Day trip to Hallstatt, Austria

Trip Start May 18, 2007
Trip End Jul 18, 2007

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Where I stayed
Hotel Salzburg

Flag of Austria  ,
Friday, June 1, 2007

Hello all:

We enjoyed a great breakfast at our hotel and headed off to Hallstatt, Austria for a day of sightseeing in Austria's Lake District, Sound of Music country. Hallstatt is Europe's oldest town going back centuries before Christ. There was a Hallstatt before there was Rome. Hallstatt dates back from 800 to 400 B.C. and is known for its Salt Mines (we passed on another salt mine tour - one is enough).

The taxi finally showed and we caught our train to Hallstatt at 10:10am, 50 min to the first stop at Attnang Puchheim for a 20 min wait, change trains and off to Hallstatt, 1.5 hrs. The train stops at a wide space in the road where you hop off and a ferry was waiting to take passengers across the lake to Hallstatt, and the Salzkammergut. Everything was on time and a gorgeous ride through the Austrian Alps.

The weather was cooperating with large white puffy clouds overhead and blue sky and we set off walking the town of Hallstatt. Rick Steves says we can walk this entire village in 10 min and he is right. However, Ryan found some stairs and took the high road for most of the four hours in this cute village. We stopped for lunch because knowing how we operate, we would have gone all day without a crumb. We ate lakeside watching the ducks at Braugasthof Hallstatt, which Laurie claims was her favorite lunch. She had a wonderful crispy salad but the best part was the fresh feta cheese rolled in dill weed (Sammy - I was thinking of you with this lunch as you would have LOVED it), along with a wonderful carrot and orange soup with Austrian dumplings. Ryan had a most interesting salad with HUGE chunks of fried chicken, and warm mashed potatoes covering a bed of salad greens.

We walked the town and after the 10 min we headed... UP! We wandered the steep steps and narrow passage ways through the zimmers (little B&B's up high in the village) overlooking the lake. About 3:30pm huge dark grey clouds started to encircle the village and within a few moments the rain came pouring down! We headed for the charnal for shelter.

The Charnal is a very small room filled with the remains of over 610 of Hallstatts' residents skulls and bones, dating back 500 yrs ago. The oldest skulls are from the 18th century with the newest member placed in 1995, by special request. As you enter the bone chapel, we realized that we will never see anything like this anywhere. In fact, there is not another of its kind and is the largest scientifically researched collection of skulls and bones in the world. All are individually painted, arranged by family lineage including dates of death. Fascinating site and as you would expect, not a big crowd!! :)

We braved the rain storm (jackets were at the hotel in Salzburg) but we had our handy camera bag covers to protect our equipment and they worked great! We were soaked but hopped on the ferry, zipped across the lake and rushed to wait for the train. We chatted with a nice couple from Australia during the wet wait and soon were on the RIGHT train back to Salzburg.

Tonight we found a spot to eat close to the hotel as the rain is here to stay. Tomorrow we head to Interlakken, Switzerland and the Swiss Alps.

Hope all is well with you all!

Today's walk: 4.6 miles
Total for the journey (80 miles, 15 days)

Laurie and Ryan
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