Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Of iPods and Engines

Although Hubby has traveled throughout Africa and Asia, he has far fewer flags captured for Europe than one might think. When we found out about his conference in June, we knew we needed to turn this work trip into a great vacation. After all – we had at least one free airfare to a continent that interested both of us and plenty of vacation time saved up to go exploring.

The decision was made very quickly that this would be an ideal opportunity to bring back our favourite alter egos – Map Girl and Clutch Boy! Hubby and I adore road trips not only for the enforced togetherness and inevitable fights but also as an opportunity to discover new places in a leisurely and enjoyable fashion. Hubby, as his superhero name would suggest, always drives and when I’m not napping in the passenger seat, I navigate. After all these years of long car trips, we are an unbeatable team.

We picked up our car at the airport in Vienna and set off for the beginning of our multi-country tour. Our first discovery was that Europeans aren’t clear on what signage is for. At least half the time we would try to follow signs to local destinations only to discover that someone had stopped hanging them before they finished their job. Despite having several semi-decent maps of Innsbruck, for example, it took at least three circuitous trips around the city pointing at where signs should be before we finally found our surprisingly central hotel.

Normally, we would eschew trips that merely touched down in a myriad of countries without allowing time to enjoy the culture but this time that was the whole point. “Breadth not depth,” Hubby kept insisting. We still did something significant in each country but with one notable exception most of it was fairly superficial. Driving from one hotel to the next with pit stops for cool ruins, empty gas tanks, or lunch would turn out to be more fun than we had thought to imagine.

Our long drive through Austria would mark only the first of many days that left Hubby and I speechless. While North America is great in its majesty and breadth, there was something awe inspiring about the magnificence of the countryside we drove through. Admittedly, part of the reason we were so taken by the simple beauty of blue skies and green pastures is that we don’t get see those colours a lot in dusty, brown Cairo. Clean air and picturesque castles on random mountaintops go a long way toward transforming a trip down an ordinary country road into an extraordinary journey.

Austria was the first country we would drive through during those few weeks of summer. A few weeks where we would be stuck inside a tin can on wheels powered by snack food from local supermarkets and music from an iPod plugged into the car radio. It would be a few awesome, emotional, and fun filled weeks. And this was only day one.

22 comments:

Bluefish said...

I haven't been to Austria yet but I hope I can visit one day. I always enjoyed road trips with my family, but it's hard to do so in Europe due to expensive fuel price.

Corinne said...

It always amazes me that someone like Hitler could come from Austria. It's so beautiful there, shouldn't everyone be happy? I dunno...

(Did I just invoke Godwin's law?)

Anyway, I like road trips with the hubby, too! Everything's so peaceful...until we can't agree on directions, then it turns into a meltdown STAT, but still... :D

LadyFi said...

Only day one? Can't wait for more...

Love the pics. My parents went to Austria for their honeymoon and have always waxed lyrical about how beautiful it is!

Protege said...

I love traveling by car. There is so much beauty in the surroundings and all this escapes one when flying. The Austrian Alps are a breathtaking part of Europe, I am not surprised you were in awe. Even more stunning is to get off the highway and drive on smaller roads, particularly in the part of Tyrol.
I still cherish best the navigation by a map (despite the fights in the car, when getting lost;), even in the age of GPS.;)

Anonymous said...

Hey, who is the best navigator? (Or perhaps who taught you? :))
We loved Austria 42 years ago--and then returned for our 25th. I think it is the mountains and the fresh air that is so impressive.
merthyrmum

Susie said...

That sounds like a GREAT trip:-)

Caution Flag said...

Well, I certainly cannot wait for day 2. I am curious about how many langauges you all speak.

Gaston Studio said...

Oh man, Austria is one place I didn't go when I was living in a terrific "jump off" section. Wonderful pics, can't wait to hear and see more.

Fruitful Vine2 said...

Sounds like fun. I love exploring. Whenever hubby has to preach in another village we pack our lunch and make it a day. We drive around and explore the area. Happy adventures!

Lydia said...

Yeah, Vienna was on our "wish list" of assignments. I'm always navigator, & hubby used to try and be co-navigator while being driver #1. Then he had to take with someone other than me as navigator. He came home and hugged me and told me I am the world's best navigator & he'll never interfere again. His stand-in navigator was awful!! *beaming*

the ungourmet said...

I love road trips! My husband and I took a month long road trip when we were newly married. We traveled through 12 states and saw Mt. Rushmore (in a helicopter), Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and many other beautiful places. Not quite as exciting as Vienna but still lovely.

Have a fun time! :D

Return to Norway said...

I was born to navigate, it's just that nobody wants to listen to me!

Love the pics - reminds me of Voss in Norway.

Jennifer said...

You and your hubs are brave folk. To attempt to drive cross country - in a foreign country no less! - with my own husband is almost an impossible situation. Tempers, confusion, ego! LOL! The pictures are beautiful, though, and tempting enough that I am actually imagining a life on the road in the EU! :-)

Little P said...

I would love to go to Austria - heck, I would love to do a road trip around Europe. That is defiantly on my husband and my list of things to do. We are big fans of Top Gear and they often do these great drives around Europe (in great cars, but we'll settle for anything that works) ;)

If you haven't done so, watch the cartoon Europe vs Italy: http://www.infonegocio.com/xeron/bruno/italy.html
Notice that part about signs... !

The Blonde Duck said...

My great grandmother was an Austrian dutchess. I've always wanted to go there and parade about in a tiara.

Jacki said...

Yep, road trips are the best. I look forward to hearing more about this one!

Stesha said...

Car trips are the best! You get to see more and travel at your own leisure. This summer my husband and I plan to rent a RV and take the children on a road trip. Should be fun!

Hugs and Mocha,
Stesha

Melissa B. said...

I love Austria. But one tip...never fall asleep in a Wagnerian opera in Vienna. My Dad did, and raised a ruckus!

Jemma Ruby said...

You are making me miss Europe!! I love road trips through europe and really miss that here. We have had such great times together while driving. My hubs decided one time though to upgrade to one of these navigaors and replace me as copilot with map which really pissed me off one summer until we started driving around in circles in verona itly because the silly thing kept saying we had reached our destinantion although there was no hotel in sight!! That was the end of that! ahhhhh, so fun, I miss them so much!!!

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

I've just found you via Debbie's blog.
I love Egypt. I've visited Cairo twice.
I'd love if each of us followed each other:)
Have a lovely day!

Nicole said...

I can totally relate to how that has felt :D!!

Heather said...

I am so jealous!