We went to breakfast in the sunny conservatory room. The choices were too many to list, but I had a croissant with fresh strawberry jelly and a large plate of fresh fruit. They had several different juices- I chose apple, pear, carrot, and orange which was really delicious. They brought “fresh delicious Austrian coffee” to the table and we enjoyed our breakfast amid the spectacular view. It reminded us of our stay at the Ahwanee hotel in Yosemite where we stayed for a night a few years ago and were able to have breakfast while watching Yosemite Falls, and of the Mount Washington Hotel in New Hampshire nestled at the base of spectacular Mount Washington. This was a similar experience of being nestled in such grandeur. Later on, while we were packing to leave, I saw a brochure in the room for a time share type of plan where one would visit the ‘Grand Hotels’ around the world. I feel so lucky to have experienced this wonderful place and hope I get the chance to return some day.
We set the navigation system for Vienna, and headed down the mountain. As we got further down into the valley, the mountaintops became hazier and hazier. I am glad we had the views from the top, because the views from the valley, although spectacular, had a certain distant haze. Once into the valley, we hit the autobahn and headed east. Mid-morning, we decided to abandon the autobahn and take the more scenic route through the mountains. This allowed us to travel at low speed through one quaint town after another. The little Alpine villages all had common themes: incredible churches dominating the center of town, large sprawling homes with lots of wood beams and wood decks, colorful flowers planted in flowerboxes along the decks and beautiful architecture. Many of the homes had elaborate painting done around the windows and on the walls, and many also had names: Jan’s Haus, Stephan’s Haus, etc.
A typical village on our drive:
Once we were out of the mountains and into the valley, we were able to drive on the Autobahn. Austria had more tunnels through the mountains than we could count- an amazing engineering feat. Travel must have been extremely slow prior to the tunnels, sine the only way to get from place to place would have been over the mountains through the passes. I drove for part of the day, getting to drive the new car was great!
We stopped at an Austrian rest stop for lunch, the food was served cafeteria style and there was a huge selection. We took our trays outside and enjoyed watching a little bird come to the table begging for scraps. I fed him a couple of pieces of bread, and the next thing we knew, we were swarmed with little birds begging. Sheldon got up to use the men’s room, and the birds jumped right up on to the table to see if they could find food on his tray- it didn’t seem to matter to them that I was sitting 2 feet away!
More mountains on our drive:
View from the passenger's seat:
One of the towns we stopped in along the way:
During our drive, the ‘check engine’ light came on in the car, so we spent some time trying to reach the Mercedes European hotline in order to find somewhere to take the car. We ended up contacting the American European delivery center and found out that the European hotline is not able to be called from an American cell phone. We finally reached someone when we got to the hotel in Vienna. The hotel we stayed in was outside of the center of the city near Schoenbrunn Castle.
We got ourselves settled into our room, then took off to walk around the area and look for a place to have dinner. We ended up finding a place called Wienerwald which looked to be the Austrian equivalent of a Denny’s. The food was really bad and when Sheldon used the men’s room, he said it was incredibly filthy. After the Interalpin, it was quite a disappointment.