25 May 2015

Sankt Johann im Pongau

CA and my separate departure itineraries came together at the airport in Munich without a hitch. Figuring out the GPS in our rental car was and is the greater challenge. We were more than relieved that the entire road trip between Munich and St. Johann im Pongau was in daylight hours.

Our hotel is in the village center, which is always something we appreciate as we can explore on foot, and there are many cafes and restaurants in close proximity.

Cafe Bauer, Sankt Johann I'm Pongau

Austrians seem very in touch with their cultural past.
In every town, folk clothing is available for purchase.

After walking about, finding an ATM and a perfect cafe for breakfast, we spent our first full day in the Austrian Alps exploring areas that JL and I had visited in 2009--with DMs family. We chose the circuitous and mountainous Route 164 toward Maria Alm--this is the same mountain road JL and I had attempted to traverse in the middle of the night in the tiny Citroen. Certainly, the scariest driving I've ever experienced as the road was totally unfamiliar, narrow and steep, with a rushing mountain stream on our left. The small car just didn't have enough power to cart two grandmas with heavy luggage.

I wasn't able to pinpoint the exact geography of the 2009 debacle, but driving the route in daylight with CA caused me to again whisper prayers of gratitude. It still amazes us that throughout that horrible, defeating experience we were kept completely safe.

Maria Alm; May 24, 2015

LG and MK in May 2009

Marielle and LG; 2009

Turns out that Monday is a Catholic holiday in Austria, so all shops and businesses are closed, except for a few cafes, restaurants, and gas stations. We've a beautiful 60° spring day, and while a great deal of our site-seeing is from a car, Austrians are out in great numbers hiking, biking, para-sailing... We stop just beyond Saalfelden to explore a cable car set-up that transports bikers and their bikes to the top of a mountain. They then mount their bikes and point them downslope for what is obviously a fast and thrilling (and muddy) descent.

We drive to the other St. Johann--this one Sankt Johann im Tirol. While not deserted, because of the holiday the Zentrum is quiet today with a few families and tourists sprinkled about. We find a promising restaurant for an leisurely lunch, sitting outside in the beautiful square. We both opt for the Schnitzel--how can we not? We're in Austria.

Lovely mixed salad that accompanied my schnitzel.

The return trip along the same mountain road is punctuated by many fast motorcycles,
 thrilling to the curves and switchbacks. If they'd just keep to their side of this narrow route!

I'd describe the remainder of our first day and evening, but instead must confess that I succumbed to the god of jet-lag and managed to mostly sleep from mid-afternoon until 5:00am today. Hopefully, I'm all caught up and ready for a full week of the gorgeous Austrian Alps.

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