Thursday, October 13, 2011


Last weekend we went to possiblythe most beautiful place in all of Austria: Hallstatt. It is this tiny town settightly between a lake and a mountain. After a few hours on the S-bahn from Westbahnhof we arrived at theHallstatt stop and took a ferry for 2,20 across the lake. I couldn’t help but feel likeHarry on his first trip to Hogwarts, exiting the train and climbinginto a small boat that would take him to a new and enchanting place amid themountains.

When we reached the other side wetook the papers with the address of where we were staying (we were not all inthe same place as nowhere reasonably priced was large enough to accommodate usall) and Brother Minert left us with the challenge to find our way on our own!Other than the fact that it was freezing cold and my feet were soaking wet, itwas a fun little adventure. After asking several people and turning downseveral wrong streets, we (we being me and 4 other girls) finally found HausLidy, the B&B we would be staying at. It was a cozy little place and we hada room with 5 beds with a small bathroom to share.
After we were more or less settledin, and all hopes of our feet drying before we departed again had vanished, weset out for the famous Hallstatt Salt Mine! The tour of the mine was 16- andthe ride in the tram was another 6-, so while everyone else took the tramBreanne and I took the scenic hike up the mountain. It took quite a while butit warmed us right up! The only problem was we weren’t aware that the last tourof the day was starting soon so we ended up being a few minutes late! Luckilythe ticket sales lady at the bottom had informed the people at the top of ourarrival, so they were ready for us. A mine worker got us our very fashionablemine suits and we literally jogged through the first tunnel and took a shortcut to catch up with the rest of the group. (as we ran through the tunnel with the tracks on the floor, I couldn’thelp but be reminded of Gringott’s and Harry’s own decent through similarpassages.)
We caught up just in time to view avideo about the history of the mine. We learned that the salt was very crucialin the initial success of this cute little town. Salt is a very important anduseful mineral after all. After the video we watched a short demonstration ofhow salt came to be in the mountain in the first place (You know weathering,evaporation of salty lakes and such). Then came the very interesting way thatthe miners got around: the slides! The miner outfits they put us in had specialmaterial on the butt/back that was made to give you a smooth ride. It was likea great big water slide without the water or the wedgie. It was great fun.
After that we came upon a cave witha lake and some changing lights. When thelight across the lake turned green I imagined I was in the cave where Voldemortleft one of his horcruxes. I even said, “accio horcrux” aloud but of coursethere was a protective spell keeping the locket from my grasp. There was avery entertaining laser show that showed the history of the miners with somenice background music. I tried to take pictures but none of them turned outvery well.
Finally we got to see the pumpswhere they actually extract the salt from the mountain. There is thisdouble-tubed machine that simultaneously pumps water into the mountain to raisethe salt and pumps out the salt. It was very interesting.
On the way out we all boarded amini train and rode back out into the rain! It was definitely a wonderful tourand I enjoyed it very much. Thank you salty mountain for bringing me thebeautiful town of Hallstatt.
After our mine trip Breanne and Iwalked back down the mountain while the rest of the girls took the tram onceagain. They had all gone their separate ways once they reached the bottom soBri and I had really no idea where anyone was… So we wandered!
After a few minutes we came uponthe boys playing on a giant outdoor chess set. (Giant chess set?! I mean come on, was Harry Potter based on thisplace?) It was really cold but we didn’t have anything to do so we watchedas Josh slowly took out all of Stephen’s pieces. Stephen likes to think he putup a good fight.
We had some yummy pizza at a smallrestaurant for dinner and then moved to the boys’ B&B to play cards becausethey had a kind of dining room there. After some debate we finally decided toplay scum and had a wonderful 3 hours trying to thrust each other down to thescum position. I never made it to King :(
Saturday started bright and earlyas Breanne is very much a morning person, and we were sharing a bed. There was a chapel at the top of a hill with a room full of special people's painted skulls. And I found a familiar name!

We spentthe rest of the day wandering the town and taking pictures and freezing to death! We stoppedin a little café and got hot chocolate! They even let us keep the mug as a souvenir!
Even though my feet were numb, I enjoyed every second we walked aroundbefore taking the ferry back to the train and heading home. I thoroughlyenjoyed Hallstatt and I am extremely glad we went there!

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