Austria seems to have a few quirks – one of which is the road systems. It seems on a two lane road if the speed drops to below 50 miles per hour then the traffic immediately filters to either the outside lane or the hard-shoulder. This leaves the inside lane free for emergency vehicles but also stops all the lane jumping you usually getting in slower traffic. As soon as things speed up everyone filters back out – sad but true that we are mega impressed, so much so we love seeing a bit of a hold up ahead!
Roads and views in Austria take some beating
Despite some low cloud we followed Gerlos Alpine Road over the mountains, passing the Krimml waterfalls — the highest in Europe and 5th highest in the world. The road only opened in 1964 and closes in November due to snow, until then its motorcycle heaven with all the cafes, guest houses and car-parks trying their best to attract some of the hundreds of bikers who visit each day.
At the top of the pass we reached over 5000 ft, turned a corner and we reached a toll booth! As we have a vignette we were a bit surprised and agreed if it was too expensive we were going back – well maybe not as it would have been about about a 60 mile diversion. It was only €8.50 so we paid up and took the downward slope and into Gerlos, a very traditional looking ski village with plenty of expensive shops and bars.
It’s not blue skies every day
Iain has a yearning to go on a bob-sleigh run, we have yet to find a dry run but we did find roller-coaster type run at Zell am Ziller, worth a few Euro to see his smiley little face, and another few Euro for the photo. According to Frans Klammer-Baxter he reached speeds of over 70 kph -evidence below 🙂
With more rain on the horizon we were looking for something to do that didn’t involved a castle or museum but kept us dry -Swarovski Crystal World in Wattens was a perfect fit. Built 20 years ago to celebrate 100 years of the Swarovski company, describing it as a museum would be wrong, there is only one room with old artifacts and really nothing about the history. It is called an experience – you enter under the waterfall that runs from the mouth of the giant and inside there are 15 unique “Chambers of Wonder” – a very apt description of what is there.
Enter under the giant
Each chamber has been designed by different artists and use crystals and glass in some very unique and mind blowing manners. My favourite was the Crystal Dome, 595 mirrors in a geodesic dome that creates such a feeling of depth it feels (and sounds) as if you are inside a crystal. Music composed by Brian Eno plays in the background and as the colours in the glass change from time to time hidden art objects appears behind some of the mirrors. One of the most amazing man-made objects ever – worth the entrance fee on it’s own.
impossible to photograph – borrowed from the Swarovski website
Every installation is very different, classical sculptures in crystal, clouds containing crystal rain drops, forests made from crystal and glass where you feel trapped in a 3D world and so many others it would take the whole blog to describe it. There is of course a large Swavorski outlet shop, nothing cheap there but a massive selection for those with big purses. Outside there are further sculptures along with a giant maze and a pool that you walk into by way of a pathway giving the impression to onlookers you are walking through the water. Despite it costing €19 to get in it is without a doubt one of the most fabulous places we have been to.
more of the chambers and the outside clouds
Our plan was to visit Innsbruck, we drove in and drove out. We expected a ski town, it was just like any other very large town and not what we were after. We remembered a comment on here about Seefeld so set off there instead. Up in the mountains a small ski village that is just perfect for us at this time of year; plenty of quirky little shops, quaint hotels, cuckoo clocks galore, horse and carriage rides and cafes with oodles of struddles .
A lovely campsite on the edge of the village, the most expensive site since we started out 10 months ago. That said we both think its great, Iain has been making regular use of the sauna, the restaurant serves very, very good food (on a wet day the best comfort food ever – Tiroler Grostl) – its all so good we have been here for four days.
Continuing the theme of “I hate heights so why are we in the mountains?” we went up in the ski lift to 5000 ft. My nerves were shot to you know what, I believe clinging on to the hand-rail will save me if the cable snaps – I did do no hands for a split second to take a photograph, just the one :). Seefeld is a very popular resort with British walkers, we met a couple who have been coming for 11 years, they were surprised we were using the lifts and not walking – we were surprised you would walk that far up a steep hill if you didn’t have to. The sun popped out for half an hour whilst we were in the mountain restaurant having lunch – the views absolutely made up for the terror trip up there.
On the way down
Made it both ways 🙂 We went how high ??
It’s been our first few days of poor weather for months, the sun has peeped out now and again but the first snows of the season fell on the slopes above us during the night. We did venture out today for a decent walk, following one of the many Nordic walking trails down the valley and back. Back of camp now planning on moving on tomorrow before we take root here.