After the Czech Republic, we headed west for some unfinished business in Austria now that the snow had cleared enough that most of the roads were open.
Berchtesgarden was the first stop (actually a German district but surrounded by Austria on 3 sides) and we stayed in a campsite with a lovely view of the mountains. Weather had been variable for quite a few days but the next morning, it looked fine enough to risk a trip up to the Eagle’s Nest to see the view.
The Kehlsteinhaus (its German name) is a building erected high on a mountain with fantastic views. It was actually built for Hitler as a birthday present for his 50th birthday and, incredibly was completed in 13 months including the 6km road up the mountain.
The cloud did eventually roll in but we had a nice wander around the rocks and snow before it did.
We then headed straight to the ice caves at Werfen – another activity on our hit list that had been closed til May. It was quite a drive and hike up there but well worth it. James is covering this adventure in this post:
After a night wildcamping down a quiet dirt road next to a river, we started early towards the famous GrossGlockner high alpine pass that had just opened a week or so earlier. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived the weather had well and truly rolled in and visibility was down to just a few metres. So we inched our way along at a snails pace, one of only a very few vehicles braving the fog and snow.
We persevered and by the end it was absolutely throwing it down so we quickly found somewhere to stop, parking in a field next to a little church, hoping we wouldn’t be hopelessly bogged by the morning. Game of monopoly and an early night after which we woke to a glorious morning.
Shortly after, a farmer made his way across the field towards us. We were slightly concerned he was going to have something to say about us just parking up there but on the contrary, he was very friendly and keen to hear about our adventures and absolutelt fine about us staying on what turned out to be his property. He also suggested that we give the Grossglockner another go now that the weather had fined up and, after looking at the map, we took that suggestion and turned around to give it another chance.
As for the second crossing of the pass itself, Abbie has covered our return trip in her blog post here:
We then continued on towards Innsbruck. The weather had turned again so rather than get the gondala up to the top of the mountains, we opted for what turned out to be a very enjoyable hike on the lower slopes, despite being chased by a flock of weird grey sheep.
We ended our second Austrian sojourn in lovely Innsbruck, ready to hit the next challenge – the Swiss Alps. We are very glad we came back to Austria – having now spent about 15 days in the country in total, it’s certainly one of our favourites.