This is amusing. When we were drawing up our itinerary for our holiday in Austria this May, I did an image search on Google with the phrase, ‘beautiful Austria’. The laptop screen was instantly taken over by photos of verdant hills, wild flowers, a lake, a church’s tower overlooking the lake. And then, summoning Jayanta up to my screen, I pointed at one of the photos and told him, “I want to spend 2 days in this place.” And before Jayanta could sneer at me, I added, “This will be why I will go to Austria”. Poor guy. Didn’t have a choice. But if you ask me, I think, he was taken in by the beautiful photos too. Another quick search in Google revealed to us the name of the beautiful place. Hallstatt.
And that’s how we planned our holiday in this charming little town of Austria . Scheduled for the last leg of our Austrian holiday, we drove down to Hallstatt from Salzburg, past countryside that is dreamlike. That one feeling that tormented us throughout our Austria holiday – Why am I not riding a cycle or simply strolling in these roads instead of being in a van, train — tormented us now too. For, at every step, we wanted to get out of our van and walk past those green meadows, pretty chalets and charming churches…
Well, we didn’t have to wait long. No sooner did we set foot in Hallstatt did our driver announce that Hallstatt is a town of about 780 families, and that, there is no public transport inside the mini town by the lake. We were overjoyed!
And thus started our dream-come-true tour of the little town that overlooked the deep Hallstatt lake. We strolled past its lovely houses, stopped by its pretty gardens and admired the flowers, took a ferry to cross the lake and went over to the other side to walk past a hamlet so quiet so beautiful that we envied the residents. Much of our two-day stay in Hallstatt was spent in feeding the swans in the lake, trekking lofty hills, stopping by wild flowers, blowing dandelions, exploring its age-old salt mines deep inside the hills, eating some of the best pastries or simply licking ice-creams while sitting by the lakeside….
Over and above these dream-like experiences, we had one pleasant experience waiting for us. The feast of Corpus Christi, that celebrates the belief in the body and blood of Jesus Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, fell on the Sunday that we were there. Every resident of the town, dressed in their traditional clothes, walked up to the charming church, for the morning ceremony and choir singing. From there, the procession came down to the town square, and finally got into decorated boats for a tour of the lake. An exclusive experience for those who had come visiting the town. We, the wide-eyed visitors, were happy for this wonderful opportunity that allowed us a peek into the Hallstat world.