Sunday, 29 May 2011

Top of the World

Seven years ago Kiri and I (this is Keith) went up the Schilthorn in Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland.  I was so excited by the view that I rang Kathy at home to tell her all about it.  Today I would have done the same except that Kathy was standing beside me (as were Meryl and Glenn).  We saw the equal of the truly amazing view that the Schilthorn offers over the Swiss and French Alps but this is the Austrian Salzkammergut.  We had a 360 degree view over the jagged peaks covered in snow above the beautiful lake of Hallstattersee.  It was perfect.

It even inspired Meryl to start making biblical quotes about all things being for good.  You see the previous couple of days have been the worst weather we have had on our trip.  We are on our bike tour around the Austrian Lakes so pouring rain was not really what we were after.  We lost a days riding and went for a pleasant lake cruise.  The next day we trained (that is caught a train) down from Altmunster to Bad Goisern full of trepidation at what the weather might do.  We did do a bit of riding but it was cold and damp so mostly trained and ferried.   The ‘all things for good’ reference was because we – being so damp and cold – went into the first place we could find that served food.  As it turned out we had landed in the middle of a wedding complete with Umpapah (Austrian brass) band and the FOOD – my goodness.  It was fantastic and massive – see pictures.  And the waitress was a honey!  And all that cloud caused lots of snow.  We were told today that before yesterday there had been no snow up the top of the mountains but as you can see from the pictures there was plenty for us today.

Hallstatt is a tiny place trapped by the lake but it has played a surprisingly significant role in the world of trade and is the home of the world’s oldest salt mine.  We went for a very interesting tour of the mine and learned much about the very hard lives led by the miners.  It’s also a very cute little village.  Then we went up the Dachstein Mountain Range.  We first inspected an ice cave (eishohle in Austrian) which is full of ice (funnily enough) in delightful formations and really lovely.  Then we went up to the top.  And I mean top.  You can see everything for miles and it is gorgeous.  There are few sights in my view which can match a panorama of snow covered peaks stretching for miles.  And this sight certainly qualified as panorama of snow covered peaks.  Today has been the best day of the holiday so far for me.
Pork fillet cooked in the pan, to die for!


View from Hallstatt looking across the lake

View from the Hallstatt Salt Mines

Having lunch, not a bad view!!

Ice cave

View from the top, spectacular!!

Riding home to Bad Goisern along the lake

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