Monday, December 31, 2012

European Vacation - Part 3, Austria Day One

Austria - Friday, December 21st 

This trip did not start off as well as we would of wanted, it was a long morning for Tom as he took the train to the airport in Munich to pick up our rental car and I stayed back at the hotel with the kids to pack. We knew the trip for the rental car would not be quick, so we thought we planned accordingly.  In any case, the rental company (thrifty- by the way), totally screwed us.  They left out all sorts of charges off my initial reservation and wanted us to pay more than double what we had been quoted. It was ridiculous. Luckily, Tom was able to call me from the rental car company so we could figure out a new plan- and that we did.  So at the last minute, we looked online at train times and tried to figure out the best way to get to our next destination, Lofer, Austria.

Me, and my bright ideas- I did not want Tom to have to come all the way back to the hotel so I told him to meet me at the train station. Bad idea.  I said to meet me outside at the taxi stand where we initially got our taxi when we arrived.  Needless to say, there are 3. I had no idea.  The kids and I took a taxi from the hotel.  It took a few for them to bring one big enough for our stuff.

The good news is, after about 3 hours at the airport of Tom NOT getting a car and about an hour and a half of us trying to find each other at the train station, me then waiting in line to talk to an agent about train tickets to Lofer, Austria (which by the way, the agent had never heard of...Awesome!), we finally got tickets to Salzburg, Austria. I ran out the door of the travel office to Tom and the kids and we had 5 minutes to board the train. We made it, but guess what- there were hardly any seats left. So, we found two seats across each other for the kids, one seat for me close by (across from the largest man in Germany!) and poor Tom...sat on the floor on one of our four duffel bags in the entry way to the train doors.  It was a doozie of a morning.

Unfortunately the night before, about 11 pm, we also found out Tom's grandmother passed away unexpectedly.  It is certainly hard being so far away when something like this happens.  It was a rough evening, a tough day and it didnt seem as if the day was getting much better. We hoped it would and believe me, we had our fingers crossed.

Luckily we saved a ton of money by riding the train, although uncomfortable- seemed to be worth it. It was only a two hour ride.  However, once we arrived at the Salzburg station we then had to figure out how to get to Lofer.You know, that place the agent had never heard of- ha.

I had managed to look up sites online before we left for some personal taxi services and although I did not book one, I knew the prices.  We asked a taxi van if he could take us, he told us our price, a little more than the online price- but fine, picked up something to eat (we were heading to an apartment with no food), and hoped he could take us he had actually heard of Lofer. Ha! It was 52 km. away.

Lofer, is a small town- a VERY small town on the border of Austria.  Remember how I said it gets dark at 4:30 pm. Well, at this point, it was 5 pm.  By the time we got to the little town (actually a village) of Lofer, it was pitch black and raining and we did not know where to go except with the typed out directions from the owner. We had to pick up the keys at one place first - that took about 30 minutes. Then, we could go to the apartment.  Once we got the apartment, we could not figure out which building and when we did- we then couldn't find the number...anywhere! Tom called it the Silence of Lambs building. There were no lights on, it was very quiet and we didn't even know if anyone lived in this very large apartment complex. There were literally no signs of life. ha! We tried walking around the area, but no one had a clue. They were all extremely helpful by the way- so friendly, with the small amount of English they all knew.  By they way, taxi driver did not speak English either. 

At this point, the taxi has now been sitting outside this apartment building for over an hour. Finally, I go in to check it out and see if can find the number.  Like Tom, I walked and walked...but no number 161.  Finally, I heard voices. I literally put my ear up to the edge of each door until I could figure out which room had life in it. Ha  I knocked. An old man answered and I asked him if he spoke English, he said a little. I showed him my paper and then he pointed upstairs.  OK great, upstairs on the 3rd level...not the 2nd like the guy I am renting the place told us (but oh yeah, the third floor is the 2nd in Europe). Would of been nice to know. However, after staying here even a day, I can probably say without a doubt that we may be some of the only Americans that have ever visited this town. 

So, we found it....apartment number 162...NOT 161, like he had told us.  But anyway, we found it. The kids were all wound up. All we had to eat that day was bfast at the hotel, a granola bar and a hamburger from Burger King. Yes...Burger King.  We needed some dinner for the kids. So, Tom...the brave lad that he is, geared up (did I  mention its pouring rain again), put on his coat, grabbed his backpack and went out into the rain, the dark, not having the slightest clue as to where he was get us some food, AND ... ALCOHOL!!!

Tom made it back, the kids got to sleep in their own beds for once on our trip and we finally all went to sleep. We came to this town when it was dark and when we woke up in the morning, we saw this off of our back porch.  Wow! Simply beautiful and at this point, worth it! :)

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