Complement the Glockenspiel Show

Buskers Hope to Complement the Glockenspiel Show

AG Drinks a Well Earnt Glass of Local Beer

AG Drinks a Well Earnt Glass of Local Beer

Kunst Hotel has a Lovely  Roof Garden w Amazing Views

Kunst Hotel has a Lovely Roof Garden w Amazing Views

Graz Supplies Free Water to Tourists

Graz Supplies Free Water to Tourists

Our Truck is Not Easy to Park

Our Truck is Not Easy to Park

Posted by sagbucks 07:50 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

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