Our second day in Hallstatt started out bright and clear!
So of course I put on protective overclothes and retreated into the bowels of a mountain to see the local salt mine.
I flew this one solo–apart from the rest of the tour group, of course–because to get to the mine entrance, you have to take a funicular up the mountain and then hike a bit higher, and my mom’s not too big on heights. She did ride the funicular with me, though! Good for her.
And really, the mine was fun but not a must-do. The older, formerly-mined caverns were lovely, and we got to watch a couple of slightly goofy light shows about previous mining practices and the fate of the “Man in Salt,” whose body was found (and subsequently removed and given a proper burial) in the 1730s. The best part was probably the wooden “megaslide,” which took your photo going down; the worst part was enduring the public makeouts of a particularly amorous couple during the dimly-lit filmed parts of the tour. Blech.
Okay, and the fast miniature-train ride to the exit of the mine was pretty great too. Whee!
I was completely broke and couldn’t buy any of the interesting salt products in the gift shop at the end of the tour, so instead I wandered downhill and practiced taking macro shots with Mike’s new-to-him Fujifilm X100, which he suggested I bring on the trip.
Side note: I really enjoyed using it as a travel camera! More compact than my DSLR but took nicer photos than a point-and-shoot. Couldn’t zoom in or out, but I could roll with that–and roll with it I did, mostly by taking like a million billion selfies.
While I was waiting for the funicular to return to the upper station, I gazed out over Hallstatt and felt very grateful that I haven’t been blessed with Mom’s acrophobia. Hello there, distant tennis courts!
A walk back to our hotel (and, yeah, some more macro practice) later, I met up with my mom and we headed out for a delicious and decidedly Austrian meal.
To wit: beef goulash with potatoes…
…and cheese spaetzle with fried onions. And a rather listless salad that didn’t warrant a photograph. (At least the salad didn’t have corn in it. We had corny salads in spades later on in the trip.)
Dog in the restaurant! Actually, there were pretty much dogs in every restaurant, cafe, and coffeehouse we visited, and they were surprisingly well-behaved. Ignoring whatever health restrictions that prohibit non-service dogs in most US eateries, I don’t know too many American dogs who would chill out on the floor quietly rather than trying to snarfle everyone’s main course.
To aid digestion post-goulash, we decided to check out the town’s museum, which featured some neat stuff, such as this cave bear skull.
There were also artifacts from the Hallstatt culture, like this fossilized poop! Just goes to show you: everybody poops, even the ancient Celts.
(This is a good look for me, don’t you think?)
In my infinite irreverence, I couldn’t help but enjoy some of the religious iconography on display in perhaps a way other than was originally intended. To rephrase: the Baby Jesus says eyyyyyyyyy.
And the mature Jesus says, eh, no big deal. Happens all the time.
I mean, I kept these thoughts to myself so that the proprietors wouldn’t kick me out of the museum before I’d gotten my eight Euros’ worth. Hopefully they didn’t mind the giggling.
After the museum came more reading and sleeping, and all of a sudden it was time to leave Hallstatt. What lies ahead for our intrepid explorers?