A scenic motorway day - don't forget to purchase a vignette
28.05.2017 - 28.05.2017 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.