BMW European Delivery - Day Two


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Europe » Austria » Upper Austria » Hallstatt
February 15th 2015
Published: March 8th 2015
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The Start of a Beautiful DayThe Start of a Beautiful DayThe Start of a Beautiful Day

The view from our big comfortable hotel room.
At the end of what is bound to be one hell of a long travelogue I plan to thank the many great Bimmerfesters out there who guided me through the whole ED and negotiating process. However, at this point I need to say "thanks" to all those Travelbloggers who urged me to find a way to get to Hallstatt in Austria. In our many years of travel throughout Europe one thing or another always seemed to prevent us from getting to that super picturesque little village. So many times I looked at that famous view of the little town hugging both the mirror-like lake and the towering Alps on her other shoulder and so many times I either got lost, snow derailed us or I just ran out of time. On our first full day of our European Delivery we finally made it.

The day began with one of those ample protein-packed breakfasts that the Vier Jahreszeiten lays out. I went for the fresh crusty rolls right away and stuffed them with 5 different kinds of mysterious cold cuts and cheese. I don't care to know what end of the animal that met comes from. I just know it was
Sonntag GeschlossenSonntag GeschlossenSonntag Geschlossen

Perhaps it was a good thing that everything was closed on this Sunday. As the trip went on we had more than enough opportunities to shop. But at this point I was dying for a Coke. Even the one shop that we saw open had the grocery aisles blocked off. The Bavarians are very strict about their Sunday Blue Laws,
delicious. hot chocolate, a couple of orange juices and a banana filled me up quite nicely.

We hit the road at around 9:30. The plan was to avoid the Austrian autobahn so I wouldn't need a vignette. Partly because I'm cheap but mostly for the challenge. Besides, the backroads are where the fun is in Europe. I do enough highway driving back home.

The day was absolutely gorgeous. The skies were bright blue and no snow was in the forecast. Temperatures peaked to 40 degrees later in the day. Things were thawing out everywhere we drove.

Just before leaving Bad Reichenhall I decided to stop at an open ReWe store to get a bottle of Coke for the drive. Imagine my shock and surprise to discover that only the bakery hop at the front of the big store was open. The rest of the aisles were roped off and off limits to customers. No Sunday food sales. It reminded me of the old Pennsylvania Blue Laws I grew up with back in the 60's.

Trusting my car's GPS I headed to Salzburg. Due to a grievous error on my part I forgot to check the "avoid
Photo Op in AustriaPhoto Op in AustriaPhoto Op in Austria

As we headed toward Hallstatt we took advantage of the sunny mild weather to take a leisurely ride. I felt like we stopped at every parking platz we passed on our route between the mountains and beside alpine streams.
tolls" setting and in a few seconds I was driving into Austria on the Autobahn toll road sans vignette. Desperately seeking an exit I drove for miles and miles breaking out in a cold sweat. No place to buy the ticket and no way to escape. Finally after what seemed like an hour (it was no more than 15 mins) I spotted an exit near Hallein. Down at the bottom of the ramp sat an official looking police van. I wasn't nearly as worried about the fine the Polizei were about to give me as the hell my wife would be putting me through. My fortune held out as I buzzed by him with nary a glance. Whew!

Following only secondary roads we passed through countless little villages, watched scores of hardy cross country skiers and snapped far too pictures of cows and horses. Occasionally we'd stop to look at a particularly quaint country church or wonder about the history of a looming castle in the distance. We couldn't have asked for nicer weather. Nearly glaring sunshine and completely clear roads with absolutely no potholes took us all the way to Hallstatt. A few times we stopped to try to
Austria Has Some Serious SnowAustria Has Some Serious SnowAustria Has Some Serious Snow

Although we had considerably more this year in the Poconos the Austria ski resorts were not suffering. The fact that so many cars with ski racks were on the road today was proof enough that their business must be thriving. And for those that didn't want to spend money on a ski pass there were miles and miles of open fields where cross country skiers could enjoy the mild temperatures.
take pictures of a snow-pocked creek running alongside the road, but the snow was piled way above our heads each time we pulled into a parking layby. The drive through the twisty windy roads was giving me ample opportunity to say what this little car could do. Not nearly as nimble as my Mini it was vastly superior to our Focus and the 128i I will soon be turning back into BMWFS. And despite all my wacky driving the EcoPro setting continually told me about all the added mileage I was getting.




Hallstatt was a great stop. Because it was off season and because it was a Sunday the town was dead. I imagine that in the Summer it's a much different story, but today free street parking was available if one were willing to walk a few blocks. There were only a handful of shops open. More money saved. Yet the wife still found a few knickknacks to stuff into the luggage for the return home. The only other tourists around were a pair of buses full of Chinese students. They seemed just as impressed by the town as we were. Lots of picture
A Rare View of the Winter AlpsA Rare View of the Winter AlpsA Rare View of the Winter Alps

Normally in the mid-Winter we only see snow or fog in the higher elevations. This was the perfect day to be out and about.
snapping all around. The highlight of my day was sitting out in the Winter sun scarfing down a Bosna sandwich washed-down with a Gosser beer.

Just as we were about to leave town we heard the sounds of a marching band. A short time later a mass of inebriated revelers garbed in Halloween finery marched past us followed by dozens of kids and parents. The Fasching parade seemed to include every resident of Hallstatt. They were certainly having a great time.
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Returning back to Salzburg where we planned to eat at a Rick Steves' recommended joint we again took to the backroads. Because of the awesome weather we passed over two different mountain passes that apparently close when the snows come in. I was now completely loving the BMW GPS and the Garmin was stashed away in my electronics bag. That gave me the opportunity to find my IPod cord and hook up my own tunes. The sound was impressive. I am quite pleased.

After a few more hours of just enjoying the scenery we eventually arrived in Salzburg. The GPS directed us to the Augustiner Brewery that Rick Steves had raved about on his TV
The Austrian Alps Just South of GollingThe Austrian Alps Just South of GollingThe Austrian Alps Just South of Golling
show. At first it was very confusing. I was expecting a restaurant. Instead it was a beer hall quite similar to the Hofbrauhaus in Munich except there was no table service. One has to grab a beer mug from a shelf, rinse it out in a big sink (Rick's show intimated that this sink was where the beer was dispensed and that you filled your own mug), pay the cashier who issued you a ticket and then you took that ticket to the beer dispensing guy who grumpily filled your stein. After downing half our beers we were still confused about how we were to get food. I got up from the table and walked into the next room and found a half dozen little stands selling snacks and sandwiches. I ended-up with a Schnitzel sandwich and the wife had a half chicken. She loved it and thought the whole thing was pretty cool. I was underwhelmed.

Yet the true highlight of the day was yet to come. At breakfast the innkeeper had convinced us that a visit to the thermal baths was a must. And if one went in the evening the price was much cheaper. Naturally we
Getting a Nice Tan in the Austrian SunshineGetting a Nice Tan in the Austrian SunshineGetting a Nice Tan in the Austrian Sunshine
were interested.

It was pretty obvious we were the only Americans as we had no clue what to do when we walked inside. We finally figured out where the front desk was and paid. We were issued two baby blue rubber wristbands that had some sort of computer chip inside. With the help of a half dozen local German kids we eventually used the wristbands to activate the turnstile allowing us inside. Somehow we ascertained how to use the changing booths where we slipped out of our winter duds and into swimsuits. On the other side of these booths were rows upon rows of lockers. Once we threw our street clothes inside it took us numerous attempts to figure out how to use that same wristband to lock the locker.

Looking around we realized we were the only two morons not wearing sandals and bathrobes. A good thing to remember next time. Partly out of embarrassment and partly because we were freezing to death we scurried upstairs to the baths. There was no trepidation about jumping right in. In fact the water was a warming 92 degrees F. Dipping my head underwater I was surprised to learn
FailFailFail

I was attempting to capture the eerie sparkle our eyes caught as the sun reflected off the ice crystals setting on top of the snow. It was beginning to actually hurt our eyes.
that this was salt water. I had the taste in my mouth the rest of the night.

There were only few kids in the pool and none had rafts or balls to bang off the old folks. Everyone in the pool was quite mellow and usually spent most of their time flexing and exercising sore joints and muscles. Most of the couples in the pool seemed to feel that Sunday evening was the perfect time to start making out in the water. Don't these people know about hotel rooms? After maybe 30 minutes in the big indoor pool we decided to brave the elements and had for the outside bath. The initial blast of cold air almost made me reverse field and flee back to the indoor facilities. Once again I promptly dived into the warm waters of the pool and warmed-up rather quickly. For the next hour and a half the wife and I submerged our entire bodies from the neck down. Meanwhile the tops of our heads felt the start of ice crystals any time we stayed stationary too long. Normally this type of activity would've have started to bore me after about ten minutes, but the
I Could Live HereI Could Live HereI Could Live Here
outdoor thermal bath featured a section with ultra powerful jets aimed to cause a big whirlpool. Once it started up you could not stay still and we were forced to spin around in a giant washing machine. A great way to introduce yourself to the Germans minding their own business in the pool.

We left when the staff turned-up the outdoor lights and shut off the maelstrom. The two senior citizens then ran for the warmth and comfort of the lockers to grab our warm clothing. By the time we ran out to our new car I was shivering so badly I needed to crank-up the seat heaters (an absolute necessity) to the max. My hands were shaking so much it took me maybe 5 attempts t get the car in R. Stupid electronic gearshift.

We were back at the hotel in no time since it was maybe 5 blocks away. Hot showers made sleep came easily that night.


Additional photos below
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Jurgen Out for an Afternoon SkiJurgen Out for an Afternoon Ski
Jurgen Out for an Afternoon Ski

Both of us did a double take as this guy skied past us on the opposite side of the road. With his wavy gray hair and big old sunglasses he looked just like our summer tour guide, Jurgen. The fact that he returned our stares added to the confusion. When we got a closer look at him we could see he this guy was much older and better looking.
A Remote Alpine HotelA Remote Alpine Hotel
A Remote Alpine Hotel

As we began to make our way due East from Golling we soon got onto a road we had never driven on before. The B162 followed the course of the Lammer River through towering mountains and through countless little villages. I was able to find an open gas station where I purchased a big bottle of Coke. We were still had more than half a tank of gas. Much better than the 128i.
They're Expecting UsThey're Expecting Us
They're Expecting Us
A Hot Air BalloonA Hot Air Balloon
A Hot Air Balloon

Although the sun was bright and warming I don't think this would have been the kind of day you could get me to go up for balloon ride.
Zooming InZooming In
Zooming In
Another FailAnother Fail
Another Fail

For miles we drove along a pretty snow-pocked stream. We kept hoping to get a picture of the snow resting on the rocks in the middle of the stream but there were no places to pull off. Finally we found a car parking area. However this seemed to be the place the snowplows had pushed all the snow from the road. We could barely see the stream with snow piled high over our heads.
Worth Climbing Over the Snow MountainWorth Climbing Over the Snow Mountain
Worth Climbing Over the Snow Mountain

For the first time in three years I had pulled my Cabella's hiking boots out of the closet and brought them for the trip. With them on I was able to do some trekking through the snow to take pictures I wanted. Later in the trip when things got even sunnier and warmer I went back to wearing my sneakers.
Looming High Over Our HeadsLooming High Over Our Heads
Looming High Over Our Heads
Not Quite the Shot I WantedNot Quite the Shot I Wanted
Not Quite the Shot I Wanted

Even standing in snow up to my knees I couldn't get quite close enough to get the view we enjoyed as we had driven along on the highway.
Mountain StreamMountain Stream
Mountain Stream
It's Probably Even Prettier in the SpringIt's Probably Even Prettier in the Spring
It's Probably Even Prettier in the Spring

Someday, in our retirement years, we are going to have to come back here when its lush and green.
Why Did Ancient Man Ever Consider Settling Here?Why Did Ancient Man Ever Consider Settling Here?
Why Did Ancient Man Ever Consider Settling Here?


8th March 2015

I also avoided the Austrian autobahn to avoid paying...
but the speed limits constantly change on the back roads between villages so I got caught speeding and had to pay the ticket on the spot.

Tot: 2.542s; Tpl: 0.062s; cc: 21; qc: 93; dbt: 0.0836s; 2; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 1; ; mem: 1.6mb