THERE IS A GREAT IRONY REGARDING THE GERMAN AUTOBAHN.
The legendary autobahn, with it’s glass like surface, portions with no speed restrictions, and populated with sleek powerful BMW, Mercedes and Audi’s….frustratingly often stands at a complete bumper to bumper stop. Occasionally it’s due to road construction, sometimes due to accidents, and sometimes – maddeningly – it screeches to a standstill for no particular reason at all. We made it worse on ourselves by deciding to travel on a holiday weekend to Salzburg, driving through München during commuting hours. On this trip we found ourselves the ultimate butt of the joke, at one point staring at an unlimited speed sign posted on the shoulder to the left while sitting on the road at a complete stop, watching other drivers around you get out of their car to stretch their legs. That is not an exaggeration.
Nonetheless, we lived through that part. Our destination for this trip wasn’t so much Salzburg. Rather, we went to the Alps to see the mountains. Our kids have never see real, honest-to-goodness mountains with snow capped peaks. Unfortunately, what we saw instead on our first day were clouds. Funny thing about staying in a picturesque valley in the Alps, on a cloudy day it pretty much looks like a cloudy day in Iowa. We passed that day with a trip underground tour of a Salt Mine (which was actually pretty interesting), and an worthwhile (yet still unsatisfying) visit to Bertchesgaden and Königssee.
The draw at Königssee is to take an electric boat tour across the clear, high altitude lake, hear a bugler demonstrate the echoes from the mountain cliffs, and visit the remote church of St. Bartholoma on the opposite shore. In Bertchesgaden, the thing to do is to hitch a ride to the top of the Alps to visit Hitler’s Eagles Nest, and Alps retreat built for him for his 50th Birthday. We skipped all of that due to the inclement weather and uncooperative 3 year old and opted instead for a short hike.
Day two was a visit to the actual city of Salzburg, a popular tourist destination made so by the von Trapp family of Sound of Music Fame and a less famous musician by the name of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Day three, the clouds parted, and the high alps came to full view. That day was for us was full of Austrian Alpine cliches…green meadows, snow capped peaks, emerald rivers, rides on cable cars up the mountains, and sunny afternoon by a crystal clear Alpine lake. It might be cliche, it might be stereotype, but it was nonetheless amazing….too hard to describe really, so instead we’ll post a couple of photoblogs in the next few days of our tours around the area.