Thursday, June 26th
Steph and I took a 2-day adventure up to the quaint, little town of Hallstatt, Austria and Hitler's Eagles Nest in Germany. Both locations are only about 4 hours north. I couldn't resist taking a trip up to see them, since they're so close! Luckily, Steph agreed to go with me; otherwise, I would have likely gone by myself! Haha!
Our first stop, after crossing the border into Austria, was a "raststation." We couldn't help but get a photo with their "exit" sign. Teehee:)
Our next stop was for some lunch, and to take some MORE pics!
Here I am on my high horse. :)
After 5.5 hours we made it!! Our hotel, Seehotel Gruner Baum, was right in the center of town overlooking Market Square! Isn't this town quaint?!
The view from our balcony...
The steeple in the foreground belongs to the Protestant church, and the chapel on the hill is the Catholic church and cemetery.
After quickly dropping our things off, we set out to take-in the little town and the beautiful scenery.
We covered almost all of Hallstatt within 15 minutes!
I love all of the graffiti I've seen in Europe. A crowd of tourists walked by as I started to take this photo. They all looked over at this curiously. I think they were trying to figure out why I would want to take a photo of someone's graffiti. I just can't help it!
Next, Stephanie and I thought we'd catch a ride on the ferry called "Stefanie" to cross the lake. Our plan was to ride to the town of Obertraun, and then walk from that town back to Hallstatt. It seemed pretty straight forward. We bought our tickets and walked around, while we waited for the boat to arrive.
I asked a nice man sitting on a bench to take our photo. I handed him the camera thinking he would stand up to get a better view. Instead, he took the photo from right where he was sitting. We got a nice view of a trash can and railing! Haha! So much good going on in this photo!
We decided to take some photos ourselves. :)
Stephanie and Stefanie!
Here was another adventure with handing someone else my camera. A Scottish gentleman offered to take our photo. He quickly snapped a few, then handed the camera back. I didn't have a good grip on it, and the camera went flying. He was mortified, when it hit the ground. Luckily, nothing happened to the camera. The man was so embarrassed. He went charging up the stairs to get away from us. No harm done! I felt worse knowing he was so embarrassed than if my camera had been damaged.
We carried on up the narrow staircase to the top of the town.
Catholic church cemetery
Eek! The Bone Chapel contains more than 600 painted skulls. The cemetery was so small, that the bones only laid to rest for 12 years before being dug up and placed in the Bone Chapel.
Cemetery view from the Bone Chapel
We headed back down the stairs to our boat.
From down on the boat we could see the local Salt Mine on the mountain top!
And we were off...!
It didn't take us long to realize there had been a mistake. Our short boat ride landed us at the train station - not at Obertraun. The boat wasn't continuing on to Obertraun, it was going to back to Hallstatt. Obertraun was just a 30 minute walk away, so we decided to just hike it.
It would only be an hour long walk back to Halstatt from there, so we both agreed walk the full hour and a half back to our town.
When we arrived in Obertraun, we spotted a sign directing us to Hallsatt. The sign said it was not one hour to Hallstatt...it was 2.5!! DOH! We were both thirsty, and hungry, so we decided against it. It was a good thing because Stephanie tripped over some uneven pavement as we were leaving and cut her toe.
On our walk back, we could see our boat was about to leave. We sprinted to it dodging tourists that were asking us to take their photos. We made it just in time. The next boat left an hour and a half later. We learned our lesson! Always ask thorough questions, and check time schedules for yourself. We were grateful we made the boat ride back! The view on the water was amazing!
We were probably just as happy as this gentleman to be back in Hallstatt.
As we were walking to our dinner location, we found a few odd sites. We couldn't figure out what this was at first. I thought it was a washing board for a giant. Turns out it was an old staircase.
These fish heads were hung with care inside an antique store. After seeing these we immediately turned around and left. Haha!
We walked to the edge of town to eat at Braugasthof restaurant.
The waiters didn't help us much, but this cat was sure cute!
And you can't really beat that view!
I ordered the delicious spaetzel.
Stephanie ordered the tiniest fish serving known to mankind.
After dinner we walked around the corner to hop on a SHWAN paddle boat. They had literally just closed as we walked up. DOH! Timing was really not on our side this trip!
We walked down the road to snap a few more photos while we had some day light.
We just loved getting photos with trash cans! Haha!
Haha! I made Stephanie stand here. Someone had put graffiti on the green shutters, but it looked like horns on Steph! She thought it was pretty funny too!
Someone had kissed this stone statue. :) I loved the touch of red on his lips!
I had mentioned a hike to Steph earlier in the day. We decided since the boating on the lake didn't work out, we would try for a good view on a hike. We found some serious slugs on the way! Yeesh!
The only person we saw on our hike was a man out chopping wood at the edge of town!
The maps weren't very clear, plus they were in a different language, so we just picked a route and stuck with it.
The sun was starting to set, so we were trying to move quickly!
We came across these fun rock statues.
We'd been hiking for about 40 minutes (yes, I was wearing a skirt and sandals) when we decided to turn around.
We started freaking ourselves out because the sun was setting quickly and we hadn't seen ANYONE on the trail! We started talking about bears and that did us in. We didn't want to be on the front page of the Hallstatt Times the next day. Ha!
I couldn't stop thinking about how many (somewhat creepy) fairy tales occur in the woods like: Hanzel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and Goldy Locks and the 3 Bears. It wasn't helping to comfort me much! Haha!
We did see some sheep!!
They were very friendly. They would come up to the fence to see if we had any food for them. They were so cute!
Steph and I were both grateful to be walking back into some civilization as the street lights started to come on.
I was so tempted to ask this gentleman for a ride on his boat around the lake.
Can you guess what these signs are pointing to? Schmuck is jewelry, and Boote is boat! It sounds so much better as Schmuck and Boote. Haha!
We both agreed that we should have gone on a boat ride and hike before dinner. This was our restaurant where we'd eaten earlier. It had such a different ambiance after the sun had set.
We grabbed some water nearby and sat in front of our hotel as the lights all came on in the square. The whole town had such a different feeling at night. There certainly weren't as many tourists. It was the sleepy town I had imagined it to be.
Hallstatt was beautiful! We decided that even in a small town we really needed to plan out our time better to take advantage of all the amazing sites!
Friday, June 27th
The next morning I was awakened at 5am by the sound of metal carts delivering goods to shops on the cobblestone roads. I was tempted to close the windows, but it was the only way to keep the room cool. I gave up by 7am, but we sure got a great view out our window in the early morning!
We walked downstairs at 7:45 to check out, and the hotel reservation desk was closed! We waited there until 8 for it to open. Afterward, we got some breakfast, since it had just opened as well. I couldn't believe things opened so late there! The dining room was packed with people - most likely because they didn't open anything until 8am!!
As we stood in line at breakfast we quickly realized we were the minority. There were mostly Chinese tourists in the dining area. About a third of the food offered was Chinese or asian themed. After doing a bit of research we discovered that China has made a duplicate of Hallstatt. You can see for yourself here:
We hit the road ASAP! We wanted to get to a tour of Hitler's Eagles Nest by 11:20.
Our GPS took us the wrong way for about 10 minutes down the road, but we got to enjoy this sweet view before we turned around.
After an hour drive, part of which was on a narrow, steep, two lane road, we arrived to Eagles Nest! We made it there early enough to catch the earlier tour!
We bought our 16 Euro bus ticket (yikes!) to the top. Our tour was only 30 minutes long and only 5 Euro. Our tour guide was a quiet, British student. He explained that half of our bus ticket fare was donated to charity. (Which charity? I don't know!)
We headed into the tunnel to the elevator.
After about 15 minutes of talking and showing us pictures, we were left to roam around the top of the mountain. It was short and sweet! We learned that Hitler actually didn't come here often because he was claustrophobic, but his mistress hid out here. Eagles Nest was a gift for Hitler's 50th birthday, and it only took 13 months to build!
We got a lot of crazy looks because we were the only two people wearing sandals! People of all different cultures and languages were pointing and laughing at us! Haha!
We stopped and got a quick pretzel and hot chocolate at the top! Nom nom!
On the way back to the autostrada, we stopped and took a few pics with the Germany and Austria signs.
Welcome to Germany!!
Steph had never been to Germany, so we had to get proof that she's crossed the border!
We also stopped over in Villach to try on some dirndl's. Villach isn't very big, or as breathtaking as Hallstatt, but we did find some fun shops!
Our trip was quick, but we covered a whole lot! It's so fun to be able to travel with friends!