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[Hallstatt, Austria]

From Linz, we took a direct train 2.5 hours to Hallstatt, which proved to be one of the most beautiful places we saw on our whole trip. The scenery along the railway was just awesome, everything so green and huge mountains rising up just like you see on the postcards.

At about 10am we arrived to Hallstatt Railway Station, which is actually on the "wrong" side of the lake compared to the town. There is a boat/ferry station right there to take you across to the town. There's a boat every 45 mins or so, and it's only a couple of Euro to get to the other side. Coming down the short path from the railway station to the ferry dock, you are met with a wonderful view across the lake, it really does look just like on the brochures with the reflection on the water.

When the ferry lands at Hallstatt the dock and the church is right in front of you, and you walk to your left to get to the main town centre. It's a really small place, so when I say "town centre" it's really only a few shops, there isn't anything huge in the centre.

Our lodging was called Gruner Anger, a small family B&B type place. It's about 10-15 min walk from the ferry dock and there is the opportunity for many nice photos along the way. We checked in and left our bags, no problem.

Half an hour later we were at the base station for the Furnicular Railway up to Salzwelten Hallstatt (Salt Mine). The Furnicular is modern and clean, it's a LONG and STEEP ride and Briony was scared but I was watching out the window for the wonderful view. I think I was as excited as Briony was terrified!

The Furnicular takes only 3-4 minutes, and then you have a 20-minute walk up the hill to the miner's refuge. Here there is a tourist office and you have to get dressed in green overalls before you can go into the mine. The tour guide leads the group into the mine and the tour lasts for about an hour. Our tour guide spoke excellent English, and the tour commentary was very good. We saw many interesting things in the mine, the best thing was definitely the slides.

The miner's slide is a smooth wooden rail, and it lets you slide from the top level down to the next lower level in the mine. It it so smooth that you just lay down and you go very fast. Of course they have a camera there to photograph you on the way down, and they try to sell you the photograph afterward but like most of those action photo things the cost of the photo is quite high. I don't think any of the tourists actually purchased a photo.

When the tour was over we were brought out by small train, and then we walked back to the furnicular to take us down the hill.

We walked into the town, and up round the back of the main square. The hill is so steep here but there is a good footpath that goes past some private residences. We ended up at the roadway at the top, and we walked round to the church and the bone museum. This is a small room with many hundreds of skulls, as the town cemetary is so small that they only keep the skull of the person. Entry to the bone museum was via gold coin donation to an old lady out the front.

After our visit to the bone museum and the cemetary, we could not help but take some more photos in this wonderful place...

Once we'd taken a stack of photos, we went back to the hotel room to leave our daypacks. Then we walked back towards town and we stopped at a B&B called Brau Gasthof so we could eat. I had roast of the day and a local beer which was excellent, and Briony hast Gnocchi Pasta.

Back at Gruner Anger we checked our email, looked at some photos and got an early night. The next morning we had to get up at 6:00 so we could get our boat at 7:00 and the train to Werfen at 7:30.

Next : Werfen, Germany
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