Today we are leaving The Princess to have a break in Verona while we are training it to Salzburg to spend Christmas.
Hotel Leon D’Oro
After staying in a range of budget accommodation our overnight stay at Hotel Leon D’Oro was a lovely change. They were offering rooms at a huge discount so we took advantage of their offer.
The hotel was just beautiful and featured lots of marble on the floors, walls and columns. Around the hotel were music related decorations like violins, music sheets and such. The breakfast was a highlight with a vast array of traditional Italian breakfast foods and also a range of other European breakfast items.
After dropping the bike off last night with couchsurfing hosts this morning we only had the two bags to pack for our trip from Verona to Salzburg. The hotel was situated within easy walking distance of Porto Nuovo station where we caught the TRV . Travelling from Verona to Salzburg requires a minimum of one change and our change was at Innsbruck, Austrias home of the Winter Olympics.
As the train headed out of Verona we were surprised how far the vineyards spread. It was like a sea of grapes. In the distance steep rocky mountains topped with snow overlooked the city.
On the edge of Verona the train passed into a long valley surrounded by steep hills with Castles on the rocky slopes.
In the opposite seats a young mum her two boys and baby twin girls were also taking the train. We got chatting and soon the boys were giving me Italian lessons pointing out “castelo’s”(castles), “neve” (snow) and “ghiaccio”(ice).
As the train followed the river up the valley our first stop was Rovereto, where a 13th century castle overlooks the town. Rovereto was once part of an autonomous region ruled by the Prince-Bishop of Trento between modern day Italy and Austria. As such the castle was built to protect the pass. Leaving Roverto the mountains started closing in and soon we were looking at steep pine covered mountains.
As we drew closer to Trento the train passed through orchards of espaliered apples and of course lots of grapes. In fact the area around Trento and South Tyrol provide 50 % of Italy’s apples.Trento was once the capital of the Prince-Bishopric of Trento an independent state until it was absorbed by the Hapsburg Empire. After World War I it became part of an autonomous region within Italy. It is quite a sprawling city with buildings stretching up into the the foothills. The area is known for its high quality grapes which grow high up into the hills.
As we passed out of Trento immigration and passport control officers boarded the train. Quite surprisingly we weren’t asked for our passports, however the young woman who was of African origin and the Asians were all asked for theirs. Was it racial profiling?
Around Ora (Auer) miles and miles of orchards of espaliered apple trees stretched in every direction. They were all brown due to winter but the area must look amazing with all the apple trees laden with fruit. In the region all of the stations have both the Italian and Austrian names on the stations, such as Ora (Auer). Sometimes the names are the same with just an “O” on the end .
Arriving in Bolzano (Bozen) we were surprised with all the Austrian style architecture. Big chalets lined the streets on the way into the city. There were chalets were dotted here and there up into the mountains. The chalets, grassy meadows and snow on the mountains had us thinking we were in Austria.
The town of Brixen, even had a train station built in Austrian style architecture. In the town the Austrian style onion domes on church steeples poked above the surrounding buildings.
At Brenner immigration officers boarded the train checking passports but this time everybody’s passport was checked. They were really thorough, using various machines, including a jewellers loupe, to check the validity of the passports.
Snow topped the craggy mountains and pine trees covered the steep sides. In the areas in shadow, snow covered the ground and the boys we were travelling with pointed and said “neve” (snow) and “ghiaccio”(ice). Then waited as I repeated each word. They also told me the plurals of different words.
As the train pulled into Innsbruck we said goodbye to our friendly family as we had to change trains and they continued on towards Munich. We expected to step out into snow covered streets however, we were greeted with a bright sunny day with the only snow high on the peaks.
The wait at Innsbruck was just long enough to grab some lunch and a coffee before the Railjet arrived.
Soon the bright sunny day started disappearing and passed through towns where snow covered the roofs. Snow covered the paddocks and the only areas not covered in snow were the roads.
At Wörnel we were surprised to see community gardens with little garden sheds however not much growing. The low cloud and fog closed in so by 4 pm the sun was gone. The forests of pine which covered the mountains and hills were heavily laden with snow with the branches sagging under the weight.
By the time we arrived at Salzburg it was pitch black although it was not very late. Our friend Craig was waiting for us, although we didn’t recognise him at first as he was rugged up because of the cold. The streets of the city glistened and blocks of compacted snow were piled up on the edges of the roads. Soon we were arriving at Attersee were snow covered the fields, hedges and roofs of houses. It was interesting seeing the change in the landscape from our last visit midyear.
When we arrived at the house Erica (and Knutt, Bella And Bobby) greeted us warmly at the door and soon we were chatting over a meal of Weisswurst (White Sausage) she’d prepared. Erica told us how when she was growing up the family would eat this on Fridays.
The Weisswurst was a strange looking sausage as it was as white as white can be. Weisswurst is a sausage made from back bacon and flavoured with parsley, lemon, mace, onions, ginger, and cardamon. It was boiled and served still in the boiler on the table. The colour was actually quite intimidating but we ate it in the traditional Munich fashion, by firstly removing it from the skin. It was quite tasty combined with traditional Bavarian mustard known as Weisswurstsenf, and served with brezen (traditional Bavarian pretzels) plus sauerkraut.
Over the Christmas and New Year period we’ll be staying in Attersee and hopefully visiting a few of the local Christmas markets. Plus of course we’ll be enjoying our first white Christmas (we hope)