This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.
22.06.2011 - 23.06.2011 17 °C
Once again we arrived on the campsite in warm sunshine, only for a thunder storm to burst upon us as soon as we were settled. (I suppose we should thankful for that much). Our drive from Innsbruck to Lienz through the mountains was good. We dipped down into Italy briefly and stopped in a lovely little town called Bruneco for a quick pizza lunch on the way.
This morning we went into Lienz and found all the shops closed and quite a number of the inhabitants wandering around in traditional Tyrolean dress and so we decided it must be a national holiday of some sort. This did mean however that we had a breadless lunch of ham cheese and tomatoes whilst yet another thunder storm boomed around the mountains. It has rained most of the afternoon and a game of scrabble failed to lift my spirits (as Frank always wins anyway). From the forecast it seems like it will be into the weekend before the weather improves but we've decided to try and hang on if we can because the glimpses of the Dolomites that we do get in between storms are amazing. There is a high level drive through the Hohe Tauerrn National Park which we would really love to do if only it would clear enough for us to see everything.
On our last full day in Innsbruck we went up to the alpine villages above Innsbruck and walked through the meadows around a small town called Igles. It was hot and sunny and very pleasant and we finished the afternoon with a cold beer before catching the tram back down to Innsbruck. Unfortunately my walking poles were left on the tram and a trip to the Lost Property office the next day proved fruitless but as if to make up for this we managed at last to find a store which stocked the propane gas cylinders we need for our cooking stove. We've been hunting for these since Denmark so were very pleased to find them at last.
Frank now ....
Yes it seems that every time we try to pitch camp in the mountains it pours down. The sound of rain on canvass is enough to drive you crazy after 12 hours! Still the thunder storms are spectacular as thunder and lightening bounces around the mountain tops and valleys. Most of the peaks in this area are above 3,000m and nearby is the highest mountain in Austria, Grossglockner at 3,798m. This can be seen close up from the high level route Christine mentioned along with a glacier. If the rain persists tomorrow I think we may be packing up and setting off to warmer and dryer Italy so that's not a bad option if the weather does not improve here.
Love F and C
We woke up this morning to a sunny day with the promise from the forecast of no RAIN. We decided it was time to take the high road to Austria's tallest mountain, Grossglockner (3798m or about 11,500ft). The road that takes you there is not surprisingly called the Grossglocknerstrasse. However it is quite an unusual road as it rises to an amazing 7950ft at the main viewing point for the mountain. By the time we reached this viewing point the cloud was beginning to form over the peaks but we did manage to see it in all its glory together with the glacier that flows below it. One thing we had not appreciated was just how cold it would be. So when we got out of the car in shorts and sandals it was time for some winter gear. The temperature was close to freezing. The glazier is a shadow of its former self. Apparently it has been retreating at a rate of 15m a year due to global warming and will disappear in 35 years time, so if you want to see it you had better come to Austria soon before it is more of a ski slope than a glacier!
The viewing point is quite commercialised even at that height and in a National Park. A multi storey car park is built in to the mountain side but is still quite a blot on the landscape. However if you look the other way you do get a superb view. There were marmots running around quite openly but no sign of the ibex that are also supposed to be numerous on the mountain side. We were quite early in getting up the mountain but as more and more vistors made it up the route, the cloud came in even more densely and it started to snow!
The route is a spectacular drive of 48 kilometres and it attracts large numbers of bikers who cruise in convoys along the route and congregate at the many stopping points to compare notes. I think it must be something of a mecca for middle aged bikers seeking that ultimate ride experience. I would say there were more motor bikes than cars driving the route. When we moved on from the viewing point at Grossglockner we still had most of the drive to complete including a route up to the top of the highest pass at which point there was snow covering everywhere except on the road. At the highest point it was 8,220ft which is a height I have not previously driven or even hiked to!
After this we went on to a rather more sedate resort town called Zel am See for lunch. The main reason we went there was on recommendation from Duncan and Julia who had a holiday there some years ago. We thought is was a really nice place. The lake looked lovely and there were lots of sailing dinghies with billowing spinnakers racing and also a passenger steamship. When Duncan was here, he swam right across which is some feat as it is very large!
Over to Christine...
and Frank especially thought the warm chocolate cake and ice cream was a treat.
Overall our stay here has been dominated by the weather which until today was predominantly wet. Yesterday we visited Lienz Museum which is based in the castle just above the town. The interior was given over mainly to an exhibition of paintings by Albin Eggar-Lienz, a famous painter from this area. There were some very large paintings of men at work with very angular harsh looking faces, strange but interesting all the same. There were also some paintings of his family which were very good indeed.
We leave here tomorrow for Italy and if the forecasts are correct, then we should see some long awaited sun. We head over the border towards Venice with an overnight stay at a small town called Conegliano on our way.
The wifi link on this campsite has been a bit intermittent and slow, so we will try and load some pictures of our drive in the mountains tomorrow.
love F and C