Parking on the streets of Salzburg was free until 9:00 am on Monday so we arranged our morning to make sure we would be on the road by that time. We rose about 7:00, showered and went down for breakfast. After that we tidied up our packing, cleared the room, checked out and walked across the street to the car.
Just as we were packed and ready to go, with TomTom set to find our hotel in Vienna, a delivery truck pulled up in front of us making it difficult to escape. Majella waited a few minutes but, when the truck seemed likely to be there for a bit, we eventually wriggled out of the space and headed off on the next stage of our travels. We were going to need to buy fuel sometime through the morning so opted for the first convenient station we saw on the way out of town. At €1.32 per litre (€52 for the tank) it was not cheap but that was the cheapest fuel we saw all day by a good margin.
Soon we were back on the autobahn heading towards Linz. I fired up the iPod and we enjoyed some Mozart along the way, though Joel seemed to be plugged into his own musical world for most of the trip. As we approached Linz I turned down the volume on TomTom so that, as we entered Linz, the objections to our departure from the planned route would not be distracting. We followed our nose into Linz using the map displayed on TomTom as a rough guide and confident that guidance out of Linz and on to Vienna would be accurate. There was a metered parking space near the river and a couple of blocks from the main square so we parked, took a walk by the river, and then up to the square and back. Majella and Joel had ice creams from a shop in the square before we came back thinking about lunch. There was a bakery store near where we had parked so we took the opportunity to buy some rolls and a pack of sliced salami for lunch and headed out of town hoping to find somewhere suitable to eat lunch.
TomTom guided us back to the autobahn where we found that the stream of signs advertising the touristic features of small towns continued as it had done through most of our autobahn driving. Many of the offered features looked interesting but we selected the exit to St Florian, a small town that had a very large church building that we later read had been built by the Augustinians. We followed the road into the centre of town where we found a small park with benches and an open parking space. We ate our lunch there and then visited the information area in the post office to learn more about the town. On the way out of town we stopped at the Spar supermarket to buy some more fruit and drinks.
Not far down the autobahn Majella spotted an exit to St Valentin and wondered what we might find there. We took another short deviation and ignored protestations from TomTom to find the old church of St Valentin where we stopped to look and catch a few photographs before heading back to the autobahn.
Almost an hour further along the autobahn we spotted a large and impressive building in a town to the north of the autobahn. The signs indicated that we were seeing Stift Melk and, wondering what that might be, we took the exit to find out. It was clearly a significant tourist destination with a large car park that contained several tour buses as well as numerous cars, and a good number of people milling about. Stift Melk is a Benedictine abbey and one of two major sites about 50 km apart along the Danube valley that form part of the Austrian section of the pilgrim path to St Iago de Compostella in Spain. The path extends about 3200 km from Vienna, via Salzburg and Innsbruck, into Switzerland and thence to Spain. The thought of walking that far is just a bit awe inspiring, as was the collection of buildings that we found. We did not have time to take the full tour but took photos of the entrance gardens and the major internal courtyard before heading back to the autobahn. Along the way out of town we stopped to buy some cherries at a roadside stall we had spotted on the way in.
We headed off on the autobahn towards Vienna without more interruptions to our travel. TomTom guided us through the suburbs of Vienna and, after contending with some delays in traffic, we reached the Hotel Tabor shortly after 3:00 pm, were lucky to find a legal parking space just outside the entry, and checked in without difficulty. The hotel has no parking of its own but has an arrangement for a slightly discounted rate with a parking garage about 200 m from the hotel. Once we had moved our bags to the room we took the car off to park it until needed again. Our walk back from the car park was through the Karmelitermarkt where, although it was late in the day and things were closing up, we thought there were possibilities for dinner. Once we were back at the hotel, I left Majella and Joel to have a rest while I walked in to check out the conference venue and register.
When I returned to the hotel around 5:30 pm we rested for a bit and then set out to locate the underground station that Majella and Joel would need for getting about over the next few days and to find dinner. We walked up to the “U” station and then navigated down some back streets to the Karmelitermarkt where we managed to negotiate dinner at a small bar frequented by locals. Most spoke little English but with some effort on both sides we managed to make ourselves understood and ordered dinner. Joel and Majella had very large salads with ham. I had a Sauer Wurst – a local specialty of wurst and red onion doused in vinegar. Somebody in the bar had suggested it was refreshing and it was more than enough when washed down with a couple of beers. Majella drank iced tea and Joel had Coke.
After dinner we walked the short distance back to the hotel, checked out our photographs for the day, and watched some television before dropping off to sleep.