An unexpected late snowfall – we bid a sad farewell to this year’s apples

Snow driving April AustriaIn Austria there’s a saying: April, April, der macht was er will… which basically translates to: April will do whatever the hell he wants! That means in April you can expect weather ranging anything from a sunny 25°C to below zero with snow.

And last week, April, the nasty bastard, did exactly that, surprising everyone with snow.

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Discovering there are worse things than driving in the snow – welcome to Austria… fog central

Office in fog
Where has my office building gone?

I honestly thought snow would be the worst thing I would encounter when driving in Austria over winter.

I was wrong.

While snow does provide its own unique challenges, I have to say, in my first year of driving it wasn’t nearly as bad as the fog (Nebel, in German) – the dreaded, nasty fog. Austria, as it turns out, with its scenic vista of mountains and lakes, is a veritable fog-magnet.

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Why my new car is awesome – meet the Snow Tiger

When I finally (just in time) got a job in Austria, I didn’t have much time to buy a car. Though with a 45 minute commute to contend with, it was a necessary evil.

New car_awesome
Meet the Snow Tiger

Thomas doesn’t like car shopping, and I’m not much help. To me, it’s a car – I want to be able to drive it without breaking down and I want to listen to music… if it was a cool colour that would be ok, too. But that’s it. We checked out a few cars and found some models I liked (in truth, I would have been happy with any of them… I just wanted a good deal) and I ended up with a Ford Focus. I’ve never been a Ford girl, but it was the best one we found. And here’s why: Continue reading

The Death Pass – an excellence place for an Aussie to learn about snow driving

My job is conveniently located (despite quite a long drive) just off the autobahn out of Graz, which means I have an easy run every day with no traffic problems. The only problem is that it also requires me to drive over ‘The Pack’ which I have affectionately renamed: the Death Pass.

It's not surprising it's always snowing on the pack
It’s not surprising it’s always snowing on the pack

It is one of the higher parts of the Austrian autobahn, climbing up over a mountain range and being notorious for heavy snow and ice. With my minimal snow driving experience, the thought of driving the Death Pass in winter scared the crap out of me. I was sure I was going to be stranded overnight in my car as thick snow slowly built up around my car turning it into an icy death den… ok so I was being a little bit melodramatic.

So now that winter is finally over, here are my more realistic reflections on the Death Pass.

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Driving on the Autobahn – Deb’s Top Ten Tips!

It’s pretty exciting (and scary) facing the prospect of driving legally at 130km/h. I have to admit it took me a couple of weeks before I was comfortable but now, I am just like everyone else – hating slowing down to 100 to go through the tunnels.

So here’s a few tips I’ve put together if you ever get the chance to drive the Austrian autobahn. Continue reading

Driving – on the other side of the road

I faced this prospect pretty soon after arriving in Austria because my German lessons were a 45 minute drive away. Thomas took me out to practice the first weekend so I would be comfortable.

Feeling very tense!
Feeling very tense!

It was not comfortable. It was one of the most frightening things I’d done in a while. Though I knew that in a matter of weeks everything would become automatic, the learning process was very scary. Continue reading

Terror on the roads – my first snow driving experience

My first winter, I had exactly one.

In retrospect, it wasn’t that bad. Though at the time, pretty traumatic.

Ice on windscreen
First thing you have to do is scrape the ice off your windscreen

I scraped the car windows and drove out of the slippery, ice covered parking lot. So far, so good. The weather conditions weren’t bad, but I had a 45 minute drive on the autobahn… and as I found out, conditions can change a lot.

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