The Hills Are Alive
by Jon on Saturday, July 19, 2008 file under: Off Topic
Austrian Coat of Arms

On our way out of Austria, Kortney and I boarded what appeared to be an un-airconditioned train car. After an hour of dealing with the hot, stuffy car, we were able to find open seats in an unfilled private car. Our spirits were immediately lifted.

We enjoyed our time in Salzburg immensely. The altstadt is quaint, and the roads are pedestrian only. We paid admission to the Festung, with mixed results. The fortress has been expande several times since the 1400s, each time expanding its area (and the protection of the religious leader living there). The castle was never taken by force.

Down in the old town, Mozart has his name on everything. You can visit his Geburtshaus (birthplace), hear a concert of his music (which I can only assume are performed daily), or purchase an uncountable number of souvenirs bearing his likeness, the most famous of which is the Mozart ball. (We found the best price for this delicacy outside of Salzburg, in Hallstatt.

The best part of our stay in Austria, however, was Hallstatt, a small mining town. It takes two hours to get there by train, but the trip is worth it. The town is built on the side of the mountain, its opposite border, a glassy, swan-filled lake surrounded by mountains on all sides. The town had been used since at least 400 BC as a support for the salt mines which are estimated to be 7000 years old. The salt mine tour is fun, but a little over the top. The most fun part of the tour is sliding down a wooden slide that miners use to get in between levels of the mine. On the second slide, I clocked 33 KPH, the fastest we saw in our tour group. Hallstatt's cute town, amazing setting, and the fact that its not complely overrun by tourists make it a place to return to (if we're in this neck of the woods).

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