Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Please Pass the Salt

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Hallstatt is one of Europe's oldest towns and world's first known salt mine. This wonderful remote lakeside village, on the Hallstatter See in Upper Austria, is (4) hours from Vienna and has a population of around 1,200. A tiny ferry takes you from the train station across the lake and drops you off at this magical, postcard town. The main square is surrounded by beautiful guest houses and cobbled street lanes. You can walk from one side of the town to the other in about 10 to 15 minutes.  This by far was my favorite place to visit outside of Vienna.

Views of Hallstatt as we approached by boat.
View of the town walking from our guest house

The town has a cozy, or some might say cramped, feeling with houses built right next to the lake or up on the steep mountains.
We stayed at Haus Sarstein and had a wonderful balcony view of Lake Hallstatt.
The view from our room
We didn't see a lot of cars while we were there. I imagine most people walk or bike since the town is so small.
The main square in the center of town.
Lots of quaint homes and guest houses
This privately owned castle is on the other side of the lake. I loved the setting with all the trees surrounding it, especially with the leaves changing.
Erchen Valley offers a couple hiking trails up the beautiful landscape mountain. It takes about an hour to reach the top which is 2,750 feet above the town. The views from the top are spectacular, it was worth the climb.
View from the top is breathtaking.
You can see the town as we descend from the mountain
A lot of guest houses and restaurants were closed for the holiday so it was pretty quiet but luckily we found a cute little bar that was open.
After a day of hiking it was time to relax. For dinner I had their prized fish called Reinanke (whitefish) which is caught out of the Hallstatt lake and served the same day. It was absolutely delicious!! And what goes great with fish? Wine of course.
A truly spectacular weekend in Hallstatt. Definitely a place I would like to visit again but for a longer time and when it is not over a holiday.  

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