1.1 Prologue accross Austria
Updated: Nov 4, 2022
It's been four weeks since we left Switzerland and started on our maiden trip towards Hungary/Romania. The very first day led over roads well known to us via Walensee to Dornbirn. The first pit stop over the border was dedicated to the hopeful refueling at more advantageous diesel prices. We also had to get an Austrian SIM card and the coolant recommended by our manufacturer, which could not be found at all in Switzerland. The initially heavy rain, which we consolingly took as goodbye tears, fortunately gave way very soon to the forecast brightenings, so that we could do our errands in the dry.
Finally, we headed out of the city into territory now unknown to us. We drove to the northeast, towards the Allgäu. To reach the border with Germany took an astonishingly long time. But we enjoyed every minute, every kilometer in this wonderful landscape. So first still in the northwestern tip of the Vorarlberg and then soon in the Oberallgäu. Visiting acquaintances in Nesselwang was on the agenda at the end of the first stage. Although bad weather was announced, in the second half of the day also in this region, we arrived even with some sunshine at the destination. I don't need to tell wild campers that finding a place to stand at the end of an exhausting day of travel always involves a bit of stress. But in Nesselwang we were allowed to drive without detours to the site recommended to us at the edge of the village. No stress and a really great place that was easy to manage even for our eight and a half ton truck.
We were looking forward for a long time to a traditional Allgäu dinner. And so we enjoyed our nice company as well as the delicious food at the end of this first travel day.
Our trip through Austria was packed with visits to relatives and acquaintances. The route took us past Lake Chiemsee and immediately back to the Ösiland. In general, we avoid highways, because we want to travel at a leisurely pace, see some of the countryside and, above all, come into contact with the locals. Highways are therefore never preferred. Around Salzburg, however, we make an exception. But a short time later we turn back onto the country roads in the direction of Wolfgangsee. Old memories are awakened when we see this wonderful turquoise lake again. After an obligatory stopover in St.Gilgen, we take really narrow roads past the Mondsee and Attersee lakes.
Our vehicle width of 2m30 proves to be problem-free, even on the local narrow roads without a median strip. The only thing my co-pilot worries about from time to time is the rear-view mirrors that stick out quite far. Unfounded as it turns out until today. The destination of the third stage was Vöklabruck. Here we were also centrally located on a recommended large parking lot. And already there was the first rest day. On day four there was no driving.
At least not in the Unimog. All the more, it was great to spend a day on the sailing ship of our friend on the Attersee. What a bliss! The swinging is quite similar to our air-suspended ISRI seats in the Unimog. But the inclination in a taut wind is unsurpassable. Fender bathing, or rather fender bodyboarding at what feels like 30 mph, also has its charms.
With so much water activities, it may not be surprising that we stopped by Grabner Boats in Haag the following day. We have been toying with a kayak or canoe for quite some time. We wanted to use the opportunity of our passage and have a closer look at the quality boats in red and black. The enthusiasm remained, of course, even after a test drive on the company's own test waters. Whether we, however, are ready to provide the necessary space for such an inflatable boat on our adventures, this maiden voyage will have to show. There will be no lack of compressed air, which is standard in the Unimog. Approximately 100 liters of loading capacity, however, could potentially be used quite meaningfully.
After the waters now mountains were in the agenda. From now on, we drove on narrow steep roads southward into Styria. And here the next tip for wild campers: If you don't find a good place to stay, go to the cemetery. There is usually not only plenty of space, often even water! In Admont we found our luck between the cemetery and the monastery, which is fascinating not only because of its large library.
Already we are approaching Brigitte's relatives. Still over the Gaberl and we drive into Köflach, where we install ourselves for whole three days. For travelers like us three days in one place are rather the exception. But we could not and would not resist the invitation and became unfaithful to our super-confy Hüsler bed for three nights.
Shortly before the planned bike tour, we discovered that one of our fat bikes had a loose contact on the regulator. Thus, the shifting into the E-assist gears was impossible and for us thereby also the bike tour. But what are the dear relatives for. Of course, a replacement e-bike was immediately provided and off we went on a wonderful tour around Köflach. And those who are familiar with the area know that the Lippizaner horses all come from Piber, which offered itself to us as an ideal resting place halfway through the tour.
Back in Köflach, we first had to think about how we, as travelers, are now most likely to get a spare part for our E-Fati. Because not only the post office has a hard time with the address "Frame on Tour". Fortunately, we also have an extremely reliable friend for the bikes since childhood. He organized the needed part in no time. But where should he send it? The next fixed point for us was Vienna. But there was not enough time left until then. After that we wanted to start the real adventure in Hungary. Where we would be when? No idea. At least not exactly. We decided on Lake Balaton in the very west of Hungary. Poste restante would be so the first thought. But my second was the Overlander Forum. And lo and behold, within half a day we got an address at Lake Balaton from a forum member unknown to us until then. Perfect fit! And now the small package with the fatbike controller can be shipped. A little more than a week later we were able to receive it from such kind Saxons over a cup of coffee. Why send so anonymous post-storage, if it can be arranged also over new friendships...
After a short side trip to the fascinating southern Styria, we found ourselves in Oberwart for the long-awaited off-road training. To get to know our vehicle off-road was the goal. That means to test the limits of the vehicle and of course our own limits as drivers.
The fact that the driving limits of the Unimog are very high was no longer a secret to us. These proverbial all-rounder characteristics were, after all, also the reason why it should be a Unimog for us and not a conventional travel truck.
Our driving limits - or let's call it our driving skills and the courage to master extreme off-road situations - were to be optimized by a professional two-day individual coaching.
It is difficult to put into words what we experienced during the course days. Even the pictures only begin to convey what our Unimog and we went through. From 100% incline to 30% slope, from 45% slope angle and reversing in steep slope. From vehicle entanglements, driving with axle locks, driving in the work group, backwards, forwards, sliding, drifting and yes sweating, lots and lots of sweating, all included. In addition to our knowledge and skills, it has strengthened all the more our confidence in the machine and ourselves. In any case, we now feel ready for our adventures in the Carpathians and elsewhere. But as so often skills come with experience. Learning by doing and the courage to really do it is now the order of the day.
So our last stop in Austria was Vienna. Driving past Vienna with Brigitte, an Austrian at heart, is like keeping the mouse from the cheese. So we drive with our heavyweight right into the middle of the capital. No worries, nothing illegal of course. Luckily we are registered as a camper despite our size. Here we drove for the first time on an official camper parking lot, although we are completely self-sufficient in terms of electricity, but the water supply and disposal is of course very easy.
Also in Vienna we were received by infinitely nice friends and princely entertained. If Brigitte still doesn't say no to the third round of rum, then it was a fantastically cozy evening, not to mention the fantastic Philippine rum. With heavy hearts we say goodbye to our Austrian friends after two days, but full of anticipation for Hungary. Now our adventures shall really begin.