In contrast to Romania and Ukraine, expressways seamlessly dissect the hard rock of the Alps, at all manner of angles.
Invariably, a surprise awaits at each tunnel exit ...mountain precipice, alpine lake, hamlet at the top of the world, or even Heidi’s secret hideaway, and with microclimates in many an alpine pocket, you might discover vastly differing weather from one end to the other.
I score 4 out of 5!
Engineering marvels have opened the doors to private worlds previously unreachable by road. This drive is nothing short of spectacular and far from being monotonous.
Zell am Zee
A delux ski and maritime resort in the Austrian Tyrol.
The Schmitten Tunnel (No. 30)
A steep climb to the exit and I’m immediately smitten by the sheer beauty of lake Zell ahead. 4 kilometres long, 1.5 kilometres wide, 73 metres deep and sitting at an elevation of 750 metres. Nothing but alpine town perfection, blue sky, blue water, white capped mountains and the sun. This means, at least a night and possibly two to add for the inaugural travel Itinerary!
The Grand Hotel is in a prime location to appreciate one of Austria’s most beautiful lakes, but with so many glorious villas and private properties nearby, I can see I’ve a challenge ahead, planning the accomodation for our clientele.
Zell am Zee is a shoppers paradise (St Tropez-esque) ...expensive boutiques but top produce. Today the resort is empty, but for this one passing visitor. Various owners stand around looking lost ...premises doors open, desperate to attract any stray custom. One switched on sales assistant tempts this sucker for caffeine across her threshold with the aroma of fresh coffee.
Time and again I hear, ‘this pandemic is killing our business!’ Maxine hands me a mug ...‘there would be thousands of people here were it not for the political interference ...the coffee is on the house.‘
The Arlberg Road Tunnel (No. 33)
At 14 kilometres it is the longest road tunnel in Austria connecting the Austrian provinces of Tyrol and Vorarlberg under Mt. Arlberg between Langen and St. Anton. An outstanding attraction of the country in its own right, used by over 18 million people annually ...though on this day, in March 2021, I appear to have it to myself! Presently ranking as the world’s fourth longest tunnel, it took four years to construct before officially opening to traffic in 1978.