Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Leaving Vienna, Hallstatt and Salzburg

OK, so it turns out we did not pick up the car in that last post. If I continue on in that wordy vein, I don't think we'll ever make it to the Czech Republic. So, I will try to be brief.

Friday morning was a big day. We started out at Karl's Kirche (church). This was a fabulous baroque church, complete with a dome to climb. We stopped for photos and breakfast at the grocery, then, hauling flimsy grocery bags of water bottles, rolls, juice, apples, cheeses, yogurts, etc, as well as or back packs, purses, and about 20 hats in mom's case, we strolled over to the car rental agency like a bunch of hobos. (it was rather embarrassing).  Fortunately, the car rental place was just around the corner from our hotel! We got in the car and now for the moment of truth-did the GPS map download work.......(all will recall our disasterous day driving out of London without the aid of the GPS and the meltdown that ensued)

I turned it on and it said searching for signal. Well, my heart nearly stopped when it did not pick anything up after 5 min. I made O ask the car rental lady if she knew anything and she just said "it takes some time". We decided to drive over to the hotel to get our bags while waiting for the GPS. I was getting sicker by the minute, L and O were proving their prowess as navigators (L really has a head for directions you know). We got to the hotel, I was pretty much ready to die bc the GPS was still searching. I ran in and got my bag, came out and did not know whether to try to ask for directions out of the city and to Hallstatt or to just break down and sob away (keep in mind, the signs are all in German, and, with only a few weeks in the class, L is slightly less than fluent). So, everyone else loads up (the car was rather roomier than I expected-when I rented the car the person on the phone sounded doubtful that 5 American (emphasis on this) adults could fit into anything short of an SUV), I sat down, and despondently asked O what we were going to do. O is like "Oh, didn't you hear, the GPS started working while you were in the hotel".  Hallelujah!! It was one of those moments where you are promising to be good for the rest of your life bc your prayers have all been answered.

So, with Dad driving and O navigating (and shouting at all of us in the backseat to quit screaming out directions and yelps of terror) we made it out of the city. Dad drove for an hour or two before needing to be spelled off. We had rented a manual (automatics are expensive!) and so, it came to me to pick up the stick. I slid into the driver's seat and said "which one is the break"?  I mean, I had not driven in ages. Well, that freaked everyone out. I fiddled around a bit and managed to remember all my driving lessons (years of habit took over). Dad had to get back in to figure out how to reverse, but, soon enough we were on our way. My first time driving in Europe was a success (as in, I managed not to hit or be hit). I must say, these people drive fast here. The freeway was OK but once we left the autobahn we were on these insane twisty mountain roads. Cars would pile up behind me, then they would pass me one by one, and I'd have a break for a ten minute stretch before it started all over again. O kept saying "you are going half the speed limit, but, you're doing a good job I guess". There I was, flying around corners, nearly running down bikers, speeding through the rain, etc. and I was going half the speed limit?! Imagine driving through the canyon with a speed limit of 80 mph and you'll know exactly what I felt like.

As far as the drive went-the country side was absolutely charming! Just as you would imagine it to be!
We drove to Hallstatt, the world's oldest Salt mining town. It was the most delightful town imaginable (see L's blog, or mine in the future, for photos). They have these fabulous epeliated trees everywhere, and a tiny little street. Words just don't do it justice.
We made it just in time to for the last Salt mine tour so it was a race to get to the funicular, then race to get to the tour, then race to get the last funicular down, after which we ambled through town.

That evening we drove another hour into Salzburg, met the rudest hotelier imaginable-he was swearing at poor Fred because he cautious about parking on the curb. Hello-it was a rental car. Additionally, as he was screaming about in German, I don't think Fred even knew what he wanted him to do. You'd think we were bothering him by stopping in :) Fortunately, this is the hotel L stayed in when she was in town so she had some idea of where we were and helped us get around from there. We walked over to dinner, during which Dad could not figure out what is was we were supposed to be doing in Salzburg (similar to the whole Jaunt through the Cotswolds thing), made it back to our rooms, and headed straight to bed.


Kristy said...

It is delightful when the gps is working. How did people get around the world without a gps back in the day?Betsy, you did a great job of driving. I was totally impressed by your prowess. The countryside in Austria is beautiful--just like the Sound of Music. The drivers are crazy and keep taking unnecessary risks just to get ahead of one car. I was happy to be driving with a prudent driver.

erika said...

Betsy -- I love your detailed descriptions. I almost feel like I am there. (Probably also because some of your activities are reminiscent of past trips -- the gps hoopla and hauling around lots of bags to get the rental car -- at least you got to go back to the hotel and pick up your bags.)

krista said...

I think that I would definitely be a nervous driver there, but what an adventure! Can't wait to see the pictures! The GPS can be a lifesaver, just don't try using it to go to Hogle Zoo.