Trip to Hallstatt

Trip: This summer we have been invited to visit a Swiss-located branch of our family. We decided to make the trip and see if there are places along the way we might like to visit/explore. And what a trip it was. Well driving long distances sucks – but with the right mix of highways and alpine roads (and some GPS “suggested shortcuts” right through the historic centers of couple cities/villages) it was little less mind-numbing than expected.

Salzburg/Zug: We have decided to make a stop in Salzburg on our way to Zug. We arrived by the nightfall and right into a (by now almost traditional vacation) rainy weather. We managed to grab the last cable car up the castle. With everything already closed and clouds overhead it was an eery walk along the castles fortified walls, towers and staircases. At least there was the cheery atmosphere of a local cemetery that helped to dispell the otherwise gloomy visit of rainy Salzburg :). That said Salzburg is a fine smallish city with sort of a homey feel to it. Very nice stop on our travels.

Arriving in Zug through Lichtenstein and Swiss mountains was the best driving experience of the whole trip. Zug and its historic centre is very nice and very quiet place. Even with a triathlon race in full swing it was like walking through the quiet streets of mediterranean coastal cities just after sunrise. With the best guide there is (our uncle) we strolled through the city and along the shoreline of Zugersee. We have been told about the city, including its mercenary and contemporary history. We have also discussed the Swiss anarchists (people who have the audacity not to list their return address on mail) that plague the area. After all that, being brash Slavs, we forced ourselves into the dwellings of our family members and were met with what I assume is the Swiss equivalent of brandishing a weapon elsewhere – breakfast, cakes and coffee. Thanks guys :). (Note: What is it with Swiss people and concrete? Which is almost a philosophical question – which was answered with uncanny (one would almost say Swiss) precision as well :)).

Hallstatt: We planned to spend the next three days of our trip in the Hallstatt area – and so we did. We arrived at our hotel (in Obertraun) around 1am. Quickly grabbed our hotel card prepared on the reception desk and hit the sack. We got up around 9am and made our way to the breakfast area of our traditional Austrian alpine hotel – filled with Asian guests? We have read about the mock Hallstatt village in China, but this was the first time that made us realize how big this “attraction” is for Asian people*.

Day 1: We grabbed our gear and walked to Hallstatt to see if we can put yet another via ferrata under our belts. While the rain was slowly becoming only a light drizzle wet and slippery rocks and the degree of difficulty of this particular via ferrata have resulted into a careful and humble descent/retreat from just about the midstage of the route. Humbled and wet we got back to our hotel. We walked into a local restaurant in the evening, followed by two of our hotel-mates. After two beers (coffee and a conciliatory ice cream for us) we helped our two lovely hotel-mates (who have underestimated the effects of an Austrian beer) back to our hotel :). Day 2: The weather was clearing up so we decided to rent a plastic kayak and paddle our way accross the Hallstattsee to have a better view of Hallstatt than most. Light (although adventurous for some :)) walk to finish the day off was all we needed. Day 3: Visit of local Saltmines and finally a touristy walk through the picturesque Hallstatt city/village was a great ending of a beautiful trip.

*I am incredibly sorry for putting all Asian people in a single basket. Hallstatt may be nationality or regionally specific interest, I just can’t tell…

Grundlsee: Just about two weeks after our initial trip to Hallstatt we have decided to spend couple nights by another alpine lake close by. This time in a tent and with an inflatable boat already in the trunk of our car. We took the boat out couple times – I even resisted the urge to tip the boat over – which at least in my mind seemed like a fun thing to do :). Visited two Skiing resorts Tauplitzalm (where we successfully conquered a local via feratta) and Loser (where we enjoyed walking among Rupicapra/”Mountain Goats” somewhat of the beaten path). And unwillingly bid goodbye to this awesome place.

The “Hallstatt” Area:  The whole area with its mountain passes and variety of Alpine lakes is mesmerizingly beautiful. It’s safe to say that we fell in love with it. The local nature is exquisite, the lakes are crystal clear, the villages are picturesque, it is a place of undisturbed and overwhelming serenity. Simply put, it is a place to put on your travel-centric bucket list…