After a pleasant visit to Salzburg, we departed south in the hope that we could head towards Tyrol before moving on towards Vienna. Our chosen location was a stellplatz in a village called Altenmarkt im Pongau in Salzburgland. It transpires that this location was also a farm, fine by us. After having a conversation with the landlady in German, we paid for our night. As it was, we spent a total of 7 nights here in the end as we liked it that much (and to afford time for an on the road repair).

Altenmarkt itself is a beautiful village which has clearly undergone some expansion as it is also part of an extensive ski resort. We spent our first evening wandering around taking in the village and all it had to offer.

The following day, inspired by a visit to the tourist information centre we departed on a walk along one of the rivers in the direction of Zauchensee, a lake at the top of one of the valleys. Despite blistering temperatures, we had a lovely ramble in and around the surrounding areas. Chief had his obligatory dip and we watched multiple cyclists heading up the pass. In possession of Chief’s new trailer, we decided on the next day that we’d attempt a climb up the road with Chief in tow.

The next day came and again it was a lovely +30 day. We departed on the bikes, Chief in tow excited as he felt the wind in his hair. The climb came and we started to ascend. It’s worth mentioning that we were on the mountain bikes, with gearing that should make such climbs more achievable. That said, towing Cheesy and his trailer (an estimated 50kg) was playing havoc with my heart rate and I was running a pulse I would usually achieve sprinting doing very little over 10kph. Arriving half way up the ascent, of which the roads were no greater than a steady 5% incline, we took a break and watered ourselves. Heading back into the climb, we made steady and slow progress and I declared we only have 1km to go. Just as we were realising we didn’t have far to go, Han pointed to a sign indicating a change in incline… 12%…..

On a road bike, I know I could do this but I’m usually clipped in. But on the MTB with Cheesy, it was a real grind getting up the last climb and by the top I was pretty much spent. I think I’d sweated all the water drunk and looked like id been for a swim in the lake. As we continued on into Zauchensee, we decided that we’d earned a break and some food. We don’t normally treat ourselves like this but the occasion called for it. Two slices of apple strudel, check. Two cokes, check. A double espresso. Check. And a bowl of water for Chief. Check.

Once we’d regained our composure and energy, we headed out for a walk around the lake and village. Chief came across an observatory and we were most interested in the information boards. The location and backdrop was impressive. In winter the area is a prime ski resort connected with the neighbouring villages and towns. I imagine in the winter months it looks really beautiful.

We’d revisit the same mountain again during our stay, on the road bikes though this time to do a bit more training on the hills (we like hills!)… alas, no strudel this time! The cows round here seem to roam freely and uninhibited and we were most perplexed at the bottom of the mountain to have to stop and navigate round some pretty big cattle.

The next day we decided to stretch our net a little further and Han located a beautiful lake called Kleinarl Jagersee. Another +30 day Han chose this so Chief could have a swim and cool down. I think having been swimming so much on this trip he prefers it to walking now!

On our way up to the lake we’d seen people by the riverside relaxing and playing in the water. We headed here first before walking around the lake. We spent an hour or so exploring the riverside, Chief was having fun wading in the torrent and we made a little diversion in the river so Chief had a pool to relax in.

Fun over, we headed for the lake. You could circumnavigate the entire circumference of the lake and we chose to do this. A beautiful peaceful lake, full of bird life, marshland and flowers, set to the backdrop of mountain forests. We found that away from the cafe where 99.9% of people had congregated, the lake was tranquil and calm and we spent some moments soaking it all in. Chief, as usual isn’t sentimental about views and moments, he just wants our permission to go swim and be silly, so permission given he went in and had a lovely dip!

The day after we decided to head for Zel Am See, with the hope of spending the day there and potentially making our first steps into Tyrol. Arriving at the lake we found it to be beautiful, but it was rather busy and a lot like the ones we’d seen in Italy, full of tourists and pretty inaccessible for motorhomes. We finally found somewhere to pull in but did see no motorhome signs which you would usually see in really touristy locations. Ignoring this (as local Austrian vans had parked here – always do as the locals do), we made our way to the lake.

We found we were unable to go for a swim or for Chief have a dip as the beach areas were no dog zones. Outside of these the paths were full of cyclists, and although cyclists ourselves, we found it a bit much and a bit too busy. We departed for the next ski resort which was a lot more accommodating for vans and dogs and had a lovely walk. We even found some cool puzzles along the walk, which included a maze with a ball in it which you stood on top of to balance and move the ball!

After a fairly long day, we took the scenic route back to Altenmarkt, which was really beautiful. The climbs for the van were fairly extreme and a little bit difficult for us to climb but we pushed on. We passed a car towing a caravan that had broken down in the other direction (I can understand why), broken down in the worst place ever. Our brakes hot and bothered we pulled in for a break to cool down before continuing on with our journey.

Returning to Altenmarkt, for what we thought would be our last night, we hunkered down and planned where we were going the next day… as it turned out, we wouldn’t be going anywhere for another two days!