dont know what it means.
This time we look at Austria. After leaving the tropical sea-levels of northern Italy, it was nice to have a change of scenery as we moved forwards towards the Germanic regions of central Europe. Possibly the most scenic of the countries we visited, Austria is 60% mountains, so we were bound to get some decent photos and sights.
16/5/08 - Venice to Austrian Tyrol
We left early (again) from Venice, and headed 3hrs up the road to services for lunch and white-water rafting shortly after that. Rafting was just outside of Innsbruck on a river that was the fastest-flowing river I'd ever seen. Coming from Australia where it hadn't rained for roughly 13 years, it was quite a novelty and scared the crap out of me considering we were about to voluntarily throw ourselves in the thing. We had 6 to a raft, I was with Shane, Matt, Jon, Yvonne, Christelle and Lauren - Shane, Me and the rest were Canadians who thought we were girls when we constantly reminded them about our rapidly worsening case of third degree frostbite. We geared up in attractive tight fitting wet suits, knee guards, shoes, life jacket and a helmet.
We had a quick introduction to white water rafting (literally 1min) and it was straight down to the river. We were told to get wet as soon as we got down there so that when we fell out during the middle of a rapid the freezing temperatures wouldn't send us into a cardiac arrest. That said, i went up to my knees and that was just fine. The water was about 3 degrees, and straight from the top of the Austrian Alps, which did not help my chest infection at all. We traveled through 15 different rapids over about 45 mins worth of action, thrills and definitely spills. In the distance our guide pointed out a snow-capped mountain that was the mountain used by paramount pictures - the one in the movies that the stars circle around. Interesting. Towards the end, the fella with us decided it would be a great idea to do a 'wheelie' in the raft - where we all went to the back and he pulled out his safety rope, designed for rescue procedures mind you, and tied it to the front of the raft so we all lent back, he pulled the rope and we
First sights of Austrian Hills
just on the border of AT and Italy
were flying down the river at a 90 degree angle until the boat finally went over and we were all in the drink again. Great work. Despite the hypothermia, it was great fun and I'd definitely go again.
It was a further hour or so drive to Hopfgarten, the Austrian Ski Village, where we rocked up at our accommodation for 2 nights at an Austrian Gasthof (similar to chateau). It was tucked away right at the end of Hopfgarten, right on the river - really nice location. That night it was an 80's party - which proved to be a great night and everyone looked great. Needless to say, everyone had a great time and we got to bed about 2am.
17/5/08 - Hopfgarten
A 9:00am breakfast was a treat to all of us this morning, definitely required to recharge the batteries. At 9:30, we headed outside to a shed full of mountain bikes ready for our ride in the alps. It was a 25km bike ride through Hopfgarten and along a creek bed up to a restaurant for lunch. As you can imagine, Austria is extremely hilly. The ride was hilly in parts, but we all
survived. We took the harder of the 2 tracks, which turned out to be easier in the long run, and arrived at lunch about 11:30 - a pub with a view of the ski fields of Austria. On the menu was the traditional Austrian meal - sausages and a potato the size of a rockmelon. The ride down was great - mostly downhill (obviously) and we arrived back at the Gasthof at 1pm.
We had the bikes until 5pm, so a few of us headed back into Hopfgarten town, which was a reasonably bad idea, considering the town was on siesta until 3pm, meaning there was nothing to do. Now everyone knows that there is always something open, so it was off to le Pub for a local brew until 3pm. We met a few others from the tour there - funny that - and we were entertained by some local drunken Austrian farmers for the afternoon which was a crack up. This guy was about our age, he was the biggest cattle farmer in Hopfgarten, with 60 head of cattle - each one he was extremely proud of. We were at the pub with Belinda and Fleur, who
near the white water rafting river
were from a cattle station just outside of Mt Isa in QLD. They couldn't believe themselves when Belinda announced that she looks after roughly half a million cows back home. They couldn't believe that the girls used a helicopter to round up the cows, when this guy is out there with a twig and a jack russell. This guy proposed to her on the spot, he was beside himself. Hilarious times. After getting ourselves together, we headed back to camp, ditched the bikes and had a little snooze by the river in preparation for the beach party that was on later on. We made a quiet night out of it, we were in bed by midnight.
That was it for beautiful Austria - definitely on the list to go back and see, Ski Hopfgarten is definitely in the future plans.
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