Part 8 - Czech Rep, Austria, Budapest and the Alps

Trip Start Dec 10, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wong & Gem's European Vacation - Diary Update 8

Day 158 -Friday 20th July 2006 - Kutna Hora to Telc
This morning we woke up and drove the 66km east to Kutna Hora (did we mention that the roads here are really bad, so bad that they have massive groove marks in them tracks that make it really hard to driver) which is the second largest town in Bohemia after Prague. Well it was an interesting drive as the signs in Czech suck as they are basically non-existent and we made a few wrong turns ... we have decided that they really need to make GPS for Eastern Europe! After squeezing Misty through some very small streets we found a parking spot and went to see the sights... of which was most impressive was the massive St Barbera's Cathedral which is a massive Gothic monument on the hill side and dates from the 14th century. We had a great lunch at a restaurant overlooking the town and then headed back to see a few more sights. Did we mention that beer here is cheaper than soft drink!! That gives Wayne a fairly good excuse to drink more beer and the fact that it is still stinking hot! We then got lost a few times heading towards Sedlec where we went to go and see The Bone Church or Ossuary. Lonely planet says this place is ghastly but we both thought it was rather fascinating and artistic. It is a small church that was built in the 14th century and is decorated entirely with human bones (because they ran out of room in the cemetery so they dug up all the remains and used them for decoration so that they could bury more people)... it is estimated that there might be as many as 40,000 people here. The bones are arranged in the forms of bells, a chandelier and even a rich family's coat of arms. We then headed of through the country side full of sunflowers and white poppies (not sure if they use them for opium or what but there is just millions of them !!) to find Telc. This was a long hard drive as the roads were not great, the Czechs are crazy crazy drivers (I think this is why we have seen so many tomb stones on the side of the road as they just write themselves off in their cars). Anyway we found Telc which is described as perhaps one of the most photogenic towns in the Czech Republic is on the UNESCO's world heritage list. We could not find anywhere to park so we drove and drove until we finally at 8.30 we found a bizarre little camping spot in someone's back yard about 8 km outside of Telc in a tiny town called Lhotka (population 100)... it was full of Dutch campers and had great facilities. A Dutch guy came over to us when we were hooking up the electricity and said "I just have to ask you, how the hell do you get a campervan to Europe from Australia?" So we talked to him for ages and then headed off 100 meters down the road to find the local pub. Well this was an even funnier experience because only the young bar tender who looked about 17 could speak broken English and his Dad who owned the bar kept coming up to us and saying any English words he could think of. The young boy was very nice and he interpreted the menu for us and with a few hand gestures and animal noises we were able to order!! The prices for food are so cheap that we can eat two main meals, 2 beers and 2 cokes for 8 euro ($12). Half way through the meal a bunch of locals turn up all hanging of a tractor!! We crashed early tonight as we were rather exhausted!!

Day 159 -Saturday 21st July 2006 - Telc to Ceske Budejovice to Cesky Krumlov
Today we explored Telc after managing to find a parking space in a vacant block of land next to the town entrance ... we had to pay and thought it would be really expensive like most tourist spots but the girl said it was 5 Kr ... which is 30 cents so we just laughed and said we should have parked there last night instead of paying for facilities we did not really need!! Telc has a beautiful main square full of renaissance buildings built in 1589 and apparently things really have not changed since then! We tried to get some lunch at a restaurant but could not get the waiter to place an order for us and we heard other people complaining about the long wait on their food so we paid for our drinks and went next door and ordered a great take away pizza for under 4 euro and sat and ate our lunch in the garden in the middle of the main square. We then took off to find Cesky Krumlov (all the time trying not to get killed by crazy drivers) but on the way we stopped at Ceske Budejovice as we need to get some more Water & Pepsi Max as it is so hot we have just been drinking heaps! Well we found Tesco and we sought of went a bit nuts and bought truck loads of drink and beer and toiletries as it was crazy cheap... even compared to Germany and we next we are heading into Austria and Switzerland which is supposed to be crazy expensive !!. We are now driving an even more stocked booze bus as Wayne bought another crate and a half of Czech beer (50cent Aud a bottle), plus some Absolute Vodka (20 AUD a bottle) and some Cinzanno (10 AUD). At one stage we were even considering buying a new moped as they were only $1800 AUD and would be really handy but unfortunately we don't have a motorbike carrier on the back of Misty. Because we already have 3 crates of German beer in our main storage we had to stock pile one of the new crates under the table!! Wayne also got a hair cut and while he had his head massaged I talked to the only hair dresser who could speak English... she had actually live in Australia for a year to study English so we had lots to talk about. Then after grabbing some dinner we headed off to Chesky Krumlov and found a spot to park with a heap of other motor homes for 100kr a night. We took off on our bikes tonight and headed into town.... Wow! this place is described as one of Europe's most picturesque towns and it is and we think it is even more beautiful than Brugge in Belgium. The town is built on a s-shaped bend of the Vltava River which also flows straight under some of the buildings and has an amazing castle. We explored all the little alley ways and stopped and had a few cocktails next to the River to refresh and then headed back for the night!

Day 160 -Sunday 22nd July 2006 - Chesky Krumlov
Today we woke up early and headed into town by 9am as we wanted to find the place to do white water rafting and because we could not sleep because of the heat. After getting lost a couple of times we found it and booked in for 3.00. We went off to find somewhere to have brunch and somewhere to serve pancakes as Gem had a craving for them (no she is not pregnant)... we found somewhere to serve them but the Czech's version of pancakes is more like crepes and it sucks!! This added to Gem's even worse foul mood as she was already grumpy from getting no sleep due to the heat and her stupid sleeping disorder!! We ended up having fresh trout covered in garlic and it was nice. While we were eating an absolutely massive thunder and rain storm hit the town and we had to move inside from our picturesque little place on the river.... The only thing we kept thinking was Oh No we left all the vents up in Misty and it's going to get wet again (we also did this in Copenhagen) !!! Well the rain made the water freezing so we decided to delay our rafting and put it off to the morning as we really want to go when it is hot so we can cool off. So the rest of the day we spent walking through town and checking out the stunning castle which has brown bears guarding it in the mote!! We spoiled ourselves this afternoon and booked in for 90 minute massages each at one of the five star hotels. We also spent the afternoon swimming in their pool which was nice as it had started to heat up again. Gemeah's mood improved as she was now relaxed and cooled off (but still sleep deprived). We had a great dinner on the river at a restaurant recommended by Jarred and Lisa and the food was great and very cheap... we have been eating out for the past week as it is so cheap and so Wong can have a break from cooking !!

Day 161 -Monday 24th July 2006 - Chesky Krumlov to Austria
Oh my god another early morning... we had to get up at 6.00am so that we could ring New Zealand to book in some weeks away using our timeshare and we had to be at the rafting place at 7.45am. Yeh! We know where we are spending Christmas... in the Marriot Beach Resort at Malaga, Spain... 2 weeks of 5 star accommodation for Chrissy and New Years! We think we will need it and will appreciate the space after living in a motor home for so long. Well this morning the guy at the rafting company dropped us off at our starting point and we got to experience some crazy Czech driving from inside the car this time. He piled us into what he said was the new company car and we were pissing our selves laughing as the thing was a rust bucket that rattled all the way and then he drove like an Indy driver all the way and didn't even slow down to go around nails were driving into Wayne's leg and I was trying not to look. When he contemplated passing 3 massive trucks on a blind corner on a cliff edge I nearly screamed and told him off, lucky he did not do it and pulled in before a bus hit us... Wayne then got him talking so he could not try again. Well we arrived for the rafting and had a great time going down the river and the rapids. We got talking to some young guys and girls in another raft but they only spoke broken English... but next thing they were giving us Vodka and Beer to drink and laughed our heads off as they tried to open the lids with the paddles!! Well we made it to the end without managing to tip the raft and had a great refreshing time as we still got wet when we dumped into the rapids. Our finish was just a couple of hundred meters from the restaurant we ate at last night, so wrapped in our towels we went and had lunch there... the American's next to us were laughing as Wayne took his money out of his pocket and had to dry it on the table as it was soaking !! We made some phone calls this afternoon and caught up with our friends (Tara you were not answering your mobile!!) then headed off to Austria. However, we got sidetracked and stopped at a camping spot on a lake and jumped in to cool off and then tried to have a Nana nap and only Wayne succeeded (stupid sleeping disorder!!). We then attempted to head off to Austria again but had to stop again to have our last meal in Czech at a great restaurant. We headed off again this time vowing to make it into Austria and had a few amusing sights along the way with all the prostitutes standing along the highway waving, trying to drum up business from the passing truckers... some of them even look good at 100km hour. Well they let us into Austria and we made another stop to admire the sunflowers. Wayne had bet me that I would not take my shirt off to get a picture of me holding two sunflowers in front of my boobies!! He was wrong... I braved the bees amidst the sunflower field and he got his picture!! We finally found the motor home spot (with the help of NAVMAN... oh we are so happy to have GPS back) in a gorgeous little Austrian town that our trusty German book told us about. Wow it is a lot cooler here so we are happier; hopefully it stays that way during the day. We know we were also supposed to buy a sticker here to use the road ways but because it was late at night we could not find one that was open and just chanced it... hoping all the time that we won't get pulled over by the police and PUNISHED !!

Day 162 -Tuesday 25th July 2006 - Through Austria to Vienna
Woke up and it was stinking hot again at 36 to 37 degrees!! Gem had no sleep as she itched all night...and was not sure why!! Half way through the day she worked out that it was probably from the stems of the sunflowers as they are covered in white prickly things!! Bugger we have two massive sunflowers sitting in the sink so the prickly stuff is probably all over Misty!!! We dropped into Linz this morning and had a look around but it was not a very interesting place so we took off again and took the back road (highway 3) to Vienna. Well we are glad we did as this was the most beautiful and scenic ride along the River Danue through the most gorgeous and picturesque towns like Perg, Grein, Melk etc. All the time it was stinking hot so we kept stopping at swimming spots along the way so we could cool off. The water here is so cool and refreshing, not like home where it is like swimming in a warm bath!! In one spot we were swimming in the river with about 50 other people and we had two massive swans swimming with us! Did we also mention the castles along this route... oh my God they are everywhere and amazing. We stopped at one that was built into the rock in the river but could not go inside as it was now a private residence... what a hassle! We also stumbled across the monastery Gottweig Abbey which was built in 1083 and is still a monastery. It was a totally massive building sitting on top of a big hill with amazing views. We stopped and had a totally yummy lunch in the restaurant and then explored the main church. Wayne topped up on some wine made by the monks! Then off through more gorgeous little towns until we found out way into Wien (Vienna) and to the campsite. This campsite was fantastic (and very very busy) and even had fantastic wireless. So we spent the night trying to cool off, doing the washing (to try and get rid of the prickly sunflower bits) and catching up on emails. It finally cooled down at about 1am in the morning so we had a little bit of sleep. We also spent the night talking with some Kiwi's, Kevin and Helen, who Gem met in the laundry room and invited over for drinks.

Day 163 -Wednesday 26th July 2006 - Vienna
Today was spent sightseeing and trying not to sweat to death in the 37 degree heat. We jumped on a sightseeing bus and took in all the amazing and beautiful sights of Vienna. We found a fantastic spot for lunch called Figlmừller which is a renowned Viennese Restaurant for serving giant Schnitzel! Well they truly are giant and they hung over the sides of the plate, we also had an amazing potato salad that was just delicious (even better than Wayne's). We spent the rest of the day walking around the amazing buildings and streets and had a pit stop at the famous Café Landtmann which is a historic café that Sigmund Freud and other famous people used to hand out at. Wayne got to taste some famous Viennese coffee and said it was very good!! Then more walking to the find the Sigmund Freud Museum ... Wayne insisted that I go there! Well we did and we arrived about 15 minutes before they were closing so they let us in for free and while it was interesting to see the actual rooms that he had his practice in and the other rooms where he lived, the rest of it was rather dull so we are glad we did not have to pay !! We walked back through all the tiny beautiful streets and found our way home. We spent the night talking with some middle aged American's who were great to talk to as they had traveled all over the place and we also got talking about the war as their 23 year old son was in the marine special forces fighting in Iraq. We were also entertained by a very funny Irish guy who just wanted to talk (despite the fact that we could not really understand him as his accent was so thick!!).

Day 164 -Thursday 27th July 2006 - Vienna
Another hot day at 37 degrees, everyone here is freaking out as Europe is having a heat wave and they just aren't really prepared for it as nothing is air conditioned!! We spent the morning getting reading to depart (and debating as to whether we should head for the mountains where it is cool or go to Budapest... we decided to just go to Budapest despite the heat as we are so close) as we were leaving Misty in the car park while we headed back into town for a while. However, as we were filling up with water another Aussie couple from Sydney drove in in their old clunker Hymer and spotted our Aussie stickers and we ended up talking with them until 1.00am changing travel tips. We eventually got back into town and had another great lunch at the same restaurant and then explored the parks, some more buildings and then suffered in the heat as we walked for ever to find one of the main castles. Well we found it and it was beautiful but it was an art gallery (we thought you could still see it as a palace) and we did not have the patience to look at art in an un-air conditioned place so instead we stood outside and ran through the sprinklers in the garden... soon to be joined by a heap of other tourists who were also suffering in the heat!!

We finally got back to the camp site at 6.00pm and took off only to get stuck on the highway because of an accident. We decided to head out towards a big lake which was on the way and we found our way to an absolutely gorgeous little town called Rust. We found a motor home spot next to the lake with about 5 others (the German book didn't know about this one) and then headed off into town to find some dinner. Well as we were looking up admiring the gorgeous buildings we noticed that above everyone's chimneys were massive big nests with Storks in them... how gorgeous ... we have never seen real live storks and they were a bit smaller than what I expected (Wayne told me I have watched too many cartoons where they make them out to be giants). Then we heard a band playing and stumbled into the main square where there was a massive wine festival going on... so we joined in and had a great dinner and enjoyed the music.

As we were walking back to Misty we were attacked by a heap of mosquitoes and then as we got back to Misty it became even worse like a plague. I was talking to a lady who was next to us and nearly got carried away by them and had to stop talking as it was so bad. Well this was the start of a nightmare... as we got in the van all the mossies swarmed in before we could get the screens up and the next hour was spent trying to kill the hundreds of mosquitoes with poor Misty getting slatted with blood and bugs. The Austrian's next to us were laughing their heads off as every couple of second they just heard big bangs as we squatted them with Wayne's thongs as we had not mossie spray (did not think we would need it in Europe!). Did I mention that Wayne was that desperate he also tried to kill them by spraying them with Glen 20 disinfectant spray and shoe odor spray (they did not die and their feet did not stink !!) Wayne did not believe me that despite the screens being up on the windows they were somehow getting in... until he came out from his shower and realized that even more had come in. We could not stand it anymore and decided that we had to move otherwise we were going to get eaten alive (Gem already had about 50 bites on her arms and had even been bitten on her eyelid!!). So Wayne sacrificed his body and ran outside to remove the sunshield and turn off the gas and as he opened the door about another 100 swarmed in. Well the next hour was very amusing (only in hindsight) with Wayne driving trying to find the highway to get to an all night service station to buy spray ... all the time Gem was in the back of Misty running around trying to squat the mossies and push them out the vents with the pillow she uses for her back ... it was blood bath but she managed to kill the majority and both her pillow case and Misty will need to be cleaned extensively!!. We found a massive BP service station but unfortunately they had no spray so we had to try and kill more before settling down for the night in the stinking heat!! It was days like this that we just wanted to check into a five star hotel... however most of them don't even have air conditioning but at least they don't have killer mosquitos!!

Day 165 -Friday 28th July 2006 - Budapest
We woke up early again because of the stinking heat and made our way towards Budapest. We were kind of sad that we could not see more of the beautiful little towns on Lake Neusiedler See as we were told that there was great swimming and a heap of festivals on, but we just did not want to risk the mossies again !!. So we drove 250km into Budapest and they let us over the border no problem... again you have to stop and buy a sticker to use the road ways. Well we had to drive with the crazy drivers again (not quite as bad as the Czech's but pretty bad) but we eventually found our way to the camp site that Jarred and Lisa had told us about. It was signed quite well once we got onto the city ring road, just follow the squirrel signs. We were starving by this time and glad to find that the camp site had a great little restaurant where we could eat like kings for a crazy cheap price!! Despite the heat (37'c)we were just about to head off into town when the heavens opened up and it rained and cooled every thing off...thank God...!! This afternoon we headed into town and tried to get orientated. We could not work out the transport system so we walked and walked until we found our way to the Danube River where the view was amazing. We learnt today that Budapest is divided by the Danube river into two sections, Buda the side with the castle and Pest which is the side the Parliament is on. It is linked by the Szechenyi Chain Bridge which is really beautiful. We sat on the wall of the river for a while and admired the stunning view and then walked up a million stairs to the Castle area and explored the famous Fishermen's Bastion (which is another famous building with 7 towers built on the medieval walls of the city wich was built by the fisherman and used by them to defend buda). Did we mention all the time dying from heat exhaustion as it was about 37 degrees !! We found a great Italian restaurant to eat at and then headed back for the night.

Day 166 -Saturday 29th July 2006 - Budapest
Great sleep last night as it was cooler and we are parked under a bunch of trees. We finally got into town and stumbled across a shopping centre and it was bit hard to leave as not only was it air conditioned but the prices were really reasonable compared to the rest of Europe.... And the shoes were unbelieveably cheap which is scary given that both of us have a shoe fetish !! We finally got out of the shopping centre and found our way to the Castle and spent a heap of time exploring it and admiring the view over the city. We then found our way to the Labyrinth which is a series of catacombs that extend 1200 meters under the Buda Castle, that where originally individual caves made by the thermal water and then eventually linked to form the catacombs. In WWII they were once used to hide 20000 Nazi troops. It was really cool in the caves, oh also wet, damp and eerie but cool.
We then headed back to the Buda castle and caught the cable car down and walked across the Chain Bridge to Pest. For 7 weeks in summer they close the bridge off to street traffic for the weekend and have all different kinds of music performers and markets. We decided to have a quick bite to eat at the markets and got charged 2000huf/ $12 for 2 skewers of roast turkey. This is almost the same amount we ate like kings for at the Italian restaurant. What do they take us for..... tourists!! Halfway through eating Wong saw rain coming, so we hightailed across the bridge but got stranded under one of the aches with about 30 other people as a massive thunder storm hit the city. We decided instead of getting wet we would wait it out in relative dryness. But do you think it stopped, oh no not for 3 hours!!! So we ran for it and got drenched. Oh at least it beat being hot and sweaty!! We walked to St Stephan Basilica, an amazing Church which stands as high as the parliament building and dominates the skyline. We couldn't go through as a wedding was taking place. We walked a few more blocks in the rain to Vorosmarty Square and wandered down Vaci road, the major shopping and entertainment mall. That was enough for the day drenched we fluked the right bus back to Mozka the public transport interchange and home to a nice warm shower and chocolate crepes ( only 30 cents... and tasty to) and bed.

Day 167- Sunday 30 July 2006 Budapest Hungary
Well after a sleep in because it was so cool we managed too get going at 11am. We headed back to the shopping centre near Mozka interchange so Gem could exchange the dodgy crystal earring's for good ones. Checked the internet, read some fantastic house design books (while Gem went shoe shopping) and headed back to the Italian restaurant for lunch.... Well food at 3pm is still lunch isn't it?
Caught the no 6 tram to Rozsa-ket island and into Andrassy avenue where we took a long stroll up the tree lined street that is famous for all its architecture. It has just been recently added to UNESCO's heritage list and there is a lot of repair work being done. Headed home to Squirrell camping, and just chilled out reading and listening to music for the evening. Oh and we had to have some more crepes!

Day 168 - Monday 31st July - 2006 Budapest To Austria
Wayne woke up early this morning to go shopping (he is looking for a pair of Diesel shoes that he wants as they are about half the price here... he is pissed at me because I got a pair yesterday that fit and he has not been able to find any in his size !). I packed up Misty and mapped out a suggested path for us to take. We have both decided that rather than head for Slovenia we should go to the Alps as it will be cooler as we are so sick of the heat and just can't enjoy ourselves as much as we want to as it is sooo oppressive. We headed towards Lake Balaton which is a massive lake that they call the Hungarian Sea. It was a really busy area where obviously a lot of people holiday but it was nothing special... you can really see the poverty in this area as things are really quite run down. We spent our last Hungarian HUF on a great lunch and stocking up on some more groceries and alcohol.... Got the Campari we have been looking for so we can make Vodka cocktails... yum !! We were sweating it out so we decided to stop at a spot on the lake where we saw everyone swimming so we jumped in our cozies and Gem was really excited (as she just loves swimming and is about 10 degrees hotter than everyone else !!) but as we got to the spot we found that you had to pay an entrance fee (to swim in the lake) and we had no Hungarian money left so we could not enter (Gem nearly cried). We jumped back in Misty and headed out of Hungary and got stopped at the border by an Austrian border guard who wanted to see our insurance papers for the car... we kept asking him what he meant and he just kept saying he wanted to see the green insurance papers !! We finally worked out that he thought that we were in a rental motorhome and wanted to make sure that we were not stealing it or has all the papers in order for rental. We finally convinced him that we owned the car when we gave him the English registration papers that matched up with our passports!! Tonight we drove and drove into the Alps and through some massive tunnels, all the time having to use our high beam lights as we just discovered that for some reason our driving lights are not working but the high beam will. Will have to do no more night driving and get it fixed when we go back to Germany. We could not get as far as we wanted as we felt a bit guilty about blinding the on coming traffic so we pulled over and spent the night at a rest station next to 4 Romanian's who were cramped into a tiny old little caravan half the size of Misty!!

Day 169- Tuesday 1st August - 2006 Austrian Alps
Great nights sleep as it was lovely and cool! We woke up surrounded by mountains and it was even cooler! yeh. We made our way to our first stop for the day a little town called BAD AUSSEE !! Jarred and Lisa had told us about this town and we all thought it was a hilarious name so Wayne and I stopped in front of the BAD AUSSEE sign and draped the Australian flag over the base of it and took pictures of us being BAD AUSSIES !! (When the traffic was not coming Wayne bared his bum and then we took some of us flipping the bird!!). People driving past were laughing their heads off!! We drove through the tiny tiny streets of this town (so tiny in fact that they have traffic lights to let only one stream of traffic through at a time), found a park and then got out and explored all the beautiful little streets and admired the picturesque buildings that are all built next to a fresh water stream. A large majority of the people here wear their traditional clothes with the women in large skirts, puffy shirts and vests, and the men wearing their funny leather shorts with straps and hats with feathers. We got some great pictures!! We were in a bakery buying some bread rolls for lunch and Gem asked the lady what the men's funny pants were called and she said Loderhose and she must have misinterpreted that we wanted to buy a pair for Wayne so next minute she was whipping us into the shop next door which sold all the traditional clothes !! Next minute the lady was measuring Wayne up for a pair of Loderhose... I was just standing back laughing wondering how Wayne was going to get out of it!! Well the Loderhose are actually a good design as they have an expandable waist in the back for if you loose or gain weight!! But they are crazy expensive at between 260 and 500 euro a pair!! Wayne politely told the lady that he thought they would be too hot for Australian weather and we left before she tried to sell him a funny hat!! Next stop was Bad Ischl which is another gorgeous little town in this area that is called the Salzkammergut which means an area of mountains and lakes that are famous for their salt mines. We wanted to do a salt mine tour here but the guy at the info centre told us it had been shut for 3 years (we need to get an updated Lonely Planet) and that we could do one in the next town called Hallstat. We then headed towards west towards St Wolfgang which is another gorgeous picturesque (I call them an ooh aah town as we spend a lot of time saying this!!) on the Wolfgangsee which is a scenic lake and just stunning!! We spent the night here and had another great walk around the town and the lake admiring the beauty of everything.

Day 170- Wednesday 2nd August - 2006 - Hallstatt to Werfen
Today we drove to Hallstatt which is another gorgeous little town on a big lake and it also has UNSECO world heritage listing and everything is stunning... there are a-framed chateaus everywhere with their wooden decorative decks all lined with flower boxes full of gorgeous flowers that cascade over the buildings... in fact most of the houses in the Alps are like this... I keep telling Wayne we are getting some window boxes for our Sandgate house when we eventually move back there!! Today we got whooshed up the mountain side in a funicular and then walked half way up a mountain to get to the worlds biggest salt mines. You had to dress in special overalls as once you are inside you get to slide down two big big wooden slides (a bit like wet and wild but no water). The tour was great and interesting but not for the claustrophobic!! We finally got out of the mines by sitting on a long wooden train (some kind of little train as the German guide called it). We then hiked up another mountain to get to the restaurant where we had a great lunch whilst admiring the amazing view. Back to Misty and we drove onto Werfen which is the town with the biggest Ice caves in the world and one of the most impressive castles we have ever seen sitting on top of a massive hill (it also featured in the background of the Sound of Music and is famous for it's falconry shows). We arrived at about 6.30 so we were too late to for everything but we thought we would try go up to the ice caves and check out where we could park.... Well poor little Misty got a massive work out climbing up above 1000 meters above sea level up half the mountain on a tiny road.... All the time Gemeah was freaking out thinking that the road was going to slide away as there were some massive areas of rock slide on the way up.... Well we made it to the top of the car park and Wayne wanted to camp there for the night but Gem was too scared that we would roll off the mountain so we made our way back down (brakes smoking) and found a park. Spent the night checking out the little town (no where near as stunning as all the others) and finding wireless so Wayne could get his internet fix.

Day 171- Thursday 3rd August - 2006 - Werfen
Well it started to pour rain last night and the temperature dropped to about 10 degrees (Gem's in heaven) and it kept raining so we had to debate what we were going to do. We decided that we are only here once so stuff it we were going to face the rain and do the ice caves and the castle. Instead of taking Misty up the mountain in the rain we decided to catch the mini bus (we wanted to take out some bloody annoying Italian's who arrive last and then just push you over to get on the bus first!!). Well the bus drops you off at the top car park (1000 m above sea level) and then we had to do a massive hike up a very steep mountain, and then wait an hour in the pouring rain (with no umbrella just our drizabones) to catch the steepest and quickest cable car we have ever been on (lucky the windows were fogged up as you could not freak out how high you were) and then do another grueling hike up the mountain face to the cave entrance which is 1880 meters above sea level... by this time Gem is having trouble breathing as she normally only has 60% lung capacity as a result of damage from her asthma and then put her at this altitude where the air is thin and cold (it was below freezing) and she is struggling... needless to say she nearly punched out the German chick who lit up a cigarette next to her!! Anyway we made it inside and the 2 hour tour (where you had to climb over 1400 steps) was totally amazing... one of the most awesome experiences we have had... the ice formations inside were stunning and despite the fact hat you are not supposed to take pictures...we did as we had a really cool guide who let us. We made it back down the mountain very wet and freezing cold and it took about 5 hours all up... so we missed the castle. After getting some lunch/dinner we took of to Salzburg... got lost trying to find a camp site... eventually found one, got our washing done and then collapsed into a big heap as we were both exhausted.

Day 172- Friday 4th August - 2006 - Salzburg
It's still pouring rain... did we mention that we are parked next to Inspector Cleuso... there is a tour of French motor homes in the camp ground and our neighbor is this gorgeous old man next to us is out in his designer trench coat and his beret. We eventually left at lunch time to head into the city. Well Salzburg is famous for Mozart, it's massive castle on top of the hill and the Sound of Music. We wandered around the gorgeous streets with all the designed shopping.... Gemeah was drooling as the clothes were just so gorgeous. We were told by a couple of people (and lonely planet) not to miss the tour of the castle, so we paid 20 euro to go up the funicular and the view was great... but we got inside the castle and saw that the line to go into the rooms was over an hour... by this stage Wayne is over lining up so we both decide that we have just wasted our money and headed back down to the old town. Gem dropped Wayne off at an internet café and went exploring the shops... they have the most gorgeous Christmas shops here that go forever and have the most beautiful decorations I have ever seen. They also have decorations made from blown egg shells that are just simply stunning... I bought two as they are really quite expensive (about $10 to $35 AUD each) and refrained from buying anymore Christmas babbles as I think I will be lucky if I get the eggs home in one piece!! We then met up and continued shopping and checking out the sites... Wayne took me into a knife shop to show me all of this amazing knifes and I talked him into buying himself an expensive present which is a designer magnetic stainless steel knife thing a magig that will look awesome holding all his expensive knifes!! Well we totally blew the budget today and it started to pour even more so we headed back to the campsite for some hot chocolates !!

Day 173- Saturday 5tb August - 2006 Austrian Alps
OK the diary is becoming a bit long winded so we thought we would add in some drama that happened this morning. As it has been raining we had set up the bathroom as a mini drying room with our mini fan heater... it had been working really well until this morning Wayne decided to try and dry out his shoes and had the heater set up in the sink blowing hot air on them... next minute he smells smoke and goes rushing in to find smoke billowing out of the bathroom...he grabbed the heater that was still on fire and through it out the door while I jumped in to put the vent up to let all the smoke minute Misty is full of smoke and we are trying to open everything up to get it all out. We were really lucky that nothing got burnt in Misty, just had to clean up all the black smoke off the mirror and air her out !! Then we packed up to leave and I was giving Wayne directions to reverse to fill up with water... well he says he could not see me giving him directions to turn and he revs up Misty and goes full speed backwards while I am yelling at him to stop as he is about to reverse into a massive tree that he did not see ... lucky a lady next to his window also started yelling stop otherwise he would have crashed Misty (no more driving for Mr Wongy one eye !!! Next stop today was Eagles Nest which was Hitler's T house for diplomatic was 1800 meters above sea level and had a fantastic view over the state park. Spent the night in the clouds on top of a mountain in a ski lift car park next to the Sofitel hotel where Wong found wireless !!!

Day 174- Sunday 6st August - 2006 Austrian Alps
We were enjoying listening to the rain on the roof and being surrounded by cloud this morning, then the phone rang... Bad News... Gem's Pa had died of pneumonia overnight just before he was about to go in for an operation. He was 86 but a sprightly old dude! Now Nana can have her wish... to be sandwiched between her two husbands... she is buried on top of her first husband and Pa is to be cremated and sprinkled on top... Go Nana!! Can't write anymore... too sad.
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