I arrived into Salzburg late on the 24th and after a couple in the Augustinerbrau hit the sack ready for a full week. The 25th was a lovely hot day and so took a trip around some of the parts of Salzburg I haven't been namely the Kapuzinerberg. The monastery is on the hill opposite the castle in Salzburg and if nothing else offers some great views of the old town and the castle. The route is up Linzergasse which snakes up from the new town at quite an angle through a number of arches and plenty of steps and passed plenty of monuments. There is a story that the cappuccino was invented or named here because of the colour of the monks habits but I never had the chance to ask.
I tried the following panorama shot of the old town and the castle from the bastion.
I headed down Imbergstiege passed St John on the Imberg which is a fantastic church clinging to the side of the hill. Back in town - as usual - there was a lot going on with still more fantastic views from Mirabell gardens.
I even passed the Zipfer zone but unfortunately it was a no go zone as I had to go pick up the hire car and get on the road to Innsbruck to meet the lads.
I picked up the hire car from Salzburg airport and got on the road down to Innsbruck. I had planned to meet up with Roger Murphy, his girlfriend Kathrin and Merter Uensal for the weekend as they all lived in Munich. I got to the aptly named Hotel Innsbruck and marveled at the great view across the river Inn towards the surrounding mountains.
Next stop was Papa Joe's - just round the corner - for a great mexican. Great atmosphere in the restaurant and low lighting which didn't help the pictures but some good big beers. People sometimes say they are big beers but until they arrive you don't really believe them. Believe Papa Joe's!
Next day we headed from the hotel across the river Inn and up to Hungerberg to catch the cable car to the top of the Hafelkar. The weather was fantastic and the views from the top across the city towards the Olympic ski jump were amazing. Its quite a way down but then again we're thankful for the weather which gave us such a great view.
Of course, being up a mountains and being lads means one thing that we have to climb to the highest point. Cracking view but also a harder traverse back down! When you walk around the top you have a great 360 degree view of the surrounding area and apart from the cable car station and bar/restaurant there are a few huts dotted around. They may be small, have only one room but you have to appreciate the view you have from them. We took this opportunity to have a beer atop the mountain and watch the birds casting themselves off the edge. There are signs here saying "don't feed the birds" in three languages but this doesn't seem to apply to the Italians who did it anyway.
We then headed back down the mountain via the Alpine zoo. The zoo is situated between the Hungerberg cable car station and the river Inn and has some fantastic eagles etc. on show but you have to feel sorry for them being cooped up in their cages like they are no matter how big the cages are. There's an outer section with eagles, moose, leopards and snakes. The snakes are difficult to see as they blend really well into their rocky surroundings but Roger (who doesn't like them) decided to do a spot of Bob the Builder instead. Can he build it? Hmm, jury's out!
Meanwhile back in town there was a city parade happening. We got back just in time to see everyone out in the streets dressed up in their historic gear, flags waving and waiting for the mayor's speeches. There were bands too marching throughout the city and people dressed of all ages. What was really nice was all the women who all had little flasks with alcohol in them for everyone who was standing and marching. A very nice finale to the day and what a backdrop to the march. Innsbruck really is a great small city with a great backdrop especially when the dusk falls and the lights in the mountains start appearing. At this point we retired to a bar for drinks and cigars and our last night in town.
Roger and Kathrin headed back to Munich but myself and Merter decided on a trip to Kitzbuhl. We drove into the mountains and decided a walk would be a good bit of exercise. There are a couple of shots with the camera on the phone here which is why they are smaller and a Kitzbuhl panorama.
We got to the top of the mountain over Kitzbuhl and to be fair it was a bit surreal. We stopped and had a beer and listened to this band that were playing to about 20 people a top the mountain. Beautiful view, playing both types of music (C and W) and all very nice but somehow it just felt strange. We made our excuses and headed down the mountain passing a few novelty cows (equipped with hiking boots) and some the best bars and restaurants ever. I also spotted a couple of houses that would definitely have suited and according to the sign they have the best water around!
Got back to Innsbruck and said goodbye to Merter as he headed back to Munich for work the next day. I took a few night shots around the centre of Innsbruck which came out so so. These include the Ottoburg, the Golden Daschl and a few others in the main square.
Next stop on the trip was Krimml falls. Its not somewhere I had planned to go it was just on the way between Innsbruck and Grossglockner. I think it took me longer to get out of Innsbruck and it seemed longer than I had imagined to drive to Grossglockner so decided to stop here and take a look at the falls. Had a good spot of Austrian breakfast to get me going then headed the scenic route towards Grossglockner. I first spotted the falls in the distance and there are quite a few vantage points along the road to take pictures as you can see.
I parked up, got the wet weather gear on and headed down to the start of the falls. I passed on the falls information centre but what I did see looked quite interesting. Its quite a way from the car park to the falls and quite a struggle up the paths. The falls are in three sections and you wind your way up through the trees alongside the falls. The noise is amazing and the photos probably don't do the falls justice as they are really big and powerful.
I decided against tackling the third section as it was getting late and instead headed to the lower falls and to get in closer. At the bottom is a carved totem pole and this is the keeper of the falls and he marks the path to the lower section. The noise down there was unbelievable and it probably doesn't look very impressive but a couple of the photos do have people in them to give a little more justice to the size of the falls. After the excursion it was onto Zell am See for the night ready to tackle Grossglockner the next day.
After spending the night in Zell am See I decided to take a walk around the town and the lake before heading up into the mountains. I'd been here before skiing but never in the Summer although the clouds made it feel Autumnal rather than Summer. There were a couple of helicopters placing new pylons for ski lifts at the time which must have been a lot easier than it used to be. Zell am See is a beautiful place though and with the lake and the typical Austrian style hotels and houses it really does feel very nice however I had a mountain to climb and needed to get on the Grossglockner hauptstrasse.
I took the car up the long slog of the Grossglockner hauptstrasse which snakes up the valley to the Grossglockner glacier. The weather had closed in so my views were not exactly visible but I got the idea. I had originally thought I was getting an Alfa Romeo 147 (I wanted to test drive it as I was thinking of buying one at the time) but, my trusty Mercedes A class was well up to the job and got me up to the glacier in a very economical manner.
I reached the glacier in the early afternoon and after a layer of sun cream (its 3000m) I headed along to meet the Kaiser. Kaiser Franz-josef has a statue overlooking the glacier just along from the viewing station. I managed to get there when no-one else was so took a few photos with the lad then headed down onto the glacier. Its quite a steep trek down onto the ice itself and there are loads of danger signs there as the crevasses are quite big and this thing is still moving. Very impressive and a little strange as you can hear the ice cracking as it moves and the water underneath. Still the water was very nice as I filled my water bottle up down there. I needed it too as the slog back up to the car park is hard mainly as you're above 3000m but also because the sun is very hot and bouncing off the glacier onto you too. Fantastic place to go through and glad I made the trip.
Last stop for the day was Heiligenblut which I had seen on a calendar and in the rough guide. It also meant that I didn't have to double back along the Grossglockner hauptstrasse and saw something new on the way to Bad Gastein. This is your "A" typical picture postcard Austrian village which nestles in the mountains on the Tyrol/Carinthian border. The church dominates the town and its very impressive especially inside. This church is very gothic and its famous as the gothic reliquary purported to contain a vial of the blood of Christ.
Outside in the graveyard you have the best views and very well kept graves. A lot of the graves have been used for a number of generations from the same family while a metal book tells of those who have been killed in the mountains in the surrounding area. Its a beautiful place and well worth a visit but bare in mind it is a small village. There were a number of people camping in the nearby campsite which must have been great but I needed to press on.
So I got back to the car and headed on down the road. I wasn't sure actually how I was going to get to Bad Gastein that night as the train went through the mountains while the road took the long way round. According to the map the train took cars but I wasn't sure if it was still running as it was late. Thankfully it was, it goes about once an hour and so after about a half an hour wait I drove the car onto the train and we traveled through the mountain and out into the Gasteiner tal
I arrived late into Bad Gastein and after checking into the Salzburgerhof hotel I went for a wander round town. The town was quite quiet for the Summer but there's quite a noise coming from the water falls that run through the middle. The town is built in the middle of the Gasteiner tal and is specifically a spa town which means there is spa water and fountains all over which is lovely and warm. Its a great little town and very good in the Winter for skiing which I'd done a few years back with a few people from work. Thankfully because of this I knew a few places for food and beer before a good night's sleep.
Next day was my last day in Austria and I decided on a hike in the morning and so headed straight up the Huttenkogel. The plan was to walk down from here and be back in town for around 2pm then have a soak in the thermal baths before driving to Salzburg for the plane. I got to the top of the mountain and stamped my card at 2231m before admiring the views towards Dachstein and Grossglockner. I think I saw Grossglockner better from here as the skies were a little clearer. Anyway I decided to head down as it was going to take about 4 hours to get down.
Next time I'm up this way I'd like to tackle the peak in the first picture. This was another 1 1/2 hours further up but it looked like I needed to be a little better equipped to tackle that than shorts and a t-shirt! It was a beautiful hike down and very few people either walking up or down. I ventured over to the south via the Palfnersee which took a little longer than I thought but was worth it, if I hadn't been in a hurry I could have fancied a dip. After another hour or so I got back into the tree line and then after zig zagging over the river and waterfalls a few times made back into town.
Finally back in the town after a 4 1/2 hour hike I was shattered and very sweaty thankfully the hotel let me use the spa facilities and I had a long dip in the thermal waters and a swim before driving back to Salzburg. I decided to finish where I had started from and so after dropping the car off and checking in I headed back into town to the Augustinerbrau and had a couple of frothy honey beers in the beer garden to day goodbye. It was strange to think that 5 hours before I'd been up a mountain but it was a fitting end to a great trip.