Results tagged “Driving” from Europe 2016

HOT!! HOT HOT HOT!!!! Horrible hotel room. And bright too. We turned the light off and it's like "did we turn the light off?" Of course at 4am it's like "is it morning?". Le sigh.

At breakfast I really didn't feel like eating - just didn't want to be hungry. And need to eat enough to only need a light lunch as everything is stoopidly expensive here.

After breakfast walked down to see the 3800-person carrying Costa ship in the fjord. We were pretty lucky that there weren't any cruise ships in port yesterday to clog up the trolls road. Today tour bus after tour bus was heading into town to take people places.

Had a morning pitstop in Lom.

Made an unscheduled stop at a small cemetery where another Insight guide was buried - she'd actually died on tour which was all very sad.

Stopped in Lillehammer for lunch. Had issues finding public toilets. In the end snuck into a Scandia hotel and went there (we figured we've given Scandia plenty of money over the past couple of weeks). Then had a cheese roll for lunch.  Went up to see the ski jump, which was in use!  Even with no snow - they just slide down slippery plastic.

Then carried on to Oslo. The traffic here (that we've seen of it) is pretty awful.

Got to our hotel and checked in. The hotel is literally on top of the station concourse. The room is a comfortable temperature, but the decor is a little disturbing - a dude beating up a lion (well a human body with a lion head - weird weird weird).

Then headed out again. Firstly we went to the station to check out the process for getting to the airport on Wednesday. Then we went down to the Opera house (pretty, but not as pretty as ours), checked out Noah's Ark (a theatre on a barge) and then went to look for some dinner. Ended up at the cathedral cafe with some others. Had a reindeer pizza, although there wasn't much meat on it.

Then back for the nightly ritual.

OMFG this hotel room is fricken HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT. Just miserable. Thermostat is as low as it will go. The heater is not on. Not even the fridge is on (I needed the power point for the laptop). I can't see any vents. So have no idea where the heat is coming from but it's unbearable. Woke up this morning HOT.

So I got up and ran a load of washing.

As you do.

Cost me 40 NOK and I didn't bother drying it, just let it all dry in the room (which it did no problems in this heat).

Breakfast had a lot of variety, and luckily the restaurant wasn't as crowded this morning as it was last night.

Our trip for today was the Trollstigen - the trolls road - a very spectacular road a bit north of Geiranger. But the whole day of driving was spectacular.

First up was going up the eagle's lookout just out of Geiranger which was amazing.

Then a ferry across a fjord which was very pretty.

Then a pitstop for petrol (they couldn't get any in Lom yesterday because of the car show).

Another pitstop at Gudbrandsjuvet for morning tea by a powerful little waterfall.

Near the top of the Trollstigen, right at the top of the pass, we stopped to build trolls (just piles of rocks). So I built a snowman.

As you do.

At the top of the Trollstigen we just kept on going - past the visitors centre and parking. It felt a lot like the Man from Snowy River - where everyone stops at the top but Jim Craig leaps over the edge. It was exactly like that. The road is a lot like the one we came into Geiranger on yesterday, and the eagle's view road this morning - very steep with many hairpin bends zigzagging down the mountain. And the views are *spectacular*. And we had awesome weather. Just an amazing day.

At the bottom they cracked out the Henkell and we toasted the drive. Then we headed back up, this time stopping in at the visitor's centre for lunch (I had an ice cream) and a walk out to the viewing platform.

Just awesome.

Then headed back the way we came. Most people snoozed but I had to look at all the amazing scenery.

Back in Geiranger we went for a little walk to the end of the fjord, then got dropped back to the hotel.

Dinner was much the same as last night, although we got in a little earlier so it wasn't *quite* as chaotic.

Then back to the hot house to do the nightly ritiual. I really need to wash my hair but I'm just too tired. Maybe tomorrow since we don't have a planned dinner so should be able to get back to the room earlier.

It's even later now because a bunch of the photos I'd downloaded yesterday had gotten corrupted somehow so Faststone was crashing trying to rotate them.  In then end I figured out which ones were having problems and redownloaded them from the SD card and they're fine now.  But that took forever to work through and now it's even later :(

Slept mostly ok I think. Woke up a bit before 6am. Average breakfast. Clear blue skies when we left at 8am. But it started to cloud over.

Had a morning pitstop at Kongsvold, a little guesthouse in the middle of nowhere. Then into the Dovrefjell National Park, but we didn't see any of the Greenland native oxen.

We did see another moose, a huge bird which I don't know if it was a large crane or a small ostrich, and another moose.

Stopped in Lom for a lunch stop. There was a vintage car parade going through town so the whole town was packed out and all these classic cars were coming and going so that was a lot of fun. Also had a look at one of the oldest stave churches in Norway.

The afternoon scenery was spectacular, especially the drive down into Geiranger. Absolutely wonderful.

In Geiranger we hopped on a cruise boat to see the fjord. Another fantastic experience.

All in all a great day.

Sadly our hotel room doesn't give us a view of the fjord, but I don't think anyone on the tour gets a fjord view, we all seem to be on the mountain side - probably you need to pay a lot more for a fjord view.

Dinner was in the hotel buffet. Pretty huge buffet. The drinks waiter was a bit hopeless though. Had to wait ages to get out of there and even then didn't sign for the drink I had. Oh well...

This room is *super* hot :( Can't open the windows more than a crack and the thermostats appear to not work at all. Sad times.

Woke up to a nice view this morning. Well really I woke up to all the light coming in the sides of the blinds. At 4am. Think I got a little more sleep after that. *Then* we opened the blinds and saw the view. I was too tired to really appreciate it though.

The hotel we had last night had completely retarded door locks, that sometimes you had to lock manually by swiping your card on the reader. Or worse, they simply didn't close properly at all, so you could just pull the door open. Dumb dumb dumb.

Pretty average breakfast (in the meh kind of way), and out the door at 8am.

Had a photo stop at Laksforsen to see a set of raging rapids, that also has a salmon ladder (which we couldn't actually see).

Then followed the river valley allll the way upstream, then allll the way downstream. The scenery was pretty enough, but mostly just forest, the river and some low mountains. Nothing super spectacular, although a few pretty parts in places.

Stopped for lunch in Steinkjer (Stinker!! ok not really). Shared some maccas fries with mum because we really didn't need much for lunch.

As we got further south there was a lot more gentle rolling hills and greenery and farmland.

Just before Trondheim we went to Hell! No really!

Then onto Trondheim. Checked in, then went out for a wander up and down the canal and looked for somewhere to have dinner. Bob and Joanne ran into us, so we had dinner with them and it was all very lovely. Finally got to check in a beer in Norway! Beer Traveller Level 5! W00t! The Norwegians, like the Germans, appear to revel in the sunny weather, and they were out in droves tonight.

Hoping the fantastic weather hangs around for another couple of days.

Last night mum stayed up late (11pm) reading and I had super restless itchy legs, so didn't get to sleep for ages :(:(:( Consequently woke up tired and grumpy. Then I was looking at the maps again and got depressed all over again at the really bad seat rotation scheme that doesn't alternate sides of the coach. Pissed off with the world and didn't want to be sociable at breakfast. In fact I was so upset I sat down looking at my food wondering if I'd even be able to stomach it.

*sigh*

Left a bit after 8am.

Once again, people with the awesome window seats on the right side of the coach slept most of the morning. Seriously why would you even bother coming on a trip like this if you're just going to sleep the whole way through it??? The only advantage of them sleeping was that they didn't take up half the window trying to take their own photos. There was one point where there was an awesome view to the left, and some other points later in the day I was able to lean across people to get some nice photos on the right.

We also took a ferry ride across one of the fjords because there's no road.

Lunch was at the lovely fjord-side town of Fauske. We had leftover chicken from last night's meal, and an icecream. The sun had also well and truly come out, so was feeling a lot better.

After lunch we left the fjords for a bit and headed into the hills, and I think most of the coach snoozed, including me.

On the way back south over the Arctic circle we stopped at the visitor's centre there for a break and we saw the little movie they had which was quite informative.  Of course the Arctic circle isn't there anymore, it's wandered north (at 14 metres per year) so is now a ways north of the current visitor's centre.  But it was still cool anyway.

Continued down and past more fjords and mountains, although not as spectacular. Watched a short film with Joanna Lumley about her trip to the Arctic to see the northern lights.

Followed a truck over a long detour which slowed us down quite a bit - didn't get to the hotel til nearly 7pm. The room is nice enough and has a lovely view of the mountain next door, but it's *hot* :( Thermostat is as low as it will go but the head from the minibar fridge is winning out. Not going to be using the doona again tonight :(

I was in a tshirt all day today. I did put my coat on for the ferry ride. But even in the snow at the arctic circle I was just in my tshirt. Silly really.

Dinner was in the hotel - buffet style. Pretty average meal really, but dessert was nice enough. A bunch of them were going to go for a walk after dinner, and I'd have loved to have gone, especially as we've done literally no exercise all day, but that would add another hour to going to bed time and I'm exhausted.

Slept reasonably well again last night. Taking the doona out of its cover certainly does seem to work. I just have this weird mental block against doing it, because that's not How Things Should Be Done.

Decent breakfast again. 7:30 out the door.

Long driving day today. Past lots of fjords.

But.

The seat rotation has put us on the wrong side of the coach to see them. As we're driving south, all the fjords are on the right, and we're on the left of the coach pretty much until the end of the trip. So this sux epically.

But what's worse is that the lucky people on the right side of the coach are WASTING IT!!!! We're in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, and many of the people with the right side window seats were sleeping or reading or playing on their tablets. Why even bother doing this tour people?? If these people don't care about looking at the scenery they should swap with people that do (read: me). As it was I was hanging over people trying to see out the windows for the morning and get photos where possible. It was the most frustrating and then depressing morning so far. I. Hate. People. A lot.

Had a photo stop in Gildetun up on the side of a moutnain, a morning pitstop in Storslett and a lunch pitstop in Nordkjosbotn.

After that the weather closed in and made visibility pretty poor, and we were going over the mountains not next to the fjords so I ended up having a bit of a snooze.

Had a toilet pitstop in Bjerkvik.

Late in the afternoon we ended up back on the border in Riksgransen in Sweden to take beautiful train trip down from the border along one of the fjords and into Narvik. Very pretty, although it was very grey and dreary. Can see how it would be even more spectacular on a good day. At least I got a good window seat for it.

In Narvik the coach disappeared to the service entrance to unload our bags, so we gave up on the idea of bringing our own bags up. Went up the 16th floor to get some photos, then went for a wander to find some dinner. Ended up at the Italian restaurant with another couple which was nice, but the serving sizes were *huge*! Oops. I just keep getting fatter and fatter....

So even though the room was the coolest, most comfortable room of the trip, the thick warm doonas meant overheating anyway. So that and all the lights from hopeless blinds meant I didn't sleep all that well. Did I mention we didn't get to bed til after 1am? And I had restless legs so couldn't get to sleep for ages? Although I didn't feel as tired today as I felt yesterday. Go figure. Probably because we had a fairly late start so slept in til about 7am.

Breakfast options were fairly limited. No bacon again! *gasp* Ended up having quite a lot of potato, so a very "carby" breakfast.

Then blogged yesterday from the hotel lobby (only hotel so far on this particular trip that we've not had wifi in the rooms).

Left around 10:30am. Had a couple of small photo stops which was nice - one for the town of Honningsvag, although the light was pretty bad, and one for the fjord, but that one had some reindeer just there which made the stop worthwhile, as it wasn't really a good place for a photo. Turns out the photo stops were just fillers to take up time - because otherwise we'd have been too early to the tiny restaurant we went to for lunch - which had another tour bus there and so we timed it to get there just after they left.  I just had an ice cream for lunch, as I felt like I'd just had breakfast.

Drove onto Alta and to the hotel, around 3pm. Went and found the laundry and thought we'd have a go at doing some washing.

Sigh.

The machine was a very complicated Bosch with way too many cycles all labelled in Norwegian, with no english instructions. Found one cycle that said it would take 43 minutes. It took nearly an hour, and even then didn't spin the clothes very dry. So then into the drier. Another Bosch with far too many options. Whatever happened to two dials on a drier: temperature and timer ?? Why so damned complicated?? After forty minutes we went back and the clothes weren't dry at all. Mum went back again later, fiddled, went to reception to ask for help, found out the drying tray was full of water, tried again, and after probably two an a half hours since we started, gave up and brought all the washing back to the room to try it here.

By this time of course it's 6:30 pm and all I've had to eat since breakfast is an ice cream so I was feeling pretty miserable. So we went out for dinner - just across the way to a little shopping mall. Found a little pizza place and shared a small pizza.

Feel like a big fat blob. Didn't do *any* exercise today (other than a few walks up and down three or four flights of stairs on account of the elevators in the hotel being out of service). It certainly hasn't helped that's it raining here (guess we won't be seeing the midnight sun tonight!), and we're not really anywhere near the fjord anyway, and all the dramas with the washing). At least the blinds look to be good shut out blinds, so hopefully we'll get some sleep. 

The further north we get, the more .. "quaint" our hotels get :)

Last night's hotel had a pretty awkward bathroom and the buffet breakfast was extremelly limited (no bacon! *gasp*). Temperature was still too warm (we're in the arctic circle and it's too hot!). Opened the window for a while, but we were on the ground floor so didn't leave it open for the night. We did have a lovely view out the window though.

Slept like crap though. Other than lots of young guys partying on after the hockey game finished and making an awful lot of noise, I also woke up stressing about hurty and other such things. So I ended up being super tired all day. :(:(:(

Out the door at 7:30. Drove up to Norway, and noone was even at the border crossing so just quietly passed into Norway. Had to turn our clocks back an hour which makes today even longer. Also stuffs up my photo numbering which is based on time. There'll be overlap of a few photos.

By 8:45 local time we arrived at a small Sami museum. Had some explanations of some of the things by a local Sami lady which was interesting. I was so tired I was falling asleep on my feet though.

Then saw real live majestic mooses! Three on the other side of the coach, then I saw one on just outside my window and managed a good picture of it as we zoomed past. Lots and lots of reindeer too.

Drove along a fjord which looked very pretty, although Peter our guide says as fjords go from one to ten, it's probably a two. The super sad thing is, for all the drives where we'll be going past fjords in the next week, we're going to be on the wrong side of the coach :(:(:( Super sad making :(

Continued on and stopped for lunch at Olderfjord. Really nothing there but a small restaurant and a camp site. Had some quite nice soup for lunch, which was 99 NOK. Which translates to $16.50 AUD. Ouch. This place is even more expensive than Denmark, which shocked me four years ago.

The drive north from there got prettier and prettier. The rock strata was quite spectacular. Saw an eagle sitting on a rock. Passed cute little fishing villages, including many candidates for Stu's dream home. Got up past the trees and into the tundra, which with all the snow and rocks looked an awful lot like our snowy mountains!

Finally arrived in Honningsvag and checked into the hotel and found an ATM to get some cash out.

Then headed out again. This time for an optional bird watching cruise off the northwest side of the island. It was pretty expensive (109 EUR I think) but it was super cool. Got to see cormorants, puffins, razorbills, guillemots, white tailed eagles, gannets, kittiwakes and a whole heap of seagulls (a couple of varieties). But we finished off seeing a small group of seals which was pretty awesome. Got some great photos.

Back to the hotel for dinner. They weren't very well organised, but the food I had was very nice.

After a break after dinner (and then having to go wake up Peter who had fallen asleep) we headed out again - up to North Cape. After a rainy start to the day it wasn't all that hopeful that we'd see the sun, but it had actually been clearing for the evening which was super exciting. When we arrived we all had a glass of champagne and some cavier and salmon canapes then got a bit of time to get our photos taken with the globe and have a look at the movie and museum dug into the rock. Then at midnight we were all out to see the midnight sun. Pretty awesome :):):) The lowest it dips is actually a little bit after midnight, but they didn't give us time to hang around for that. But it was pretty surreal to be able to see the sun due north in the northern hemisphere - coming over the top of the world. Also the most furthest north I'm ever likely to get on land.

Coming back Peter said that they only get to see the midnight sun about ten percent of the time, and for most tour groups they never actually get to see it. So we were extremelly blessed. It was "sunset" lighting the whole way back to the hotel, but it was weird knowing that the sun was actually rising - it wasn't going to set at all!

So this hotel, in the middle of the arctic, where the sun doesn't set for weeks at a time, couldn't be arsed putting in blockout blinds. We just had these flimsy things that let the light in all night. Fail. 

I think I slept a bit better last night. A bit hard to tell because there was no powerpoint by the bed so I couldn't run sleep cycle for the night.

Pretty standard breakfast again.

Headed out around 8am. We headed one hour south east to the Ranua Zoo, which is an Arctic wildlife zoo which was super cool. Had a really great two hours there.

Then back into town to pick up the others that didn't come out. Had a brief false start getting away again because someone left their purse in the toilet at the hotel. Fortunately, like last time, they discovered just a few minutes out of town so we could easily go back.

Then we just continued to drive north.

Had a brief pitstop in one little town with a very old wooden church, and ended up saying there for a full pitstop which took the full half hour for people to get through the single toilet we found. hrmm.

The only other stop was a drive up onto a small hill which had ski lifts at the top, and which overlooked Russia in the distance. There might have been a bottle of very nice Russian vodka which the entire coach shared.

We saw the trees start to thin out during the trip, and as soon as you get just a little elevation you lose the trees completely and it's just arctic tundra. Not that it felt arctic at all - it was postively warm in town and even up the top of the hill it was windy but not cold. I just had my thin jumper on and I was fine.

And we saw lots of reindeer by the sides of the roads.  No majestic mooses yet though (other than in the zoo this morning).

Then onto Ivalo to our hotel and dinner, which was a buffet dinner in the hotel. They had some very nice salmon and various sauces which were pretty yummy.  But didn't have any dessert because the only option was pikelets.

We also have a lovely view from our window tonight of the river by the hotel :)

The hotel we had last night had an even more open bathroom door. This one you could into the toilet as well as the shower with a couple of clear breaks in the frosted glass. Weird. Also no plugs for the sink to do washing, *but* they do have a free guest laundry, which we used this morning before breakfast (thanks mum!).

Sleep was a bit broken last night. Aircon got it relatively cool, but still overheated with the doona on. I think I might pull the doona out of its cover tonight.

Breakfast choices were a little limited this morning, but still had mostly my usual breakfast (which is getting smaller by the day).

Headed out at 8am. Had a pitstop midmorning, and continued onto Oulu for lunch. We had subway for lunch (I haven't had subway in a month!) and then wandered around the foreshore area looking at all the cute buildings.

Sadly I've lost my mini usb cable :(:(:(:(:( It must have either fallen out at the hotel at some point overnight (maybe at dinner, or breakfast, or in the room), or when pulling the camera out during our stop in Oulu. I'm pretty sad about it too, because that was the cable that I got with my Sony DSC-F828 camera in 2004, and it's been in that camera bag that entire time.

So the GPS was complaining about low battery for a chunk of the afternoon and I couldn't charge it. But it hung in there til we got to Rovaniemi. I checked at the hotel to see if they had any in lost property but they didn't have any. So headed out into the rainy streets to find somewhere to buy one. Tried a couple of places without any luck, but found one in Clas Ohlson. 10 Euros :(:(:( Also super sad-making because I have like ten of the damned things at home but had to spend $15 on a new one :(:(:(:(:(

Dinner tonight was in the hotel restaurant. Salad for entree was nice enough. Mains was meant to be chicken with vegetables, but was actually chicken, fries and huge amounts of bbq sauce. The chicken was lovely but we were wondering what happened to the veggies. Dessert was a nice piece of chocolate cake.

So the hotel we had in Helsinki had these weird bathroom walls that were just glass with a bit of paint on them which plenty of see through spaces to see in from the outside. Managed to convince the thermostat to go down to about 19C (not sure that it actually did) so slept relatively well. In fact we had an early night (21:30) and slept through til 6:30!

Breakfast didn't start til 7am though, and they wanted to leave at 8am, so it was a very rushed breakfast for us (the room was pretty chaotic too, but we went to a second room which was a lot quieter).

Then it was driving driving driving north out of Helsinki.

We had a morning pitstop. I got frustrated with the people sitting in front of us (and will be for the entire trip) who just fuss around when the coach stops and block everyone else getting off the coach. Even the dude's wife was like "stand aside to let people out" but he didn't care :( I hate people.

More driving. Finland is like 74% forest so that's pretty much all we saw all day. Mostly young growth by the look of it as timber is Finland's primary industry.

After the first pitstop they put on some Sibelius. The first track being Finlandia. Except our tour guide will. not. shut. up. He talked for about 80 of the 90 minutes of the first leg this morning and as soon as Finlandia came on after the pitstop he talked just about all the way through it. Sad times.

Lunch was at a similar roadside combo of supermarket and cafeteria.

When we got to Kuopio in the afternoon we went up the tower overlooking the lakes and the town. I couldn't be stuffed waiting in the huge queue for the lifts, so walked up the steps! All 380 or so of them (mum counted)!

Drove into town and to the hotel. We actually got a room with a view of the town square which is pretty cool! And our room is 451.. how cool is that?! ;)

Dumped our stuff, accosted the bellboy and took our own bags up to our rooms, then went for a wander around the town. Lovely weather and we walked all the way down to the lake and back.

Tried to get onto the internet but my laptop refuses to connect to the wifi. The phones connect just fine though. Go figure. Also, turns out this hotel (and apparently the next one) has a free guest laundry. Maybe that's a thing in Finland. Good to know.

Since we couldn't listen to Finlandia on the coach, I found a beautiful video on YouTube (on my phone since the laptop won't connect - sad times) with Finnish landscapes and animals - just lovely.

Dinner was in the steakhouse downstairs in the hotel. Entree was a delicious vegetable soup (mostly tomato). Mains was "crispy beef brisket" whih was just amazing. So tender and tasty. Dessert was a nice enough pannacotta.

I've had something under my left upper eyelid since this afternoon and it's super frustrating :(:(:(  edit: managed to get rid of it before bed.

Woke up 5am. But I was stressing about getting washing done and having breakfast before getting into town by 9:15am. So I wasn't getting back to sleep.

So we got up and headed down to the laundromat. Except they must have forgotten to turn the alarm off because this siren kept going off. I was super tired and hungry and the loud noise made my brain explode. We don't think we managed to get any detergent into the machine. Sigh.

Took the dried washing back to the hotel, had breakfast, but I was still super tired and grumpy. Finished getting ready and checked out, leaving the bags and the car at the hotel.

Then walked into town. We got to the Festspielhaus at 9:30, which does indeed tour the Felsenreitschule.

Except.

They don't allow photos. At least at the moment because they're setup for some festival which starts tomorrow. Well I wasn't going to pay 7 Euro to not be able to take photos, especially when it would have taken up an hour of perfectly good sunlight. Maybe next time.

And that's another thing. The damned weather forecasts are completely useless. They predicted rain for today, but it didn't come until much later in the day, and even then not much while we were still there.

So we walked up behind the festspielhaus and over the ridge to the other side. Walked along Nonnberger Hauptstrasse to find where they all had the carriage ride. Then all the way up to Nonnberg abbey. Went into the church this time which I didn't do last time.

Then back down into the old town to all the platzes where various bits of the movie were filmed, and the Mozartsteg.

Finally walked up to Kaputziner Closter to check out the view back to the old town.

Came back down and went to a place where I'd noticed earlier they sold Salzburger Nockerl, which mum had never heard of. So that was lunch (along with some cream of asparagus soup).

Went back to the hotel to pick up our bags, then headed back to Munich.

But with all the roadworks and just general traffic, the trip took about four hours :(:(:(

By the time we'd checked into the hotel, gotten petrol for the car, returned the car, saw about checking into our flight tomorrow and finding something to eat it was after 9pm :(:( So much for an early night :(:(:( Fortunately I didn't manage to bingle the car, so that was a huge relief. Driving on the wrong side of the road is super stressful! Who knew!

The checkin process was super painful. Terminal 2 at Munich airport only has checkin counters for Lufthansa. And its partner airlines in the fine print. So that was a little confusing. So we went to try checking in with the machines, but it both of our names up incorrectly, then refused to let us checkin. None of the human-operated counters showed general checkins, it was all just "bag drop" stuff. We asked the local Lufthansa help and she just said we just had to get in line with the bag drop queue. Really not a very user-friendly process.

By the time we got everything sorted and caught a bus back to the hotel, it was 9:20pm :(

So for once we got a hotel with a reverse cycle air conditioner that actually works!! Hot food options for breakfast pretty limited though.

We were going to go into the old town this morning but the weather forecast was for better weather today than tomorrow, so we decided to go out to the lakes district and the other local Salzburg area sights today instead.

But of course everything was stil cloudy (low clouds covering mountains) and when it wasn't cloudy it was super hazy. So pretty much everything sucked.

We went to St Gilgan first to do a quick photo stop from the lookout.

I wanted to go to the spot in the movie where the little train goes up the hill, and I knew where it was and there's even a road to it, but of course the road is closed at the bottom of the hill isn't it. So that was a fail. (We could have tried to go up on the railway itself, but it would have taken up half the day and we didn't have that much time. Maybe next time. Sigh.)

Next over to Mondsee. Drove along the south side of the lake on the east end where the kids are hanging out of the trees (not really sure which bit exactly though - trees change and clouds covered the mountains). Then along the north side at the east end where they're all on bicycles singing do-re-mi. Again, everything was in cloud.

Continued onto Mondsee town. Went into the Basilica where the wedding scene was filmed (I'd been in there before last time we were here, but got some different photos that I didn't get last time). Then up the hill to the Maria Hilf church - one of the stills in the opening credits.

Next over to Sankt Lorenz. They claim a particular church was used for the opening credits, but the church that's there is different (different steeple). Of course it's possible the steeple has changed - certainly one in Salzburg town has changed. The position looked right so who knows. I was trying to find some other spots there whey they drive along in the car with Max and the Baroness but it was too cloudy and hazy and mum was getting bored so gave up on that idea :(

Finally over to Eugendorf to find another church used in the opening credits. But instead of being on a little grassy hill, it's now blocked by a little forest of trees.

And then back into Salzburg for locations closer to town.

First was the Maria Plain church. It gets about a second of screen time right at the end of the wedding.

Then to places mum was more interested in.

Firstly Leopoldskron for the view to Untersberg. You need to be a hotel guest to get into the gardens though :( Maybe one day we'll be able to stay there.

Then over to Frohnburg. That was pretty cool. And we had a nice view of Untersberg from there as well.

Then to Hellbrunn to see the gazebo. Mum was pretty happy about that.

Tried to go to see Anif Palace but you can't get anywhere near it because it's a private road. So that was a fail.

Brief stop at Elsbethan for a church still from the credits.

And finally to the actual villa the Von Trapps lived in. Again, you can't really go in and see it because it's a hotel now.

So we got back to the hotel around 5pm. The pedometer claimed we'd done 11700 steps so far today ?! I was happy at that point to call it a day, but because the weather forecast for tomorrow was for rain mum wanted to go into the old town while it wasn't raining (just super hazy).

So walked down to find the local laundromat first (at least a fifteen minute walk away :( )

Then down into the old town. Walked along the river for a bit. Then into Mirabell palace. Tried to find the lift up Monchsberg but had trouble finding it. Ended up finding the horse bath first. Eventually found it. Last time we had Salzburg cards so could just go up. This time we had to pay the 2.30. Walked along the terrace and across the top of the hill, which we didn't do last time. Then down next to the theatres. Got photos of the entrance area to the theatres used in the movie, but to see inside you need to go on a tour. Their website says the only tour for the Felsenreitschule is at 9:30am. An advertising board we saw said 2pm. So who knows which is right.

By now it was like 8pm and we hadn't really eaten since breakfast. We thought we'd see if we could find some pork knuckle but of course that's easier said than done when you're tired and hungry. In the end I hacked into a random hotel's wifi and found a place that sold it on the way back to the hotel. But to be honest, it wasn't as good as Zierholz. The meat was ok but there wasn't any crackling (well there was, but it was rubber not crackling). Sad times.

Finally back to the hotel around 9pm. Ridiculous. So fricken tired.

Slept ok with open window.  Had breakfast (turns out they do actually have bread rolls) and got ready and checked out. Went with the group to the airport (got a new coach and a new driver but he was running a bit late). Got dropped off and terminal 1, and walked under to terminal 2 to pick up the keys for our car. Fortunately we were able to get a car with a GPS! Went to the garages to pick up the car (of course it was down the far back corner wasn't it?). But couldn't figure out how to change the language of the GPS to english, or how to even take the parking brake off, so had to walk wayyyy back to try and find someone, which took even more time out of the day. Turns out the parking break is a little switch in the middle. How bizarre! We also couldn't get the GPS to talk to us, but of course by that time we were out on the autobahns so I couldn't stop and fiddle.

Stopped for a pitstop at a rest house, and bought an Austrian toll sticker (8.80 for ten days). Also got the GPS talking to us.

Our first real stop was the closter at Hoglworth. It was also our first trip off the major roads onto teeny tiny roads which was, er, interesting. Of course I couldn't document any of it :(

Drove onto the hotel, negotiating Salzburg streets which was pretty stressful. At least there's free parking. And free internet! But it was quite late by the time we go there, on account of roadworks all up and down the autobahns. I'd been hoping to get here a lot earlier, and the weather was closing in (proving again to me that it's *always* cloudy and rainy in salzburg). The forecast was for rain the rest of our stay, so I thought we should get up the mountains first. But the mountains were mostly clouded over which was pretty sad making.

Anyway, so headed out again. Headed up Mehlweg first, but overshot where I'd been aiming for, so didn't find *the* hill I wanted to see. But I suppose we were close. Except it was so cloudy and rainy you really couldn't see anything :(

Then along the Rossfeld Panoramastrasse. This road is 8EUR and the top of it goes along the Austria-Germany border. But it was all clouded over so couldn't see anything. But luckily the clouds parted a little bit here and there and could at least see the view. Got to pretty close to the ridge the family walks along at the end of the movie, but couldn't find the exact spot (I think it's all covered by trees now anyway).

Then back down and south. Found two of the churchs used in the opening shots of the movie (and the intermission) in Kuchl and Golling.

Then continued south to Werfen. It was getting too late to attempt the Sound of Music walk from the town up to the meadow, so we drove up. I think the actual meadow is on private property, so we just stood at the top of it. It was pretty cloudy and getting dark, so didn't get the best shots, but at least go the idea.

Finally drove back to Salzburg. Went across to the station and just got some sandwiches for dinner which we ate back at the hotel.

Bit of a strange day today.

Didn't seem to get as hot last night. Slept til 6am. Didn't eat as much breakfast this morning either. On the road at 8:30.

Had a pitstop near Berne, back into German speaking territory.

Then onto Zurich. We got taken to the Grossmunster and the Zwingli monument but then we got set loose on the town with no idea what we could do or where we could go or what we could see. So other than going up the tower in the Grossmunster I had no idea what we should do next. So we wandered down to the lake, then back up to the square in the old town and inside the Fraumunster (no photos though). But I was missing the sweetie and I was hungry. Except I only wanted something small but that just didn't seem to be an option. Everything was cafes and I really didn't a big meal. Even found a small food stall but the smallest savoury thing there was a sausage in bread roll - way too much food. So we wandered aimlessly. I thought later that if I'd seen a McDonalds that would have been perfect - at least at maccas you can get a small serving of food. I'm sick of eating too much.

And then we left Zurich and then we left Switzerland. And I never got any fondue. Because the only chance we got for fondue was at lunch, and have I mentioned already that I'm sick of eating too much food? Basically I would have had to have given up one of the group dinners. Which in hindsight I probably should have done yesterday. If I could have convinced mum and Glenda to join me. hrmm. Suppose that means we'll have to come back one day. If I can convince the sweetie to go to Europe with me again one day.

So then into Zeppelin territory. The last time we drove that road was 22 May 2008. Except we had a very grey day and couldn't see across Bodensee into Switzerland. Today we could. We actually stopped at the Birnau church that we only took a photo of last time. It's crazy over-the-top inside.

Before I left home I grabbed a couple of books to read while on the coach. I grabbed The Tower, which I've already finished, and The Hindenburg Disaster, which I'm nearly half way through (in two days). It was a little surreal reading that book on the drive today!

Hotel is nice enough, although sadly our room has no view (facing northwest). It does have a nice desk setup though, including USB charging socket in the wall.

Dinner was in the hotel restaurant. Rockmelon and proscuitto for entree, turkey roll for mains (very salty) and a semolina dumpling with berries for dessert. Have the airconditioning going on full cold. Hopefully mum will go for a walk and get back hot so that she won't mind a cool room.. if it actually gets cool!!

Why do Europeans insist on everything being so damned hot?? Last night I had no doona at all, and air conditioning on max cold, all night, and I *still* woke up at 4am feeling hot and miserable. Just ridiculous. And the "desk" for working on has a glass surface, so is completely useless with a mouse, so have been using the bench under the tv, but it has a shelf right at knee height which I've banged into a couple of times already. Grumpy making hotel.

So after waking up at 4am hot, I then started stressing about today. So didn't get much more sleep.

The hotel breakfast was pretty average. The rosti were cold and disgusting, as were the crepes and the waffles. Blerf.

Anyways, so got ourselves ready and headed down to the Key Tours ticket office just down the road from out hotel. After having read so many negative reviews, I was very dubious about going with them. But they assured us that if the lift was closed we'd at least get a refund for that.

So out we headed to Chamonix. Took about an hour and a quarter to get there, although we had to queue for about forty minutes to get up the cable car to the top.

But oh my. It was so good. We had the perfectest day you could hope for - clear blue skies and not much wind. I might have gone a little crazy taking photos of the mountains!  And snow!  We also managed to get good positions on all four cable car rides.

After we got back down (several hours later!) we had a leisurely walk through the town of Chamonix, then stopped at a place just opposite the meeting place at the station for a drink/snack. They said they could do a cheese platter, so we asked for *small*, but ended up with a lot more food than we wanted :(

At 5pm it was back on the coach and back to Geneva.

And the fountain was fountaining.  It looks exactly like ours.

So all up a pretty awesome day. Yes it was expensive, but I really couldn't find any suitable alternatives on such short notice. It turned out to be super convenient and hassle free.

Got back to the hotel with just enough time to do my hair before heading out.

Dinner was at La Nasse, but we really weren't hungry. Entree was a salad, mains was lasagna. But after seeing the serving size of the dishes they brought out for the other tables, we asked them to half the sizes for our table. Even then I struggled to get through it. Couldn't even face dessert (a fruit tart). The lasagna was pretty nice, but the restaurant service (at least from the waiter we had) was very average. Was not impressed.

Back to the hotel to try and catch up.

Slept til 6am this morning. Had to have the window open all night though so we wouldn't overheat as much.

Breakfast we were quite stressed because mum had lost her jacket somewhere and we couldn't find it and noone had handed it into reception. But after breakfast we asked reception again and this time they had it. So that was a relief.

On the road at 9am, stopped at a reststop for morning tea.

Then onto Geneva. We got to the city at lunch time and got dumped and told to entertain ourselves for an hour. So Glenda and Mum and I went for a walk along the waterfront. As you do. Lunch was ice cream. Sadly the fountain wasn't going as it was too windy :(

After lunch went on a very meandering tour of Geneva by coach, then a very meandering tour of the old town by foot. Apart from the cemetary where John Calvin is said to be buried, the cathedral, and the Reformation Monument I don't remember much else.

Then back to the hotel to try and figure out what we're going to do tomorrow.

Dinner was at the Edelweiss restaurant nearby. Entree was molten cheese, potato, onions and gherkins - cheeeese! Mains was salmon (nicer than the salmon we had the other night). Dessert was strudel (I was too full to really enjoy it).

So I'd figured out a basic plan of attack for tomorrow (Gruyeres) when someone said we should do Chamonix. Except I hadn't done any research for that had I?? So then it was back to the hotel to waste an hour of my life trying to figure it out. It was ten o'clock before I could even start my evening routine which means a super late night, on top of an early morning tomorrow. Tired and grumpy. And if we do go to Chamonix it'll be on a overpriced tour bus that doesn't get good reviews on TripAdvisor. *sigh* But how else are you supposed to get there? Trains are extremelly complicated, as is driving yourself. I haven't even found a coach/bus service that goes from Geneva to Chamonix, and I'm too tired now to even think about it. *sigh*

The hotel in Strasbourg was too damned hot. There was no airconditioning, only a heater (that was on when we arrived). Left the window open all night which helped a little. But also in the bathroom there was a hot water pipe heater that kept the bathroom super hot (we kept the door closed to contain the heat - which of course my washing all dried overnight which was a bonus!). Woke up at 6:15, which was a sleepin!

Breakfast in the hotel was also complete chaos an there wasn't enough seats for everyone. We eventually found a table for six, but noone else from our group joined us.

We had a different coach driver today - our previous one (Dorrell sp??) had to have a mandatory break day, and then was going to pick up another tour. The new one had the radio on which was a bit annoying (talk shows and advertising in foreign languages made for just noise. Someone eventually asked them to turn it off which was good.

Had a pitstop north of Basel, then crossed the border into Switzerland. Had to wait about ten minutes at the border crossing.

In Basel we picked up another local guide and went for a bit of a walking tour. Didn't really see that much, just walked past the Fish market, the Rathaus and up into Barfüsserplatz and then it was lunch time and we had an hour off. But we had no idea what there even was to see. So we asked where the tourist information was, and also toilets. But the guide just said go to a cafe to go to the toilet (not much use if you weren't going to any cafes) and pointed at the wrong place for the tourist information. Not a terribly useful guide. Anyway, I saw a big i so we headed for that, and got ourselves a map. Walked past the Münster and down to one of the bridges to look along the Rhine, then headed back. Found a free toilet next to the tram ticket office.

Then the tour carried on. But all it did was take us to the Münster (which we went inside) and the cloisters next door. And then it was raining. Quite heavily. So we tramped down the hill to where we could take a tram up the hill to our hotel, and that was the end of the tour. And at that stage it would have been the end of the day and it was only around 3pm. So it would have been a complete dud of a day.

Except.

The sun came out.

So we headed out again to take advantage of the sunlight.

Took a tram all the way down to the other side of the Rhine over Mittlere Rheinbrücke, then walked all the way back, stopping at many of the things that were in bad lighting earlier, and seeing a couple of extra things too. Added another five thousand steps to the day.

The hotel is fairly nice, with a double-sinked bathroom and toilet with separate door. Although we have a courtyard-facing room so the view is nothing special.

Dinner in the hotel restaurant was quite nice. But even though I hadn't eaten anything more substantial than an apple since breakfast, I still couldn't finish it.

So my day began at ~3:30am when the guttering dude rang. Grunt. Only got a little bit more sleep after than (maybe half an hour).

Breakfast range was even smaller today, but still perfectly adequate.

After breakfast, shutting down the computer, it decided for the second day in a row to install windows updates. Grunt. So had to cart the laptop around because I didn't have time to put it in my suitcase before we left.

Had a morning pitstop near Baden Baden, then onto Strasbourg.

Firstly we had a driving tour of the city, then a walking tour. Quite a pretty little city. Went inside St Thomas Church, had some lunch and some free time, then into the cathedral and up to the bell tower lookout. Afterwards went for a walk back to where we started to get up on top of the bridge gate thingie to look at the towers in the sun.

Then to the hotel. But by the time we'd walked to the coach and driven around the city, we'd actually have been quicker to walk to the hotel. I'd previously looked up local laundromats and found one very close to the hotel, so popped down there before dinner to wash all my clothes.

Dinner at the hotel was ok, but not the best meal so far.

And this room is HOT. They had the heater on when we arrived !?!? so turned that off and opened the window (no aircon at all). But it's still hot.  And the bathroom has these heating pipes going through it that an't be turned off :(:(:( Sleeping tonight might be a challenge.

Woke up at 5:30 again. Blerf.

Had a lighter breakfast today because we were scheduled to have lunch provided. Packed up and on the coach by 7:55.

I was pretty tired so dozed in the coach between Leipzig and Erfurt. It reminded me a lot of our trip to America in 2004 - just on the go the whole time and not enough sleep. Had a pitstop on the way as well.

In Erfurt we got to go and see the two big churches on the top of the hill.

The guesthouse Luther stayed in was pointed out.

We got to see the university building where Luther studied for his first degree.

Then to the Augustinian monastery where Luther went when he first decided to become a monk.

And then to the Merchant's Bridge, which is a big medieval bridge with buildings on top of it. Super cool!

Then it was lunch. Unfortunately they took *forever* and there was too much food. It mucked up schedule for the afternoon. We'd have been better off doing what we normally do - just fend for ourselves.

Walked across the merchant's bridge, then back through the town streets to the coach.

In Eisenach we started at the oldest JS Bach statue in the world (apparently), which is right next to the Bachhaus.

Walked down past the Lutherhaus, where Luther probably lived for a few years when he was in school.

Had a look inside the St George church.

Then back to the Lutherhaus to have a look inside at the museum.

Finally had a bit of a walk through the town and had a look at the town gates.

Then out to the hotel for a buffet dinner (hurrah, I could eat a lot less than if it had been another three course meal!) .