March is still winter in Salzburg

239I packed completely wrong for this trip.  I could blame our recent trip to Italy, where we were romanced by a week of spring, but I actually blame the calendar and the weather forecast.  First of all, it really IS spring now, so expecting rain instead of snow isn’t completely unreasonable.  And second, the weather report didn’t prepare me for this at all.  There was a little snow forecast for our first evening, then it was supposed to warm up the next morning to the mid-forties and stay dry.  So that’s what I planned for.

But that’s not what we’ve gotten.  The snow from our first day was enough to sled in.  I didn’t bring sledding stuff. No snow pants, no insulated gloves.  I only opted for snow boots over rain boots at the last minute.  I didn’t even pack a real winter coat for myself — just a fleece and a rain jacket.

251Since then, some (but not all) of the snow has melted, and it has stayed pretty chilly except for yesterday afternoon.  Today, when we ventured into Salzburg, it was surprisingly cold.  And snowing.  Again.  We don’t have the bunting on the stroller (we actually took it off, the morning we left, because we thought we wouldn’t need it), long underwear or lined jeans.  We have our spring clothes, so we were cold.

273We were here in October, and got snow then, which really should have prepared me.  But I thought there would be more springtime starting in the mountains.  At least a little.  I haven’t seen a single crocus blooming, or even a hint of spring plants poking out of the ground.  I had visions of sitting on the balcony, like we did last fall, and enjoying the stars.  Not this time.  Maybe if I had brought warm slippers and a big coat, but I don’t, so it’s too cold.

It is still really winter here.  And winter is beautiful, but I wish we were dressed for it.

An impromptu lunch in Germany

Today was our “drive around and explore” day for this trip.  After yesterday’s snow, we weren’t sure we’d be able to make it work, but by breakfast time this morning, the roads were clear, and by the time we were ready to go, all of the snow on the south-facing slopes was pretty well melted.  The skies were forecasted to be clear and the temperatures in the low forties, so we decided to go for it.

128After an excellent (if cloudy) adventure investigating a nearby mountain (Trattberg) on our trip last fall, Dan voted to start there again today.  We had to go *up* to get there, but that didn’t turn out to be nearly as much of an issue as it was that we had to ascend on the north-facing side of the mountain.  We literally turned a corner and went from clear, dry pavement to snow-covered road bordered by snow-encrusted trees standing in knee-deep snow.  We were surrounded by lots and lots of snow.  Snow.  Everywhere.  We didn’t continue with that plan.  (Especially once we realized the summit was another 800 meters above us on an unsheltered peak.  I have no doubt that the road to the top was not open, and I guarantee our rental minivan, even with manual transmission and snow tires, could not have made it much further than where we turned around.)

129So, we went to our backup plan, which was taking a quick trip across the border into Germany.  It was only about a 20 minute trip, even from our mountainous detour.  We were nearly there when it occurred to me that none of us (except Jo, who I guess is still a responsible American) had our passports with us.  Not just “not with us in the car”, but “not with us on the trip at all”.  My mental response was simply, “Oops!  Well, whatever.”  (Now THAT is certainly something I never could have imagined I would think when about to cross an international border with my family.)

136Driving into Germany, we were thrilled by the beauty of our surroundings.  The water in the river was so clear we could see every rock at the bottom.  The mountain peaks were hugely impressive and beautifully snow-covered (and, thankfully, we weren’t driving up them).  Each corner we turned was lovelier than the last.  We drove happily along until we found the very cute (and infamous, for being the location of Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest”) town of Berchtesgaden.

144We wanted to look around, so we found a spot to park (outside of the Brot u. Speck, or “Bread & Bacon” shop, which totally won me over) and wandered around a bit.  We found some lunch and a nice picnic spot, had an apple strudel, bought some postcards and admired the view.  It was a lovely afternoon in a little German town.

And that was it.  Our adventure for the day was a lovely excursion to Germany for lunch.  Just a routine part of our vacation in the Alps.




Night sledding

20130322-163000.jpgAfter our train ride to Salzburg (more about that later), we picked up our rental car and drove south, into the mountains. This area, which is south of Salzburg, at the northern edge of the Alps, and full of mountains and valleys, is as beautiful as we remembered. As we drove through the valley, we had some rain, mixed with a little snow, but we could see, further up the mountainsides, that the trees were still flocked with snow, and the clearings were completely white.

As we climbed up the hill to our destination, the rain/snow mix turned to all snow. The trees were covered, and all of the grassy areas had several inches of accumulation. Suddenly, it was winter again. The last time we were here, we got to experience the first snow of the season, and we came back to more.

20130322-163040.jpgWe arrived and got settled into our awesome place. Everything is warm and cozy. We placed our order for farm-fresh (as in, from the backyard) eggs and milk for morning and our hosts brought us got coffee and cake. Bolstered by warm beverages, we headed back out, into the snow for some sledding in the dark.

20130322-163058.jpgWe didn’t go far — just to the top of the hill in the play area beside the inn. Despite the (sometimes heavy) snow, it wasn’t too cold . . . which was fortunate, as I hadn’t expected to go sledding and I didn’t bring snow pants or insulated gloves for anyone. It was just a short hill, barely steep enough to work, but fun and easy for the boys. They loved it.

20130322-163113.jpgWe played, pulling the sleds up and sliding down, giggling boys and happy parents. We took breaks to slide down the slide, make snow angels, throw snowballs, ride on the seesaw and play on the swings. The snow would pause, for just a few moments, and the moonlight would break through the clouds. It was peaceful and fun. It was one of those crazy, rare moments where we’re all happy and relaxed and truly enjoying each other. It was an excellent way to start our long weekend here. And, whatever else we do over the next few days, the trip was already entirely worth it.