Yesterday (Tuesday – beginning to forget what day it is..) we successfully grabbed our (early) train to Munich. Enjoying a cup of coffee on board coupled with breakfast nibbles we had purchased the day before at the grocery, the countryside passed by.
About as much time was spent passing through small towns (with very few stops) as was spent whistling past hills and rivers. A little light reading and a quick half-hour doze made the 4 hour trip short and to the point. This would be our only excursion requiring manhandling of our luggage. Getting on to the train was only a slight challenge and getting off was marginally less. All in all, not an unwelcome experience.
We sat down for a small sandwich and a water and then made our way to the car rental shop. We had pre-arranged everything prior to leaving home so, in a perfect world, there should be no surprises.
Well…maybe a couple.
Paperwork was a no-brainer. All was in order, an imprint of the credit card, gather the keys and the documents and away we go. Down the elevator. Out the building. Across the street. Down the block. Around to the back side of a Large hotel. Up another elevator to the 6th floor. And there is our car. A LEON. WTF is a LEON?? (turns out it is made by SEAT…WTF is SEAT??)
Looks like a VW golf…kinda. Trunk has room for our 2 large suitcases with a little creative layering. The back seat holds our 2 carry-ons comfortably. Getting in (and out as was soon revealed) required an entirely different set of contortions. Even with the seat slid back as far as it will go, the top of my head still bangs against the top of the door opening. The car is quite low to the ground and the door opening (top to bottom) is not nearly what we enjoy in North America.
Once inside things improve quite a bit. Everything is easy to reach and read. The only 2 options that aren’t there (and one really isn’t necessary) are power seats and a sun roof. Automatic lights (on and off), automatic rain sensing wipers, power windows, steering, brakes, cruise, etc. Full auto A/C individually controlled side to side. AND….the Best in-dash navigation system I’ve ever had the pleasure to use. But, again, it’s one of those mixed-emotion things. I had just bought the full Europe map configuration for my Garmin, and made a point of bringing it along, as getting in-dash navigation was going to be an extra charge. We ended up getting it as a free upgrade. So why not opt for a bigger car instead? I really wanted (and got) an automatic as I didn’t want to have to face unknown roads and driving conditions while re-learning to drive a stick. A bigger car with auto would have been a LOT more money. And as it turns out, the smaller car was a much better solution all around. Streets (and lanes) are painfully narrow and parking, when available, is at a premium with stalls that are…less than adequate. Parking on the side of a road will, at times, involve the right tires being on the sidewalk.
Ok…ready to hit the road. As we’re making our way out of the parking garage, the bed and breakfast is being programmed into Hilda (had to give her a name). Push the NAV button and hope for the best. We take a more direct route hitting the autobahn in about 30 minutes (which we spent just getting out of Munich). Hilda can take us there no problem, but traffic is the same world over.
In a little under 2 hours we’re at 186 Moostrasse, our home for the next 2 nights. Oh…did I say we were done manhandling our luggage? I lied apparently. Have to now go up a nice flight of (marble) stairs to our room. Ah well…such is the life of a traveller.
A quick talk with our host and some informative directions as to the best way to get to the Altstadt (remember…Old Town) and the best place to park. Willie’s song, On The Road Again, comes to mind.
Finding the parkade proves simple enough and after finding a spot close to the pedway exit, we start our daily stroll. It’s late in the afternoon (about 4:30) and, as we find out, stores close at 6. So, coupled with very cool (around 8 C) and rain-threatening weather, we walk around, admire, laugh at, and stare with wide-eyed amazement at many unique and distinctive items.
It’s been a bit of a long travel day, so supper time it is. A short light meal and back to the B & B. Crashing early seems like a reasonable thing to do. After breakfast tomorrow Lewis and Clark will once again explore new lands.
The day starts pretty much as it had ended before…gloomy, very cool and more water falling from the skies. On the plus side a drive through the hills becomes the preferential method of spending the day. Off to Golling to visit their markplatz (market square) and see the old town.
The town (pop. about 4100) has been around (officially) since the mid 1200’s and one would think ideas of marketing and catering to tourism would have had all the kinks worked out. Apparently they have a much more laid back plan for their lives (which, in retrospect, we could probably learn from). It’s Wednesday. Country towns in Austria close at noon on Wednesday. What time do we arrive? 12:30 PM. Ok…on the plus side again, we can’t spend any money. The town itself is very small and a walk through the area takes but a half an hour. Picturesque to be sure but maybe a trip to Hallstatt will have different results.
Again, a very small town (pop. about 800) and many closed doors still greet us. However it is located right on a beautiful lakefront so the photo ops have certainly improved even if the weather has not. More time spent rambling down main street, snapping furiously all the while.
Taking the scenic route back (really the same way we came, just in reverse) keeps us away from traffic and gives a good perspective of life outside city lights. Cows (horses, goats, and sheep) are plentiful and not entirely restricted by fences. Road signs are everywhere warning of various animals crossing, which they are wont to do. Roads are subject to interpretation insofar as at least one of them looked exactly like a tractor path through a farm field…yet it clearly had a name and was certainly traveled often. Most roads, and almost all bridges, were but single lane (and I use the term ‘single’ hesitantly). Once again, a bigger car would have proved a definite hindrance.
By the time we make it back to Salzburg (in the hopes of getting up to Hohensalzburg Fortress) we were once again to be disappointed. In October (to December) it is only open until 5 PM with the last entrance 30 minutes before closing. It is now 4:45. We’re doomed. Failure has become less of an option and more of a reality. Oh well. Window shopping once again and this time we all but made a point of getting lost making our way back to the parking garage. It was a safe disorientation however…somehow I really did have a clue as to where we were versus where we needed to go.
Maybe a little luck involved. 😉
Finding a place for supper turned into the most frustrating adventure of the day. Hilda can reveal all the restaurants and guides us as necessary, yet is unable to make any recommendations whatsoever. Not only that, she cannot inform us as to parking availability either at, or anywhere near, any choice made. That became painfully clear at our first endeavor. The restaurant was part of a hotel and very busy. The parking lot (again, a big description for a very small amenity) was not only full, once entered almost required a Sikorsky to lift us out as turning around was just about totally impossible.
A couple of other stops at places that were either closed when we got there or not very desirable from a location/appearance perspective, finally got us to one that – SURPRISE – had a parking spot almost right at the front door. Good first indicator that ultimately proved itself throughout the entire meal. Very good and reasonably priced. A ray of sunshine during some rather drab times. It’s now back to our B&B. A little time spent getting ready for departure tomorrow (Thursday) and the head once again slams against the pillow.