Although it was lovely staying in our little village of Isenthal in Switzerland, on Tuesday I was pleased to take our last drive down the winding, narrow mountain road to the lake. We drove east around the lake then headed north until we changed to drive east toward Austria. This journey gave us more tunnels on it than in any other trip we have taken so far. Some were long, around four or six km’s while others were shorter. You have got to give it to the Swiss; they sure know how to build tunnels! After about two hours we were near the border so we stopped for a coffee and to using the loos. In normal Swiss style both were too expensive so we drove on Austria only about 15 minutes away were we were delighted to find, at the border crossing, an automatic coffee machine and a free loos. The chococinos were amazingly good considering they were from a vendor machine and only cost 0.50e each. In fact I got two for myself, one for Karen, and also a hot chocolate each for the kids. However when I gave the drinks to the kids they complained that they tasted like coffee. It seems my Germany isn’t as good as I thought it was, I had got the kids cappuccinos! O well, another coffee for Karen and I, this time she helped me work out a replacement drink for the kids. With the sun on my back and my stomach full of coffee I felt pretty good – my first impression of Austria was excellent.

The remaining two hours of our trip went quickly. Karen drove for a moment so she could say she had driven some of the way and then she read to us a few more chapters of our 39 Clues book. Karen and I both enjoyed the views of the mountain ranges on either side of us. We were staying about 15 minutes past Innsbruck in another small village called Tulfes (in the region of Tirol). Fortunately this time the road to the village is an easy drive with no cliff drops on the edge of the road. The owner of the apartment was waiting for us in the village square. He enthusiastically helped us unload our car and showed us around. It was nice to be welcomed so well and the apartment is perfect for us. I don’t think you can get much better than this.20121007 Camera Wk33B Innsbruck IMG_2016

We didn’t leave home on the Wednesday morning until just before 10am. Our first stop was a brief visit to Tulfes’ Tourist Information Centre before driving on to Innsbruck where we went to a Bell Museum. This unusual museum was actually very interesting and we particularly enjoyed hammering the bells in the small hands-on room.

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One of the bells was upside down and filled with water. You could hit the bell and then put your fingers in the water to feel the vibrations.

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After the Bell Museum we walked around the city.
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We stumbled on the Swarovski shop …
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… which ended up costing a bit more than my coffees but less than the repair work on the dent in the rental car in the UK …20121007 PC Wk33B Innsbruck 20121003_134612

The city was like many other but the mountain ranges around it were spectacular and make the city stand out …

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Nearby to Tulfes is a larger town, some 13,000 people, called Hall. We spent a few hours exploring Hall on Thursday morning and concluded with the discovery of an awesome bakery/cafe called Der Backer Ruetz where we bought doughnuts and caramel cappuccinos.

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After a maths lesson on Friday we walked to the Glungezerbahn chair-lift not far from our apartment. Although cloudy at first the day ended up perfect. Daniel and Karen went on the first chair and Amy and I went on the next. The trip up through the hillside forest took around 20 minutes. We only went to the end of the first chair-lift, a height of 1550m, and not to the top which only had a single chair-lift.

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At the top the kids (and I) enjoyed playing by rolling wooden balls down pine channels. It was great fun. After rolling the balls down the pre-arranged channels the kids also worked on building their own channel network. The photos will explain what this was about better:

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Surprisingly we probably spent an hour or two playing with the wooden ball ramps. What a great idea and so nice in the midst of the pine forest. Evidently it had only recently opened and was only accessible during the summer as in the winter it would be 2 meters under snow. After this we headed for the café for a coffee in the sun.

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The trip down on the chair-lift was fabulous as you can gaze at the views better than on the way up. The down side was that you could also see that you were up much higher than you thought – I tried not to think about that.

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The day finished by having afternoon tea at our host’s house. A fabulous afternoon tea, wonderful Nescafe pod-made coffee and cake, and then, wine, ham and cheese.

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We didn’t leave until about 7:30pm. It was a delightful time and I felt I was on holiday again. Our hosts are often wonderful friendly people and here in Tulfes they certainly were among the best you can find.

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The next day we were on the move again, this time a short two hour drive to Salzburg. It was sad saying goodbye to our Tulfes hosts, we enjoyed the village and our time with them.

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(Week 33B: Tuesday, 2 October 2012 – Saturday, 6 October 2012)