2014 Hallstatt / by Michael Durr

As I sat on the train from Hallstatt, I could not help but wonder if I would ever be back. The place is straight out of a storybook. The amazing landscape and historic buildings are like nothing I have ever seen. When we arrived it was raining, but it created a majestic environment and an epic introduction to the town. From the train, we boarded a small ferry that took us across the lake.

We stayed at the Braugasthof, which, at one point in time, was a brewery and now serves as a restaurant and guest house. We made our way up the winding, creaking stairwell and found our room. The room was as quaint as the town with a breathtaking view of the lake and mountains.

The food in Hallstatt was amazing. We dined on soups, stews and red wine - which complimented the cold and rainy conditions. We weren't complaining. The rain was not like Chicago rain. It was more of a mist and made the restaurants and warm shops even more inviting.

The town shops closed around 6pm, so after a delicious dinner we made our way back to our room and watched The Neighbors on the laptop. I know, not all that romantic, but we enjoyed it and needed the laugh.

The next morning, I was excited for some non-rainy photos. I woke up at 6am and went on a walk while Lindsay slept. I walked for an hour or so and stumbled upon a beautiful little park along the lake. It wasn't raining, but looked like it could start at any minute. When I returned, I found myself back in bed and ended up sleeping for another hour or so. The sound of rain drops, light chatter, and the brisk temperature made sleeping in the perfect thing to do.

After a traditional breakfast of meat, cheese & bread, we suited up and headed up to the salt mine. They had a very cool lift – a funicular - that took us up the mountain to an amazing outlook point that jetted out over the vast landscape. It was raining more heavily up in the mountain, but the views were still stunning and we didn't think much more about it.

With cold feet and damp clothes, we journeyed into the salt mine. The tour was fascinating. It was fun to learn about the rich history of the mine and the fact that it is still used today. We walked 300 meters deep into the mine. It was chilly, but fun to see the exhibits and use the wooden slides. At the end of the tour, we all got on a rail car that took us all the way out of the mine. I am happy not to have to work in a mine, but I was inspired by the many people who spent their lives working in those conditions.

On our way back to the Brauhaus, we had one my favorite meals of the trip: goulash and bacon filled dumplings. It was the perfect way to warm our boes after the chilly mine tour and damp, brisk walk back to town. After a short break, we walked the rest of the town and visited the historic churches, the cemetery, and the town square. It was still raining on us, but at that point it was like hanging out with an old friend.

Dinner that night was followed by some red wine and a King Ludwig. Then we cozied up and watched NonStop. Again, it was a fun way to relax after the town closed down. (Don't judge us.)

Our final morning in Hallstatt was a memorable one. We walked back to the park I found the previous morning, only this time we were blessed with some sunlight and blue sky. It didn't last long, but it was enough and perfectly timed. Lindsay dipped her feet into the frigid lake and we contemplated jumping in. Ultimately, we decided it was not the best idea since we had so much of our journey left to tackle.

We continued to walk the town, visit the shops, and stopped at a cafΓ© for some pastries, coffee and tea. Then it was back to the ferry and onto the train.

NOTE: I found it super interesting that the Austrian town of Hallstatt was unknowingly replicated in China. Read More...

Use this link for more photos from Hallstatt

Look out Salzburg. Here we come.