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Old 3rd October 2011, 13:58   #151
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Default Day 3: #4 The Road Trip

Enough of my drivel, its time to show the road!
Roads in Europe, even Autobahns are quite different from what you get used to in USA. They are narrower, have more traffic in general, and there is always quite a bit of construction going on.
Speed limit is 130kmph on autobahns, unless otherwise indicated.
Tunnels have a 100kmph limit.

If you come in from a restricted zone like 100kmph to an unrestricted zone(130kmph), you see a white round circle with a line across.

It means "All limits end'.

Now this does not mean that you start driving at 200kmph. All it means is that you have to follow the natural speed limit of that road.
In Austria its 130kmph, in Switzerland its 120, and in Germany, its "Go as fast as you can without wetting your pants"

Right now we were in Austria, so such sections mean 130kmh.

Unfortunately there were few of them.
Most were 100kmph either due to construction or due to tunnels.

The other major difference is the cars.
In USofA everything is big. Corolla is a compact car and something like a swift may be classified as a scooter.
Europe is lot like us.
Cars there are smaller, and small sports cars are pretty common.

So are convertibles like MG Rover, and the Mini Cooper.

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The grass is green and the sky is blue
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And the road surface, truly smooth.
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After around 1.5 hours on the road, I see a sign for a gas station. Diesel around 1.3 seemed like a good deal, so decided to fill up. We had done little over 100kms, and the car was showing a range of 900kms.

But since we had planned to do a full tank at Italo-swiss border, I decided to do a full tank right now, so that couple of days later when we hit Switzerland/italian border, we are running empty

So it was time to get to the gas station

A picture of our hatcho-mini-van
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Gas station was another relevation.
Unlike USA where you pay inside and then fill fuel, here you just fill fuel, and then walk into the pump to pay.
Nobody runs away, since Europe is full of cameras. Cameras everywhere. ITs that infy uid guys wet dream I tell you.

Every road has a speed camera, every junction has a red light camera, every street has a I know what you did last summer street cam, and every gas station has a do not dare run away cam.

After the gas station if was time to take the exit towards hallstat.
Our trusty OSM based navigator correctly guided us, but I managed to take the wrong exist again.
Never mind.

It was time to hit the B roads now.
They have the 100kmph, which is quite decent, considering the mountain land to ther west has 80 in such zones
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Towns are a pain on these roads, with 50kmph limit.

Anyways, we headed towards hallstat, and the route I decided to choose was the Koppenpass route. After ignoring a couple of warning from the OSM navigation app about taking a U turn, we were on the correct track.
Thankfully, this software has a route recalculation feature!

The mountains were coming closer
And they were green and fluorescent green, and more green
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And often, we would have to stop. Construction zones. They were building roads justs about everywhere. I mean, their roads are already built, but they keep on rebuilding them when they detect a one nanometer pothole in the road
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So as towns rushed by
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We reached the base of koppen pass.
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It was 2:20pm, hallstat was 15kms away, we were running 2hrs behind schedule, and the railway crossing was closed.
Notice the white circle near the direction board?
Its a no entry sign. Yes thats who no entry looks everywhere in Europe.

The train came and went, and we started the climb to the puny little koppen pass
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Now take a tiny road, maybe 2m wide. Shrink it a little bit more.
There you have your koppen pass road.
This hatchback was feeling big on this road!

However, its a puny little pass, like many passes there, and it was a short short run to Hallstat.

20 minutes later, a few kms from Hallstat town, we decided to make our first pit stop, at the hallstat lake.
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It was beautiful.. really!

Last edited by tsk1979 : 3rd October 2011 at 14:02.
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Old 3rd October 2011, 15:14   #152
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Default Re: Day 3: #4 The Road Trip

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
"Go as fast as you can without wetting your pants"

Corolla is a compact car and something like a swift may be classified as a scooter.

@Tanveer : Now, that's just downright "HI-larious".
Love your sense of humor.
Very few travelogue where I'm enjoying the writings as much as the pics.

And the snaps ==> just ...O-M-G (in a good way ofcourse).
Picture purrrfect.
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Old 3rd October 2011, 22:33   #153
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Default Re: Day 3: #4 The Road Trip

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
The other major difference is the cars.
In USofA everything is big. Corolla is a compact car and something like a swift may be classified as a scooter.
Europe is lot like us.

Gas station was another relevation.
Unlike USA where you pay inside and then fill fuel, here you just fill fuel, and then walk into the pump to pay.
Rightly said about size of cars. However I'm not sure if the Corolla, Civic, Lancer etc. versions in India are built bigger than their US counterparts, or they simply "appear" bigger because of the relative size of other cars on the road. I have a sneaking suspicion that they are actually built slightly bigger for the India market to sell them in the 'luxury' segment, but that does not apply to the next level cars like Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. A Lancer I once rented in the US looked and felt really puny in size compared to the one available in India.

Actually in the US, unless you are paying in cash (and that too in states other than New Jersey), almost all gas pumps have credit card swiping on the pump itself, so mostly you don't have to go inside unless you want to pee after pumping.

In NJ, its 'full service' though (an attendant pumps it in for you => nice way to generate employment, I guess). This reminds me of a joke. This guy comes to visit New York for the first time. So he is going around everywhere and soon he feels the need to take a leak, but can't find any public toilet anywhere. So in desperation, he lets himself loose at a corner of Empire State Building. But as luck would have it, a police car is passing by, catches him and gives him a ticket. That night he calls his friend in India and says "Arrey yaha raaste mein susu karne se police pakadta hai !!!". His friend is really amazed and says "Kya ajeeb desh hai, idhar to khud ko pakadna parta hai !!!"

Keep writing, enjoying every word.
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Old 4th October 2011, 22:27   #154
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Default Re: Day 3: #4 The Road Trip

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Europe is full of cameras. Cameras everywhere. ITs that infy uid guys wet dream I tell you.
I did not get it
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Old 5th October 2011, 06:25   #155
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

True about Camera, the best part is, you can click anything anywhere in Europe and no one would mind it unlike in USA where you have to be careful if you are clicking someone's house or any private property. I have clicked 100s of houses in Europe but nobody has any problem with that. Once I clicked someone's private garden in front of them and they were smiling that I liked their garden
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Old 5th October 2011, 13:19   #156
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

This is one amazing log. And as expected, lovely photographs accompanied with great story-telling. Tanveer, please post more soon, can't wait.
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Old 5th October 2011, 14:48   #157
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Default Day 3: #5 Hallstat

Hallstatt is a little lakeside hamlet by a lake which is obviously called Hallstatter See. Now See means lake in german, so all lake names are followed by See.

We had stopped a few kms before the actual town, so I really had not idea what it looked like at that point, however, here is a telephoto shot, which tells you it indeed is a town worth visiting.

Coming to think of it, I can not think of any little Hamlet in Austria, which is not worth visiting.
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On Another shore, there was some castle thingy
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A closer look at the waterfront.
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Just like all hamlets and villages in Austria, it has a cathedral, just like every HP village has a temple.
Then there is the usual smattering of houses and hotels. We wanted to stay here, but the rates were frightfully expensive. Such is the charm of this village. Even with holiday season over, everybody wants to come here. Coming to think of it, such a town is a pensioners paradise, and as I said before, a lot of old people were touristing around, since the young people had gone back to work.

Spending a few minutes at the lake, we headed for the village. The idea was to drive near it, find a parking as such villages often do not have car parking available in the village center.

After finding the paid parking, we entered through an automated gate system, and it gave us a token. Tt was time to figure out how to pay. A few friendly folks(you find that a lot in Austria, everybody is friendly) explained in broken german, that I just press button and machine will give a token, when I come back I re-insert token, it will ask for required money(2-3 EU) and then after inserting the money the token will be given back, which I can insert at the exit gate.

Parking business done, it was town to soak in the village of Hallstatt, but the side of the lake named Hallstatter See.
Needless to say, there were a lot more flowers everywhere
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The village had a central square
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The Cathedral was simple but lovely
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There are some scenes, which are called picture postcard, here is one
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Geese
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The town center. Those cars belong to locals or hotels, outside vehicles are not allowed. Kind of like Bangalore, just a lot prettier
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And guess what, we found an ice cream shop in Hallstatt. From the name it seemed form the land of the Ferrari. However, it was 2.5 EU(0.5 EU more) and was not as tasty as the Wein ice-cream
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The town center with its houses and flowers
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Time to go back to the car parking.
Can you spot the picasso?
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And with that, it was time to bid adieu to the town of Hallstatt.
It was 4:30 in the evening, and we were running very very late. Granted, sun would set only around 8pm, we still wanted to reach our next 'village' before 10pm!
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Old 5th October 2011, 14:52   #158
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.sinha View Post
Actually in the US, unless you are paying in cash (and that too in states other than New Jersey), almost all gas pumps have credit card swiping on the pump itself, so mostly you don't have to go inside unless you want to pee after pumping. .
Actually almost all Europe pumps also accept credit cards. We just were using cash to pay, because with credit card, most cards charge markup fee for foreign exchange transactions. Some do not, but after checking with all the banks with whom I own credit cards, I came to know all my credit cards have this fee thingy. So we were in cash more. In US it would have meant paying something before filling, however, here it was fill it first, and then walk in and pay later

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasuki View Post
I did not get it
Hmmm... you can search the UID thingy..
Quote:
Originally Posted by pawan_pullarwar View Post
True about Camera, the best part is, you can click anything anywhere in Europe and no one would mind it unlike in USA where you have to be careful if you are clicking someone's house or any private property. I have clicked 100s of houses in Europe but nobody has any problem with that. Once I clicked someone's private garden in front of them and they were smiling that I liked their garden
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaushik_s View Post
This is one amazing log. And as expected, lovely photographs accompanied with great story-telling. Tanveer, please post more soon, can't wait.
Thanks guys
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Old 5th October 2011, 14:59   #159
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

Woww, Hallstat seems to be a photographers delight. Oh I so wish to visit these European places for atleast a month and doing nothing but to soak in to the beauty and clicking like a madman. Oh I wish..
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Old 8th October 2011, 14:12   #160
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Default Re: Day 3: #5 Hallstat

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Can you spot the picasso?
Attachment 821597
Hey Tanveer,
Is it the second one from right going anti-clock wise.
If it is true then it's due to the brilliant description of santro-wagonR-omni combo in the earlier posts.
Keep on writing .....

Cheers
MKPI
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Old 8th October 2011, 15:24   #161
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

Absolutely mind blowing coverage Tanvir! Shots are superb. Yes, your high ISO images are looking very neutral in terms of tone. Love them.
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Old 9th October 2011, 12:54   #162
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaushik_s View Post
Woww, Hallstat seems to be a photographers delight. Oh I so wish to visit these European places for atleast a month and doing nothing but to soak in to the beauty and clicking like a madman. Oh I wish..
Yes, it is. Too bad all hotels here were too too expensive! I am told, around 20th sept or later, hotel prices crash quite significantly
Quote:
Originally Posted by mkpiyengar View Post
Hey Tanveer,
Is it the second one from right going anti-clock wise.
If it is true then it's due to the brilliant description of santro-wagonR-omni combo in the earlier posts.
Keep on writing .....

Cheers
MKPI
yes, it indeed is that one
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
Absolutely mind blowing coverage Tanvir! Shots are superb. Yes, your high ISO images are looking very neutral in terms of tone. Love them.
Thanks Rudra!
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Old 9th October 2011, 13:35   #163
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Default Day 3: #6 Onward... To Innsbruck!

And so, it was time, to head forward, towards innsbruck. However, this was not the immediate destination. With Fusch programmed into Zanavi, we started proceeding towards Grossglockner high alpine road.
However it was 4:30 already, and even though you had light till 8pm, to do the grossglockener, we should be there by 6, which was quite impossible. But we had no business in Innsbruck today, except to go to our hotel and sleep, so why not burn some fuel.
The tunnel immediately after innsbruck
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the speed limit was 100kmph, but on these twisting roads, even 60 is a daunting tast. To give credit where its due, the scary mobile was a great handler. Maybe its the 207s underpinnings, or a mere twist of fate on the engineering floor, the french had indeed made a gread handling 90 donkey powered mini MPV.
No wonder the big gorilla from Top gear hated it. After all it was a wonderful car.
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As we headed towards fusch, we rarely encountered any traffic. Empty roads meant good opportunity of stopping and clicking
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When viewed from a certain angle at a sufficiently large distance, this thing oes not look too bad
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the sky was darkening robbing us of the valuable daylight. Hopefully, tomorrow would be sunny!
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As we approached fusch, the mountains grew taller, and roads more curvy
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Finally sunlight, and open road, with fast sweeping corners
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And we were getting closer and closer to the base of the road. In Austria you have green blue and grey(road). Pretty much everywhere. Where there are no trees, there is grass
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And finally at 7pm we were at the toll gates
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The toll for the high alpine road is 30 EU. At the booth the guy told us that we would not be able to get any views due to clouds, and the fact that it was getting dark, so not to waste 30 EU.
We listened to the advice, and decided to save 30 EU, After all you really cannot see anything when you have such thick cloud over the pass.

Well, we would get to see a lot more glaciers and what not, so for now, it was time to head towards Innsbruck. Instead of using the pre planned through google naps route through Gerlos pass, we decided to take the quickest route.

Before we start... some more pics
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Time to gun the engines, and take the road
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We were hungry too, so a pit stop was made. What better place to eat than McDonalds. At 1.3 EU for a cheeseburger, this is as economical you can get as far as "fine dining" is concerned.

Dinner done, it was time to head to Innsbruck... Well not strictly. Due to rush, we had not gotten any hotel with internet and breakfast in Innsbruck, so we had chosen a village nearby, around 7kms away, called Sistrans.

Thanks to construction work going on, I ended up going around in circles near the city for 20 minutes, but finally, the GPS guided us perfectly to our hotel. Glasthof in Sistrans.

At 106 EU for 2 nights, with breakfast, this was a good deal, and best thing, it had wifi too.

Now in EU villages everybody sleeps by 9pm, but our gracious host was waiting for us. Time was 10pm, and we had spent almost 12 hours on the road. 12 hours on a road in India would tire you and break you, but here, we were still fresh. Maybe it was the roads, or the lack of unruly traffic.

I had missed exits, taken wrong roads, and just had google maps and ZaNAVI. This software can navigate to cities, but things like streets and landmarks were missing in many places.

So if we were to drive switzerland successfully, we would have to go to plan B. Install a proper GPS app on the cell phone.

With wifi connected, it was time to download Sygic. Cost is 40$ for EU maps, but 1 week trial is free. Since after starting from Sistrans, we had 7 days more, the free trial would be perfect.

So it was decided, tomorrow night would be for sygic and map downloading, for Switzerland! For now, it was time to sleep, and tomorrow, do Innsbruck!

Here is our GPS track. Hallstatt is near the place labelled as Bad Ischl, and where you see us going off track, thats the divesion towards Gross glockner

I have also added a elevation profile - with distance. Total travelled today - 671kms. Google says it should be around 600kms, but we did a lot of wrong turns I guess
Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days-29aug.jpg

Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days-29augviz.jpg

Profile->
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Old 10th October 2011, 11:56   #164
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

Great going TSK ! Did you do all the driving yourself ? 671 kms ie. Google shows a beautiful covered bridge at Innsbruck....did you get to see that ?
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Old 10th October 2011, 12:01   #165
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

Austria is very much similar to Switzerland in terms of beauty, I have visited only Hallstatt in Austria. I will plan for Innsbruck after reading your travelog
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