After our adventures at Königssee and Obersee, Vivienne and I spent the night in Salzburg. I had heard wonderful things about this town, home to Sound of Music and countless Austrian composers, but the combination of rain and exhaustion did not give us the best first impression. On Tuesday morning we left Salzburg after a brief visit to the Mirabell Gardens, and drove on to Hallstatt.
Hallstatt is another one of those places that I had seen tons of beautiful photos from, and while I didn’t know much about the village I knew we had to stop there. Boy am I glad we did, because it became one of the highlights for both of us.
It rained heavily when we first got into town, so we beelined for the first restaurant we could see, Bräugasthof. While warming up over an amazing cup of potato soup, we noticed that I was literally the only white girl in the entire restaurant. Apparently Hallstatt is so famous in China that there’s a housing development there built as a replica of the original village, which explains why we saw more Asian tourists here than anywhere else on our trip.
Once more seeing the beauty of traveling in the off-season, and especially on a rainy day, with most empty streets everywhere. This little town square seems like it would be bustling with life on a warmer day, as all the restaurants and cafes had outdoor seating.
Hallstatt is home to the oldest known salt mine in the world, and salt extraction here started as early as four thousand years ago! I wish I had more space in my luggage to bring home some of the many cooking salts, bath salts, and even salt deodorants from this shop, but at least Vivienne got some shopping done.
Most of the village burned down in a fire in 1750, and was rebuilt in the late Baroque style it is now known for. I absolutely love the way the houses cling to the sides of the mountain and extend all the way down to lake Hallstätter See.
I can only imagine how beautiful Hallstatt must be on a still morning, with the water reflecting the village even more than this.
This pink house with butterflies on its fence was one of my many favorites in Hallstatt. Vivienne and I both agreed that if we ever come back here, we should try to rent a room or house to stay overnight.
After hours of wandering around Hallstatt, we reluctantly got back into our rental car and started out towards Vienna, where we would be staying for the next three nights of our trip. After what can only be described as a torrential downpour, we made it into the city, where I had to pull out my aggressive European driver skills to make it to our hotel. I’ll take tiny German backroads over busy streets with narrow lanes any day, thank you very much.
On our first day in Vienna, we wandered around our neighborhood before making our way to the Hofburg Imperial Palace. While we hadn’t planned on paying for the self-guided tour, we wanted to get off the cold streets for a while. The Sisi museum and imperial apartments were way more fascinating than I expected, and I have such a historical girl crush on Empress Elizabeth of Austria (aka Sisi) after seeing that she had gymnastics rings and stall bars in her bedroom to stay fit!
Vivienne and I could never decide which cake to try, and so we ended up splitting 10 slices of cake over three days. I left Vienna looking like I was five months pregnant, but I don’t regret a thing!