Euro Trip Part 4 – The Alps – Italy to Austria

By alison - May 5, 2006 (Updated: December 22, 2015)

A day in the Alps

A day in the Alps

If you haven’t already done so, read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of our European Adventure.

And so, with full bellies and a good night’s rest, we set out on one of our longest driving days. We were headed for the Alps.

When most people think of the Alps, they automatically think of Switzerland (ok, that’s what I thought before I moved here anyway) but the Alps in one form or another are also in Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Liechtenstein, France and Germany (they are pretty darn big let me tell you).

We started to climb (much higher than we had already climbed) and things began to look very tall, and very pointy – and when you looked up, very white. Ok, so call it bad tour guiding but I hadn’t actually counted on snow at least not snow of the blizzard-like variety. I figured by April we’d be pretty much safe. What I should have done was thought back to the August we visited Switzerland and saw snow on the mountains… but I didn’t.

That's definitely snow...

That’s definitely snow…

The strange thing about the snow was there was a distinct line that you could see when you looked up the mountain side… it wasn’t gradual, it didn’t taper off – just a hard line where there was snow and where there wasn’t. Literally in the same mountainside village you could have one home with a green yard and 50 metres up the hill they could still be covered in the white stuff. It was odd.

Me and the Old Man in the mountains

Me and the Old Man in the mountains

Back to that blizzard I mentioned – Ok, blizzard may be a bit strong of a term, coming from a Canadian, but it was snowing pretty hard at points. The twisty mountainside roads weren’t boosting my confidence any either – oh, and the huge trucks in the on-coming lane… those were great too.

Strange snow line phenomenon.

Strange snow line phenomenon.

Despite the hazards though, it was a spectacular drive. There was a lot of “Oooh, stop the car, stop the car,” so we could jump out into a snow bank and take pictures. Those little villages that you see perched on the mountainside in the Ricola commercials – they exist.

The other thing about driving through the Alps is you miss a lot of it, because instead of going around or over many of the mountains, you go through them. Much of the drive goes like this: Tunnel (5 km) Bridge with stunning view (1 km) Tunnel (10 km) Bridge (500 m) Tunnel (18 km)… and so on. We actually drove through several of the longest tunnels in the world. (After the first couple of kms the novelty starts to wear off).

A "stop the car!" moment...

A “stop the car!” moment…

And so this is how we made our way out of Italy, into Austria and to our hotel in Kirchberg.

Kirchberg is a little ski village, much like many other ski villages in the area. The town was enjoying a late season and there were still quite a few ski runs open. Our hotel, the , looked deserted when we got there. There was no one at reception but there was a note for us and a key (trusting folk the Austrians). Our room was actually more of an apartment. We had two rooms and a small kitchen with a balcony over looking the town and the mountains.

We had the ‘brilliant’ idea to cook supper. We thought sausages would be the way to go – they weren’t. The stove didn’t work very well and we ended up eating way too much grease. The wine that we picked up was so bad that between the four of us we couldn’t even finish it. (More penance for our fabulous meals with Nicola).

The next morning however we were treated to a great breakfast at the hotel across the street, included in the price of our room.

Then it was back to driving mountain passes and the slow decent out of the Alps.

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Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+


  1. Comment by dARK sIDE dAD

    dARK sIDE dAD May 6, 2006 at 04:05

    Definately a WOW adventure. The history, the scenery and the time together exploring makes me envious … the food (the good stuff, of course) stirs even stronger emotions. Looking forward to part 5 … if only to find out if we make it down the twisty mountain roads … ah, the suspense of the serialized drama! … just like the old days when 25 cents would get you a seat and a box of popcorn at the Saturday afternoon matinee and you could pitch popcorn boxes at the bad guys, but I digress! … it is so great that you can share the adventure with us all, love the pics. We are on the road heading home tomorrow morning so the suspense of the mountain descent will be just that much greater! We’ll check in when we can … love to all … dARK sIDE dAD

  2. Comment by expatraveler

    expatraveler May 12, 2006 at 18:41

    I remember driving through Austria also. And yes it is so so so long of a drive. The pics remind me of Swiss Chalets. The last pic is unbelievable! Talk about a flash back in time for me (2002 was the last time I was there.)

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