Thursday, August 27, 2009

Up and down and round and round: Hallstatt to Innsbruck

Leaving Bolzano and driving to Hallstatt had its moments, not the least of which was our GPS having dyslexic moments and suggesting left turns when we needed right. Nicknamed "Fred" ( "right" said Fred) he liked to take short cuts through back roads and to turn across town squares where there was no road at all.

We were accompanied with glimpses of the Dolomites through clouds and beautiful green country,

Dolomites from our lunch restaurant

Village on the way

Alpine fields and cloud

through to a National Park area in Austria that led up to the Kaiser Wilhelm lookout to glaciers and the Grossglockner, the highest mountain in Austria.

The road to the top

Even as the clouds set in we had a glimpse of this beautiful mountain and people walking on the glacier.


The run into Hallstatt along wet roads was a bit nerve wracking. But the town was wreathed in mist and sitting right on the edge of the lake looking very picturesque.

Hallstatt at evening

And in the morning

The rain kept on the next day so we began by visiting the local museum which turned out to be a real gem, covering everything from Celtic influences and trading to the salt mines and ancient burial grounds and the history of the town itself. As the weather cleared we took our first trip "up and down" apart from the switchback roads so far, via a funicular railway to the top and the high meadows and salt mine areas, though we chickened out on sliding down into the salt mines themselves.

Funicular meeting in the middle

Lovely views across the lake. That night the local band played in the town square as we ate dinner, the locals wore their national dress and others watched from their windows.

Band members (love the one going cross-eyed)


Window on the square

The Trinity represented in the square

And the most gorgeous Ape I have seen

Nick liked the road signs

To Innsbruck past pretty lakes and reflected villages and mountains.

The hotel, the White Cross was right in the charming pedestrian centre where places had more of those beautiful old signs over the street.

Here we had our first encounter with a baroque cathedral and there were to be more at Wilten nearby and later at other cities in the Austrian/German areas.

St Jacob's modest altar

Wilten Basilica

Innsbruck has had two winter Olympics so the ski jump is a prominent feature above the town, easy to see from the Wilten area as we visited the basilica and the local bell foundry, a fascinating place with lessons in bell shapes, decoration and casting.

Love how the ski jump seems to lead here

Historic bells at the bell foundry

The Palace in Innsbruck is being restored so only a few rooms were available to see. No photos unfortunately, but the ballroom, the so-called "Giants Room" was amazing with enormous crystal and gold chandeliers made of carved and gilded wood.The Queen, Marie Theresia, was a force to be reckoned with. The palace now has some areas that are apartments owned by citizens and the cafe Sacher is below it. Naturally we had to sample some of the fare and take photos to prove we had been there. The famous Sacher Torte was a quite plain, tender chocolate cake filled with a little apricot jam and covered with a rich chocolate icing with a Sacher "seal" on each slice. They were selling whole cakes in boxes like, well, hot cakes.

My Sacher Torte

The ultimate in iced chocolate

Now for our next episode of "up and down", up the modern funicular railway, then two cabin type cable cars to the top of Hafelekar. The views of the town with the river Inn sweeping through was amazing, though a little hazy. People buy one way tickets and take their mountain bikes or hang-gliders up. You can see the path down for the bikes and walkers.

Cable car view with bike path

The alpine paths across the top of the mountain area were very narrow and across steep areas. Scared the daylights out of us but the hardy Austrians strode off with their alpenstocks in hand.

Paths for walkers


At the halfway Seegrube stop we had a drink and watched the hang gliders set up their gliders while flocks of crows circled effortlessly above.

And finally, the souvenir logo that caught our eye. Maybe they have the opposite problem in Austria, "Oh you're from that place with the kangaroos..."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Free Hit Counter