Travel Tips for Austria/Slovenia/Italy
When to Go: It really depends on the snow pack. In 2016 with an shit snow pack... I arrived on May 15th and got immensly lucky for a nice mix of cold weather for glacial runs, rain for snow melt runs and a little heat to bring other summer runs in. Typically this time should be good. For best results hope for a little rain too to bring the Salkammergut region's creeks in. Also, for some of the Otz stuff, summer is typical... even moving into fall, especially for the Wellerbrucke section. Same for Isel stuff.
Entry into Austria/Slovenia/Italy: Passport is of course required... but no Visa for folks coming from the US.
Getting to Austria/Slovenia/Italy: For Austria, Munich is the best airport. For Slovenia and South Tirol (Italy), it starts to be a toss up between Munich and Milan. Nothing is super close, not for major airports anyways. Zurich would even be an option.
River Beta: Info in English is not readily available. But, if you are willing to deal with google translations, the Austrian paddle website (in German) is https://4-paddlers.com/. Additionally there is a French website with some of the runs in this area included. I have found searching it doesnt work well... but the map is great to hunt and peck. eauxvives.org map. Finally, a nice website with a map with gauge links has recently popped up here.
Water: OK to drink from faucets etc.
- You do not need an international driving license... but, rules are changing more and more in Europe, if you get pulled over an international drivers permit ($15 from AAA) are requested. Some rental car agencies are also stating it is a requirement... though to date I have not heard anyone actually be asked for it at the counter. So... better safe that sorry right?
- Tolls are present in Austria, though they were only maybe 40 euro on our entire trip
- In Slovenia, it is the law to ALWAYS have you headlights on. So... do it.
- One final note on driving... be aware your car will likely be a stick (almost all are) and will take Diesel fuel (almost all do). So know how to drive a stick and make sure to put the correct fuel in the car.
- GPS: I found an app called Navfree (now it is called NavMii) which is basically Google Maps but offline. This means that you can search and route your way around the country without internet or a data plan. So that is awesome. It is one map per country and they run 200-500 mb but work great. I also have begun using a map app, Galileo, which allowed me to save the .kml files from my planning (that I have on the website's map section) so we were able to see all the way points and camping spots etc. That map app wouldn't route though so we had to use both apps.
Vaccinations: No extra needed.
Money: Plenty of ATMs that take US ATM cards. Just make sure to tell your bank before you go, in some countries 4 digit pins (no more) are required... Also, even on your credit card, get a pin put on. Also, much of Europe requires credit cards with chips on them. So look into that... Also bring more than one. We had cards work at one spot, and others not... and then vice versa at other locations. Also, just an FYI... Austria, Slovenia, and Italy are on the Euro but nearby Switzerland is on the Swiss Franc. So if you are heading that way, be prepared for both.
Prices: Italy is much cheaper than Switzerland in nearly all aspects. Bring as much across the border with you as possible. Going out is ~2x as expensive. And buying food is ~1.5x. Wine in Italy cost as cheap as 1.5 Euro... in Switzerland the cheapest we found was 8 Franc (~4x). Strangely though, the gas in Switzerland was a smidge cheaper once you take into account the currency differences. Austria and Slovenia were more like Italian prices... so we went out to dinner a fair amount and bought plenty of wine and beer.
Food: Pizzarias in every town. Plus of course Gelato... so good. Nocciallo is my all-time favorite flavor of gelato in in Europe. In Slovenia try the meat... they had a dish (I can't recall the name) which was basically a dish of sausges the size of breakfast sausage. Really good.
Boats: Bring your own... there is nowhere that I know of near these areas to rent. There are a few places 5 hours to the north in Switzerland and Austria... we had Austrian friends bring some out for half of our group. But unless you have contacts such as those it would be a long first day to get the boats in hand.
Accommodations: We camped every night... though not always with a tent. In Austria (like Slovenia and Switzerland) setting up a tent tends to have a "homeless" conentation... because of that, we usually slept in Reiner's van. Unless we showed up late at night or paid for camping. There are plenty of camping spots for pay, typically ~10-15 Euro a night per person, comes with wifi and hot showers usually.
Weather: The weather can be all over the place. We had warm days and cold rainy days. Apparently it was unseasonably cold when we were there... but it happens. We only wanted dry tops 2 or 3 day, the rest we wee glad to have dry suits. So... come prepared for it all!
Random Thing to do: In the Isel area of East Tirol, do the Alpin Coaster in Lienz. At the Soca, stop and look into the Koritnica canyon near the fort as you drive into town, in Italy, visit the Dolimites!
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