THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – More walking ……………

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The Old Bridge 

The 2 Bridges of Heidelberg, Brükefest and Nudeln

So, day 3 in Heidelberg and we need to decide what to do today.  It is hot again and we had a fitful sleep due to the heat.  The air conditioning, makes you so thirsty and dry and one of us usually wakes at first light to turn it off and fling open the door to let the fresh air in!  The room is stifling!  So now it is difficult to get going this morning and we will have to take our time.  We need to remind ourselves that this is supposed to be a holiday and we need to relax sometimes.  So far we have been ‘flat-out’ trying to cram in as much as possible.

We drank a few cups of tea, downloaded our newspaper on a free app, mooched about and then decided we would walk to the New Bridge, cross to the other side and see how we felt then and how energetic we would be today.   So in true ‘Holt’s’ style, we loaded ourselves up like Pack Mules and set off.  Cameras, spare batteries, sunscreen…. you name it we carry it, our rucksack is like a Boy Scout’s nightmare!

We found our way a lot quicker today and didn’t go wrong, this is a bonus and we were at the bridge far quicker.  On the way, we bought some salad rolls and when we got over the other side of the bridge, we joined other people on a grassy area beside the river to eat our lunch.

Weekends are for relaxing here, so on Saturdays and Sundays, many families come to the riverside to play ball games, take part in water sports, or just hang around with their loved ones, eating picnics and sleeping in the sun.

We walked along and saw some really unusual Geese, we saw some yesterday, by a small lake in the town but near the river there are about 50 in a large group.  I have been trying to find out what type of Geese they are without much success!  (Since coming home we have found out that they are Egyptian Geese

Alopochen-aegyptiacus

Some students were staging a silent protest, something to do with the amount of waste in the world. 3 young men, were hugging bins, all in the same pose, then they changed position and put their heads in the bins?! All the while a lady ran around with a camera taking pictures of the protest, I suspect she was a journalist.  It was a strange sight to see but we have seen all sorts on this trip!

We looked up and down the traditional shopping streets with their old style German buildings and then decided to walk along the river to the Aldstat and the Old Bridge.  It is still hot but the breeze along the river is very welcome and cooling.  There are families on the river in small motor boats, sailboarding lessons, organised boat cruises and cargo boats that seem to take half an hour to pass as they are so long.

These boats are low in the water and they cause a huge swell in the river and it slaps against the river bank for at least 5 minutes after the boat is out of sight.

As we walked along the bank on the opposite side to the Aldstat, we can hear music…….. Very familiar music and it becomes louder and louder….. “Beatles Music” says the Mr! “I wonder what that’s all about?”

Approaching the bridge, there are more flags and people than yesterday and a huge buzz of sound floods across the bridge.  The signs say ‘Brükefest 2016’ but we can’t find any information about it.  So let’s just go with the flow…. When in Rome and all that.

So we sit at a table order a beer and watch 3 German men, dressed like Sgt Pepper and singing Beatles, Eddie Cochrane and Chuck Berry songs in perfect English while introducing all the songs in German.  Love me do, Girl, 20 Flight Rock … it was great sitting, joining in and singing along.

After a pleasant 45 minutes, we move on …… by now we are getting tired and it’s approaching 5 pm, we have been walking all day and by the time we got back to the hotel we had done over 18,000 steps on my trusty pedometer……. I think a short snooze is on the cards…..

7pm…..Shower, change of clothes and we’re off again.  We are going to walk back to the Aldstat, which will take about 40 minutes.  We want to eat on the beautiful square and soak up a bit more of the festival atmosphere. …we weren’t disappointed.

We went to a traditional Restaurant called Golden Falke (Hawk).  They serve traditional German Nudeln and Spatzle … it looks lovely and with the music, the  flowers on the buildings in the square, the hundreds of people passing by it really is wonderful and it’s still warm here.

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The Mr, ordered a Kase Spatzle  (this is his new favourite and he wants to find a recipe) and I ordered Nudeln with Braised Beef in Red Wine Sauce with Red Cabbage…. it was delicious but as usual the portions are enormous.  Apfel Strudel with Ice cream followed the Spatzle and for me just plain Vanilla Ice cream.  It’s unusual for me to eat a sweet but I really enjoyed it.

In the Marktplatz there was a band playing loudly, some sort of Jazz crossed with Reggae, it was loud and rang out around the square, echoing back to us as we walked. We watched for a few minutes but as it was standing only decided to amble our way back along the river to the Hotel….. 22,794 steps says the pedometer.  Apparently we walked over 9 miles in total.  It felt like 29 and my feet are swollen from the heat.  Phew, what a day………. and so to bed….Granny zzzzzzzzz

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – Heidelberg

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Heidelberg the Aldstat and the Schloss

A lazy morning following our epic journey yesterday.  We are still in shock regarding the horrific scenes playing out on BBC World News and this morning, I am going to attempt a Skype call to my Mother and Sister. So we have decided to stay in the hotel until after 11 as we have a good Wi-Fi signal for the call.

Skype failed as it has 3 times now on this holiday but we have found an app called Tango.  It allows free video calls and works quite well.  It was great to talk to Mam as she had a nasty fall 8 weeks ago and although she is on the mend, it has taken its toll.  It was a happy call though and she is looking much better.

Using a video app also meant I could move the camera around and she could see the view from out hotel and also our rather messy room!  We are useless travellers and our room always looks like a rubbish dump  with bags, clothes, sun cream etc. scattered all over the place!

After signing off from Tango we decided we should shift and get out, it is quite a long walk to the Schloss. ….. We checked Google maps to try and get a walking route to the Aldstat (Old Town).

We couldn’t get our bearings as to where the Schloss was in relation to our Hotel, so we headed for the tourist information at the Bahnhof (Railway Station).  A lovely young girl, gave us lots of information and a street map for our walk.

As we walked along (by now we had walked around 2 miles), the Mr said, “Isn’t that our Hotel back there?”  Sure enough. …. We had walked a full circle and our hotel was only a five minute walk from the Aldstat!  This is typical of our holiday walks, we always get lost and we always walk far further than we need to but we always see things that we otherwise wouldn’t.

We found the Schloss but could not find the Funicular Railway up to the top  so again we decided to walk.  The cobble path up to the castle is 300 metres long and very steep, it’s hot and we have already walked around 4 miles…..never mind onward and upward….. Literally!

There is only one word to describe this building … amazing!  The Castle was first constructed around 1300 but wasn’t used as a Regal Residence until Prince Rupert 3rd in 1398.  It was destroyed by lightening in 1764 making it uninhabitable.  Until 1800 the people of the city used the stones from the ruined castle to build houses,that was until Count Charles de Graimberg had other ideas and decided to try and preserve the ruins.  I’m so glad he did this as it is a really impressive building and you can only marvel at how they managed to build these huge structures before the invention of heavy machinery.   We have taken hundreds of pictures, we are both keen amateur photographers and we always get home and we have a duplicate set of images, his taken with a Nikon, mine taken with a Canon …, I think though, a Canon sounds better for pictures of a Castle!

We ate lunch at the castle, it was a bit expensive but how often do you get to eat your lunch in a Castle Courtyard?  Then we worked our way around the rest of the building before walking back down to the town.

The Aldstat (old town), sits just below the Schloss (castle) and it extends along the river for about a mile from Karlstor at one end, to Bismarckplatz at the other.  In between, there are many beautiful old buildings, narrow streets and picturesque squares full of cafes and ice cream sellers.

The old Bridge across the river Neckar is a must when visiting Heidelberg.  The Bridge is the fifth bridge to be built in this position but is the first stone bridge, it was built in 1786 by Prince Carl Theodor.  There are 2 towers on the City side of the river and apparently prisoners were once held in the dungeons below. Hanging above the Portcullis, is a plaque acknowledging Austrian troops who helped defend the bridge against the French in 1799.

There are hundreds of people here today, all taking pictures of the same scenery and sights.   People from all over the world, all ethnic backgrounds all interested in the same things… it makes you wonder why we can’t all get along…all of the time.

At 17.15 we decided it was time to walk back, we are exhausted and it is quite a long walk but hey….. We now know the shorter route….don’t we?  Here we go again…. is it left here, or right?  Do you recognise this building?

We turned a corner and we were in a dead end and what looked like a courtyard for some flats, then a lady opened a door and went in, we followed and it was like a scene from Mr Ben … we were in a posh clothes shop,  with cheesy  music playing and posh people shopping for frocks. This seemed a million miles away from the Aldstat.  We walked out the front door and into a shopping street…… oh no…… Lost again pppfffffftttt.

Finally after a confusing half hour checking the map, we spotted Aldi!  The Mr reckons our hotel is just around the corner, well he wasn’t far wrong and we were back at the hotel in 10 minutes.

My Mother in Law, who lives in Bath is 87 years young and during a phone call to the Mr, she mentioned that she needed some shopping. Normally the Mr takes her on his weekly visits.  We have been away 2 weeks now, with another week to go, so although she has had visits from others in the family, she has only been shopping once.  We spent half an hour doing a Morrison Shop online, which will delivered tomorrow….. Technology is marvellous, from AD 1300 to the 21st century in one day!

Right, we are off to an Indian restaurant tonight  ……… better get a wiggle on…….. Granny! 😊

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – Last Day in Heiligenblut

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Last day in Heiligenblut

So the weather is horrible this morning, it’s cold and damp and you can’t see the mountains for mist.  We were intending a trip up the Sharek on the cable car but it would be a total waste of €27 as you would only see mist and we can see that from the village.

So we decided to pack away some of our stuff, tidy up and let our clothes dry as they were still soaked from the Thunderstorm last night.

We went out, at about 10.30 and did a bit of souvenir shopping, I bought myself a new jacket, we bought some Schnapps and at 12.00 we went to a small cafe and ordered some lunch.  We sat there for over an hour, watching the rain pour over the square.  It wasn’t cold, just damp and miserable but we are used to changeable weather and we take it in our stride.

We took another look around the lovely church, placed a small token of our respect at Roswhita grave and ambled back up to the village, dodging the showers.

We walked back to our room and dropped off our shopping and then decided to take the car down and say our goodbyes to the Fleissner family.  They were all busy preparing for another hectic evening at the Alm Casino Restaurant, so we ordered some coffee and a small beer.  We sat outside looking up at the church for the last time on this trip. We really would have preferred the campsite experience to the Guest house…. no matter how good the room is…. but that is now by the by.

Josef was sat at the reception desk when we returned our cups and glasses and we chatted about people we remembered from the campsite before saying an emotional “Auf Wiedersehen”… He says “next time you come by mobile home huh? This is better for you”….. I think we would both agree with that.  Bye bye Fleissner family, maybe we will be back one day….who knows?

So in the evening we went out to eat.  The Mr had a Kase Spatzle and I had a Rump Steak, both were delicious.  The Mr ordered a sweet, Tiramisu Ice Cream!  It was enormous!  I am not partial to sweet things after my dinner but he loves it!   Give me a Cheese Board any day…. but that wasn’t available and anyway, I’m full!

Pay the bill, thank the staff for a lovely meal and cross the road to the small bar.  We have never been into this place before.  It is run by a young Austrian man, about 30 years old I would say.  He took our order and then as it was quiet accepted a drink from us and came to chat at our table.

Suddenly about 10 men walked in, they were jabbering away in their own lingo and asking questions about Whisky and Beer.  They took lots of selfies and after a lot of confusion caused by the language difference, they finally all got a drink.  Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, Beer……… The owner asked them where they were from … “Thailand” they said in unison.  They were here to do some walking and climbing. We can’t believe that they still smoke inside in some of the bars…apparently if the bar is under 50 metres square it is still legal!

After one too many drinks, (we were going to have a quiet night as we had an early start), we walked and talked our way back to the room and were quickly asleep.

I woke early hours to find the Mr sitting up.  “Did you hear that crack of thunder?” he said… I didn’t, I must have been dead to the world.  Now though, we are both awake and will find it hard to get back off to sleep.  Finally we must have dozed off at around 05.30 and the alarm was set for 06.30…. So when the alarm did start beeping, we were not feeling rested at all!

Never mind, shower, finish the packing, load the car and head up to the Breakfast Room by 08.00.  We checked out by 08.30, set Sally Sat Nav for Heidelberg and we’re away by 08.40.  Sally Sat Nav says expected time of arrival 16.39 ……. that was about to change dramatically!

The route out of Heiligenblut to Heidelberg takes you over the Grossglockner, towards Salzburg. A route we have travelled a few times in the past.  So we got our toll fee €35 ready and drove up the Hochalpinestrasse towards the toll.  As we approached, the lady looked at our GB sticker, she asked “do you have any snow chains?”…Ummmmmm let me think now. …we are on holiday….in July … “Damn…we forgot the snow chains, how stupid are we?!” “Uh…..nope…no snow chains”.  “Zen you cannot go up ze mountain  it is still snowing, park over there in ze back place…. ve vill see if you can go in 15 minuten”.. So we did just that.

As we sat there, some cars came down the hill with a dusting of snow on their bonnets, probably people who live further up but not at the top, which is where we have to go to get to Salzburg.  After what seemed like ages, the lady walked towards our car, while still talking to someone by telephone.  She said, in broken English “you maybe must vait for vun hour for ze snowing to stop!” “One hour?  Is there an alternative route?” “Head for Lienz and Felbertauern Tunnel” she said … so we drove back down the hill to Heiligenblut and headed towards Lienz. Once there we reset Sally Sat Nav and plodded on. ETA now says 17.15. So much for an early start on a 389 mile journey!

We drove through tunnels, past the Lienz Dolomite Mountains, which are really impressive, through serious rain storms where you couldn’t see the road markings for water and on and on…..

We crossed the German border and hit roadworks again for the umpteenth time. All the time our ETA was getting later…and later until 22 miles out, we saw the first sign for Heidelberg. …… “Hooo bloody ray!”  Says I, as I was getting seriously worried that the Sat Nav had got it wrong?  Why were there no signs for Heidelberg until 22 miles out?  German road signage is usually great.  Cities are signposted from hundreds of miles away.  Oh my, what a journey!

We found the hotel without too much difficulty and at 19.38 we finally checked in, parked up and got to our room. We are on the 5th floor, the room is stunning and we have a small balcony…bonus, and lovely to sit on and write a Grannyrant!

At 20.30 we were out looking for food, we had only had a roll lunch time.  We found a lovely Italian place about 10 minutes walk away and had a lovely meal, Pasta, Gnocchi, beautiful sauce….. Yum!  I really need to diet following this holiday.

We were back in the room by 22.30….shattered but I wasn’t sleepy, so I turned on the TV to BBC world news to catch up on the farce that is British Politics at the moment.   I watched in stunned silence the breaking news from France.   While the Mr went straight off the sleep, I watched the horrific scenes unfolding in Nice….. how absolutely devastating, families, children, people from all races and cultures mown down by a coward in a white lorry and probably in the name of some warped version of a peaceful religion…. so upsetting, I’m speechless and don’t know what to think so on that note I will finish………….Granny

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – Heiligenblut in a Thunderstorm

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The Waterfalls the Grossglockner and the Thunderstorm!

So, let’s go to the Waterfalls, we packed our rucksack.  Sunscreen -check, Water – check, Cameras -check…..Let’s go hiking!

We walked through the village, past the Sharek Cable Car, down the hill and over the little bridge at the bottom.  Turn right and follow the signs for the nature trail.  This is more of a hike than a walk and sometimes, it is a very steep climb.

The area is a very pretty part of the National Park and well used by lots of people, tourists mainly but you also meet locals with their dogs.  I’m sure the people here get fed up with tourists but if they do, they never let it show and they must rely on it to make a living, so I suppose they have little choice.

On the way to the waterfalls, we saw Ant Hills that were over a metre tall and about half metre wide and the ants walking along the ground are huge!  Some are carrying leaves and larger dead insects 6 times their own size.  These Black Ants bite and when they do, it stings!  I am wishing now that I wasn’t wearing sandals.

On we go, climbing over rocks, through the trees, it is lovely in the forest areas and very cool where there is little sun.  The Flowers, the Butterflies and multi coloured Moths, Dragon Flies and Ducks on the small pond…a really lovely walk.

Eventually the sound of the water gets louder and louder and we come to a bridge over the stream.  The sign says Wasserfalls and the arrow points left, so we stroll past an elderly Austrian couple, reading their papers and realise that there are cars behind us?  Who knew that there was a road almost all the way to the falls?  Never mind, we had walked and we really enjoyed it.

As we followed the path the river got faster and faster and louder and louder. The stone on the river bed makes the rivers here look turquoise and following the recent rain, the river was in a huge hurry to flow don’t to the valley below and even the spray was really cold!  Then, as we rounded a corner, we saw the bridge over the river and there was the waterfall. The scenery here is stunning and the waterfalls are just a tiny part of this National Park…… well worth the walk.

We decided to walk back down along the road as we have never walked this way before.  It’s quite steep and more a gravel track than a road, so you have to take care not to slip…again…I wish I had not worn sandals.   On we go past the farms and meadows, until eventually we can see the church in Heiligenblut away in the distance.  We saw a Farmer clearing gravel out of a drainage channel on the road, his Goats were huddles against the fence in the shade and as we approached a Billy Goat came to greet us and stood there happily for me to give him a good old scratch!  Then on past Wolfgang Kapelle, the smallest chapel we have seen here yet, no seats for a congregation just a small, well-kept alter, with religious ornaments and a huge cross.  We couldn’t get in, but there is a hole in the door that is big enough to get a camera lens through. ..Very convenient.

The temperature was now around 27 degrees and in the lanes, it felt more like 30 where there is no breeze.  We make the decision to carry on walking down towards the campsite at Hardegrasse and as we approached, Sepp Fleissner came out to greet us, we sat in the shade and ordered 2 beers…… Beer tastes wonderful after a long walk.

For a while we sat quietly and didn’t say a word.  Then we got out the postcards we bought earlier and wrote them out to send to both Mothers, we posted them in the box at the campsite.  After a second beer, we walked up the steep hill towards the town and back to our little apartment.  Phew, it’s still hot and there is a rumble of thunder again….. We will eat in the village tonight, as it’s nearer and we have walked far enough today….. Tomorrow, we go up the mountain.

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Tuesday 12th July was a cooler and cloudier day. It rained heavily in the night and so today, everything feels fresh and there are huge clouds of mist over the valley…. “It doesn’t look to promising” said the Mr… I had to agree with that.

We went for Breakfast and as we were eating our Smoked Ham and Boiled Eggs I asked the Proprietor,  “what will the weather be like today?”  “I will check for you.” He said and scuttled off to the kitchen… he came back in a few minutes with his mobile phone and showed us the weather app and a live webcam picture from the Grossglockner.  “At the moment it is not looking pleasant but it will be OK at 12.30 I think” he said as he pointed to the mobile screen.  This is very precise I thought!  I thanked him and we carried on eating our breakfast… I’m not convinced we will even see the mountain in this mist but we won’t be put off!

So we left the breakfast room, went to our room and packed our bags with our cameras, various lenses and all the other trappings we need to visit the mountain and we set off to catch the bus.  We have driven up the Grossglockner many times, by car and in our Campervan…. on the bus though we both get a chance to see the view as we travel the half an hour it takes to get to Kaiser Franz Josef’s Hohe where the bus stops.  As expected, it is cold, around 9 degrees I would guess and I’m glad I have my long trousers and a jacket on.  We also packed rain coats as we know how unpredictable the weather is up the top.  The Mr has bravely chosen to stick with shorts and sandals… a decision he will regret later on!

We got up to the highest viewing point and the rain started…. gently at first, more like mist than rain but within 10 minutes, it was chucking it down and there were a few rumbles of thunder.  “Let’s get inside and look around the Panorama Viewing tower.” We both said together!

This is a 3 storey glass building complete with telescopes etc.  I always try these telescopes but to date we have never been very successful in seeing anything.  Today it is impossible as we are completely encased in white cloud!  It’s a complete white-out!

We went for Coffee and the lovely lady behind the counter apologised for the weather. “Will it last all day?” I asked.  “Yes, I think the sun will return on Friday” she said!  “FRIDAY!?  We will be in Germany by then” said the Mr.

Eventually at 12.30 just as the man said, there was a break in the clouds and the rain eased so we put on our rain jackets and in true British style, decided to brave the elements whatever happens.  We managed to get some pictures, albeit we never did see the peak of Grossglockner nor Kaiser Franz Josef, we did take a selfie in front of the huge wooden Ibex … we have named him Isaac and we got a few pictures of the Marmots.  Large Guinea Pig like Mammals that live on the grassy slopes below the Alps.

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A Dutch man came along and pointed at the huge mountain opposite.  “There are about 35 beasts with the Devil horns over there by the snow to the right” he said.  I thanked him and we tried to spot them…. there were probably over 100 patches of snow… we couldn’t see the Ibex anywhere and the Mr says he was winding us up and was probably further up the hill laughing at us trying to spot them!  I wouldn’t be at all surprised…….

By now, the Mr, still in his sandals, had purple toes from the cold and his legs were apparently numb.  Oh how glad am I that I wore my socks and shoes with long trousers!

Anyway after a pleasant but mostly disappointing day weather-wise, we came back down to mountain on the bus.  The driver was not very considerate and drove too fast as we hurtled down the hill, this meant that he was continually braking….. By the time we had been thrown around and the bus has lurched and banked around all the corners we both felt quite ill when we got off.  So we were glad when we got back to the Guest house, dumped our bags, made a brew and ate a couple of rolls we bought at the supermarket.  Phew, this day has worn us out and we hadn’t finished yet….

In the evening, we decided we would go and see the Fleissners again and even though it once again looked like rain, we wrapped up and got the brolly out.  We were almost at the bank, where we were going to draw money, when the rain started…it got heavier and heavier but never mind we have the umbrella.

Half way down the hill towards Alm Casino Restaurant, a huge clap of thunder and several streaks of lightening signalled the start of a huge storm.  Within 2 minutes we were drenched and we walked very quickly the rest of the way through puddles and rivers of water on the street, all the while the lightening was lighting up the sky and the thunder claps got louder and louder.

We were soaked through, the brolly was almost useless and even our underwear was wet… these mountains create a micro-climate and can be somewhat inhospitable to stay the least.

We ate our dinner sat in wet clothes and after a couple of drinks and a free Schnapps from the Chief we decided we needed to go back and get dry.  “The bill please Josef” … “will it stay dry for us to walk back?” we asked? “I will take you by car” he replied.  This is amazing, we are not even staying at his campsite, we are staying at another hotel and he will drive us back the mile or so to where we are staying. … This is why people return to his campsite year after year and while we are really enjoying our guest house experience, we are certainly happier when we are camping!  We sat outside for half an hour as it’s still only 10.00 pm but after such a full day, we are both too sleepy to stay up long.

So tomorrow is our last day in Heiligenblut…. Hopefully the sun will shine…. Guten Nacht …….Granny 😆

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The Church at Heiligenblut where the Mr proposed to me in 2011

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – Graz – Heiligenblut

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Early start….182 miles to go…………….

So we are awake, it’s 04.30… This horrible tiny room at Ibis Lendplatz in Graz is stifling. The air conditioning is whirring loudly but making hardly any difference, the toilet smells of cigarettes,  even though neither of us have smoked for years (where the smoke comes from we don’t know) and we are now absolutely wide awake, not even dozing.

So we chat about getting up and going…. “Let’s try and get another hour, we will be shattered later” says the Mr.  “OK then, let’s do that” ….. Not a chance in Hell!

So at 05.00, we got up and made some tea (powdered milk is like sawdust but I hate Black Tea).  The Mr has one of his 3in1 coffee sachets…. then we decide to go as early as possible.  Shower, pack, dispose of anything we don’t need and trundle the bags etc. to the lift.  Heiligenblut …here we come

We were driving out of the car park by 06.25. The weather was good, it was a fresh sunny morning and Sally Sat Nav says the journey will take around 3 hours.

Off we go, out of Graz, onto the A2 towards Klagenfurt… a journey we have travelled a few times in Boris our VW Camper van, it is much quicker by car but we are certainly missing Boris… it isn’t the same in Hotels and is far more restrictive.

About an hour into the journey, we stopped to buy breakfast, rolls, ham, eggs, jam… as they do here in Austria.  After breakfast, we plodded on, then in the distance, we spotted a sign for Wörthersee… this lake is huge and even if you have already eaten and taken a bathroom break, just visit the services!  The views are breath taking and a must see when travelling in this area, so we did stop, take a few pictures and then drive on.

As the Sat Nav counted down the miles, we became more and more familiar with the roads and the scenery.  This is a favourite place of ours.  A place where we first stayed 10 years ago, when we first travelled to Austria in my car with a tent.

The town area is somewhat commercialised but the surrounding countryside, the traditional buildings and the people, make you forget all the trappings of tourism, especially when you stay at the campsite.

This time though, we are staying at a Gasthaus and we have booked a small apartment under the main house, which is called Kaiservilla, the house is just 500 metres from the town and around 50 metres from the high alpine road to the Grossglockner, the highest of the Austrian Alps at 3654 metres.

We can’t check in until 3pm, this is a pitfall of arriving too early, so we parked up, checked in and left our things in the car and wandered into the town.

Nothing changes here, it is the same as it always was and we even spotted a few people we remember from our last visit 3 years ago.  So we ordered a beer, a toasted sandwich and a side salad and we sat and watched the Austrian world go by until it was time to access our room.

Wow! What a difference to the Ibis at Graz! We have a family room, with a lovely clean private bathroom, huge bed, and our very own little seating area, complete with 2 benches, cushions and a view of the Glockner!

We can also see the campsite down below us in the valley and we can’t believe our luck!

We relaxed for the rest of the afternoon, reading, snoozing and trying to find out the tennis results on the Internet.   The signal for all things is very ‘hit and miss’ amongst the mountains.  Finally I managed to get online briefly to see that Andy Murray had won!  What a result!

In the evening, we had a very short thunderstorm, these brief storms are quite common here and they don’t last long, 5 claps of thunder, 2 lightning strikes and about 20 drops of rain and following this, lovely sunshine, fresh air and steaming roads.  It really lifts the pressure and cools things down.

So we had an early drink, on our little terrace and then ambled down to the restaurant on the Alm Casino Campsite for supper.  The young waitress took our drinks order and we sat there reminiscing about previous visits.

When we used to arrive in Boris, Roswhita Fleissner, the ‘Mother’ of the campsite to all who visited, would make a huge fuss! “My Englanders, My Englanders, Welcome, Welcome,” she would hug and kiss us on both cheeks and make such a fuss……. she wasn’t there this year though. Unfortunately Roswhita passed away last February following a short illness and she is sorely missed by everyone.

She was the Head Cook and bottle washer and even though she was in her 70s would still climb out onto the roof of the restaurant to hang out the washing.  She would still be working in the kitchen until well after midnight, 24/7.  The Bikers all thought the world of her and apparently, quite a few people from all over Europe, Canada and America attended her funeral…. we called in the Church and lit a candle, we passed by her grave and I have to admit to shedding a few tears… R.I.P Roswhita, we will remember you always.

Then. ..out of the bar came Josef Fleissner!  Proprietor extraordinaire, unusually though, not wearing Lederhosen.  He spotted us and came straight over!  “How great to see you, I saw on Facebook, you were in Vienna……”   He quickly caught us up on news about the town, the mountain, the family, these people are so friendly and they seem to remember everything!

Eventually we went inside and had our evening meal and yes…. the Football was on….this must have been the most boring final of any tournament EVER!  We endured it right until the bitter end and then left to walk back up the hill to the apartment!

Exhausted, it’s a long time since 04.30!  I sat for a while outside on the terrace, you could see the campsite lights twinkling below and the stars…. thousands of stars…. and so to bed!

What a day and how lucky we are to be back in this lovely place again……. more scribblings coming soon. …Granny 😆

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Home in Heiligenblut

 

Posted in The Adventures of Cilla the Citroen 2016, TRAVEL & HOLIDAYS | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – More Graz Shenannigans

The Birthday Celebration

So, this morning is the birthday celebration of one of the family.  In Austria, the tradition is for the person who is celebrating the birthday to invite friends and family to join them for a meal.  This person pays for everything. I asked “doesn’t this become expensive?” …. the reply was…. “Ahhh, but people buy presents so it’s only fair that they get something in return, also, they are then expected to invite you to their celebration.”   This ensures that families meet often and seems like a great idea to me.

To be ‘invited’ means you do not pay…for anything!  This is sometimes hard for us, as we are used to paying out way.  There is though, no point in trying to contribute, as it is not the done thing and you will just be told “no….you are invited”!

So we got up and dressed quite early and made our way as instructed to the meeting point.  This was across the main bridge over the River Mur.  We had to be there by 10.45 and after a few wrong turns and couple of phone calls, we finally meet up with the birthday girl and the family.

We are told that before we eat, we will go on a land train tour of the Graz.   This is quite amusing, as these people have lived here all their lives and are always explaining the history of the city.  Now a recorded voice was explaining the history of the city to them, we had to laugh about this.  We took lots of pictures and a few of the obligatory group selfies.

We went past the Schlossberg, the City Park, the Museums and the old building which housed the Gestapo during World War 2.  We got to see the wonderful churches, mausoleums and the modern statue, modelled on the Statue of Liberty.  It was very interesting and we enjoyed it very much.

 

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Selfie on the Land Train

 

When we completed the tour, we were ‘invited’ to go for some food, Prosecco etc. at a restaurant just over the river and not far from our Hotel.

The Mr chose a Goats Cheese Burger with chunky chips and I had a Chicken salad with traditional dark farmer’s bread.  We made a toast and sang happy birthday and chatted and laughed throughout the whole meal.  These people are such good company, we will be sad to say goodbye later on.

After we had finished our meal and made our way to an outside area to meet up with some other friends of the family.  The Mr asked (almost pleaded), for us to be allowed to buy a round of drinks for the family, to say thank you for their hospitality and also to celebrate the birthday, reluctantly they agreed.  Beer, Aperol Spritz, Hugo, Muscatel, Ice tea all arrived via a very cheeky waiter.  When he arrived at the table, we were being shown a picture of one of the older children, who was on holiday.  The waiter took a real interest and asked about the picture, to our astonishment he started pressing buttons on the phone and actually took a Selfie of himself, the Mr and his Cousin. .. This caused great amusement!

Finally, the time came to leave and as we all came away from the restaurant, there was a really emotional goodbye…. tears were shed, kissing on both cheeks and promises to come back soon and also for them to come to the UK next year.

Finally, the birthday girl, thrust a white bag into my hand and said this is for you…as we both walked away with tears in our eyes, we opened it and found a small VW camper van ……. what can you say?  We named him ‘Little Boris, after our VW Camper

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‘Little Boris’

We are totally indebted to these lovely people and we will always remember our wonderful time in Graz… Auf wiedersehen until we meet again. …… Granny 😆

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – Schloss Eggenburg & the BBQ (Grillen)

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When we woke yesterday, we decided to have a lazy morning.  This visit to Graz is always packed with activity and as I said earlier, we need more time to recover than we used to!

So we watched the BBC world news, I typed up the Grannyrant, we showered and did a small amount of laundry (necessities only). Then at 11.30, we went out to find Brunch.

At a small restaurant about 500 metres from the hotel, we found a table in the shade and ordered our food. A small pasta dish with Smoked Salmon for the Mr and a small salad with the Kernol (Pumpkin seed oil), some large kidney beans and the traditional potato salad.  This is my favourite salad.

When we had finished eating, we walked along the street to the main shopping area, the streets here are quite narrow and the buildings are tall so there is a lot of shade.  This is quite handy when you are fair skinned with freckles!  It is hot again, 29 degrees and climbing.  There is a forecast for a shower later on and this would be very welcomed at the moment to clear the air.

Today we are going to visit Schloss Eggenburg (google it to find out more).  The Schloss (castle) is built on the outskirts of Graz and is surrounded by beautiful gardens and mature trees, some trees are over 200 years old and the gardens are also home to some very noisy Peacocks and Peahens.  They are all squawking very loudly as we approach the building.

We are only visiting the gardens today, as there is to be an important concert held in the Castle this evening and preparations are going on in readiness for people arriving at 6pm so we can’t enter the building.

There are 2 fire-pits either side of the main doors and torches all along the path leading up to the Castle, these will be lit as people arrive and the fires will burn until the concert is over.  Also at the gates, there are tables set up to offer Wine and Champagne to the guests on arrival.

All the Roses and plants have a year on the labels and the earliest year was on a lovely dark red Rose, 1596!

As we left the gardens, people were beginning to arrive, all dressed in their long dresses and finery and the men in their smart suits and Dicky bows.  We were definitely out of place in our shorts and tee shirts!

We travelled back to the house with the family and on arrival, another Cousin and her children came running out to meet us… we haven’t seen her or the children for three years, the children have grown so much and it was a very emotional meeting for us all!

The Grillen….. We went to the very large Spar, with the family to buy meat, salad and bread etc. for the BBQ, unlike Spar in the UK, in Austria, Spar is everywhere and it is a very good supermarket, with shelves full of lovely fresh fish, meat and vegetables.  The cousins took great care in choosing the food, counting for how many people, consulting a cookery book and the Chef was very particular.

We went off to find some sweets for the children.  I asked first if it was OK to buy sweets and was told “yes, today is the day they finish school for summer, they can have Sugar!”

When we got back, we passed on our gifts of Tea, Shortbread etc. to the people who hadn’t yet received theirs and then we sat outside at the table and were offered some pre-BBQ drinks.  While we drank and talked, the children brought out their school reports for their Grandmother and Grandfather to see.  They have all done very well, so there is a lot of praise given for their efforts.

The children are very musical playing Tuba, Guitar, Piano and Recorders.  Not tonight though, tonight we are listening to Grandfather’s Irish music and singing along to ‘My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean’ and such like.  You have to love these people!

At 8.45 the grilling starts, Potatoes with Chicory and Ham, Cheese stuffed Mushrooms, Steak, Pork, Halloumi, Sausages, Trout….. phew, after an hour or so, we all sat down to eat  it was delicious.

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The sky had been darkening for a couple of hours and then all of a sudden there was a rumble of thunder…we decided it would blow over and carried on eating.   Then it started, a few spots of rain, a huge clap of thunder and the heavens opened!  We all scampered about to bring in the food, the drinks, the cushions from the chairs etc…. the men got soaked putting the furniture away but eventually we all got around the table indoors and carried on where we left off.

Finally, when it was time to leave, they came with gifts to take home, Kernol and Sausage from the local farmer, a case of Styrian Wine and some Austrian Chocolate.  We are always humbled by their generosity and we thanked them, said “guten nacht” and got in the car to be chauffeured back to our hotel!

What an amazing night…… tomorrow, we are invited to a Birthday Party. We meet at 10.45am at the foot of Schlossberg……. we need to get some sleep as another fun-filled day is on the cards… phew! …. Goodnight …Granny 😆

Posted in The Adventures of Cilla the Citroen 2016, TRAVEL & HOLIDAYS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment