Such Great Heights

Trip Start Aug 12, 2004
Trip End Oct 21, 2004

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Flag of Austria  ,
Tuesday, September 7, 2004

It's been a whirlwind tour of Austria; Vienna for two nights, Hallstatt for two, and one night in Salzburg. This is the land of music and mountains, where appreciation of life is in every stranger's face you see, and the smell of falafel wafts from every corner (oh wait, that's everywhere in Europe...) And to top it off, the sun hasn't stopped shining since I crossed the Czech border.

Vienna was beautiful; the locals strewn on benches in all the public parks just go to show that Austrians just get it about how to live. I watched the first half of Mozart's 'Figaro' on a giant screen in front of the towering city hall at Rathaus Platz as a part of the city's annual film festival. And the next morning found me at the Hofburg treasury admiring gems and orbs, gowns and crowns that once belonged to the famous Austrian family.

I have to admit, though, that city life was beginning to get me down, so I booked a train for Hallstatt, home of the world's oldest salt mine, and my own mother's old stomping grounds. The town simply can't be described in non-superlative terms. It only adds to the mysticism that from the train station, you have to take a boat across the lake to get there. On the train there I met a woman who had gone to my high school (holy small world, Batman!) and I toured the famous salt mine with her and her husband.

Pictures simply can't do this village justice. Steep, tree-covered mountains tower over the placid, ice-cold lake, and quaint Austrian cottages seem to rise straight out of the water. I met a lovely girl named Mary from Montana who hiked with me through the steep mountains, under waterfalls and jutting rock, with gorgeous views in every direction.

Simply heavenly.

The short time I had in Salzburg I spent wandering the grounds of the fortress, followed by an organic Indian dinner at the "Spicy Spices" restaurant right around the corner from my hostel. Upon returning to my room, I met Gabriella, a woman from Regensberg, Germany, who told me that she once spent several months travelling the US with a woman from Boulder selling Grateful Dead t-shirts... She also told me about the rooftop patio, from where I watched the sun set over the city.

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