Sunday, 14 August 2016

Chiming Hills of Österreich - Day 1

Austrian Hills and Mountains

Hinterglemm                                                          Austria

Saturday 27th June 2015

Another adventure lay ahead of me as it was finally time to embark on my journey to Austria. However, I wouldn’t be leaving from Newcastle airport but from Manchester airport instead. The previous night was spent travelling by train from Newcastle to Manchester and slept at the airport. I hardly got any sleep due to the fact I was very uncomfortable lying on the hard bench. Therefore, I woke up at about 2am grumpy as anything. However, the check in desk I needed was open an hour later so by the time 3am came, I was standing in the small queue to get seen too. It was then time to head to the departures lounge where I would luckily relax a bit more. As it was still early in the morning there was hardly anything open. I wasn’t bothered though as I didn’t intend on buying anything. I headed to the main lounge area and had come across a big leather massage chair. Perfect I thought as I sat down feeling a lot better until I decided to switch the machine on. It nearly broke my back and probably made things worse to be honest. I stayed on the chair afterwards as it was still a hell of a lot comfier than the hard bench. I then fell asleep due to the exhaustion and when I woke up it was about 5am. 

It was nearing my time to head to the gate. I soon arrived and then the call came out asking everyone to get ready to board. The nerves began to build up again as I got closer to the plane preparing to step foot on it. I found my seat at ease and felt a bit relaxed looking out of the window watching the workers prepare the plane. A small time had passed before the plane reversed out of the gate with the engines starting up. There was a bit of a queue forming to get on the runway but as we got closer, it was becoming quite amazing watching the planes in front of us speed up and take to the sky; then it was our turn. The plane turned onto the runway and stayed still for a moment until the pilot put the throttle down full and we were shooting off down the tarmac. I kept looking out of the window as the white dashed lines on the runway whizzed by and then we began to lift going higher and higher. To be honest it was an amazing feeling to gain altitude and the view from the window was brilliant. Nice clear blue skies above us with scattered white clouds which looked like a field of cotton wool. There was hardly any turbulence throughout too which was a bonus. 

View from Plane

I kept on looking out of the window as we flew straight over London and then over the English Channel. This was the third time I flew over the channel and it never got tiring seeing through my window England on my right and France on my left; truly amazing. As we flew over France I noticed the clouds started to become thicker so I could hardly see the ground. As the journey went on ever closer to Salzburg, the clouds got thicker but then I realised half the time they weren’t clouds at all. It was the Alps which still had a lot of snow at its peaks. It was truly amazing and brought back some memories of my trips last year. 

Snowy Mountain Peaks

By this time we had began to descend in the hopes that the pilot would avoid the mountains. I knew a bit of turbulence was on its way as we headed straight into thick clouds. It wasn’t much but still enough to make the plane shudder slightly. Finally we were under the clouds getting ever closer to the ground and as we turned to make our final approach, I could see a quick glimpse of the runway we were aiming for. I then clapped my eyes on the horizon and I couldn’t believe how breathtaking it was. Huge mountains fairly close to the airport with large green fields and lovely looking chalets; this was the Austria I remember passing through last year. The feeling of happiness and relief came to me as we touched down. I finally made it yet it was still surreal being in Austria after waiting so long for this adventurous looking place. 

Salzburg Airport

As the plane eventually stopped we all got off fairly quickly and straight onto the shuttle bus. Our next stop was passport control which was quick and easy too as I looked like the person on my passport very well. The next sets of doors led to the baggage reclaim. After barging through the crowd to receive my rucksack, I headed to the arrivals hall and luckily the first person I looked at was holding the Inghams logo. She told me to head to bay C6 outside to follow more instructions and so I did. I arrived to a young woman asking for my name and where I was staying. She told me to get on a specific bus and after the rucksack was placed on the bus, I was told by the male rep that I was on the wrong bus and then put my rucksack on the next bus along. Then the young woman corrected me and the male rep about which bus I needed to be on which was the first bus I was at. After this mess up and a bit of a laugh, we eventually got going for a 90 minute trip from Salzburg to Hinterglemm. 

Austrian Mountain Views
Austrian Mountain Views

I was mesmerised with the views of sheer rock faces and clouds cutting through the mountains straight away; yet again it was truly breathtaking giving me good hopes for this experience. As the trip went on, the male rep who was called Dan gave us all the history of Austria and why the Austrians like to do something new, unique and smart. Yet again I realised I was the youngest one on the coach which I thought was funny. Quite a bit of time passed before we finally arrived at the village of Hinterglemm where I would be staying at the Pinzgaurhof hotel for the week. However, the coach we were on was not allowed to go into the village so we had to take our rucksacks and get into a large taxi. I helped an old lady onto the taxi as she was weak at the knees from the long travel. We soon set off making haste for the hotel only to stop about a minute later as we had arrived. I was thinking what the point was in that; I could have just walked it. 

Pinzgaurhof Hotel

I grabbed my belongings overwhelmed at the fact I was finally at my destination and then I headed to the reception area. After receiving my key, I headed upstairs and entered my home for the week. My first reaction was that I thought it was small but then I thought who cares it’s a bed which was really comfy and definitely better than the airport bench I slept on. The first thing I did was to unpack my rucksack then I checked out the view from my balcony. I was immediately overwhelmed and lost for words as right in front of me was a steep green slope with red cable cars going up and down it. I was excited to see it and as I looked closer I could see mountain bikes racing down the hill with mud splattering all over them which looked like a lot of fun but I had plenty of time to think about that some other day. I then had plenty of time to have a quick look around the village of Hinterglemm familiarising the place to myself so I wouldn’t get lost during the trip; I didn’t want to have to call mountain rescue if I could help it on my first day. 

View from Balcony

As I walked amongst the streets and people, the more I loved the place. It was a very beautiful village every turn I made especially as I walked along the river. It looked like a clear mint green colour as it was rapidly flowing down the hills. By this time it was coming up to 2:30pm and we were all told to meet up at the hotel’s bar so the rep could talk to us about the area and how to get to other areas around the valleys. Unexpectedly, he took us all on a walk around the village telling us about the buses and excursions in greater detail which got me intrigued about doing them and seeing more of Austria. It was quite nice walking around the village gathering as much information. When we returned to the hotel, I decided to book up the majority of excursions for my time in Austria. They looked amazing from what it read on the pamphlet so I paid up. I was a lot happier as I had a bit more of an organised journey instead of going in blind. 

By this time I had received my ‘joker’ card which gave me a free pass on buses and gondola lifts in the area as well as other benefits. I sat for a moment in my room staring at the amazing view in front of me and I kept thinking have I got time to quickly go up the gondola lift? Yes I thought as I put my coat on and headed straight for it. It took me a bit of time to figure out how to scan my card to get in but I eventually did it. I was in and waited for the passenger only lift to arrive. It came and slowed right down as the doors opened up. I quickly entered and was soon on my way up. My blood was rushing at the thought of going up the steep slope in the cable car as I had never been in one before. All of a sudden, it got faster as it was a quarter of the way up which gave me a bit of a shock. I laughed it off as I was still gaining height. It was a weird feeling to be pretty much suspended over a steep slope with the cable car swaying backwards and forwards slightly. 

Time went on and I was right at the top where it slowed down again to open the doors. The men at the top must have thought I was getting out but I stayed in and began to descend. It sped up again and that part was a lot freakier as I thought it wouldn’t slow down but it did after swinging me around for a moment. The views were spectacularly peaceful to witness despite the heavy rain pouring down. I reached the bottom again and just in time as it seemed as though they were closing up. I left with a smile on my face as I had a little walk around the quaint village once more admiring its beauty before returning back to my room. I sat at my balcony watching the rain lashing down as I stayed dry due to the overhanging balcony above me. However I was still tired from the very long shift I put in at the airport and the travel from Newcastle. It became clear I was tired as I nodded off without a warning. 

I then woke up and forgot where I was for a second. I managed to get myself up and go out onto my balcony admiring the view again. This time though the sun was trying to break through. To my right at the distance were a large group of clouds rolling in cutting through the immense green hills and it felt nice to witness it myself. It was nearly time to head downstairs in order to get my evening dinner. I headed down not knowing what to expect or who I was going to sit with. As I got closer I could hear the chatter of people in the dining area talking away to each other in the groups. I felt like the odd one out as I was the only one who walked in with no one. I seemed to have wandered around not knowing what to do until I eventually sat down at an empty table like a loser. 

A few minutes later, one of the waiters had seen me and looked a bit confused as to why I was sitting by myself. He went into the kitchen only to come straight back out with a table layout sheet. He asked for my name and after I told him, he didn’t really know where to put me. Eventually, he found a space and placed me at the table with 6 strangers. It was a bit awkward at first but I started talking to them to break the bit of silence there was. We were talking about Austria, where we came from, what our plans were and sharing stories about home. By the end we seemed to become temporary friends as we were laughing and joking. As we were talking, our starters had arrived. It was chicken soup so I ate it with no hesitation. Once that was eaten up, the main dinner came which was beef stew and potato so I pretty much wolfed that down trying to maintain dignity at the table. The dessert was next and it was a cream filled meringue which was a perfect end to the evening. I felt like a king feasting on everything including the next thing that came along which was a cheese platter. I washed the whole thing down with beer but not just a normal sized beer. It was a big pitcher of beer and I thought to myself ‘so much for me giving up on drinking’. Anyway, eating was finally over, just after I had a truffle of course. We had a bit more of a talk before everyone was getting tired especially me considering the fact that I was up from 2am. 

We said goodnight to each other but before I took my leave I needed help with my room as there was no light switch in the bathroom so I couldn’t see a thing. I thought there was a problem so I received help from the receptionist who came into my room to check it out. She asked me what my intentions were coming to Austria and as I told her, I realised the lights were on in the bathroom. I asked her how she did it and she showed me the switches right next to the door outside of the bathroom. I couldn’t believe how stupid I was and I was blaming the tiredness for that. Still, I suppose I had a nice woman come into my room. Anyway, the day had been so full of wonder and amazement and I kept thinking about the upcoming excursions and the beautiful scenery this country had to offer me. I thought to myself that every moment getting to Manchester airport and having a rough night seemed to be paying off with what I had already seen today and what I was about to do in Austria.
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