Thanks to Virtual Tourist we were fore warned about the Police. We got pulled on a late Sunday afternoon for a routine check, namely to check that we'd got the Vingette on our screen. You can purchase these easily on the border and in some garages, but whatever you do don't go to Austria without one - Euros 7 for 10 days. After checking our documents we were waved on. The Police seem to speak very good English.
We also saw in Innsbruck within 5 minutes 2 motorists hand over wads of Euros for motoring offences - it was beyond our belief for what offences. Simply beware at all times and thanks to Virtual Tourist for the warnings.
We checked out of the Lake Chiemsee hotel and made our way to Austria. We even stopped to buy a vignette (required on the motorway) and a Salzburg city map. We arrived in Salzburg at about 1100, no problem. Then we tried to find our hotel...It was in the old section on a pedestrian street. The way I thought would get us the closest looked like a car park with a yellow arm, that we couldn't get to go up. When we tried to go around (the city and the mountain that is in the middle) we found that the one way road we wanted was closed for some reason. So, we had to go all the way around, way outside the city. Eventually we found the festival house. My husband waited with the car and I went to find the hotel (spitting distance from the Residence). They gave us directions to get to the end of the street. By then it was nearly 1230 and he was at the end of his driving rope. We checked in, parked the car in the festival car park (included in the room) and ate lunch.
Since 1997 Austrias motorways can't be used toll free. Austria requires all vehicles using the motorway (Autobahn) to display a motorway tax sticker called Vignette on the inside windscreen. The Vignette can be bought at all Austrian border crossings (there are also short-time Vignettes available).
Fines for failing to display a valid Vignette are very high.
You purchase bus tickets at the Tabac Traffic or Tabak Trafik or Tabac shops which are found ALL over the place. If you plan on taking the bus, get the tickets right when you arrive since you can't purchase them on the bus... at least, you couldn't in 1998.
This can already happen end of October...
2003 was a really great summer, but the winter came early... even too early for the trees, which still have green leafs!
Lucky drivers, who have already changed to winter tires.
WATCH WHERE YOU PARK IN SALZBURG!!! Particularly in the Alstadt (Old Town). I parked on a sidestreet between several other native Salzburg vehicles. I even carefully checked for the presence of signs that might not permit me (and them) to park there. Since there were none to be found, I happily embarked on a six-hour walking tour. Imagine your sense of dread as you walk up to the spot where your precious little European rental car should be, to find no cars in sight because IT'S A BUS LANE IN WHICH YOU'VE PARKED!!! Luckily, the Polizei was nearby, who tracked down the vehicle sitting in a Park & Ride impound lot outside of the city. A cash advance and Mercedes cab ride later, we were on our way - a little embarrassed and $200 CAD poorer.
WHILE DRIVING, WATCH THE ROAD SIGNS AND LANES CAREFULLY!! The stark differences between driving in Germany and driving in Austria can be summed up in an analogy... Imagine putting together a shelving unit. You can either hire Bob Vila and Martha Stewart to give you a personal hand OR you can use Ikea instructions. Germany guides the driver every step of the way with its well-signed roads. Austria leaves you to your own devices and imagination. At red lights or stop signs in Austria, be sure to drive BEHIND a native Austrian driver. Continue driving behind that person until you have reached your destination.