Trip Start Dec 03, 2008
Trip End Oct 14, 2009

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Flag of Austria  , Upper Austria,
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We took a train back into Austria and headed for the Lakes District, another area we were told we must visit! We based ourselves in the town of Bad Ischl. Or as Brian says, Bad Ischl my N-ischl.  There are 4 huge lakes completely surrounded by mountains. It really is beautiful!!! We arrived about 2:30pm and went to the information center where they tried to help us find a place to stay. Usually it doesn't take very long, but we had some major problems. We realized as soon as we arrived that this is no backpacker town and nothing is cheap. She must have called 10 places for us. Most were full or too expensive. So again, we ended up at a little old woman's house - but it was really nice. It was a big, traditional Austrian mountain home. We had quite a hike there but once there we could finally relax on our balcony overlooking the mountains. Very stressful day. It was another case of not being able to communicate with our hosts. The lady and her husband couldn't speak English - which is fine, they were pretty laid back.

They served us breakfast everyday which was nice.  It was basically bread and spreads. Where's the omelets and bacon? Oh we miss that!  Nice breakfast though and the table looked like it was set for a king.  When we sat down, she left and we could hear footsteps upstairs (in our room). We kept wondering what she was doing.  Turns out she was remaking the bed and hanging towels outside, etc.  First time ever someone has cleaned our room, besides being in a hotel.  Actually, I don't think that's normal in a B&B either.

That day we went to Hallstatt.  A famously beautiful town on the water.  We went to the Beinhaus - Bone House. It was a little building behind the main church.  There is a small graveyard, and because of the size they have been digging up bodies since 1600. They let the body stay in the ground for about 20 years, then get the biggest parts out (head and leg bones). They wash and bleach them, then paint the skulls as a way to show respect and stack them all together in this building.  The building is basically full and the last one was added in 1984 I think. It is a very important place to the community and it was a huge honor to get buried in there. As my dad would say, "People are dying to get in there"!

After that we went on a long hike up to a lookout and the salt mine. Really nice climb but I'm getting worn out. Once to the top we had great views of the region and the lake. We also hiked down the mountain - thats probably worse then going up.

Before we had left for Hallstatt I had done a little wash in the sink - underwear and socks, and put them outside to dry. When we returned that evening my underwear was ALL over the room. Our little old lady friend had come into our room again (!) and brought in my stuff from outside. She put them on 2 different radiators, hung them in the bathroom, behind the door, in the closet, everywhere. Brian said it was like an Easter egg hunt. What was she doing in our room again and with my underwear? Best part was I couldn't find one of my socks. The next morning after breakfast I asked her where it might be (in broken German and using my hands) and she left, and came back 15 minutes later with it. Still don't know where exactly she got it from.

For breakfast I decided to have coffee. Austrians know how to make coffee, that is for sure. After yesterday I had to tell her I would just be having tea from then on. I was bouncing off the walls and my heart was racing for hours afterwords. It reminded me of Starbucks Christmas Blend. If you've ever had that, you know what I'm talking about - WAY too much caffeine! But regardless of the racing heart, we still relaxed on our balcony that morning. We also discovered Bad Ischl that day. We hiked up to a church and through some trails in the woods. We spent a lot of time along the river - beautiful, totally clear water coming straight from the mountains. We enjoyed a couple of beers in the park and tried to go see this afternoon concert that kept being advertising. It was supposed to be free but it was inside a really fancy restaurant and I'm sure you had to buy something - I mean 5 Euros for a bite of chocolate! So we passed on that and spent more time on our awesome balcony.
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