Monday, May 23, 2016

Our May getaway, 2016...

A few months ago, Bill and I went to The Auld Rogue  in Vaihingen for a Sunday lunch and came home with tentative plans to go to Ireland.  The folks at The Auld Rogue were offering a group trip to Ireland for the long Memorial Day weekend.  Bill made reservations for our dogs at Dog On Holiday in anticipation of a quick May sojourn to his motherland.

Then the trip to Ireland became a trip to France.  After researching the logistics of going to Ireland from Stuttgart, along with my lack of enthusiasm for trying Ryan Air, I pushed Ireland out of my head.  I thought maybe we'd hit southern France and pick up some wine.  But it occurred to me that we've been to France a few times.  Then I noticed someone on our local Facebook group had posted an article about Hallstatt, Austria.  Bill and I love Austria and we've already visited four times during our current Germany tenure of less than two years.  As I read about Hallstatt, I realized that we hadn't been to Slovenia.  And we also hadn't visited Trieste, in northeastern Italy.  My plans to go to France soon evaporated as I mapped out a road trip taking us from Austria, to Italy, and then Slovenia, with another stop in Austria on the way back to Stuttgart.

Once I started planning, we realized the dogs needed a longer holiday at Dog On Holiday.  Fortunately, there was room for them in the days leading up to Memorial Day weekend.  We left Germany for Austria on May 21st.  As I write this, we've been gone two nights.

We decided to take my Mini Cooper convertible on our trip, mainly because it needs the miles, but also because we figured it would be more fun to drive it with the top down.  As we've arrived in Italy this afternoon, I now think it was best to drive it because it's smaller than our RAV 4 and fits more easily through narrow passages.  I was initially afraid I might want to buy something and not be able to because of my car's small size, but then I remembered the wonders of shipping.

Early Saturday morning, Bill dropped our dogs off with Max at Dog On Holiday and we set off on our journey.  I remembered being warned about the terrible traffic we might face on the way south.  We did hit a few Staus, but none were really terrible until we saw the line of cars trying to get from Austria back into Germany.  That may be something to plan for when we start the drive home.


Stau near Esslingen...


Closer to Austria...

It seemed to take forever to get out of Germany.  At one point, we stopped at a horribly crowded rest stop that was teeming with buses, bikers, truckers, and disgruntled motorists. I waited in the car while Bill went to buy an Austrian vignette.  While he was gone, some kid started whizzing on the fence right in front of me.  I guess either he or his parents didn't want to pay 70 cents for the restroom.  

But we finally got to Austria and made our way to our first stop in Gosau, Austria.  I decided on Gosau because I had read that Hallstatt was very crowded and teeming with tourists, especially Asians.  It's not that I have anything against Asians.  In fact, we often run into them when we travel, especially in Austria.  It's just that when I was hunting for lodging, I found a listing for a very charming looking hotel in Gosau and one reviewer mentioned all the Asians in Hallstatt.  She made it sound like Hallstatt was very touristy, even if it is pretty.  So though it was pricey, I booked two nights at the Landhaus Koller.  That turned out to be one of my better ideas.  Not only is the Landhaus Koller utterly beautiful and charming, it's also out of the throngs of tourists in Hallstatt. 

And yes, the reviewer on Trip Advisor was absolutely right.  There are many Chinese people in Hallstatt.  In turns out there's a special reason why Chinese people love to visit Hallstatt.  I learned the reason yesterday during our visit.  In a suburb of Beijing, the Chinese have built a replica of Hallstatt.  I'm not sure how many people in China actually live in their version of Hallstatt, but the replica has made Chinese people want to visit the real thing.  And visit they do... many, many of them.

We managed to have a great time in Gosau and we're now in a hotel in Italy.  We'll spend two nights here and head to Slovenia for a few days.  I feel like writing now, but the Internet connection is too slow.  

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