Wednesday, October 21, 2015

2015 - Eastern Europe Day 08 (Hallstatt)

We booked a car with the hotel today and we got the car delivered to our hotel at 9:00am, although I wanted it earlier, we weren't going to get up early and head to the airport to pick up the car. Note, when we rented a car in Germany, I knew that odds were that the car would come with a GPS by default and it did, however, in Austria, we weren't so lucky. Fortunately, we have 'HERE Maps' which you can download for offline navigation. Today, we head to Hallstatt for the picturesque views, the salt mine there and Dachstein for the ice caves and possibly the lookout point.

From the hotel, we got to Hallstatt by 10:30am, made it up the cable car and ran the remainder and made it for the 11:00am tour. We opted to the 26 ‎€ ticket which is for the salt mine tour and the cable car ride up and down the mountain. You can do various combinations of this (just the salt mine, just the cable car).

Honestly, the salt mine was much more fun and interesting than I thought it would be. Yeah, I was sold on the slide initially, but I had no idea I'd enjoy it so much. The salt mine tour lasted an hour and a half for us from start to finish. With the tour, you watch a few videos which talk about how the salt mine came to be and how they process it. There are two slides here and they give you a jacket and pants to avoid any damage to your own clothing and these were the highlights for me. Make sure to do as instructed for maximum speed and enjoyment (for me at least since I liked going down fast). During the second slide, they take a picture of you and the speed you are at which was a nice souvenir for us. At the end of the tour, there is a video and display of the oldest staircase ever found which seemed like a bigger deal than it looks (at least to me). After that, you get to ride a train out which the girls ran to to ensure that we were seated at the front. This takes you back outside and you are done the tour.

Slide #1 from the top.
Slide #2 from the bottom.
We had lunch at the snack shop inside and we got a burger, wiener, and a donut. The prices were reasonable for a tourist area (I think the burger was around 4,50 ‎€, the wiener was 4 ‎€, and the donut was 3 ‎€).

Donut with apricot jam.
Wiener with a bread roll (mustard and cheese on the side).
After that, we headed back to the cable car and right before it, there is a nice lookout point that you should stop by at for some pictures. Parking cost us 6 ‎€ (it is by the hour).

Lookout point.
A short 30 minute drive was Dachstein. Here, there are a variety of places that you can visit and the different combinations equates to different prices. Initially I thought that we could do the 5-finger lookout, but due to the cloudy weather, we didn't go and just did the ice cave and cable car which cost us 29,70 ‎€ per person. Note that even after the cable car ride, there is a roughly 10-15 minute steep hike up to get to the ice caves. We arrived with about 10 minutes to spare before our tour started.

The ice caves were neat to see, however I am not sure how I feel about them because I thought it would be more interesting. The tour lasted about 30 minutes long which I feel is pretty short. It starts with areas that don't have ice and as you go in, there is more and more until all you see is ice. At the beginning, there is a very big cavern, which I imagine what the the cave tour would be like (there is a cave tour here as well). You do get to take pictures here which is nice since you cannot do that at Eisriesenwelt. Pictures are limited to the points of interest which there are 14 of them. Have a look at the pictures and decide for yourself whether it is worth it or not.

Dachstein Ice Cave.
Dachstein Ice Cave.
After that, we went back to Hallstatt to determine where the picturesque point is and got some pictures and headed back to Salzburg. The picturesque point is just before the tunnel (you'll know the tunnel when you see it). Instead of going into the tunnel, park your car off to the side and head down the left path. Follow the path for about 10 minutes and you will see the spot. We knew we were there when we saw a group of tourists standing there for pictures.

Dinner was at St. Paul's. There is an outdoor patio upstairs which is fully covered which is nice. We ordered the roast pork and schnitzel. The food has long since been the same, I am not sure if it is because we are tourist, or we just ended up getting the same dishes. Total was 46 ‎€.

Beer #9.
Roast pork.
Tomorrow, we head to Vienna.