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Published: August 29th 2011
August 29th- Another early morning train for us. We left the hotel around 6:30 and caught a bus to the train station. We were able to stow our luggage there, while we took a day trip to Halstatt. The train ride was about 2.5 hours and we were at the ferry around 9:30 am. Halstatt is a tiny town southwest of Salzburg, which is absolutely beautiful. It is so tiny, that the railroad tracks cannot fit on that side of the lake. So you arrive at the Halstatt train station on one side of the lake (just the station), then you take a small ferry to Halstatt. The train ride was very picturesque. The ferry ride took about 5 minutes and before we knew it we were walking around in downtown Halstatt. This sleepy little town was just waking up when we arrived. We stopped in a few shops and then ended up back at the ferry dock to inquire about renting a paddle boat...but as luck would have it, we were able to catch the sightseeing boat ride, which was a better deal for us. The cruise was about 1.5 hours and it was very peaceful compared to the non-stop sightseeing of the last two weeks. The boat ride left us off at the other end of town and we wandered some more thru some shops. The biggest attraction, beside the mountains everywhere you look, is the Halstatt Salt mine, which is the oldest salt mine in the world. We decided to have a look at it. We rode up a cable car to the very top of the mountain behind the tour, and then took a small hike thru the forest towards the salt mine. We were not exactly sure what we were getting ourselves into, because all of the signs were in German. At the top, we were given coveralls to wear for our mine tour. We joined our group, and shortly Regina was there to take us up to the mine. The mine tour lasted about 70 minutes in total and was pretty fascinating. This mine has been a source of salt since pre-historic times, based on the tools and cravings found in the mine. The tour of the mine included several interactive areas and movies, two miner slides (awesome), and a train ride out of the mine. Mom was a little scared of the miner slides, but after watching several people go first, she went down with no trouble. The second slide was a lot faster than the first, and she appeared to have fun. After the cable car ride down the hill, we wandered back thru the town and ran into a movie crew filming something in this tiny village. Their equipment was strewn all over the place and it was funny to see them. We made a few unique purchases and then headed to a cafe to get some takeaway for the train ride back to Salzburg. The first train ride was ok, but our second rail-jet train was fabulous...the best yet. Our first class tickets even got us a welcome drink and snack. Mom is now spoiled and it will be hard to shove her into coach tomorrow at the airport. After arriving in Vienna, we made our way to our hotel near the airport, and did a final pack of our luggage in preparation to go home.
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