The drive from Northern Italy into Austria is absolutely stunning. The Alps are truly magical and even more gloriously beautiful in person than they are in pictures. As we crossed the border into Austria Mat and David burst into song, “The hills are alive with the sound of music,” they crooned. We stopped at a gas station to fill up on gas and Kinder Chocolate (chocolate specifically for children – and loved by adults – made by Ferrero). If you’re not familiar with Kinder Chocolate, it is one of our favorite confections! The boys get some from Mikulás every December and they savor it for as long as possible (it also usually makes its way into any care package sent from Hungary). Anyway, it was so beautiful at the gas station that the boys wanted their picture taken and I was more than happy to oblige.
Our next stop was in Pörtschach am Wörthersee, a town located on Wörthersee (Lake Wörth) in Carinthia, Austria (Carinthia is the southernmost state in Austria). It is a popular tourist destination and the region around the lake has even been deemed “Austria’s Monte Carlo.” The crystal-clear water is a rich turquoise-blue color and during the summer the lake can be as warm as 27 degrees Celsius (that’s 80 Fahrenheit). That’s actually warm enough for me to venture into the water! We were actually just driving by on the highway when we saw the lake and decided that it was too beautiful not to take a closer look. I am so glad we stopped!
After driving and then walking a bit through town we had lunch at the wonderful Joainig Gasthof. Mat and I got to practice our (somewhat limited) German. Mat took German in high school and I studied it in college. Mat definitely retained more and at the very least we were able to remember common pleasantries, which our waitress seemed to appreciate. When lunch arrived we feasted on Austrian specialties like Wiener schnitzel, and stewed meat with spaetzle. Austrian food is extremely similar to traditional Hungarian dishes and since we are all huge fans of Hungarian food, the Austrian cuisine made us all feel right at home. Mat and David enjoyed a sampling of Austrian beers while Dédi, the boys and I all had Apfelschorle (apple juice spritzer – also known as “alma fröccs” in Hungarian). Big Guy and Little Man were very good about remembering to always say “danke” (thank you) and Big Guy surprised us when he worked up the courage to ask our waitress “Wo ist die Toilette, bitte?” (Where is the restroom, please?).
We were sad that we were only able to enjoy Pörtschach am Wörthersee for such a short time but David and I plan on taking a more thorough trip through Austria on our next visit to Hungary and we will make a point of returning to Carinthia.