01.10.2015 - 08.10.2015 13 °C
Our driving route (if you want to look it up) took us to Rottenmann, Bad Aussee, Hallstatt, Zell am See, Hollersbach, Krimml, Gerlostrasse mountain road, Worgl, Sankt Johan, Lofer, Berchtesgaden, Ainring/Salzburg, Wels, Melk, Vienna. We did some great exploring!
Hallstatt is an old salt mining town that generated enormous wealth for its inhabitants over a couple of thousand years. It is pretty obvious by the beautiful houses/buildings that line the lake. It is also a magnet for tourists with no shortage of buses making a stop here. You can certainly understand why when you walk around town.
We ended up taking the ‘scenic’ road which ran through the valley of the Austrian Alps. Even though it’s just the beginning of Autumn, we could see snow on the highest of the peaks, much to the boys delight!
We passed through Zell am See, Mittersill, Hollersbach im Pinzgau (we overnighted here) and then on to Krimml where we hiked up to see the Mit Wasserfall (the highest waterfall in Europe and fifth in the world). There was incredible amount of water even though it was at the tail end of the summer months. And what do you expect to see when you're checking out waterfalls? Some farmers herding their cattle down the path, complete with bells around their necks (the cows that is!). Watch out for the cow pats! We then went over the Gerlostrasse Mountain range to continue our journey towards Germany.
We went on to Berchtesgaden and up to Hitler’s Lair, his mountain retreat from which he coordinated Nazi attacks. Despite the absolutely beautiful weather we had had to that point, there was a lot of cloud and light rain when we got to the top so the view was of a white wall. So much so that we had to take a photo of a photo to see what it's like (see black and white below)! We were very lucky to score about 10 minutes of clear weather for photos a little bit later. To our disappointment, Hitler’s Lair is under private ownership (and is now a restaurant!), which means access is severely limited to the external area of the property. It was still good to go nonetheless.
On to Salzburg and our accommodation at Ainring (west side of Salzburg). It was crossing the border back into Germany where we saw our first sign of refugees in a makeshift camp on the Austrian side. Police were present picking out vehicles to inspect but we moved through without problem. Our hotel was fantastic and we discovered it had an indoor heated pool, so we booked another night.
That gave us a full day sightseeing in Salzburg. Salzburg wasn’t as big as we thought it would be and we managed to walk around the town fairly easily. This is Mozart’s home town so we managed a photo with him. The Salzburg castle is also prominent and very impressive and we managed to walk around to take in the views.
We stopped at Bad Ischl for lunch..........
Then we were making our way back to Vienna and stopped at Melk, in particular the Benedictine Abbey, for a look. TripAdvisor commentary gave this a thumbs up and we weren’t disappointed. Lots of history on display. There was a state room with an alfresco that made the ceiling look curved when you stood in the middle of the room. It was magnificent.
What was truly amazing was the Chapel though. It’s times like this that you wish you had upgraded your Canon to digital so the ‘fisheye’ lens could be used. As you can see from the photos, it had been restored recently to repair its high baroque appearance and was truly amazing. We both agreed that without doubt this was the most impressive cathedral/church we had ever been too. The two skeleton saints were also quite impressive – two photos for your viewing pleasure (like the reclining pose?)
Back to Vienna the following day to hand Benny back (much to the boys dismay) and straight on to a bus to Bratislava, Slovakia for a look around the city.