Friday 15 August 2014

European Adventure: Day Eighteen - Maria Alm, Austria

Friday ended up being a much needed easy going day which was sort of forced upon us. We planned to meet for coffee at 11am and then wander into a few small nearby villages including Maria Alm where we were staying. Maria Alm is a popular skiing village in the Salzburg area that only has a population of around 2000 people. 

Around 5km away is the town of Saalfelden which is a larger town but not by much! Maria Alm is one of the towns that make up the Hochk√∂nigs Winterreich skiing region. This area has altitudes of 860-1920 meters. For awhile Maria Alm was just a small farming town that had agriculture and forestry but in the 1960's they were hit with Ski tourism. In the summer they also attract some tourism through hiking, biking and other sports. Apparently many wealthy Austrians and Germans own property here because the area is so close to big cities like Salzburg and Munich. 

Dad and Brian both spent the morning wandering. Dad did a ski lift that took him high into the mountains and Brian explored Maria Alm. Both noticed a ton of people flocking to the nearby churches. When we were on the road and going into these small towns, we realized everything was closed. Pulling over we googled the date and found out it was the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and thus a public holiday in Austria. So all the little shops and places we planned to see where now off the table. 

Dad decided to try a suggested liquor 

He tried it in the street 

And he hated it!

I loved this - it smiled if you had a good speed, and frowned if you were going to fast. Dad only got the smile when he slowed down so i could get a photo

Brian is being silly 

Brian looked up a few places like an Ice Cave and a Waterfall but both were a few hours away and it was already mid-afternoon. So instead we decided to just drive the other way. Every time we left Maria Alm we always drove through Saalfelden, so we didn't know what was on the other side of the mountain. We took an hour and just drove, passing a few small towns and villages where families were outside playing or couples hiking/biking. It's a very active area in this season, and the chilly weather wasn't a deterrent. We wandered around a few places and took some photos of the views but there really wasn't much to be seen or done. 

On the way back there was this older man biking past us at incredible speeds. He was in amazing shape and was going faster then our car! I figured he must have been a twenty-something guy who was fit and active but imagine all our surprises when he turned and looked at us and we realized he was much older – likely in his 60’s. It was amazing to watch him bike, but it looked incredibly dangerous!

Once back at the hotel we split up for a few hours – so we could each do what we wanted. Brian went and took photos, I packed up and read and Dad had a nap. We all met for dinner at the place we liked so much from two days prior. Again we had a delicious meal! I had the same dish I had before but changed the pork to chicken and thought it was even better. That restaurant is truly a must visit if ever in that area!

After dinner Brian and I walked into town so that I could see the church and cemetery both of which were surprisingly cute. We spent an hour walking around, before making our way back to the hotel. Brian had to pack and that became an issue as we had a ton of stuff accumulated from the weeks of travel and limited weight allowance on the flight to Rome. We finally got everything done at 12:00am, which only gave us a few hours to sleep.

Playing with the camera modes 

While we all loved Austria we were excited to fly to Italy and begin the last part of our adventure!

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