We were to be stationed in Hallstatt for two days. So far, our Austria trip, had covered all the sight-seeing spots – from the streets and museums of Vienna, to the Schonnbrunn palace, to the magnificent abbey in Melk and the curious towns of Durnstein and Krems, to the historical Salzburg and the quaint Innsbruck, to the material Swarovski world and the highest mountain in Austria, Grossglockner. At the fag end of our Austria holiday now, we had wanted to savour that bit Austria which lay in the hills and meadows, amongst lakes and wildflowers. Which is why, we had planned a two-day stay in Hallstatt, a land so beautiful, that your heart wants to cry…..
We, as a family, are a strong believer of the adage, “Journey is the destination”. Nowhere is this truer than in Hallstatt. Here, ‘sight-seeing’ is a misnomer. You don’t go sight-seeing in Hallstatt. Beauty is all around you. What you need to do here, is walk. Walk aimlessly, endlessly….
We did that and were rewarded with so many sights, so many experiences that you are driven to a state of peace and contentment. The day we had arrived from Salzburg was a beautiful morning. Not wasting any time at the hotel, we set out for a quick round of coffee and refreshments and then, walked up and down the little town, between many scoops of ice-cream, many times over, stopping by every little shop selling lovely curios, by every house with that lovely garden and beautiful windows.
Lunch, was at the pier, overlooking the lake. As we sipped beer and wine, and looked towards the other end of the lake, we were enticed. A quick enquiry with the restaurant staff helped make up our minds — we decided to take the half-hourly ferry, go over to the other side and then walk up to the little town through the woods that looked so so so picturesque.
The ferry ‘Stefanie’ across Hallstatt Lake costs Eur 2.50 per person one way. Once on the other side, we loitered in those woods and meadows for the rest of the afternoon. We walked by the train line, stopped to feed ducks, play with a dog, lie down in a meadow filled with wildflowers, checked out the simple yet beautiful homes of the residents….and when the sun was about to reach the western horizon, we hopped into a train to get back to the ferry station and took the next ferry back to Hallstatt. Simple.
The next morning, we were in for a big luck — Hallstatt was all set to celebrate Corpus Christi, commemorating Jesus’s Last Supper. Entire Hallstatt turns out in their traditional best, walks up to the Catholic Church for the Holy Mass, then walks down to the town Square to offer hymns and flowers at the Cross, and then proceeds in a long procession towards the lake where they get into boats singing hymns and playing music all the while. We were mesmerised…! Nothing, nothing had prepared us for this lovely spectacle…(Read in detail about the Corpus Christi celebrations in Hallstat, Austria)
By 11.30am, a little hungry, we sauntered into a very warm-looking bakery Bäckerei Maislinger Barbara. And were stunned by the large number of bakes up for grabs. We went berserk buying patties and pastries, got them packed and walked up to the bus stand end of Hallstatt to eat the bakes while gazing at the decorated boats on the lake.
Suitably satiated, and armed with a few more items in the bag, we set out for the Salt Mine exploration. The mine tour stats from the top of the Hallstatt hills, and we decided to trek down once the tour was over…Probably the best decision of our lives! We walked down the mountain path chasing butterflies, clicking wildflowers, admiring the view down below and thanking the Lord for such a beautiful day and experience…(Read in detail about the Salt Mine Tour in Hallstat, Austria)
Upon reaching the market square, we quickly washed up at our hotel, went for another round of coffee and cakes, and then suddenly decided to go for a boat ride on the Hallstatt lake. The lake, surrounded by hills on all sides, is deep and eerily still. The hourly charges of the boats are around Eur 15 – and you have the option of 300 or 500 cc boats. Pretty easy to navigate, we rode unto the far end of the west, towards the little chalets dotting the meadows, and road back just before the sun called it a day. Once again, do not hurry with the ride. The opposite end of Hallstatt has a pretty train station. While taking the boat ride, look out for the trains passing by.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself muttering ‘picture perfect’……we did that all the time while loitering in Hallstat…..
P.S: For a complete Austria itinerary and tour details, read — A Perfect Summer Holiday in Austria