Am fortunate to be able to post this report on my most favourite forum.
Am sharing something with you all, that I haven't yet shared with my Mother and Brother back home.
We are a family of 5 on a road trip through Austria,Slovenia,Croatia.
My wife Poonam (50( and me(51) years young. My two daughters Poorva (20) and Priyanka (22) who are with us on most of our International trips and my niece Roma(23) who is travelling abroad for the 1st time, are the characters in this tale.
We have been travelling to various countries in north America, Europe, Africa, South east Asia for last 20 years. Doing road trips through many countries for the past 10 years and have wonderful memories. This is our 10th trip to Europe.This one has a bit mixed feeling.
Our itinerary is as follows:
15th April 17- Mumbai- Zagreb by Turkish flight- Rent a car
16th April- Drive to Grundlsee, Salzkammergut, Austria and stay for 6 nights in our Gold Crown timeshare resort till 21st April.(This is our 3rd visit to Austria. want to see some offbeat places, including my most favourite, Salzkammergut)
22nd to 25th April- 3.5 days in Slovenia
25th April to 6th may- drive through Croatia, back to Zagreb. Give the car back.
Fly out Zagreb- Mumbai.
Got the weather update for Grundlsee that it would be snowing almost all the week, with a bit of showers and may be one sunny day.
16th April- Zagreb to Grundlsee- with a stopover at Ptuj, Maribor (Slovenia) and Graz.
Despite snow alert, we get nice sunny day at Graz.A wonderful city.
Reach Grundlsee at 8.30 pm in the dark, It was drizzling and cold.
17th April- Light snow in the morning. temp 2 C. A bit better by 10. We drive to Salzburg 10.30-
1.00pm. Only at one place do we see snow on the sides. Kids stop and play a bit.
Pleasant 8 to 10C temp. We come back by 7.30pm
18th April- Snowing in the morning. Better by 11am with a bit of Sun and blue sky. We drive to
outskirts of Salzburg. Buy loads of Mirabell Mozart chocolates at Schokolade factory.
A bit of light snowing throughout but nothing on the road. Back by 7 pm
19th april- Snow in the morning. A bit better by 10. we leave for Linz via Gmunden by 10.30.
I asked a local person who was doing some road maintenance about the snow on the
road. he told us that there is no problem. Roads should be clear. If any problem, drive
We reach Linz by 1.30 pm. Do a walking tour. it was very cold. Left by 4 pm.
We were using Here Maps Navigation from Priyanka s phone. It took us through a longer but probably faster Toll route. We came off the main highway that connects Graz. It was snowing lightly even today. On the smaller roads, we could see everything white around.
Twice, the car gave a sign of Skidding. We were slightly worried.
When we took a turn fir Grundlsee, we were 5 km from the resort.
A bird, probably a sparrow was o.n the road and got hit by the car and flew off. I was at 80 kmph. It must have died. Breaking wasn't possible. We all felt bad.
Just when we took a turn to go upwards, around 6pm, something happened that we all will remember for life.
I was driving very slowly as there was a thin layer of snow on the road. We had switched off the music. I stopped fully to pick it up the slope in 1st gear and the car started sliding down the slope.
I applied hand breaks and it stopped. Poonam and kids got down to clear the snow on the road with the rubber blade. No car was stopping by.
I had to just go about 100 meters uphill to reach flat road. Even after full throttle the car wasn't moving. I was trying to go on the tracks formed by other cars, wa slightly at an angle.
That is when I saw a black SUV coming down at a slope in speed. I was hoping that he would control but even after applying breaks and turning to right he couldn't manage his car. I was seeing him come and bang on my car. Head on collision. Those few seconds were the most traumatic in my life. His car banged sideways onto my front with a thud. My airbags busted and my car went back a few yards on the side of the road. We were lucky that there was no valley or a cliff on any of the sides. Poonam and kids could see the accident with their own eyes. I was worried for them and they were worried for me. I was fine and unhurt; but shaken. There was smoked coming out from the right airbag. It was a guy and his wife in the other car. All were happy to see me alive and unhurt.
For the next few minutes, we were trying to get help , request people to stop. No one stopped. I made a call to my car renter and asked the procedure. The guy in the opposite car called up the police. They arrived in 15 minutes with one car and a big taxi. Kids and Poonam took the handbags to the taxi. It s freezing cold. Snowing heavily. About 75 mm snow on the road by then. I sat in the Police car while he took my statement and all the details like car papers, insurance, passport, driving licence etc. He promised me to deliver the Police report to my resort next day before 12 noon. We sat in the taxi and reached the resort. We saw one car abandoned on the roadside, just inside our resort, on the sloping road. We could see some circular track marks in the snow which suggested that it had skid and turned.
Paid the taxi guy 20 Euros.
Reached our apartment and we all hugged each other. We were lucky to be alive and unhurt. Anything could have happened. We called up Tom from Green Motion car rentals at Zagreb from our Whatsapp. He asked me to send some photos. He assured me that he will send a new equivalent car from Zagreb and it would reach me by 12 noon. That was a great relief. we both were happy that I had opted for a Zero Excess insurance. My almost new 2017 Skoda Octavia Stationwagon lived upto its name and reputation as a sturdy and safe car.
My holiday could have turned into a nightmare. I was also cursing myself for dragging my innocent kids into such a situation. I could have cancelled Austria when I saw the weather report a week prior to our trip. We could have sat home today. I relied on the fact that for last 2 days, the snow melted during the day and we could come back easily from Salzburg on both the days.
We had dinner and slept at 9 pm. I took a tablet to get good sleep. Thanked God again while sleeping.
We all will remember this 19th April 2017 all our lives.
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Am fortunate to be able to post this report on my most favourite forum.