Lovely Town by the Lake

Trip Start Sep 11, 2005
Trip End Dec 13, 2005

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hallstatt: A Time of Relaxation

A few years ago Charlie and I went on a Sound of Music tour in Austria. At that time we saw a brief glimpse of the lakes here and decided we wanted to come back. After reading up on the area we decided that we would venture to Hallstatt. We thought it would be a nice get away and time of relaxation. We were right. Originally we thought we would get to swim in the lakes and bask in the sun. As our trip got pushed back so did the warm weather. Here we have brought out our heavy coats and rain gear. The weather has not been the most cooperative.

Amidst the rainy days and gray skies there is still much beauty here. I have known few other places in my life that despite sunshine I can still see beauty and find joy in the scenery. This is a tranquil, graceful place. It is a small town crammed on the side of a mountain, with the lake nestled up beside it, daring it to hold it's place. The houses are built not on streets, but walking paths which lead to them. The one we are staying in is the highest in town, so we have been climbing lots of stairs. I will say the view is exceptional. I enjoy it every time I look at it.

Our first day here we decided to stay a little while and have our plane tickets for Asia sent here. We had been having much trouble lining up future address points, and decided that this was as good as place as any to wait for a package. So we planned on laying low here for awhile. That is exactly what we have done.

Initially we filled our days with the highlights of the town. First, we went to the Salt Mine and wandered around dark caves which told the mysterious history of the town. We then found our way to the incredible Ice Caves. We climbed a very steep walkway which lead to the entrance of this magnificent place. We were amazed at all we saw inside. The temperatures were of course cold and the sights were magnificent. The caves showed evidence of what they had been up to for ages. The water freezing and thawing had left beautiful traces for us to witness. We were so glad we made the trip.

We took a long walk back home since the next bus wasn't coming for a few hours. We were able to meet a fellow backpacker and some students from the states studying abroad in Vienna. We all walked back together swapping stories and cheap places to eat. It was a nice walk.

Since the Ice Caves we have been filling our days with town activities. We did the tourist thing and checked out all the shops and churches. We even went to the protestant church on Sunday. We have no idea what the preacher talked about, but it was good to be in the presence of other believers. The service was followed by a harvest celebration. The kids from the Catholic and Protestant church in town joined together to sing and give thanks to God for the harvest that has been brought in. It was neat to see the community coming together.

Our plane tickets were supposed to come today, but they have not yet arrived. So we have been people, duck, and swan watching. Talking to Fed Ex Austria trying to determine where the package really is, and waiting patiently. God has been talking to us to. It has been enriching to spend time in His presence and talk to Him about all that is happening and all that is ahead in our lives.

We did learn our verses from Thessalonians and have moved on to some new ones. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 But Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

This has been a good reminder for us that our life here on Earth is not about acquiring any things, instead about what we are investing in the future of the Kingdom of God. We have been blessed in so many ways and need to be content with it all. God is our provider and our guide.

We are not sure what tomorrow holds. We hope to get our plane tickets and head off to Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic. From the sounds of things, we will most likely be here another day. It is a beautiful place to spend another day, and thankfully we have a very affordable place to stay. We wish we had a kitchen and some internet access, but we are being content. The house we were staying in is booked, so we have been moved to the summer bungalow. It doesn't have a shower, but it does have a closed in balcony with an amazing view. It is great!

We think we have been here so long that we could now be the tour guides for Hallstatt. Here are some tips for anyone who decides to visit this cozy little town.

Monday seems to be a day of rest, lots of stuff is closed. So try another day.
Restaurants and the Grocery Store close down from 12-3. So make sure you plan ahead for lunch.
There is one place where you can get internet under an umbrella bar. It is only open on nice days and not in the fall or winter months. Just plan on not being connected to the web.
The Ice Caves are incredible, you need to make the hike up. On the weekend the buses are rare, so plan ahead.
If you have never been to a Salt Mine, it is a fun thing to do.
Helga Lenz has a nice place to stay. You don't get many amenities though. You have a warm, spacious, cozy room, with an incredible view. Some rooms have a t.v. with two channels in German. The restrooms are nice and clean and the breakfast is typical, but good. She is a great hostess. It is a good hike up, so it helps with burning those calories.
If you like fish, the head and all, Charlie says the local trout from the lake, Reinanke, is great.
It's a great town to relax and get away from reality, make the trip.
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