You can find Hallstatt in Austria by the lake of the same name. Its houses are crammed into a small space under limestone rocks, some partially built on stilts sunk into the lake. You can best appreciate this beauty, which was rightly included in the list of UNESCO protected monuments, when viewed from the lake.
Whether you go on a tour by steamboat or a typical traditional wooden oblong fuhre boat, which nowadays no longer carries salt but tourists, you will have a romantic view from the deck. And not only to Hallstatt, but also to Grub Castle from the 11th century on the opposite side. You will learn from the guide that the ruin was acquired in 1970 by a certain Franz Josef. He reconstructed the castle and saved it from collapse. Since then, it has been privately owned and can only be viewed by visitors from the lake.
On the way, you will stop above the deepest point, which is under the railway bridge. The depth reaches an unimaginable 125 meters. Swans and ducks cross the ship’s path many times. They like it here too.
The anti-selfie barrier in picturesque Hallstatt only lasted a moment
But even a walk through Hallstatt itself has its own charm. The streets are narrow, so only locals are allowed to drive here. All streets lead to the square, which historical sources claim was created in the 14th century.
Most of the town houses guarding it date from the 16th century, and the column of St. The Trinity in the middle was built in 1743. You will certainly be charmed by the fruit trees that grow around the houses. There is no space left for the garden, and yet the trees bear fruit.
The parish church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary from the 16th century looks down from the rock onto the roofs of the houses. To the north of the church there is a cemetery and an ossuary in it. Since there was not enough space in the cemetery, human remains were dug up every 10 years, symbols with the date of death were painted on the skulls, and they were placed in an ossuary. Today, there are over 1,200 skulls in the ossuary, half of which are painted.
But the big attraction is the local Salzwelten salt mines, where salt was mined as early as seven thousand years ago. From the town it is possible to take the very steep Hallstatt cable car to them or go up the hill on foot. On the Salt Mountain at a height of 838 meters above sea level, be sure to go to the Skywalk platform, from where you will have a view of the lake and a different view of Hallstatt. This time from above.
There is also the Rudolfsturm observation deck restaurant, which invites you to sit down. However, I’m rushing to the mines. Just be careful, the constant temperature in the tunnels is 8 °C, so it pays to have a jacket. You will spend about two hours underground. At the entrance, you put on a protective shirt and trousers in white so that you don’t accidentally get dirty. For three euros you can also have an audio guide in Czech. And then you descend into the interior of the mountain. In two places, a slide will speed up your descent. It is wooden. It is ridden astride, arms crossed over the chest. So that you can’t brake with them and don’t get hurt.
The first is short, but the second is the longest in Europe. It measures 66 meters. It goes slowly while sitting, while lying down you can reach a speed of up to 30 km/h. You can buy a photo as a souvenir, so don’t forget to smile on the slide. For the weak, there is a staircase next to the slides.
On the way through the tunnels you will see salt crystals, salt from different mines to compare, prehistoric artifacts found here by archaeologists. There is also a cinema about the history of the mines and a play of lights above the underground lake. You will then be taken out of the mine by the mine train that used to transport the miners. The entrance fee is 25 euros (roughly 600 crowns), with the cable car 36 euros (roughly 850 crowns), but it’s worth it!
Mixture of spices
A short distance from Hallstatt, we recommend a stop in Bad Goisern, where it has its own Cook and Grill factory with Marcel Ksoll spices. He is an Austrian celebrity because he took part in a TV show called Den D, where an entrepreneur presents his project and tries to interest five investors enough that one of them invests their own money, time and valuable contacts in his business.
Marcel succeeded and his manufactory has enjoyed great popularity for many years. He owns several gardens where he grows regional organic herbs. From them, he then mixes unique mixtures of spices without any artificial ingredients, whether for fish, game, steaks, chicken, etc.
His daughter, who is blind, helped him prepare the right conditions. She was guided by her sense of smell and taste and believes that she has these senses much more developed than others due to her handicap. When you taste the steak with spices from Marcelo, you will agree with her. You’ve never had a better steak.
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Marcel employs not only his daughter, but also other disabled people who fill spices into reusable glass jars. And since he made a living selling grills before opening the manufactory, he organizes grilling courses. Those interested will learn how to properly grill and, above all, how to season.
If you are an early riser, don’t miss the sunrise on the Krippenstein mountain. At half past six in the morning, the first cable car departs from the town of Obertraun and takes you up to a height of 2100 meters above sea level. Before dark, you can go with a group of equally eager tourists to the viewpoint called 5 Fingers.
It rises like an outstretched palm above a 400-meter-deep chasm. From here, you can watch the morning sun quickly emerge and bathe the Dachstein Glacier in sunlight. It also lights up the grazing sheep, which announce their movement with bells around their necks. You will hardly experience anything more romantic. Or you can watch the sunrise from another vantage point, the world heritage spiral Welterbespirale, which also offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding peaks.
The price of this trip also includes breakfast in the Gjaid Alm mountain hut, where you can taste regional products in the form of a buffet. For the experience, however, it is necessary to book in advance at the information center.
Up for e-bikes
If you have an electric bike, you should take it with you. Alternatively, it can be rented at Sportzentrum Gosau. From the town of Gosau, you can take the red route up and climb to Plankenstein. Just before the summit, hop off your bike and head to the Löckermoss lake, inhabited by salamanders. It is hidden in the middle of moors and marshes, so a wooden walkway leads to it. You’ll feel like you’re at the end of the world here.
The ubiquitous cows and sheep will look after your bike. Along the way, you will come across quarries where stone was mined for grinding wheels. You can refresh yourself in the Rossalm mountain hut, which is located in the middle of pastures. The floral decoration shows how much love they take care of the cottage here. And not only about her, but also about her guests. Homemade cheese dumplings with salad taste delicious, as do pancake jerky with apple puree.
The sunken region is home to one of Austria’s most bizarre traditions
- Salzwelten are open from April to November. The cable car to Salt Mountain is in operation from March to December.
- In the summer months, guided tours of Hallstatt are always held on Mondays and Saturdays. They are in German and English. It is also possible to borrow an audio guide from the tourist office.
- You can buy a discount Salzkammergut Erlebniss Card in the tourist center to save money. It costs about 5 euros.
- Interested parties can find information on Marcel Ksoll’s grilling courses at www.cookandgrill.at.
- More information at www.dachstein-salzkammergut.cz
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