Saturday, vienna to Hallstatt
We had our last breakfast in Vienna and soon our taxi arrived. We were off to the train station where we started our vienna adventure.
The train station was so lovely and clean. I bought a new tooth brush. Mine was history. I like buying a toothbrush in a foreign country and keeping it in my travel bag. This means it will last for a really long time and I can remember where I bought it whenever I use it.
We did not have reserved seats on this train but we found good seats without any trouble. We took the somewhat slower but direct train so we were able to settle in with our books. I wrote the last blog entry on the train. We brought a little food with us so we did not buy anything on the train.
We arrived at a wide spot at the tracks right on schedule. There was a boat waiting for us to take us across the lake to our final destination. I think almost all the other passengers on the boat were Chinese. It seems that the Chinese have fallen in love with Hallstatt. We were told that there is a replica in China. It was fun to listen to laughing and joking in Chinese. The group was mostly women and a lot of them would end up staying in our little hotel.
Hallstatt is a precious small town of 800 people. At one time in the big salt era there were 5,000 people but I don’t know where they put them. The village is squeezed between the lake and the mountains with one somewhat level road. Everywhere you walk you hear water moving with a slightly different sound. A water symphony follows you when you walk and sings to you when you stop and listen. Can you tell I love it here? We are staying at Gasthof Simony. We pulled this place right out of a story book. We are on the second floor with a small balcony over looking the lake. I am having a preview of sitting on my bedroom porch at home. The rail is holding window boxes of red geraniums. I will do this at home to remember this spot. We have squeaky wooden floors and furniture. Everything talks to us. Austria knows how to do pillows and comforters. What a glorious spot.
We walked up about a million steep steps to the thing I wanted to visit most. Above the Catholic Church, dating from the 1500s there is a chapel of skulls. This might sound weird but then maybe I guess it is. Since there is so little land, you can imagine that grave space is rare. The deal was that you could have your grave for ten years. Then they would dig you up and dispose of your bones. Your loved ones would paint your skull. There are different paintings for different meanings. Roses were for love. There are hundreds of these skulls. I thought this was really cool. Then we walked up still more steps to St Michael’s chapel. This is a very small chapel and we had it all to ourselves. It also dates back to the 1500s.
We walked around town some more. We needed more steps. We visited a cute little shop and wandered down stairs. We found ourselves in Roman ruins. I kid you not. The story goes that the store keeper wanted to install a new heating system and found ruins. You can imagine the chaos this caused. Suddenly he was in the midst of an historic dig. He just turned it into a little museum that is under his store that you get to wander in for free.
We had dinner in the out door restaurant that is part of our hotel. When we sat down there were other people there but we closed the place. We actually carried our dishes to the kitchen. This was another special night.