Extreme European Adventure: Hallstatt Salt Mines and Salzburg (June 24-25, 2014)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Due to some fairly heavy rain, we opted not to head out to Salzburg right away and instead visited the Hallstatt salt mines.

The Obertrauner Hof held our bags after we checked out so we could explore.

We opted not to take the umbrella they offered (which was a mistake on my part), so we were pretty drenched by the time we got to the salt mines even though we walked as quickly as we could. We went up the cable cars to the top of Hallstatt. We even passed people who had gone up on a cable car well before us on the trek up the mountain.

When we reached the top, we quickly realized everyone else must have had the same idea as us about escaping the rain. We had an hour and a half wait to go inside, but it gave us a chance to dry off a bit.

The salt mines provide a coat check and some jumpsuits to protect your clothes. We looked rather stylish in them (in my estimation).



Despite being chilly, I really enjoyed the salt mine tour. Hallstatt has the oldest working salt mine in the world. They tell you about the progression of salt mining through the centuries. The present day evaporative brine system is far easier than the system used to be...not to mention cleaner. It works much like current day oil and gas mining.

Walking through the cave system, you definitely see salt. Kris, in his infinite wisdom, decided to take some directly from the wall. Yum...

The cave/tunnel system here is huge, but you get the feeling people weren't incredibly tall.

We also got to see some old mining equipment.


Some of the tour "film clips" were really well done. They had some laser light shows set to music, some actual film clips with English subtitles, and used a variety of effects to keep everything interesting.



We also got to ride two slides that the miners would use to expedite their descent into the caves. The first was a warm-up slide which Kris and I rode separately.
The second was a super long fast slide that Kris and I rode together. We were clocked as going over 30kph (or over 18mph). It was FUN!



Our tour guide was a pretty young lady that reminded me of my sister's friend Norah in appearance. She seemed to seamlessly go back from German to English. I thought the way she handled the language translations was well done. She would give smaller descriptions in each language and switched back and forth often so you were never lost too long.

We walked through a lot of the cave system, so, at the end, you get to ride a really fast and long train back to the start. It was also a lot of fun. You really have to watch your head though so you don't get clocked.


When we came out from the tour, the rain had stopped. The clouds were still looming in the air, so we had a very different view of Hallstatt than before.

We leisurely descended the salt mines snacking on some awesome chips called Pommels before realizing that we were going to miss the ferry.

We quite literally ran across Hallstatt to make it to the ferry with a minute to spare. Had we missed it, we would have had to wait an hour and a half for the next one.

We got back to the Obertrauner Hof, got our bags, and headed to the train station to catch the train to Salzburg with one easy transfer at Attnang Puchheim.

After arriving in Salzburg, we walked the 10 minutes from the station to our hotel for the evening - the Atel Hotel Lasserhof.
Our room at the Atel Hotel Lasserhof

We got a nice room, but we'd been hoping to do laundry. Turns out they did not have a laundry facility for us to use like Orbitz advertised.

We wandered around town looking for a grocery store to buy dinner, found discounted salad mix, and made some terrible bathroom salads for dinner. First time Kris found something too spicy for him...and it's some type of lettuce in the discount Asian salad blend. It bothered his sinus cavities, but it had no impact on me. The strawberries were phenomenal though!
Bathroom salad anyone?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

After waking up, we partook in the free breakfast provided by the hotel. The cold food was okay, but the hot food was cold and milk was room temperature.

We stored our bags with the front desk agent and went off to explore Salzburg on foot.
Skitler in Salzburg

I wish I could say I was more impressed with Salzburg, but it is largely just a city. I liked the market area, Mozartplatz, and Residenzplatz for people watching.







There were some talented musicians at Kapitelplatz. One was even playing an instrument I've never seen before.


One of my favorite things about Salzburg, although it only took seconds to see, were the horse baths at Kapitelplatz. It was very interesting to me to see this magnificent structure built for the purpose of wading horses through for a bath.

We did stop by the Salzburg Cathedral, St. Peter's Cemetery, St. Peter's Abbey, and Franziskanerkirche.

Incredible detail work








Kris pointed out the traditional Catholic chalk markings on the door of some buildings. The drawings reference the year, the wise men (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar), and the cross.

We spent the majority of our time exploring the Mirabell Palace Gardens of Sound of Music fame. I made sure to sing "Do Re Me" in the park.


While there, we saw a small group of students putting on a play.

After Mirabell Gardens, we went to the top of the very tall Kapuzinerberg Hill to the site of the Kapuzinerkloster Monastery with good views of Salzburg.


So many stairs!

We made sure to walk on Steingasse to see the narrow street and some street art.






We also make sure to catch the birthplace of Mozart as well as one of his old homes before it started raining on us, and we decided to head back to the hotel to grab our stuff. We had to be at the train station by 2pm to be picked up by CK Shuttle for our ride to Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic.

I looked like quite the babushka walking to the train station in the rain.

(June 25th to be continued...in another country.)

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