Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Journey to Austria - The Goldbergs in Europe Days 9-11

We set out on the morning of Day 9 to drive from Prague to Austria.  In my infinite wisdom I thought that rather than take the route recommended to Salzburg by GPS, Google Maps, and every other navigation system imaginable, we should take a more direct route to Salzburg.  The reason for foregoing the recommended route was simple, we had already been on the route from Munich to Prague, and the return route from Prague to Salzburg had us on the same path.

My planned route had us going directly through the center of the Czech Republic, through Linz, Austria, and into Salzburg.  How bad could the roads be, right?  The Czech Republic is part of the EU, they have infrastructure.  Who cares if we don't speak the language, can't read any signs, and don't have any idea what areas are safe and what aren't...right?  right.

We had our new favorite breakfast at the Hotel Josef, did a quick walk around downtown Prague and headed for the highway...if you can call it a highway.  As we made our way through the 2 lane "highways" of the Czech Republic we were constantly stuck behind tractors, semis, mopeds, people on bikes, etc....there must be a better way.  I re-programmed the GPS to take us on the fastest way possible.  That's when the fun started.  Hannah was driving, as she wanted to drive when it was still light out, and it was "easy", aka, no mountains.

It seemed every road we turned onto was even more remote than the next.  The GPS consistently called the roads "Unnamed Road".  The roads twisted and turned through small towns of which we couldn't pronounce the names.  The roads were only wide enough for one car, and we were more and more concerned that a tire blowout or other breakdown would leave us stranded, unable to make a phone call, know our location, or communicate to anyone we encountered.

While this route map won't do our perils justice, it is clear that we didn't take the most direct route.

View Larger Map

When we reached Austria, it was probably the happiest 2 Jews have ever been to enter the Austrian borders.  Once we entered the country the roads had a name, we spoke enough of the language to get around, and we cruised with no issues all the way to Salzburg.  All things considered, we made it, although there were times that both of us doubted we'd ever make it out of trip unscathed.

We found our hotel in Salzburg and were immediately concerned.  The main reason for concern was not the musty smell in the hallways but the full size cutout of the what could only be the god of African moons on the door of our room.

Salzburg is a beautiful town, weather permitting, a quaint old town with shopping, a large castle on the hill above the city, and views of the nearby Alps in all directions.  While we arrived after dark we had worked up an appetite in our 6 hour driving ordeal so we strolled into the old city and enjoyed a light Austrian dinner of weiner schnitzel, potato balls, roasted pork, and of course, a Helles.

The plan for the following day was to jump back in the car and drive another 6 hours to Lucerne, Switzerland.  While I am a glutton for punishment, we thought it would be cruel and unusual to subject us to another all day driving trip across Europe, especially with rain in the forecast.  We made the call to relax and enjoy Salzburg for another day...

...and return to Munich a day earlier than planned.  As much as I wanted to show Hannah yet another country and beautiful city, no one was more happy than I to return to Munich and spend the time somewhere familiar.

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