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Published: March 8th 2015
The Start of a Beautiful DayAt 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
The view from our big comfortable hotel room.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.