Last night we experienced the coldest night of our trip so far in a campsite which is home to humans and a variety of forest dwelling gnomes. The temperature in Austria plummeted to zero, and, in a bitter example of irony, our gas (and therefore central heating) spluttered and gave up the ghost right in the middle of cooking dinner. Chopped garlic and onions had to be hastily stashed in the fridge, followed by frantic scratching around for spare blankets and jerseys. Brrr!
The highlight of Austria (for us at any rate) was the High Alpine Road of Grossglockner. This toll road is expensive by toll road standards at €28 for the day, but as it kept us gasping in awe for hours it was well worth the price. At one point there are 30 mountains over 3000m in view; perfect scenes for postcards and chocolate boxes.
We got up at the crack of dawn and enjoyed a quiet road to start with. The northern ascent (from Salzburg) was dramatic with impressive peaks at every turn. The road quickly racks up many metres above sea level via some very sharp hairpin bends. We stopped frequently for photo opportunities (or sniff-and-pee breaks in Odie’s opinion)
The day was clear and bright (a welcome change after weeks of annoying rain), and consequently the road started to get very busy. By the time we reached the peak there was a constant stream of traffic behind us. We had a very quick look at the glacier at the top, but decided to pass on the visitor centre and surrounding tourist hubub, dragging an frantic Odie away from the marmots he was eager to devour. A quick descent down the other side of the mountain range led us to a beautiful stop for lunch at a restaurant featuring an alpine waterfall as a backdrop. Next stop, Italy!
Austria (on purpose this time) was our destination on a day when the rain had finally let up, or for a couple of hours at any rate. We drifted through Salzburg intending to stop and see the sites. However, we saw signs saying that camping was ‘verboten’ so our idea of free parking went up in smoke. Unfortunately we did not find a suitable campsite so we continued on to one of Austria’s alpine lakes, Wolfgangsee. At least we got to see something related to Mozart!
The campsite itself was lovely, full of apple trees (to David’s scrumping delight) and situated right next to the lake shore. You could literally dive from your van into the water, if you felt crazy enough to brave the icy temperatures. Howling winds and beating rain kept us inside – what a shame 🙁
Rain, rain, rain! We had hoped to make the most of Lake Constanz but the only constant has been a steady downpour. Luckily, while drifting through Friedrichshafen, we spotted signs for the Zepplin Museum and decided to check it out on a whim. As it was early, we were fortunate enough to find a parking space easily but they were few and far between when we returned to the van. Get there early if you don’t want parking headaches. The museum itself was fascinating. I can’t believe how huge the Zepplins were, especially considering how few passengers they could carry. What we did find rather odd was that the top floor was home to an art exhibition. The rather tenuous reason (or should that be excuse?) for its existence was a little sign with the words “Science is art and art is science”.
We found a Stellplatz adjoining a campsite near Lindau. At last a chance to do some washing! A brief break in the steady downpour allowed us to go for a cycle to explore the area. We stopped at a cafe for a warming cup of tea and a very delicious apple strudel. On the cycle home we noticed a sign showing the way to Deutscheland and realised that we had accidentally strayed across the border into Austria for our strudel!
When evening fell we cycled, away from Austria this time, into Lindau town. The bay is lit up at night and is very pretty, apart from a rather odd neon sign at the top of a statue which changes every few minutes from a smiley face to a sad face. The restaurants on the water front are very expensive but a short walk to the end of the row will take you to a funky little cafe which serves cake and beer, a combination I have come to love 😀 We suspect that although it has a lovely riviera feel at night it would be very different in the day, heaving with tourists.