Thurs 2 Jun 2016. Scharding to Hinterbruhl
Woke early to a drizzling grey day. Given the extensive flooding in Germany we are wondering whether the planned tour on the worlds biggest underground river in the old gypsum mines at Hinterbruhl might be a "washout".... (Will try to find out, and maybe head for Julia and Eskil’s friend Hannelore at Marchegg instead). For today BoyRob prefers to pay toll/vignette and stick to highway rather than all the little windy roads requiring heads down following our Pocket Earth app across Austria. Said our goodbyes and thanks to Michael.
Bought fuel and a vignette for ten days and stuck it on windscreen. Along highway to Linz had a breakfast sandwich and checked wifi emails and incoming family photos. Steady traffic, not unending stream of trucks as yesterday. Views cut off by high fences, dividers or forested edges. GirlRob took the driver’s dictation to Grant re advice on fan wiring (fuse? melted wires?) and to Kym re Grant’s email address! Rain comes and goes. So much of wheat crop fallen over. Lines of topiary looking trees on far hills dividing paddocks into neat squares. Passed a crazy painted house, then the huge Schallaburg Castle near Melk.
Drove into pretty Hinterbruhl in the Vienna Woods, looking for parking for SeeGrotte, largest subterranean lake in Europe. Drove to entrance to forest walks on top of hill for a salad and crispbread lunch. Watched black sheep and white sheep jostle one another to move herd’s location to munch grass. "Better over here", "No, better over there"...
Drove down to SeeGrotte in time for underground tour of abandoned gypsum mine, grey and red gypsum was mined for agricultural fertiliser. It was a cold 9⁰ walking along 450 mt entrance tunnel, very slippery underfoot. Our spiffily dressed tour guide escorted way, explaining in German and English how 7 springs fill the mine with 60,000lts water every day, so mine is pumped out every night. Cutaway shafts demonstrated mine life along way eg ponies who pulled ore carts or powered hoists were blind because they were always kept underground in the total darkness. Saw mine chapel and enormous gallery dedicated to St Barbara patron saint of miners. The Vienna Choirs have played here, and would have been quite moving. The blue lake had the most amazing reflection in it's perfectly still waters. Dungeon bars, gilt dragon boat, and long gallery with fireplace were props built in to the caves for Walt Disney production of Three Musketeers. Most fascinating for BoyRob was the subterranean factory taken over by Germans in WW11 to produce Heinkel parts, and the worlds first jet - the HE162. Fortunately for the western world it was not finished in time for the war. Labour was supplied from concentration camps. Finale was the boat tour itself in and out of caverns gliding over still waters, not all that deep. Wanderoos voted it a worthwhile experience, realising it was the first one we actually chose for ourselves on this leg of GlobalTrek.