Austria: Hallstatt & Schladming

This was a most beautiful day.  And I keep saying that on every post – but that is really how it feels.  We drove away from Salzburg, towards the mountains.  And then round and around the mountains.   It was AMAZING.   The fog, the mystery, and most of all… the gorgeous, gorgeous, houses in every tiny village that we passed.  There were 3 things about Austria that just STOOD OUT.  Or maybe it’s just me and the best 3 things I loved about our short time in Austria.

1. The HOUSES.  You know how when it’s a day you’ll be in photos, like in a party, you dress nicer than usual?   Well, I think the people of Austria, especially in the mountains, must think the same of their houses!!!  They must  be thinking:  someone might take a photo of our village, and our homes against the mountains!!! So we have to keep it beautiful!! Smile  We didn’t get to see any houses in the suburbs, but in Salzburg, and in this country side…. EVERY SINGLE HOUSE was simply gorgeous.  SO MUCH CARE was taken to keep the house sparkling white.  They ALL looked like they had been painted that very morning.   Flowers overflowing from every single window.  Everything looked so maintained and STYLED yet so old and quaint and ever so charming.

2. The INFRASTRUCTURE.  The roads were SOOOoo smoooth.  Winding beautifully round and round the mountains.  And a train could take you all the way up and into the deep deep parts of the mountains.  I couldn’t imagine or  believe how much investment and infrastructure and EFFORT had been put into the infrastructure… for transport, sewage, ELECTRICITY.  It was amazing.  It was so sparsely populated, every little village looked like it had maybe 20 homes yet they had all the utilities of a modern city.   I could go on and on….

3. And finally….. the COWS!!  we passed by so many herds of cows, grazing lazily.  The perfect postcard picture of big fat beautiful cows on the alps.  But it was never a good location to stop the car to take photos.  That was one of my goal.  A trip to the alps wouldn’t  be complete without the characteristic picture of cows grazing on the mountains…. So we kept a lookout for a spot with cows that we could stop but didn’t on this day, they were always by the main roads.

I couldn’t believe how lovely this country and the mountains were.  We went deep INTO the mountains, driving for about an hour, until we suddenly reached the most picturesque village called Halstatt, surrounded on ALL sides by mountains and a lake.  It was surreal.  Everything was insanely clean and FRESH.  Even the air felt so clean.  We’ve been on holidays to cities, to beaches, but this was a first to the mountains, at least for this long.  And with long scenic drives.  Something about the mountains, the greenery and the country side was so calming and peaceful and romantic.  The BEST way to describe this day (and the entire roadtrip) is with this verse from Jame’s Blunt’s song:

“People like us…we don’t…need that much…
Just someone that sparks…
Sparks the light in our bonfire hearts…”

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driving towards the mountains

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unlike in Belgium and France, the homes were all SPREAD OUT.  not clustered.
I think cos each home wanted, needed a VIEW.

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finally arriving in Halstatt, deep within the mountains,
a village by the lake, surrounded on all sides by mountains.

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every single home looked like it was painted this morning.
as we walked towards the city, we passed by a clean, light pink cottage.
and we saw an old stocky man, working on the wall around the window.
I wish I took a picture of it…
he was painstakingly using a chisel, to chip out some soil/dirt that was there. REALLY.
they were SPECKS of dirt. the dedication to their beautiful homes was amazing!

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and someone had a little villa on the otherside!

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super cold mountain water
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a tandem cycle for 5?
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we took a cable car way up to visit an ICE CAVE. 
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Tom wanted to bring me to this viewing point called “ Five Fingers”.  It was SUPER HIGH.
But cos of the fog, the cable car operators recommended not to waste our money, u’d see nothing>
On the left pic, that’s were he fog starts, and way up higher is the viewing point.
The only awful thing about austria – unpredictable weather for a sunny day!

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it was 0 degrees inside the ice cave.  very spooky. 
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this view on the left reminded me of Land Before Time.
when they found The Great Valley!

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the cutest, brightest, cleanest, most colourful little square.
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people actually STYLE their home facades!!!
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After the entire day in Halstaat, we drove to our bed and breakfast.  Which was supposed to be just 18 kms away.
But we ended up driving 2 hours, cos the 18 kms was over winding roads.
The entire drive…was like a dream.  absolutely stunning rolling mountains of greenery.

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our hotel, Hauslanka,  it was so cute, and just by the main highway.

It was the perfect hotel in the perfect location.  You couldn’t get any closer to the main town Schladming, which we learnt was where the Ski World cup was held last year.  The owner was a DUTCH!  It was so inspiring to learn his story.  He even used to live in Brussels and work as a project manager in Michelin (the tyre company).  And about 8 years or so ago, they made the big step in life – to give up their corporate jobs, and live in the country they love most.  It was their calling.  So they bought this huge house, and renovated and redid it beautifully.

His story moved and inspired me.  It made me yearn to find out some whatever it is that I want and need to do – and then just do it.  It amazed me that even though he comes from Nederlands, somehow, he belonged to Austria.

Since I left home at the age of 18… I’ve always believe that my home is always be where my heart is.  With my family and now, also with my husband.  Hong Kong was the closest place to Home, cos of the warmth of the people, the strong familial values and Chinese culture.   Yet, my heart would be with my loved ones.

And since I’ve started a new life with hubby, the question still eludes me – which “location” is home.  The west? the east?  Will I ever feel like I belong to a place?  Or to feel “unrooted” is in fact where I belong.
I’ve been lucky to live in 3 different continents, 4 different countries.  Still, I never ever feel “attached” or rooted.  I am Chinese but I feel at home yet foreign in China.  I am Indian, but I am at home, yet mixed in India.
And when I heard this man’s story, it made me realiaze, it will come to you one day.  Or home really is where your heart is.

It could be with a place, with people, or maybe just with good Chinese soup.

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the view from our bed and breakfast.
I forgot to mention, the owner is also so nice and friendly.  We booked for 2 nights, and was planning to
do some biking and hiking on the 2nd day, but the weather predictions was VERY RAINY,
so we decided to go ahead and use the time to travel.
the nice dutch owner let us cancel the second night wihtout any charges,
even though our booking was no longer cancellable without charges (via booking.com).
Genuinely nice person! 

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we went to a restaurant recommended by our dutch host.
this soup was DELICIOUS>  we had this in the hotel in Stuttgart, and Tom ordered it again now.
It was a CLEAR broth – with truffle/mushroom falvour,
and a large ravioli with melted cheese.
the soup reminded me of an ox-tail soup that I once had at Christmas lunch in my childhood.
but yeah – this is the perfect clear Western soup!

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dinner was also delicious.  my sides came with these potatoes that were shredded like noodles and then deep fried!
And this church in town – had a very interesting steeple – all over germany and austia,
the churches in the country side had this oriental looking steeple.

and I just had to end with one more picture of Halstatt:
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2 comments

  1. anne

    very nice!!!!

  2. Pingback: A Dream Experience | Lily & Tom

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