Vistas & Vienna
"Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow." ― Anita Desai
This page covers Day 11 - 14 of the tour with stops along Lake Hallstatt & in Vienna!
The kickoff to our final days of this adventure led us out of the city and into the countryside. There we met a local organic farmer who graciously explained what life is like for his family. He even shared a few samples of their cheeses and introduced us to some coworkers!
Our next stop was the one I looked forward to the most...Hallstatt! The pictures hardly do it justice, this place is simply breathtaking. From time on the lake to wonderful food and great conversations, this place was a break from the real world surrounding us.
Barbara's Take: One of the best ways to see Hallstatt is from the water! While you can opt to swim, we rented a small boat for an hour. It didn't go very fast, but that was okay with us. It allowed time to soak in the sights and sunshine.
John's Take: I wanted a more birds-eye view of this village. I headed up the funicular (about €10 for one way ticket) towards the salt mine, but checked out the Skywalk World Heritage View instead. Then I walked down the mountain and back into town. It only took about an hour, but that included stops for pictures.
Kristin's Take: Hallstatt was, and still is, one of my favorite spots on the tour. But since returning home the village has been in the news a lot. If I learned one thing from this trip, it's the need to preserve places like this. Traveling is a gift, but tourists have a responsibility to do no harm. My hope is the village and visitors can work out a beneficial deal for each side. Hallstatt's charm must remain intact, but views like this, in my opinion, should be available to all.
Our hotel for the night wasn't in Hallstatt, it was across the "see" or lake. I was initially bummed, but the resort was better than I expected. I loved the cabins! Our dinner was very good and I spent some time after stargazing from a swing on the playground.
As the tour website says, our next day included several "lessons in history". The first of which is very difficult to comprehend its creation...the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. You are on your own to walk around the space and at your own pace. An app tells the history of the camp and the tens of thousands who died or were imprisoned there.
Our Take: While it's difficult to imagine these kinds of atrocities, this is a
powerful stop on the tour...one that shouldn't be skipped or rushed
After an emotional and thought-provoking morning, we get a mood boost (thanks in part to orange juice and chocolate from our guide) as we head into the final destination of our tour...Vienna!
Our first moments in this historic city included a short walk to our hotel in the city center. After a few minute wait for the tiny elevator, we dropped off our stuff and met our local guide for a walk about town. We split off for dinner as a family and called it an early night.
The next morning we met our local guide, Gerhard, once again and we're off for history lessons spanning decades. We started at the Third Man Museum for a look at Vienna post-WWII before jumping back to the time of the Habsburg empire with it's ornate library and dazzling jewels.
Our final night together as a group was spent around the dinner table. The meal was delicious, as usual, but the company was even better. The last few hours of our tour were filled reminiscing about our favorite stops and the moments we wouldn't forget. But our guide had one final, musical surprise we immediately added to our lists! I'll apologize now for my singing voice, but what can I say, the song is one of "My Favorite Things"!