When we were in Austria, we visited the town of Hallstatt. Hallstatt is famous, ancient small town in the Austrian Alps beside a big beautiful lake. It has an ancient salt mine that is one of the oldest in all of Europe.
The people who used to live around the lake found the salt mines by watching animal movements. They noticed that the animals used to lick certain rocks in the area. When they checked the rocks, they found that they had salt.
We didn’t actually stay in Hallstatt, since it was too busy. We stayed in a small town across the lake called Obertraun.
We got to Obertraun by train. When we got there, there was a big surprise for us! Our accommodation was amazing. We were on the top floor of a big beautiful chalet. It had a big living room, large balcony and full kitchen. Best of all, Jacob and I had a huge bedroom (that was more the size of three bedrooms) to ourselves. We were all very happy with the way it turned out.
On our first day, we walked down to the lake. At the lake there was a soccer pitch, a rock climbing wall and a playground. Jacob and I played on a spinning disk in the playground, while our Mum and Dad walked down the path by the water. When they came back, Jacob and I were very dizzy! We made our way back to our place and planned what we were going to do the next day.
We decided that we would go to Hallstatt the next day and then Dachstein the day after. It was going to rain the next day, so Hallstatt was better since we would be inside the mine. For Dachstein we would be visiting an alpine meadow, which would be better on a sunny day.
The next day we waited at the bus stop for Hallstatt in the rain. No bus came, so we got a taxi instead. The taxi man was very nice. He told us all sorts of stuff about Hallstatt and the salt mines. Once we got to Hallstatt, we had to take a funicular (a steep railway that goes up mountains) to the salt mine. In the salt mines we learnt about how the salt was formed, how people found it and how they mined it over the years. We saw tons of different types of salt and different formations of salt. It was really cool! We also learned about an ancient guy who was preserved in salt.
The ancient guy is thought to have died around 1000 BC. Miners found him in the mines in the 1700’s (AD). Most of his hair, clothing and tools were well-preserved. Scientists think that he got lost when there was an earthquake and could not find his way out. Eventually the roof of the mine collapsed on top of him. When he was found by three miners over 2700 years later, they buried him properly in Hallstatt. Unfortunately they have forgotten where he is buried. I found it kind of odd how they don’t know where the body is.
In the salt mines there was also a slide! The slide is one of the longest wooden slides in the world. Miners used the slide to get deeper into the mines. We got to go on it! We went about 21 kilometres an hour! It was so much fun.
To get out of the mine, we took a fast, little train. The train had several long planks and everyone had to straddle it. Watch your head! The roof was rather low, so all the adults had to duck their heads! It was very cold, but loads of fun.
When we got back down, we toured around Hallstatt. It was a good thing we did Hallstatt after the mine, because by the time we got down the rain had stopped. The town was beautiful! There were little shops selling handmade trinkets and other things. Almost all the buildings had flowers and all the streets were cobblestone. The town was breathtaking. I loved all of it!
What I found rather funny was the cat walks. Out of many of the house windows, you could find skinny planks so that the cat could get in and out of the house. I thought it was hilarious!
We walked down the main street of the town until we found the boat taxi. We got on the boat and headed back to the other side of the lake.
The next day we went to Dachstien to see the “Finger Fingers” lookout and the ice caves. We had to take two cable cars to get to the top. From there we walked to the view-point called “Five Fingers”. It is called that because from the lake or any lower down the viewing platform looks like five fingers jetting out over a cliff. When we got up there it was rather cold. So cold there was still snow in places. It was very high up and a bit scary, but it was a beautiful view. I could see the whole lake. I could also see a storm getting stronger to my right. The waves on the lake getting bigger below me.
We got off the “Five Fingers” and hiked down a trail to another lookout. We didn’t actually go onto the other lookout, but we did get to see some cool things along the way. We learned what type of animals and plants lived on the mountain. We also went to this building that told you where other UNESCO world heritage places were in the world. It was really cool.
We walked back along the path and found a place to have our picnic. It was only sandwiches and a couple other things, but it was very nice just to sit down and enjoy the view. We did everything just in time. There was a big storm only about half an hour away, so we headed back down the cable car to the ice caves. When we looked back the lookout was entirely covered in clouds.
When we got to the ice caves, it started to rain and rain and rain. Luckily where we were waiting for the tour, there was a part of the rock face that stuck out. We could stay dry under it. When our tour guide came up, we all filed into the cave. It was very cold in the cave. The tour guide said it was about -5 degrees. He showed us the first couple rooms that had no ice but there was definitely some in the next room. Ice was everywhere! Some of it was in really cool formations.
The next room was even better. In this room there was a huge ice mountain! It was really, really tall. My favourite was the ice next to the mountain. It was swerved in all different shapes. It was breathtaking.
Sadly the tour had to end. When we came out, it was still raining so we ran to the cable car. When we got to the cable car we realized that it was really foggy. In the cable car you could only see stuff 2 metres from the car. Finally at about 50 metres above Obertraun the fog cleared.
In all I had a wonderful time in Hallstatt and Obertraun. I was proud because I had picked to go here. If you ever find yourself in Austria you have to go visit this area.