Diary - Austria

Monday 4th February 2002 - DAY 5

The inside of the tent was covered in ice in the morning, but we'd slept suprisingly well in what must have been the equivalent of a 9-season sleeping bag. On opening the tent door to find out exactly where we'd camped we saw that it was, once again, a beautiful, sunny day. While we were cooking breakfast, just about everyone who walked past on their way to the showers came over to chat or take photos of us ('this is a little bit unusual') which was quite amusing. People blatantly thought we were mad, camping surrounded by snow. We hadn't brought our ski gear with us, so improvised with a strange combination of waterproof trousers and anoraks and went off to hire our skis/snowboards looking very geeky. Despite the general lack of snow, we had a good day's ski-ing and enjoyed an obligatory apres-ski beer before headed back to the campsite for a shower and to cook ourselves some food. While we were cooking our Italian neighbours brought us out a glass of wine, then invited us into their cosy, warm motorhome for another bottle (which turned into 3). So the night passed very well indeed.

Camping at Kitzbuhel

Tuesday 5th February 2002 - DAY 6

Another sunny day of skiing, but by the afternoon the snow was seriously deteriorating. To avoid the lift queues our first run of the day had included a very steep, icy black marked 'warning - 70° in parts'. Managed to find some good runs, but mostly it was a combination of deep slush and skiing on an ice cube. We managed to tire ourselves out and feel we'd had a good couple of days, but we were glad we hadn't flown out especially. Our Italian neightbours broke open one last bottle of wine before leaving, and some Germans and Dutch who had been hanging around, got in on the action too. All very civilised.

Skiing at Kitzbuhel

Wednesday 6th February 2002 - DAY 7

Starting point: Kitzbuhel campsite, Austria
Ending point: Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Distanced travelled: 219 miles

Quite a bit to sort out this morning before we could get back on the road: getting washing dried, filling water jerries, re-filling the stove. The sun had disappeared and there was a definite sense that snow was on its way - lucky for us that it hadn't fallen overnight. We headed off on the road to Salzberg, stopping to buy some snow chains and a little heater for the car that could be plugged into the cigarette lighter (unfortunately this turned out to be rubbish). We followed the road out of the mountains and along the river - we did actually get to admire the view this time - and headed north to Linz and the Czech border. Fortunately we had remembered to buy a toll sticker for the Austrian autobahn as we were stopped about 20km south of the border by a police road check. When we arrived at the border, a bit of a queue started to build up behind us as the guy disappeared with our passports for a few minutes and then came to look inside the vehicle. All being well, we were allowed to pass through, and got the first stamp of many in our passports. First impressions of the Czech Republic were a bit grim: a sign saying that between October and March you have to keep your headlights on at all times + a very grey, barren landscape - not helped by the dull weather. We reached Cesky Krumlov before dark and found our way to our chosen hostel without too much hassle. It was a bit of a trendy backpackers joint, but very warm and cosy. Headed off into town for some food and found that this is where Czech Republic really comes into its own: we ordered the most expensive food on the menu (all cooked on an open fire) and sat and drank beer all evening - the total bill coming to less than £10.