The drive from Salzburg to Weidach was, well, a bit of a cluster. We were motoring along swimmingly until we stopped for gas just before a 20 km expensive toll tunnel. After getting gas we drove across the street to get some sandwiches and snacks. A few minutes later we were in the $10 tunnel through the Alps, happily on our way. Happily, that is, until Andy suddenly remembered he forgot to pay for the entire tankful of diesel we were burning through as we inadvertently fled he scene of our accidental crime.
Now, I'm a law-abiding US citizen who has a healthy fear of the law in ANY country I'm visiting (I've seen "Locked Up Abroad" and that's the kind of programming that tends to stick with you), so my first thought when my husband turned to me and said "oh s*** I forgot to pay for the gas" was; "we are going to die in an Austrian prison. A long, slow, cold death."
To make matters worse, the moment this occurred to him we were stuck in the tunnel. It was a tense 20+ minutes of driving AWAY from the crime scene without a choice, glancing in the rearview constantly, expecting the Austrian five-oh to take us down. I kept thinking about what a terrible excuse "but officer I just forgot to pay" really is and how best to contact the US Embassy or where the nearest consulate is.
After some, shall we say; "heated" conversation about how best to get back to the gas station to rectify the situation we decided that the cost of going through the tunnel 3 times total ($30+) was just the cost of the mistake and the sooner we got back to the gas station in question and paid up, the better.
30 VERY tense minutes later we pulled up. And saw the Polizei already filing a report. And of course, driving the only Infiniti in the tri-country area, we were recognized immediately and approached. Andy jumped out of the car, passport and credit card in hand (as well as a German/English dictionary with the words "forgot" and "pay" dog-eared.)
I cowered in the car, hoping we could somehow disappear or turn back time to prevent this from happening while Andy summoned his best apologetic Deutsch and attempted to keep us out of jail. But thankfully after enthusiastic apologies in both German and English, and an explanation of the way we typically pay for gas AT the pump and BEFORE pumping in the states, and the fact that there was a Hells Angels group milling around at the station that distracted us (thanks to some pretty scary recent news reports we'd heard about their German contingent the day before) right as we were wrapping up at the pump that distracted us enough to drive off without paying... We paid and got a sign off from the police to continue on our merry way.
Score another point for us in Austro-American relations *facepalm*
Hours later we finally wound our way high into the beautiful countryside and the REAL Austrian Alps. We checked into a brand new boutique-y hotel in the sleepy Leutasch Vally town of Weidach; where the friendly Italian owner upgraded our standard room to a full one bedroom apartment, complete with sprawling deck and an amazing view of said Alps.
We had full access to the (empty) spa on the first floor, so after a mutual happy dance at our good fortune, we spent the rest of the day sweating out the stress of the afternoon in the sauna, steam room and Turkish rosewood bath.
Capped the night off with the best food we'd had since the last time I claimed we had the best food, at a tiny (also empty) restaurant a stone's throw from our door. Had fresh broiled whole trout from the fishery behind the restaurant with a crispy white wine and white asparagus soup. I may have licked my plate.
Feeling pretty blissed out from the spa and the meal, we took a post-dinner stroll around the trout lake out back, watching the giant moon rise through the pine trees in the valley, with the snow-capped alps towering all around us.
Warmed by fuzzy blankets and German cognac we spent the rest of the night on the chaises on our desk watching the moon rise higher and brighter. When the moon at 1am became bright enough to drown out the stars and require shades we packed it in and snuggled into our cozy little temporary home, feeling small and snug surrounded by such an intimidating landscape.