Hallstatt - Austria's Mountain Treasure

Trip Start May 30, 2012
Trip End Nov 07, 2012

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Flag of Austria  , Upper Austria,
Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hallstatt! Finally I have seen you! I have been so excited to visit Hallstatt ever since I read about it in a Rick Steve's book. It was just as picturesque as I had imagined! But, I am getting ahead of myself. I simply must tell you about our journey over! So we left Bratislava on the train (first class Kit Kats again!) and arrived in Salzburg in the afternoon. We didn't do any sightseeing that day because we wanted a full day to see Salzburg. So we got up early the next morning and took the bus to Bad Ischl to catch the train to Hallstatt. Hallstatt is situated right in the heart of Austria's Salzkammergut, which is similar to the most beautiful parts of the Shuswap, British Columbia area. Our train from Bad Ischl was delayed and then re-routed to a different town because of rail problems. In all the confusion we ended up meeting the cutest Austrian couple and their dog who were on their way to a long hike. Did I mention they were probably around 88 years old?! And the man was wearing the traditional Austrian hat! Their dog was named Deanna and she was also old, but she had more trouble stepping onto the train than they did! Anyways, once we got to the different town we had to get in a taxi bus that took us the rest of the way to Hallstatt. The driver was crazy and was driving the short twisty mountain roads so fast that I thought for sure I would throw up. But we made it!! At last, Hallstatt! It was so pretty and cute and so very Austrian. It was quite busy though, packed full of Asian tourists with their colourful sun umbrellas, but we made our way through the peace signs to the town centre. First thing first, we had to book it to the salt mines because we arrived later than anticipated. We, being budget travelers and all, decided we would hike up the mountain. I made it half way. Haha. We already knew I wasn't going in the salt mines (my huge fear of caves/caverns and all) so I left Ryan at these really steep stairs and instead hiked over to a pretty waterfall, safely above ground. Now I had plenty of time to pass away taking pictures and putzing around the town. I loved every minute of it! I also went in to an old bone chapel inside a Catholic church. Very cool. The bones were from around the 1700's when they ran out of room to bury the dead underground. So after the bone chapel, I met up with Ry and we took a ferry across the lake to the train station (which was working again). And that was our lovely day in Hallstatt! 


Now Ryan's turn.

Hallstatt reminded me a lot of hiking in the mountains back home. It had all the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, but with European architecture and Austrian culture. Aside from Hallstatt's beauty, it is home to the oldest salt mines in the World, and I had the opportunity to go in those mines. The salt mines entrance is located near the top of a mountain, and so, trying to keep to our budget, I decided to hike to the top of the mountain instead of take the tram car. I'm glad I did. The hike itself (although I think I lost about a quarter of my body weight in sweat) was worth the trip to Hallstatt. But going into the salt mines is probably one of my top highlights of Austria. We were given clothes that made us look like prison inmates, but they were needed to keep the salt off. We walked deep into the mountain in tunnels that you could only fit two people side by side. The temperature was a constant 8 degrees celcius, so that was a nice relief from the heat. We were taken on a tour with little presentations along the way in different caverns. There was one cavern that had a pool with 27% salt content. It was all lit up and one of the presentations was a light show story in that cavern. But the coolest part was a slide that we took to the different caverns and the little tram we rode to move through the tunnels to get out. I was just as excited as all the little kinders for that part.

I headed back down the mountain a different way than I came to see some different spectacular views and met back up with Jess. Sorry I only have pictures of the mountain and salt mine on my camera so I won't be able to post them on the blog. You will just have to see them when we get back.


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mm on

jessica+caverns=apoplexy; good thing you didn't take her

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