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Hiking the Alps - Austria Part 2

AUSTRIA | Tuesday, 20 July 2010 | Views [555]

Part 2

     Hallstatt is two hours by train from Salzburg and is tucked into another glacier valley providing ample outdoor recreational opportunities in addition to the charming town.  Rick Steve describes this area as “relaxed” where locals focus on life’s pleasures: music, a stroll, pastry, and a good cup of coffee.  We were more than glad to be applying the “when in Roman” theory.  This small village clings to the base of a salt mine.  We parked at the upper parking lot and were greeted by two things: a water fall cascading down behind the parking lot and a statue made of salt highlighting the two things that gave prosperity to the town.  Like small children on Christmas day, we tip toed down the steps leading to town in anticipation of what lay under the shadow of the salt mine.  My legs and toes were feeling the hike from yesterday and from what they were telling me, this village required you to walk up or down to see the place and they were not pleased.  My mind quickly lost focus on the pain and moved to the charming village with churches, a skull showcase, a small square, plenty of benches, great views, and ideal places along the lake to enjoy a pastry and coffee. 

            Hallstatt is on the tourist trail and bus loads and boat loads make their way through town in groups but they seemed to go as quickly as they came.   By late afternoon most of the groups had left leaving a quieter setting in the square before an antique car show drove by. 

We parked the van at a campground on the fringes of town and prayed the rain would give way to a sunny day for the alpine hike.

            The next morning was sunny lakeside but clouds lingered at the top of the Krippenstein station (2109 meters).  The air was cold requiring two layers and a stop for a hot drink.   Turned out the server was from Nepal and I got to practice my Nepali albeit a bit rusty.  The hike on top went past receding glaciers and wildflowers.  This is also a favorite spot for paragliders.  One after another would run off the mountain side and soar around like a bird for hours.

This evening we parked the van at Camp AM See.  I really enjoyed this spot by the lake because it had lots of charm.  The outdoor sitting areas looked like they came straight out of a House Beautiful magazine.  The inside sitting was cozy and dark.  They also provided a café service making it convenient for a late snack or a morning breakfast.  There was also a tree house out front with a bed and desk.  I could have easily stayed another day at Camp Am See but it was time to move on and explore the area.  We stopped in Bad Aussee where they still wear their traditional dress (women wear a Dirndl, a type of dress with a fitted bodice and full skirt and men wear lederhosen) a daily basis and spent the night in St Wolfgang, a lovely spot on Lake Wolfgangsee.  We could not resist hiring a boat to cruise the open water.  The back roads in this area typifies a Sunday drive with farm houses and flowers and steep hills and blue sky.  This whole area is called the Salzkammergut and this would be a place to return during Advent for their Christmas markets.  One town boasts about their Christmas Tree diving event. 

We had an afternoon in Salzburg and started to feel the heat that waited for us in Germany.

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