Out of the Austrian Alps – Bischofshofen to Salzburg (52/18,132ks, 250m)

(written by Nancy)

The host at our campground yesterday had warned us that we should call dibs on a spot and a picnic table quickly as the park filled up in the afternoon and boy was she right.  By 7pm last night the park was packed – we had people right up close to us on either sides, and we could see that they were starting to turn people away.  We protected our spot and our table by playing a few games of gin rummy while cars towing trailers slowly drove past.  I think we came out even on the card games.

It rained on and off in the evening, though thankfully we got dinner cooked before the first shower hit.  We quickly moved to the tent to eat the rest of our pasta – the tarp comes in handy to create a bit of extra protected area.  We had several short rain showers before we finally turned in about 8:30 (I know, living the wild life) so the ground was pretty wet.  It rained again during the night and when I got up about 12:30 or so to make a run to the amenities block I came back to find some unwelcome visitors at our tent door.  Those of you in Oregon can probably guess what they were…

Yes, slugs!  There were four or five of them around the entrance to the tent, a couple climbing up our water bottles that were sitting just outside the tent door, and even a few on Dave’s sandals.  Thank goodness they hadn’t made it to my sandals otherwise I think I would have probably woken up many of our neighbors with screams.  As it was, I probably woke up the ones closest to us (goes to show them for parking so close to us) with my whispered exclamations to Dave as I found each slug with my flashlight.  The worst thing was that we have been leaving the rainfly door open lately to keep the air moving through the tent and I was afraid we would have slugs working their way through the vestibule of the tent, where all of our bags were stored, most loosely opened!

Thankfully, after a bit of searching (with Dave throwing in helpful comments between snores), it looked like the slugs didn’t seem to have made into the vestibule.  I tossed all those that I could find as far as I could (thankfully some handiwipes were nearby) and zipped the vestibule door in the hopes of deterring them from advancing further into our territory.  It took a little while to get back to sleep, working hard to get the visions of advance armies of slugs out of my mind but I eventually did fall back to sleep.  Dave, of course, simply kept sleeping.

In the morning things didn’t look too bad – only a few slugs crawling up the outside of the tent and a few telltale slime trails revealed the path of others, but none seemed to have visited as far as the inside of the vestibule.  We washed all of our bottles and dishes that had been out thoroughly just to make sure.

We had a short day into Salzburg so didn’t rush too much this morning, finally getting on the road just before 9am.  By that time the sun was breaking through the clouds and we had some good views of the mountains near us and the Hohen Werfen castle.  It was built in 1078 and rebuilt several times and was used in the movie “Where Eagles Dare” – an apparently famous movie made in the 1960s.  From the scaffolding we could see it seems to be undergoing some renovations at the moment.

We also saw several houses again today with what looks like an old-fashioned method for holding snow on the roof  – wooden rails running across the roof with big rocks placed at regular intervals.  It is apparently a common method used in Bavarian mountain houses to keep snow on the roof for added insulation and to prevent large chunks of snow from sliding off the roof.  Newer houses seem to use metal brackets to do the same thing.

We rode along the road for quite a bit today as traffic was very light and the road was pretty scenic.  We did get on the bike path a bit when it followed closely to the road but it often seemed to disappear so we would pop back on the road and forget trying to find it again.  We had a hard time trying to find a place to get some food for lunch – we have to start planning more for the Sunday store closures now that we are back in Europe proper.  We finally found a Shell gas station that had some decent looking sandwiches – I know, sounds bad but they were actually freshly made sandwiches on nice rolls.

We pulled over into a little park area to eat our sandwiches and while we were there we laid the tent and tarps out in the sun to dry as they were pretty wet when we put them away.  We figured we wouldn’t be camping in Salzburg and getting them dry now saves us having to spread them all over whatever room we ended up in.  Of course, I managed to find the one pile of dog poop to step in while we were packing up (obviously the sign warning of a 270€ fine for not picking up after your dog didn’t have much effect) but Dave was kind enough to wash my shoe off in the bathroom around the corner.

The final 15k or so into Salzburg was on a bike path, which actually turned out to be okay as it took us right into the centre of the city to the information office.  The path followed the river and there were lots of people out riding – nice to see.  The sky was getting darker and darker as we rode along and the wind was really picking up.  About 2k before the city centre the rains started falling and then really started coming down with thunder and lighting.  We pulled up under a bridge to wait it out with a couple of other cyclists doing the same thing.  Fortunately it didn’t last too long and we were soon riding again and in no time were at the tourist information office in the Salzburg city centre.

Dave got some info on some of the accommodation options in the city.  As we expected, all relatively expensive.  There are a couple of hostels but unfortunately most only have check-in at 5pm – we didn’t really fancy waiting around until 5 to see if we could get a room that we liked at one of the hostels.  We checked several on the internet and then rode over to one of the cheapest we could find – the Hotel Hofwirt, not too far from the old town area.  Our room is decent, though it is on a relatively busy street so may be a bit noisy.

As we were getting unpacked Dave took off his shoes and one of his socks was very dirty for some reason.  Well, what do you know, he had a visitor (well, a now deceased visitor) in his shoe – one of the slugs had made it into the vestibule after all.  Somehow Dave rode 52k with a slug inside his shoe and did not notice until we arrived.  I’ll have to admit that I did not reciprocate Dave’s earlier kind gesture and wash his shoe for him!  We cleaned up and walked around a bit, stopping to get some dinner at a busy little restaurant along the way.  After dinner we wandered around the old town area for a bit, just looking at the old buildings.  It is a very picturesque city – Dave could not stop taking pictures.

Tomorrow we will do some chores and explore the city a bit more.   It is raining right now, with some more thunder and lightning so we are happy to be dry inside, with hopefully no fighting over territory with the slugs (unless of course, some did make their way into our bags and come out tonight once the lights are off…..).

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