Driving in Austria

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Driving in Austria

Postby Bharat » Thu Jul 30, 2015 7:19 am

I had been on vacation in Austria for a week and well like any petrol head, I decided I wanted to drive there. Let me run you through the whole experience

Car selection

Since I was going there with my parents, we needed a car that would take in a lot of luggage. Also since I love to drive, the car had to be involving too. With that in mind, we decided we needed an estate. Yes as weird as it may sound in the Indian market, estates really make a lot of sense and Europe loves them. An estate gives you the practicality (excessive boot space) and with a powerful engine, will be involving to drive too. The only downside to that is the looks. Some people may not like the shape of an estate but give it a sporty kit and it should do the trick, atleast for me.

Having decided the type of car, we looked through the possible options. The travel agent we had chosen had a tie up with Europcar and hence we chose them as a provider. Having gone through their list of cars and being a VAG enthusiast, we selected an A4 Avant. However as luck would have it, nearer to our date of arrival, they didn’t have one and we were forced to choose the A6 Avant which I’d say did perfectly.

The car

As luck would have it, we got a 2015 A6 Avant 3.0l diesel. The engine is a V6 and it came mated to the S-Tronic gearbox and had Quattro. Im not disclosing power figures since the A6 3.0 Quattro comes with 3 power outputs in Austria, ranging from 218PS to 320PS. Since the European market is all about customization, our car came with manual seat adjustment, but had lumbar support and come with the leather and suade upholstery which made it feel very premium. It had both front and rear sensors, USB, AUX, MMI touch with hand writing control and navigation. Now most of us don’t use the hand writing feature, but trust me it comes in very handy when you are inputting addresses into the navigation system. The best part is the navigation shows in the MFD. Given how lane disciplined Europe is, the navigation tells you exactly which lane to follow inorder to reach the destination. This relaxed me a lot more and allowed me to focus on driving rather than seeing which lane I should be in. The system also scans road signs and shows the speed limit on the navigation which is helpful too.
On the space front, the car has a lot of it. Boot swallowed 3 big suitcases + 2 small ones and a bag with room for more. The rear seat has AC vents on the pillar too which aid in cooling the cabin faster.
Overall a perfect car. Great mix of comfort, power, decent handling and space.
Bharat
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Re: Driving in Austria

Postby Bharat » Thu Jul 30, 2015 7:20 am

The journey

We picked up the car from Innsbruck airport and headed straight to Munich to see the BMW Museum and Welt. I was told to use the B road via Tegernsee however we were short on time and headed straight on the motorway. We took the A12 first and then shifted onto the A8 towards Munich. The traffic was not too much but the road has speed cameras everywhere so you need to be very cautious of the speed limit. It varies from 100-130 on the motorway and at some places also becomes 80. They keep varying it based on traffic conditions. The road has mountain covering but is pretty much like any normal motorway. Nothing too exquisite. Having fed the address into the GPS, the navigation system led us straight to the Museum. After touring it, we headed to Salzburg for our night halt. We did get stuck in some rush hour traffic in Munich but nothing too severe. The drive was cumulatively 320kms. You can cross the border without even realizing that you have done so. No checking or anything.

There are enough rest houses and fuel stations on the way. Rest stops are however not free and you have to pay €0.50 to use them.

Day 2

This was the best drive in the whole trip. We headed from Salzburg towards the High Alpine road. Just input Glossglockner into the GPS. The route followed is the A10 from where you turn off towards the B311. Once you reach the road, you will be stunned by the breath taking views. It is the highest mountain in Austria. The road is a tolled one and you do end up having to pay €34.50. This may seem steep, but it trust me, its well worth it. This is an ideal road both for driving as well as viewing scenery. It’s a 2 laned road for most part of it with a speed limit of 100kmph. There are adequate viewing areas on the side and the road is filled with tight twisties to enjoy the drive. The day we had gone, there were many biker groups that had made their way there to enjoy the ride. The whole road is only about 36kms long, but the approach distance depends upon where you will be starting from.

Day 3

We drove from Salzburg to Vienna which is a distance of 315kms (hotel-hotel). We followed the A1 motorway for this journey. We encountered quiet a lot of traffic due to some road works. The GPS, which was receiving real time traffic information rerouted us to another road for the stretch where there was traffic, however we decided to continue on the motorway since the traffic was still slowly moving. The jam lasted just 10 mins and was caused due to lane closure for road works. It was incredible how people kept their calm and still maintained their lines without cutting the way they do here. Having already covered 850kms cumulatively, we decided to tank up on the motorway before entering the city. This was a manned one and there was someone there to fill the car. Very surprising as there are very few of them across Europe. Each petrol pump has a sponge and a wiper dipped in water to clean the car from all the bug splatters. This one is a big necessity given that the motorways do attract excessive amount of bugs. On entering Vienna we got into rush hour traffic on the motorway and we were brought to a halt. The progress was very slow post this. Also there was slight confusion in the route as the GPS asked me to stay on the right lane and while I was driving in the second lane, the road separated from the lane I was to be in. the GPS went mad asking me to turn around, however I continued on the same route and luckily it joined the same motorway. The road is designed such that the first lane goes straight where as the other 2 lanes take a slight diversion and join the same road a little ahead. We then got off the motorway into the lane that housed the hotel. Ideally the route is supposed to take about 2.5 hrs to cover but we took about 3.5 hrs to complete the journey.

We had hired the car only to commute between cities and to drive in the cities. Since parking is a big problem, we decided it would be best to use the public transport when travelling to busy areas.

Day 4

Today was the last day of the trip and we had to drop the car at the airport before checking in for the flight. There is a separate car dropping area where all the rental companies are. This is stored in the GPS and there are signs all over showing that area. We just headed over into their parking area and then got the car checked and paid the excess money we needed to and bid good bye to A6 which had run 990kms with me behind the wheel. Yes you do form a bond with the car even if it was short duration and I felt pretty sad to let her go.
Bharat
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Re: Driving in Austria

Postby Bharat » Thu Jul 30, 2015 7:21 am

Points to be noted-

1. If you are driving through Austria, the car is to have a blue sticker which represent the toll. Our rental agency had provided the car with a valid toll slip. Incase your car doesn’t have it, you can stop at any fuel station and buy it. There is no such checking of the toll sticker, however to be on the safe side I suggest you get one.
2. One thing I realized was that I was the only one maintaining the speed limit at all times. Other drivers must be knowing speed camera locations and hence were taking chances I suppose. I was very clear that I didn’t want a speeding fine on my first drive there and hence was very paranoid with the limits.
3. It does take a good 30-40 mins to get used to driving on the other side of the road if you haven’t done so before.
4. As long as you have a GPS system, you shall not have much problem navigating. Yes it will take some time to get used to the commands of the GPS when there are multiple turns close to each other. But most GPS systems reroute immediately so it will be fine.
5. Parking procedures for every place are different. Kindly find out what the procedure is before parking. Enforcement is very strict and even officers check to see if the parking ticket has been paid for or not. Even with 1 second extra on the clock you shall get a ticket.
6. Each and every road has different lanes for going in different directions. They are marked on the road near a signal. Ensure that you keep an eye out for them. Unlike in our country where people turn from which ever lane they please, it’s not the case there and they don’t expect you to be doing that either so it could cause a crash
7. Roundabout rule is very important. When you enter a roundabout, always stop and look left. If a guy has entered the roundabout from the left before you do, you will have to let him go through. This is critical to follow as the other guy will not stop.
Bharat
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