We had a big day planned, which didn’t even include the crazyness of later on which i’ll get to. The plan had been formed from some disappointment. Ever since the Wankbahn (smirk) Aidan being a little disappointed that the top of Mount Wank (smirk) hadn’t been covered in snow, we figured that on our way through the Alps we’d be able to find Anna and him some snow and it became a bit of a challenge. I had looked at the ski resorts I knew had glaciers but they were all well out of our way and would’ve been a big detour. Luckily, the region of Salzburg does have a glacier with all the lifts to get to it…woop. The Kitzsteinhorn was right near Zell am See and not far off our route to get over to Italy. This was a budget buster but since it was something we couldn’t do anywhere else and something the kids had never done before we figured it was worth it….the glacier WAS ON!
An early goodbye to the campsite ponies and off up the valley past Kaprun to the foot of the Panaoramabahn (after previous cable cars the name was a bit of a let down but you can’t have everything). We bought our tickets and headed off up. This was fantastic for the kids as it was a proper ski resort setup with wireless passes and big lifts which they thought was brilliant. There was a big gondola and then a chair lift to get to the middle of the resort. Our first family chair lift…I think I was the most excited…and that’s saying something.
After the lift there was a quick (slightly over enthusiastic) purchase of sledges (the type that are a basically a plastic plate with a handle…I’m not made of money) we had pommes (chips for those without any German snack vocab…you losers) in the (trying to be) fancy (with the awning roof being blown off) restaurant. Then photos where we genuinely thought we might get blown away (little bit windy) before we headed up the cable car to the top. The cable car was a big one, heading right to the top, it was a proper “two cars alternatively being pulled up and down” one. I was looking forward to it as i’d not been on big one since Zermatt a few years ago.
This was where it got fun/exciting/HORRIBLE depending on whether you were Jayne or not. It was a little bit windy, only a little, to the point that they closed the cable car for 10-15 mins, but then realised it was only A LITTLE BIT WINDY and that they were obviously just being lame and re-opened. So we headed up. It was a little wobbly…kinda swingy…but mostly really bangy when it hit home at the top as it was swinging into the station. Maybe they should’ve given it 5 more mins for the wind to drop?
The station at the top was both quite cool and a bit disappointing at the same time. They’d obviously spent a lot of money on it, and the balconies to look out were amazing. There was a tunnel through the peak to see out the other side but no actual way to make it out onto the snow which made it feel a little bit fake, like Blofeld’s lair without the fun chases down the hill with machine guns. This sadly meant not kids sledging on a glacier, but I guess them blowing away wouldn’t have been great.
After having a look round and feeling again like we might blow away on the balconies we headed down (once Jayne had spent a few minutes in quiet contemplation of the ordeal to come). We then had a bit of time at the mid station finding enough snow for the kids to sledge and worked out that you don’t need that much…Aidan loved it and after a fair bit of that, followed by half an hour on the highest playground they’re likely to visit we headed back down to the van.
The text here probably doesn’t do justice to the mind blowingness for the kids, the scale of this stuff for them is just awesome and it’s so good to be able to bring them and see it being absorbed :O)
We had a cuppa at the bottom and sorted ourselves out for the drive. We planned to get through the alps and into Italy over the course of the evening (told you it was a big day!). The forecast wasn’t that good, rain overnight and snow higher up, which was either a reason to stay, or a reason to go depending on how you looked at it….we went.
The drive was fun for a long time, we went up and up and up on some amazing roads. We went through the biggest tunnel so far at about 5km (and 1600m up!) then started our way down. It’s hard to describe the roads here and on our trip we’ve seen some pretty impressive roads but these were the best so far. Half in the mountain and then suspended, half hanging off the side of the mountain, hairpins that jut out over the valley. All just crazy bits of engineering. We made our way down, and it started to rain, nothing major but annoying. We stopped in a lay-by for dinner right by a very serious looking river, it looked like it could have your arm off as soon as wash your little lay-by away (luckily it had the self control to do neither).
After dinner we forged on aiming for a cheap stop somewhere on the way to Lake Garda but the rain got heavier and heavier…and heavier. Then we hit the Italian border and the road got smaller…and bumpier…and the rain got heavier and heavier….yada yada. Eventually I just couldn’t see and realised it was all just a little too unsafe. At almost exactly the point I realised that piloting four tonnes of high sided box filled with my family down a windy road with zero visibility was not fun…there was a campsite sign…and it had space…but it was a campsite…oh the joy…the relief…I nearly cried when they had space….(and then lost my temper at Jayne when trying to get the van on the pitch basically blind…but lets not focus on that).
When we got up the next morning…
a) I hadn’t knocked anything over parking up…I was within about two inches of a lamp post…but that is just…ahem…precision.
b) The campsite was lovely, it was on a river, in the Dolomites, and had a mini zoo and a slackline.
We hung around for the morning and explored a little bit then packed up and moved on.
After the earlier than planned stop the previous day, Garda wasn’t really on the cards but my Mum and Dad didn’t mind heading a bit further north so we agreed on a campsite and motored that way. It was a long journey notable for an awesome stop at a cheese/wool making place for lunch and an amazingly rubbish wrong turn by me on the toll road that cost us about 40 mins. But eventually we made it to….Camping Mario Village…and there they were…the people that the kids (and us obv!) had been waiting to see…Grandma and Grandad Seppo!