Before continuing to the west in our Austrian tour, we took a detour south east to this charming little town. As there is no direct train from Salzburg, we needed to travel east to Attnang Puchheim, then hopped onto another train south to Hallstatt station.
Since the very first time we set foot on European soil and visited various cities in Germany in 2009, we felt in love with the railway system in Europe. It’s just so convenient. You can reach almost all areas in the region, and there are multiple schedules to fit in your itinerary. In comparison, the railway systems in US and Canada is not so broadly available. One would argue that North America is not so crowded and people can have their own vehicles – parking space is comparatively more available, and since they have cars, might as well drive them between cities. But driving is no comparison to being able to relax for a couple of hours, enjoy the country sights, read a book or two, have a nice long conversation with your company or maybe just someone you get to know on the train, without being distressed by the traffics, road and weather conditions, or exhaustion which could induce accidents.
Back to today’s topic. The Hallstatt train station is not located in or beside this small town. After getting off the train, there is a ferry to take you across Hallstätter See – “see” means lake in English. Whether it’s on a sunny day or a cloudy day, viewing the town from across the lake or on the ferry will just melt your heart. I don’t know how my wife discovered this place and decided to put it on our agenda. She’s amazing to me anyway. Coming to this town for a visit is like finding a jewel in your old closet that gives you some surprisingly joyful moments.
As the town is sitting between a lake to the east and a mountain to the west, there really aren’t lots of space for the community to grow. Many houses had to be built on the mountainside. The town is in a narrow shape like a knife, about 1 kilometer from north to south and, at the widest, 300 meters from east to west. The town is so small that you won’t be wrong by calling it a village. You can even count the number of streets with ten fingers. Similar to Venice, there are many small docks and boat houses by the lake side of the main street for local residents to get around.
Hallstatt is mostly famous for it’s salt production in human history, dated all the way back to 5,500 BC, as the region has rich resource of it. It’s also said people built here the very first pipeline in the world (to transport the salts, of course) and hence was regarded as the salt-mining capital of Europe. Gradually, Hallstatt has become a nice tourist area. Not only for foreign visitors, Austrians from across the country would also like to come pay a visit. Strolling down the streets, you will definitely find the same warm, cozy, friendly feeling – Austrian style. If you have more time to climb up the mountain to overlook the Alps, or to take a peaceful boat ride on the lake, it’ll be like heaven.
Copyright © 2011 Jenson Yu. All rights reserved.