The Grossglockner and then onward through Austria
From touring the battlefields of the Isonzo front of WWI we felt that needed a break before we headed into France and Belgium for what would be a month straight of visiting war sites and memorials. What did we choose - or more importantly, what did the driver choose - to drive up through Austria via the Grossglockner.
After we had done the drive through the Transfagarasan Road in Romania we had decided that we should do another of these mountaintop drives before we exit the mountainous regions of Europe for the slightly less exciting flatland.
And for this we weren't disappointed. We drove up from Gorizia and did a quick overnight in Lienz, Austria. The next morning we were up and on our way - a short drive and an entry fee (or toll) and you're off into the Grossglockner highway.
We had a great photo of the tunnel separating the regions of Tyrol from Carinthia because they were stopping traffic at the entrance. We were luckily enough to be the first vehicle in line, just like in Romania they were filming an advert for a car, unlike in Romania we couldn't tell what it was they were filming this time. We did, however, have a great free run down once we were through the tunnel until we were up at a pass where we stopped to just admire the scenery.
One of the things that I found outstanding was a line of large stone slabs that had holes drilled through them - they were at one of the peaks and both blocked and provided a great understanding of the mountain peaks in the range you were looking at. The slabs were thick enough so that to really look though the drilled hole you managed to get a direct view of the mountain peak that they were trying to highlight - a really interesting and innovative way to point out individual peaks in a range of mountains.
Then back to the drive, the weather was perfect and it was just so enjoyable to head up into the mountains through the winding roads.
Unfortunately, almost as soon as we had headed up into mountains we were through them. Back down and driving through standard roads winding the what any other day would be amazing scenery. We drove up and spent an overnight in the small town of Zell am See, a wonderful little city that we could have easily relaxed for a few days in...
But unfortunately one night was all we had - the problems of being on a self imposed timeline schedule - and the next morning we were off on our way again, this time to visit the fairy book town of Hallstatt. A quaint town built into the small spot of land between some wonderful mountains and a gorgeous lake - not a bad little place to live.
And the real beauty of the city, they also have a bone cathedral and unlike the one we visited in Poland, here we could take photos. This was due to the tiny compact size of the town, sandwiched between mountains and the lake, at one point they ran out of room to store their dead. They started burying people and then a few years later,when they needed a new grave, they would dig them up and have a second funeral to transfer the skull and bones in to their new resting place. The last person from the village who chose to be stored in this manner died in the 1980's.