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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Day 10 - Part 1

We woke up in the morning and saw through the window, that the weather would not be sunny today. We still could not get the view of Attersee because of the thick fog.

Kathy and Stephan had woken up before we did, and they prepared a wholesome breakfast. When we saw them at the kitchen they were still wearing exactly the same sleeping 'uniform' that they bought in India (it was a white cotton long panjabi with blue stripes).

After shower, Kathy introduced me to all type of bread they have prepared for breakfast. They are root bread which shaped like root, rye sourdough bread, togurt bread with oat, small bread called Broetchen, and finally, seed bread with spices.

To add to those, they also included many kinds of turkey and meat sausage, liver pate, honey, antipasti, homemade marmalade, homemade butter.

They also have this special type of cheese, which was made by shepherd in the mountain. I don't remember the name, but I remember that the texture was hard, solid, and tasted strong. It was a great cheese.

For the drink, Kathy and Stephan prepared coffee and tea, to be taken with the fresh milk we had the night before. The milk had been thoroughly boiled, and hence sterilized. By morning, the cream floated to the top of the jar, which we then use with the coffee and tea. The cream was really creamy, you can see layer of fat when it was immersed with coffee. Oh, we also had orange juice.

Initially we planned to have a hike at the nearby mountain and see snow. However, after checking with the hiking station, the weather turned out to be quite bad. So we decided to change the plan and head for a driving trip around Salzkammergut instead. But our destination was limited, because most of the tourist attractions (such as the salt mining cave) were closed from 22 October and will not open until spring. Hence we decided to go to Halstatt, a beautiful old town near Halstattsee.

We prepared our lunch sandwich using leftovers from breakfast and went to drive out of Weyregg using Stephan's red Mercedes. It was raining quite heavily, and foggy too.

After about 90 minutes drive we arrived at Hallstatt. Luckily it was Sunday, and the Kurzparkzone is not applicable. We got free parking right outside the city centre. It was still drizzling, lucky that we brought the big rainbow umbrellas.

This amazing little town has been around for 4500 years!

We entered the protestant church right by the lake. We thought there would be a choir singing at the end of the mass. But the mass had just finished and people had left.

We continued to walk along the lake side and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Too bad it was too foggy and we could not see the surrounding mountains.

We hiked to visit the Catholic Church which is built on the cliff of Hallstatt. I can't imagine how difficult to create such magnificent structure at the cliff. Perhaps due to the difficult terrain, the form of the church was different to typical church of the same period. The church plan was not shaped like a cross. And there are two main altars with intricate design and ornaments.

This is how high the church is from the boat dock right near the town square.

You can see that the Catholic Church is at the same level as the tower of the Protestant Church.

This is the view of the Catholic Church tower from the town square.

There was graveyard right outside the church (how did they manage to bring the coffin up to the steep cliff like that?). When we saw the tombstone, we realized that in each grave plot there are two to four people buried each from different period. Even graveyards were recycled!

The weather did not get any sunnier, and the drizzle made us really cold. We decided to take a break for a hot brunch. We went to this Konditorei right at the town square.

We ordered Apfelstrudel, chocolate cake, and strawberry cake. For drink, we had hot chocolate with whipped cream, while as usual, Stephan was having floral tea.

After brunch, we visited the Hallstatt museum that presented the history of the town even from pre-historic age. The town thrived because of the salt mining industry. In an area remote from seaside like Austria, salt became a luxury item and a natural resource to be fought for, just like oil nowadays. The presentation in the museum was really excellent and comprehensive. I became really interested to know how salt is mined and processed; unfortunately, the salt mining museum is closed until next spring.

After the museum, I wanted to know whether the salt crystal is sold for souvenir. The nearest souvenir shop had it, besides all other souvenir items like Mozart chocolate and all kinds of kitchen salt. However, after some thoughts, we realized that likely the crystal would not survive in Singapore, due to the humidity. I managed to get some remnants of the salt crystal and tasted it, salty of course, just like ordinary kitchen salt. It was just funny that the shape is just like clear crystal candy, unlike fine kitchen salt.

We then took some photo in the town square, with the conserved buildings as the backdrop.

We continued to walk back to the parking place and had our lunch in the car. Kathy brought Tyrolean lemonade (I forgot the name) which has a quite unique taste.


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