Crossing a border in the west of the EU heralds little attention from the authorities and therefore little ceremony. A shame really as the excitement of passing out of one country’s culture and into another is, for us, always palpable.
The border into Austria seemed a lesson in history. Driving past the usual signs that showed both the new country’s and EU insignia we commented on the modern but abandoned customs post in steel and glass, and the older baroque-fronted mansion that was the original gate house. It signalled a return to the romance of mountainous and elegant Hapsburg Austria.
Austria… ‘arrive and revive’. Never a better advertising slogan for a country that surely does not need to over-sell itself.
As fans of the former municipality of an Empire our shoulders loosened as Bertha glided through open pasture land that was home to long-roofed and balconied wooden farm houses, fringed by pine forests and framed by the white granite rocks of the mountains of the south.
After climbing 900 meters easily on tarmacked, wide and well-marked roads we slowly descended to the waters of the Donnau and the musical city of Linz. Having stayed before, we easily found the riverside car park but were dismayed to see it full of fairground machinery and caravans.
It seemed the annual ‘herbst fest’ or Autumn Festival was being set up. We chanced a couple of hours’ stay to revisit some happy memories on a city walk, albeit dodging torrential rain showers.
Munching a cinnamon-dry Linzer cake (reputedly the oldest cake recipe in the world) we planned a new route whilst a rollercoaster was noisily set up behind us and Bertha was nearly towed away.
Although we had entered Austria on a secondary road we needed a vignette to travel across its motorways and main A roads. We headed out of Linz and past the industrial steel works established by the Nazis to feed the construction of their disgusting concentration camps, of which Mauthausen was the most local.
Heading towards Roman-settled Wels we parked at an advertised motorhome-friendly Gasthof as the heavens opened in the early evening. The lamps lit up but no-one was around the place which was already packed up for the end of the season.
Taking a chance, we battened down for the night and were variously joined in the car park by freight lorries, white vans and small cars. We don’t normally do this sort of thing so it was a nervy night. At 6am, we watched what we now understood to be a car-pool as drivers arrived, parked and left towards their jobs via the nearby motorway.