August 16, 2015





Off to a great start


We woke up to the alarm ringing at 4.30am. Since we had gotten to bed later than we had wanted to we gave ourselves another half hour of sleep and finally got up at 5.15. Quick shower and getting ready and by 6am we were ready to load the car with our stuff and finally at 6.15 we were off. The weather was not looking all that nice but we had quite a drive ahead of us and we were hoping for good weather at the end of that first day.

We hit the motorway, made good progress and after an hour we stopped at the reststop in Mondsee. Since we had not had any breakfast we found a table, sat down, had a look at the menu and quickly ordered some breakfast. We both had a Landzeit Cappuccino, a large espresso topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Tom ordered the griddled Austrian “meatloaf – Leberkaese”, topped with a fried egg and coleslaw, while my heart was set on the Honey Berries Waffle, a fresh waffle topped with strawberries, blueberries, Canadian maple syrup and whipped sour cream topped with granola. We decided to share a bottle of Diet Coke and sat back waiting for our breakfast.

Didn’t take long for it to be served and it was just as good as it looked. Once we had finished our breakfast, we made a visit to the restroom and back to the car and on the motorway we went.

Soon after we made it Salzburg and crossed the border into Germany. It started to drizzle for a while, but we made good progress and soon again we drove back into Austria and towards Innsbruck. The skies were still grey, but it had stopped raining and again we made good progress. While driving past Innsbruck I caught sight of the “Berg Isel” Olympic ski jumping “hill”. And after pointing it out to Tom we decided to leave the motorway and head back to see if we could go and visit it. Off the motorway we went and back towards “Berg Isel” and we soon found directions towards the Olympic sight. Soon we found ourselves driving into the car park, going past the spaces at the back, just to find that this was the whole parking lot and now most spots were taken.

We found one, but it was too small and finally made it into one right at the back of the parking lot. It was nice to stretch our legs and we started our 5 minute walk up to the ski jump hill. The walk was beautiful, past some old shooting ranges from when the Emperor would visit Innsbruck and up the hill. We got tickets and entered the area just to witness a jumper going down the slope and jump. It was an awesome sight. We looked around the area for a short time, then headed for the funicular that went up to the top from where the sportsmen go down the slope. There is a viewing area and a restaurant up there and soon we were at the top and got off the funicular and around the building and up to the top to admire the view.

It was awesome to be able to see the whole of the city of Innsbruck from up there and we stayed for a while. We then headed up to the top where you can see the sportsmen get ready and go out to the slope. The path there leads you through the restaurant and low and behold when we looked to our left, what should we see? A Mickey balloon! Even on a non Disney trip, Mickey is never far away. So, after stopping to take a photo we headed outside and looked down where the jumper is getting ready again. There was not enough time to stop and wait for him to jump, but we walked around the back to enjoy the view as well, then walked down to the funicular again.

And while we were walking we saw the jumper coming up again. So, now we wanted to wait for him to jump again from the bottom. We got on the next funicular down, walked through the gift shop and then found a nice spot to wait for the jumper. It did not take long and he got ready and finally jumped. It was quite the sight. Everyone applauded when he got to the exit and he just smiled and walked back to the funicular to go for another jump. We had to get a move on and exited and walked back to the car. Didn’t take long and we were back on the motorway and driving towards our next stop, the “Europabrücke” (European bridge), which used to be the highest motorway bridge (192m) in Europe at the time it was built.

Didn’t take long and we were approaching it. We went over and when we had reached the other end we went into the rest area for lunch. We were so lucky to score parking, as this is not really a huge stop, but since there is a lookout back at the bridge it is heavily used. Once we had parked our car we walked past the McDonald’s that had been opened there and down to the regular restaurant, walked in, found a spot and ordered some lunch. We both had the same things, Diet Cokes, which were served pretty quickly and Cheesespaetzle, which were served shortly after. They were really nice and since it was past regular lunch time and we were hungry, they hit the spot.

Once we were done we had a short restroom break and then went to explore. Right before you head up to a little chapel there is part of an old Roman road, which has been preserved.

Then we headed up to the chapel, but it is only open for services, but since there are huge glass windows we had a great view inside. Photos done we walked around, then took a selfie with the bridge in the background and down to the outlook over the bridge. And after having a good look around we slowly walked back to our car and finally hit the motorway again. We made one more stop to fill up the car before crossing the border into Italy. Didn’t take long and the GPS told us that on the road ahead there would be a traffic jam and we followed its directions to get off the motorway and use the countryroad.

We drove parallel to the motorway and indeed a little while in, all the cars on the motorway were stopped while we drove on. It was a lovely and scenic drive and finally we got back to the motorway. We were about an hour from this day’s destination, Riva del Garda, a small city on the north end of Lake Garda. Once we left the motorway there was still quite a way to drive and it was nice and scenic through little villages and vineyards. We arrived at our destination, found the parking structure where we were to park our car and drove up to it. There was a button which opened a line to the hotel, they gave us directions and off we went. We parked our car, unloaded it and after calling the hotel for the golf cart shuttle to pick us up we waited outside.

The shuttle arrived a few minutes later, our luggage was put in the back, we got on and off we went. It was literally a 2 minute drive to the hotel, where we checked in and were taken to our room. We were still checking out the room when a fruit plate and a bottle of sparkling wine were delivered. This was one of the perks that came with that particular package I had booked. We continued to explore the room and were pretty happy with it especially when we opened the curtain and stepped out onto the balcony which was overlooking Lake Garda. Yippie.

We both freshened up, then went into Riva to explore. It is a lovely small city at the edge of the lake and it was fun to walk around and explore. We had a look in quite a few shops and picked up an item or two before we strolled back to the hotel. When we got back dinner service had already started and since half board had been part of my deal we got ready and then went down to the dining room for dinner. We were quickly taken to our table at the back of the restaurant and handed menus. And before we knew it the head waiter was back with two glasses of sparkling wine and after ordering we were told to help ourselves to some antipasti. There was quite the array of antipasti and we both filled a plate with it and headed back to our table.

And as soon as we sat down a waiter came and served our bottle of water and the bottle of regional white wine we had ordered. We then sat and enjoyed our wine and the antipasti and when we had finished it did not take long for our first course to arrive. Tom had ordered the Farfalle Pasta with a smoked trout sauce, while I had ordered the Risotto Milanese. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese was sprinkled on top and we dove in. Both dishes were pretty nice, given that this was a half board menu. And we had picked a really nice wine to go with the meal as well. Once we had finished our starters we were given a little time to just enjoy sitting there before our main courses were served. Tom had ordered the poached bass, served with the accompaniments of the day. And we both had a good laugh when we saw what our dishes were served with, peas out of a can. There had been a commercial many moons ago which advertised them and we both repeated the catchphrase at the very same time. I had ordered the Pork Saltimbocca, which came with the same, canned peas and roasted potatoes.

And while the peas were a memory from times long gone, both dishes were pretty nice. There was a salad buffet, but we both did not care for it, neither did we care for the dessert buffet, which offered some very basic sheet cakes. We were some of the last people to leave the dining room. It had been a long day and instead of heading out again we decided to go back to our room for an early night. But wait, there was that balcony calling our name. So we both grabbed a beverage that we had bought earlier and I picked some of the fruit off that plate and we sat outside enjoying the cool night air and the beautiful view of the lake and the chapel high up on the mountain before we finally called it a day shortly after 10pm.