June 2, 2010 Salzburg to Sankt Wolfgang Austria – Via Innsbruck???

6 06 2010

It was finally time to get our our vehicle and be the masters of our own destiny.  No more having our schedule dictated to us, it was our time to make decisions about when and where we would go.  Today we were destined for Sankt Wolfgang by the Wolfgangsee in the Austrian alps.  It would be a 60km drive and we would have much of the day to relax.  Perfect.

(Sound of record scratching…..)

Or so I thought.

Last night the screws were getting put on pretty tight (actually just a lot of whining) and everyone (except me apparently) wanted to head to the Swarovski factory in Innsbruck.  So, by popular demand we would be heading about 150km out of our way so that we could come back those same 150km to go the new total of about 360km to Sankt Wolfgang.  How do these sorts of things happen to me?

The wake up routine the same and we were packed and in the lobby by 0845 ready to have the reception call for the rental car.  “I’m sorry sir – you’ll have to go down and pick up the car”

“Oh, the lady yesterday said that they would come and pick us up.”

“No, sir, the rental car company requires you to come down.”

And – On that note we had them call a Taxi for us to take us down to Europcar where our transportation awaited us.

Francis, Mrs D and I got down to the Europcar office about 7 Euros lighter and around 0930 with a pretty constant rain falling. Rain.  More of it!

The process of rental was painstaking. I had the feeling that the poor girl that ended up with us had never had an out of EU rental before.  There was a lot of paper shuffling and typing of stuff into her terminal.  At the end of the process, however, we came out with a lovely silver Porsche 9 passenger van.  We would be the envy of the Autobahn.

Our first test was to tell the GPS unit to get us back to our hotel.  Programming was pretty easy.  The stupid thing seemed to be stuck in a 2D – North is up mode though which really wasn’t the way I was used to seeing my GPS.  Oh well.. perhaps later.

Back at the hotel, the rest of the group had been bringing bags down to the lobby and would be waiting anxiously for our arrival.  I pulled up in the “Hotel” zone and we loaded up the van… I swear it felt like we were loading up for a rock band road trip.  So many little things and so much HEAVY luggage which was getting heavier by the day.

It must have been about 1100 by the time we finally pulled out and were on our way for the Innsbruck detour to St. Wolfgang.  The rain was coming down pretty hard and the GPS in it’s weird orientation was winding me through morning traffic on my way to the highway.

Once on the highway things were wonderfully monotonous.  While trying to keep up at 130kph we were left standing periodically by vehicles passing us.   I wondered if they simply had a direct withdrawal system with the various police forces along the way.  Nonetheless we managed to book it pretty well in the van.  I noticed that the speed on the speedometer was generous.  It appears that someone has tires that are too small on the vehicle.  I learned to trust the GPS speed more than the speedometer.  The rain came down so hard at times as to be deafening on the large steel roof of the van.  My efforts to find any sort of either decent classic rock or quasi top-40 station to combat it were in vain.  Next time – bring CD’s.

After driving in the tiring rain for about 2 hours we found ourselves at the Swarovski factory near Innsbruck and the Swarovski Kristallwelten.  We paid 9.50 Euros each with the potential of a 2 Euro refund if you bought something in the store at the end.  (That’s like telling a Vancouver home buyer he’ll get $1000 off his new home price – Whoopee!)

The Kristallwelten was a collection of various modern art that was put together with Swarovski Crystal included in the process.  Kill me.  Please.  Or at least give me back my 9.50 Euros.  It was odd.  There were VERY few examples of significant amount of crystals being used.  It was odd.  There was some crap quote from CNN about it being just as fascinating as one of the seven wonders of the world.  Perhaps if you’ve never left your basement.  My opinion of CNN as a reputable source of info just plummeted.  We wandered through the various exhibits, and to be honest, the driving thought within me was “There has got to be an end to this god forsaken underground labyrinth.”  The words “You are in a maze of tiny passages that all look alike” came to mind at one point.

Thankfully I found the end.  A GIANT Swarovski store.  Ugh.  I hid in the cafe having a 3 Euro 250ml sprite and a 6.50 Euro Maraschino cherry sundae.  Boy, things weren’t exactly looking up :(  About 45 minutes later the gaggle of shoppers came out and some crystal on some ledger in Swarovski’s books shone just a little brighter.  They had contributed to the European economy, and not in a small way.  We ate an outrageously expensive lunch (like having my left nut for a piece of glass wasn’t enough) and got out of there before I had to mortgage the house to buy something.

Back down the road.  In the rain. No good music.  Everything looked familiar – it should…we were backtracking about 90% of the way.  Finally as we approached Salzburg in rush hour we veered south and headed toward Wolfgangsee to vacation among the Salzburgers that call this their summer home and the rest of the tour groups that want to be like the Salzburgers too.  The road was winding and fun.  I’m sure the drive would have been lovely if the rain hadn’t kept coming down in buckets.  It seemed like there might be some nice views if the clouds would lift from the current ceiling of 10 feet over the top of the van.  Francis and Maggie had been here before.  The GPS and the state of Austria also had a good idea of where St. Wolfgang was.  As we drove down past the scenic little towns full of “pensions” and B&B’s we got to the point (somewhere past St. Gilgen) where Francis and Maggie diverged from the GPS.  While I like Francis and Maggie very much, I had to overrule them and go with what the Austrian Highways department and our GPS were telling us about where St. Wolfgang were.  I don’t think it was a popular decision, but hey – you gotta trust the government not to go around moving their towns.

We did find St. Wolfgang and it appears that the Maggie/Francis route would have been faster.  Why did the GPS and Government want us to go the other way? Who knows.  Perhaps it was fate protecting us from having to swim part way there with all the water on the various roads?  After a couple of loops through a 1km long tunnel, we found the hotel.  A lovely little place next to the dark ominous lake in the downpour of rain.  Goodie ;)  Unload, check in, park.  Relax.  We were here!  The hotel didn’t have stairs (why have stairs in a 100 year old hotel?) so we hauled our bags up to the absolutely highest rooms in the place.  They were lovely rooms.  Overlooking the lake on one side and the top of St. Wolfgang on the other.

We agreed to have dinner in the hotel at 2015 since the kitchen would be closing by 2030.  Francis and Maggie went out in search of some snacks and water as it had also been decided that there would be some Big 2 later in the night.

The bulk of us arrived for dinner on time and the hotel owner told us that our friends had recently driven off and that they would probably be late (with a disapproving tone).  We told him that we would order without them and that they no doubt would be by soon as they were just getting some drinks and snacks for later.

“A party?”

“No, just some cards.”

“OK then…”

I felt like we had to get approval to stay up late even.  The atmosphere was that of a very conservative Christian Austrian home.  Light reading on the third floor was the New Testament.  Wow.

During a couple of pop-bys to determine how dinner was, we determined from the owner that tomorrow was a holiday.  Some long German name.  Still don’t know THAT name.  It was Corpus Christi and it was an actual holiday in Austria.  There would be celebrations down by the church at 0830.  This should be fun, we thought.

After dinner, I headed back to my room to work on my blog and photos.  No WiFi so I did some prep work and then passed out for the night.  Mrs D came back from the other room around midnight and joined me in my slumber.




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