The drive is about 50 miles. Allow three hours for sightseeing and picture-taking stops. As with any Yellow Roads drive, you will need a detailed map. Use the Österreich Die Generalkarte #2 with a scale of 1 to 200,000; one centimeter equals two kilometers. These maps carry the official stamp of the Austrian Automobile-Motorcycle Touring Club and can be purchased in Austria for about $6.00 at book-stores and many service stations.
We also recommend the Michelin Green Guide for Austria. It gives this automobile journey two stars. Why they withheld the third is a mystery; perhaps they haven't been there in autumn.
The journey is through some of the most uninhabited country in Austria. In this case, uninhabited is a relative term. Along most country backroads in this part of the world there is a town or village every four or five kilometers. Only in that sense is this area "uninhabited;" it is not uninhabited in the same way as the Texas panhandle. Therefore, you may wish to take one or two simple precautions:
- Fill your fuel tank at Mariazell or Hieflau. There are few places to do so along the way.
- Purchase food and drink for a picnic lunch before setting out. We saw few restaurants, but several lovely spots for picnics.
Though yellow is the color map makers used to mark most of the narrow, country roads of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, this tour is over a road marked in red, meaning a federal road "with priority." We take that to mean a highway repaired and cleared of snow before a federal road "without priority." Nevertheless, the journey from Mariazell to Hieflau in the Austrian province of Styria is unarguably over sleepy backroads.
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