Holy Alps. This place is stunning! 77% of Austria is covered in mountains and while, yes, each city is very similar in the greenery, mountains and adorableness, it really never gets old.
We arrived in Hallstatt, a small mountain village after a three hour bus ride from Vienna. (Where I finished reading the second Harry Potter and the Chanber of Secrets and we could have been driving past a Beyoncé concert featuring Taylor Swift, for all I would have known.)
We stopped at like a gas station/truck and bus stop for a quick bite and the quality of food in the station put am/pm to shame.
We were here to see the oldest functioning salt mines, and it was a tour I would recommend for you if you were to come here and one I would easily do again myself. We took a gondola up, stopped a view point and then continued another ten minute walk to the entrance.
It was hard to take pictures in a salt mine 100 meters underground but the tour was great with short videos along the way explaining how the salt got there, and and how they got it out! A student Sam said I should take a picture of this salt for my sister Salena, who’s name means “salty” and I agreed. 🙂
I learned that is salt is clear… (Duh) but the coloring comes from the minerals. If it’s more white, then it has more calcium. If it is more pink, it had more iron, etc. I also learned about the two different methods for extraction, the dry method (hitting a chunk of salt, taking it out of the mine) and the wet method (mixing salt with water, piping out of the mine to a basin til the water evaporated), which is the method still used to this day with better pipes and goes directly to a factory instead of sitting around waiting to evaporate.
We took the gondola back down to the city of Hallstatt and had about an hour of “free time” in this stupidly beautiful town. My colleague (and friend!) Amy and I had a French fries and Champagne happy hour (As you know, this is probably my perfect meal.) on a water front restaurant in the Alps.
I can’t even.
We then continued on another hour drive out of the city to an inn more inn the country. I feel like there has been a turning point for me since the concert in Vienna, where I am slowing down, able to be more present and really really enjoying this trip for what it is. Edit