Category: Austria

Travelling Through Europe

We had arrived back into Europe the day before Great Britain finally left the European Union – pleased we had snuck back in before the European gates finally slammed on non members! Of course we never seriously believed we would have any difficulty re-entering Europe but they could have kept us waiting for a few hours at the border.

After Italy we crossed into Switzerland where we paid €25 at the border for road tolls but no one looked at our passports nor was our vehicle checked. We stopped on the motorway for a coffee and ended up having an early lunch. There was a large, airy food hall with half a dozen beautifully presented counters offering various types of foods. A little Asian woman at one counter caught our eye with her wok in hand and bamboo baskets on a steamer table ready for action. We just couldn’t resist the steamed salmon on a bed of greens or the wok fried chicken with vegetables, served with bowls of rice. The meal cost €37 but it was light and freshly cooked. All the counters looked so appetising – a far cry from most UK motorway services.

The road through the Alps reached an altitude of 6,500 feet and there was a good covering of snow on the ground. We stayed one night in Switzerland before driving on into Austria – and out again half an hour later when the road reached the German border. We were pleased not to linger long in Austria as, on a previous visit to that country we had been fined by the police €240 for not presenting our European Vehicle Emissions Control Certificate to the authorities. That brief visit to Austria ended up costing us €440 in tolls and fines and left us feeling we had been the victims of a roadside robbery. We now avoided Austria whenever we could.

Our route from Italy to Poland

Toll Charges In Austria

When we drove through Austria four months previously we paid for road tolls by purchasing a GOBox and preloaded our account with €100.  The miles we travelled were then automatically recorded and charged against our account.  What we did not know was, that within 28 days of purchasing the GOBox, we had to submit to the authorities our vehicle’s European Emissions Control Certificate.

On our return to Austria we installed our GOBox but every time we passed a receptor our box gave four beeps, indicating that our credit had expired.  We stopped and put another €100 on our account.

A few miles down the road we were pulled over by the police and were fined €240 for not presenting our emissions certificate to the authorities.  Tony offered to show the policeman the document but we were fined because we had not done so in March when we first registered.  It was a slick operation and the police took payment by credit card.  We felt we had been victims of a daylight robbery as there had been no clear indication when we bought the box that we had to submit the certificate and our vehicle was registered as fully compliant with current regulations.  So two (very nice) days spent in Austria cost us almost £400.

 

Italy To Austria

We left Alba and drove north towards Venice.  The day time terperature was in the mid 30s and we were suffering with the heat.  If we stopped for a break and could find no shade, the temperature in the van soared once the engine was switched off.

We stopped overnight in the Venice area but it was jam packed with tourists.  The camp sites were full with families on holiday and the roads were gridlocked.  We slowly made our way north and were regularly held up in traffic jams.

The Dolomites

After many hours driving we finally saw the Dolomite Mountains in the distance.  As we climbed higher the traffic seemed to ease and the temperature cooled by 10°.  When we reached the Austrian border everything changed and it was as if we were on a different planet.  Our camp site was was on the shores of Lake Ossiacher where camping families were enjoying outdoor activities – swimming in the lake as well as hiking, cycling and playing ball games.

Ossiacher See

Bardolino

Our truck moving duties were completed and the weather remained very cold and we felt ready to move on and find somewhere a little warmer.  Our friends, Jacqui and Sergio assured us that the weather where they lived in Italy was much better so we decided to drive 1,000 miles, hoping to reach the Tarisciottis at Alba Adriatica on the east coast of Italy in time for Easter.

We stopped one night in Leipzig, Germany and the next night in Austria before we crossed the Brenner Pass into Italy.  The poor weather made driving tiring.

 

 

Along our route lay the town of Bardolino where, in 2016, the family spent many happy days when Issey and Ame got married in the Bardolino Town Hall.  The busy little campsite was on the shores of Lake Garda and within strolling distance of the town centre.  We were able to wash the van and catch up with laundry in the couple of hours before it was time to walk into town for supper.

Austria, Germany, Austria, Switzerland

We planned to spend some days in Switzerland at Bodensee, the lake that straddled the borders of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (where it was known as Lake Constance).  Our journey took us into Germany and back into Austria before we arrived at the Swiss border.  It had rained on and off throughout our journey.  At the Swiss border we had to pay a €32.50 toll charge.  

Our campsite was on the shore of the lake and the site had wonderful facilities and a brand new restaurant overlooking the lake.  Unfortunately the campsite ground was soggy with the recent rainfall and more rain was forecast.  Had the weather been better I am sure we would have found the area beautiful but the rain, plus the threat of more rain, dampened our spirits and we realised that we had made a mistake coming so far north.  We ate in the restaurant that evening and were very disappointed.  The food was perfectly edible but was more in the style of school dinners than fine dining.  We paid almost £100 for a shared salad, meat and vegetables, one dessert and a bottle of wine.  Even our bottle of mineral water cost £5.73!  Switzerland was proving wet and expensive so the next morning we upped sticks and headed south west towards France.

The Bike Ride

We lingered a few days in Imst for two very good reasons.  Most importantly, we had spotted an Asian Fusion restaurant in the town.  Closed Mondays – it was Monday.  After spending many weeks in Italy we had a strong urge to eat something different.

The second reason for staying around was that this particular campsite scored 3/3 on our points system:  i) Excellent site with friendly welcome, ii) Interesting surroundings with help offered to find local amenities and iii) Good weather.  It was very rare that a stopover had all three of these boxes ticked.

We set off the following day to cycle along a vast network of cycle paths that followed the line of the valleys, joining together sleepy hamlets, bustling villages and small towns.  The weather was good and the scenery stunning. 

    

 
  

  

 

Imst, Austria

After spending nine wonderful days together it was very hard to say goodbye to our four lovely daughters, their husbands our six grandchildren and not forgetting Ella, Neil’s 19 year old daughter – our step grandaughter.  When they had all gone we set off north taking a scenic route towards Innsbruck.  We stopped at Imst, a summer and winter sports resort in the Tyrolean Alps, 2700 feet above sea level.

       

   

The Hills Are Alive . . .