Sankt Andrä; our last night in AustriaDecember 28, 2016 in Austria
We had stayed in Vienna for 10 nights, but felt we'd only just scratched the surface of this incredible capital! Our focus was on Christmas markets but there were museums, palaces and the opera, none of which we'd looked around. But there is more to Europe than Vienna and it was time to move on.
The weather had been very windy and unseasonably warm at Christmas. We'd had torrential rain the previous night that kept us awake and left a large puddle outside the door. As we drove south west on the motorway it started raining again. The rain turned to sleet, then to snow and then to very thick snow that started to lay on the dual carriageway we were now on. Vicky had as good as written off our old Fiesta car by crashing in snowy conditions so was understandably nervous driving a 3.5 tonne van! Conditions were very bad and the tyres slipped several times but the snow lay even thicker in the laybys so we carried on with extreme caution. Like Austria's 4th emergency service, the snow ploughs came out on mass, clearing the carriageway ahead and gritting behind them. The snow eventually receded, visibility improved and the road surface could be seen again. It was a nerve wracking experience but the Austrians really do know how to deal with snow!
Further on our 280km journey to that night's stopover, we noticed that the road signs and lane markings didn't direct towards settlements within Austria, but towards the countries of Italy (I), Slovenia (SLO) and Germany (D). We were looking forward to starting the Italian part of our journey the following day!
Our stopover was at Andräer See; a partially frozen (and closed) swimming lake beside fields and a river. We arrived just before sunset and enjoyed the last bit of sunshine on a walk along the riverside path. It felt good to be back in more natural surroundings again. We'd not noticed ourselves missing it when we were in the city, but there is something soothing and relaxing about the countryside that you just can't find in busy urban areas.
At just after 4am Vicky took Poppy outside and received a surprise when she opened the door; everywhere was covered in snow! Poppy didn't want to come back in but it was -3°C so Vicky was fairly confident it would still be there in the morning. It was a beautiful scene when daylight came. Mist had flooded the previously starry sky and blotted out the view beyond 50m. We needed to leave quite promptly as we had a long journey ahead to get to Italy, but we made time for Poppy to go and have some fun on the snowy field! The roads were thankfully free of snow once we turned out of the stopover and visibility cleared to treat us to some beautiful views of the mist bowl in the valley we'd just spent the night.Read more