After arriving at the Gruber’s home we spent a couple of days getting organised. It was our first experience trying to get the laptop computer connected to the internet. Since the Gruber’s computer is a MacIntosh we could not copy files via floppy disks and since their phone line is digital we could not connect the laptop’s modem directly either. Eventually we went to a home with an analogue phone line and uploaded what little we had for the web site.

Saturday, 13 July, a barbeque was organised by the SPD political party that Michael belongs to. Fortunately the ideals of the party matched our political ideas so we did not feel too guilty enjoying the party. What incredible kuchen! Even the rain did not dampen the spirits and a good time was had by all. Sunday was an extra special event. The local villages and towns had a trockenfest (spelling?) where people dressed in their period clothing and had a judging and parade. This was strictly a festival put on by the locals for the locals. There were about 5,700 people participating in the event and I think we were the only tourists in the town of Dorfen that day. After the parade we went to Markus and Martine’s home for kuchen and kaffee.

Michael at the trockenfest in Dorfen

We had decided that a cell phone would be a good thing to have in case of an emergency or even to make local phone calls for reservations and such. Even if we got separated then the one without the phone could go to a pay phone and call the cell phone. So Monday was spent searching out a phone (or Handy as they are called here). The phone would be in stock the next day so we stayed another night with the Gruber’s and enjoyed their hospitality. Tuesday we picked up the Handy in Munich and then headed southeast in the direction of Hallstatt in Austria. Well, distances in Europe are definitely longer compared to Canada. We didn’t make it to Hallstatt but into southern Bavaria to Berchtesgaden, where we camped at Campingpalz Muhlleiten near the Konigssee. The next day we walked into Berchtesgaden and then to the Salzbergwerks salt mine. What an interesting tour. First we had to dress in miner’s clothes, a heavy cotton shirt and pants that went over our street clothes as well as a little leather apron. We took a train into the heart of the mountain and then a wooden slide (just two smooth rails) further down. It even included a ride on a boat across a brine pond deep underground. Fortunately the tour also included some English translations of the tour guide’s talk.

Thursday, 18 July, we broke camp and headed south to Zell am See in Austria. The route leaving Konigssee took an old pass road not much wider than a car and had almost no traffic on it. This was the kind of riding we were here to do. Connecting up with the main road south got us back into the traffic and also a few spells of rain. The crossing into Austria was a non-event and Ekke had to do a U-turn to find a welcome to Austria sign to take a picture. Seecamp was a beautiful campground on the lake but the ground was very hard. For some reason we did not pack a hammer (we brought everything else though!) and a fellow camper brought one over for us to borrow. We must look like we brought everything because while we were camped there everyone came to us and asked if we had a hammer they could borrow.

From the campground at Zell am See

Finally, the first real ride in the Alps. We rode to the Grossglockner pass on Friday and it was spectacular, tight twisting roads, cobblestones and even jig-jags. At the high altitudes the bikes ran a little rough but still had enough power to blitz past cars. The drivers actually expect you to pass on a motorcycle and will move over a little. Soon we were passing in places that we would never have dreamed of back home. Then just for a little exercise we hiked down to the glacier at Franz-Joseph Hohe and back up again. Good thing we had fortified ourselves with a hearty lunch at the restaurant first.

At the top of Edelweiss Spitz

Audrey riding down from the Eidelweiss Spitz

A hairpin on cobblestone road on the Grossglockner Pass

Our next base of operations was at Innsbruck. We went over the Gerlos Pass to get there from Zell am See. The campground at Kranebitten (just west of Innsbruck) was quite nice and we picked out a nice shady spot. The restaurant at the campground had an internet computer set up but they would not let us use a floppy disk to transfer stuff from the laptop and the internet software they had did not allow us to access our bank accounts either.

We enjoyed a nice walk through the city of Innsbruck and had the pleasure of watching and listening to a concert played under the Golden Roof while we were up in the Rathaus tower. One of the services provided by the tourism bureau of Innsbruck is a free guided hike. So one day we met the bus in downtown Innsbruck and rode up to the site of the 1964 and 1976 Olympic downhill skiing events. The guide led us over a small pass to a lovely café and then down to a little town on the other side where the bus came to pick us up. A great hike, except that the guide lost half the group (our half) when he took a shortcut with the other half. Our half waited for a half an hour for the slowpokes but they never showed up. So eventually we started hiking on our own and fortunately ended up in the village where the guide was waiting.

Musicians under the Golden Roof

On the hike before the guide left us

  From Wartenberg to Innsbruck

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