Salt mines of Altaussee

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August 23rd 2018
Published: August 26th 2018
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Gravenstein apples!
The next morning the fire was still burning in Hallstat, Madame Sydler said that there was another salt mine at Altaussee, I could take the train and then a bus to get there. I have been listening to a book about salt, in preparation to go to a salt mine, so I decided I did not want to miss the opportunity if I could help it. At the TI they told me that there is not a direct bus, I would have to take a taxi, they have a 'cheap' taxi service in Bad Ausee, 9.50 euro each way. I pondered what to do, I really wanted to go to a salt mine. The next train was a few mins or a couple of hours, I decided to take my time and walk around Bad Goisern, it really was a cute town, much nicer than Hallstat as far as crowds, mostly it was Germans or Austrians on holiday or just living their normal lives. I stopped at a bakery and got a nice woven roll, like a small Challah bread. There was a farmers market in the center of town, I got some prunes that looked like Santa Rosa Prunes, another

Large rock of salt taken from the mountain
donut peach, (they are so good!) and a Gravenstein apple! I told the man that I was from where that apple got it's name, I am not sure he understood. I then went to the Unimarket, their grocery store, and purchased some cheese and a new deodorant (mine had crumbled to pieces the morning before and I was struggling to apply it using the small pieces I had salvaged). I had an expresso at a cafe and wrote some postcards.

The train was a 30 min ride, past where I had gone the day before, to Bad Ausee, another cute town. Once I had got to the train station, I was hopeful that I could figure out how to get to where I wanted to go by bus, I walked a ways toward what I thought was a bus stop. Once I got there, I realized I could not figure it out so I called the number I was given for the taxi. I could not explain where I was so I had to walk back to the train station and I had them pick me up there, once I got back there, there were the busses! One going

Miners slide, I forgot to ask if Miners really used this, I imagine that they must have.
to Altaussee, but I had already called the taxi and the man at the TI said the bus did not go to the salt mine, so I stuck with the Taxi, I am glad I did. First off, it was a long walk up hill from the bus station, and I mean long. I also got a little insider information from my driver, he drove me there and picked me up, more to follow on that. The Salt mine tour was interesting, it was given in German and there was English App that I could listen too, clearly he spoke longer than the person on the app and was more entertaining, I was wishing I new German. We walked 700m into the mountain through tunnels of solid salt and rock. I learned how they extracted it from the mountain, either by breaking up the salt and bringing it out by car or the easier way, drilling long tubes deep into the mountain, filling it with water and waiting for the salt to dissolve in the water. All these mines around are still working mines that delivers many millions of kg of salt each year. This mine is not as old

Wall with salt and rock mixed together, really amazing colors
as the Hallstat mine, only 800 to 900 years. This mine was special and called the treasure mine due to it being the place where they, the Germans or Austrians, hid priceless paintings and statues from the Nazi Regime. It was a perfect place due to the consistent temperatures, humidity and salt in the air, it preserved the art. They showed a short movie of how the miners saved the art when the Nazis had bombs delivered in crates marked fragile and porcelain to this mine once they figured out where the art was hidden. The plan was to blow up the whole lot, the miners figured it out and safely took the bombs out! They were heros saving all these priceless relics like Van Goghs and such. I rode on two miners slides and watched a cool light and music show at the bottom over a salt lake. I guess they used to have concerts there, but since some large disaster happended, they were not allowed to have so many people there at a time, I am assuming something to do with evacuating everyone safely.

I will never think of salt the same way again. I have learned

This was part of the light show that they had, The red ball changed colors and it was only half of a ball, the water is in the middle and it is salt, it mirrored everthing above beautifully.
so much in listening to my audio book and being around where empires were built on salt! Here I am a nurse dealing with Sodium Chloride and never thinking about how important it is, I guess because in our culture, we always get plenty or too much! I did not think that once people started eating grain based diets they needed to add salt, and that domesticated animals, need to get salt somehow if they are not eating it in their natural diet. Salt is what enabled people to roam from a food source adn fisherman to stay out longer, they could salt the fish. It changed the course of humanity. Very interesting, I have always taken it for granted.

I had a nice picnic lunch with my fruit, cheese and bread while I waited for my taxi back to the train. I had a view of this really intersting mountain called Loser, I could see that you could take a cable car up there and even maybe walk to it. I pondered trying to figure it out, but I had had my fill of wandering off with out knowledge of how I was going to get back, it

Loser mountain, calling me to climb it.
was down hill from there and I could not explain where I was to the person on the other end of the phone. And also, it was raining and cloudy again with thunder, I worried a little about taking a cable car with lightening. My ride with Christian, the driver was very nice, he is from this area, has a Silver Laborador named Emily that he likes to hike with and he lives in Bad Goisern where I am staying. His english was pretty good, so we were able to have a decent conversation, I was a little starved for conversation at this point being isolated in a country that speaks another language. I might have said this before, most people that were in the toursim industry speaks english, but the rest of the German's holidaying here, either did not speak english or were not interested in talking with me. I also felt a little odd asking everyone, 'Spreken sie english', expecting them to put the effort into speaking with me. I had noticed that most the music I hear on the radio so far, is American, there is a lot of American culture here, peoples shirts, the music, Starbucks,

As close as I got to Hallstat that night.
Mc Donalds and Burger King. While walking through the park the other night, the teenagers where hanging out blaring their American music that I have heard Freya listen to (I do not know the name). While in the car with Christian a song came on the radio that I recognized, it was not in english, however. I mentioned that I recognized the song, from the 80s I think, he commented that it was Falco, the second most popular people to America that had come out of Austria. The first most popular being Arnie, I did not know right away who he was referring too, I made a questioning comment and he said 'Arnold Schwarzenegger'. Of course, how could I forget, he was our governor! He was born in this area of Austria. I told him I was planning on going to Hallstat, but I had to change my plans due to the fire. When I was there yesterday, it was so crowded, I was liking the other parts of Salzkammergut. He told me that the Chinese love it in Hallstat, they have built and entire model of Hallstat in China, here they think it is a museum and that people

Sunset view from lake walk
do not live or work there. He has a friend that lives there and one night while he was sitting on his couch watching TV, 5 Chinese came in and started taking pictures of him, he had forgotten to lock his door! The down town of Bad Ausse was a little crowded with cars, he says it is that way until the middle of September, then it is slow, that is when Holiday is over. I asked if that happens in Hallstat, he laughed and said that Hallstat never gets a holiday. It sounds like Mission beach, but worse, those poor people living there, here they are in an idyllic place, yet it is overrun and really no longer Hallstat anymore. We went by what looked like a Maypole, I asked about it, he called it a Maibalm, May is when the snow melts and the town has their Maypole celebration! They are very tall and decorated with flowers and sprigs of green, I guess they stay up all summer. He told me rival towns try to steal each others may poles in jest, if they succeed, they have to pay 50 L of beer to ransom it back! I

part of the lake walk was a built up bridge following the lake
am not sure how they move them, they are as tall as trees, 75 or 100 feet. My plan was to go to Hallstat next, but after speaking with Christian I was re-thinking my plan. Since he lived in Bad Goisern, I asked if there was something I should not miss there, he told me I should go to his girlfriends bar, Cheers. I did get off the train at Hallstat, you have to then take a boat to the town since the train was on the opposite side of the lake. I had seen a nice trail following the lake on this side that I wanted to check out. It was so lovely, it was off and on sprinkling and it was cooler than it had been which was nice. After a half hour or so of walking on the trail, I decided to continue on and walk to where the next train picked up, I said Auf Wiedersehen to Hallstat, knowing that I would not be able to come back this trip. I guess my only experience was rushing through the town being angry. I did not want to brave the crowds and the noise of the helicopters that were still continuously flying back and forth from the lake to the mountain side.

The walk along the lake was lovely, the clouds and settling dusk painted a tranquil picutre, I was the only one there, except for some bike riders that would pass, a black squirrel, a jogger and a cat! The cat was very friendly and threatened to follow me after I gave it much desired attention. He made me miss my cats! There were some little wooden signs on the side of the trail identifying some flowers and plants, of course they were all in German, so I did not understand any of them. It was too cold to swim in the lake, but I dipped my feet in and finished my picnic food. I got to Obersee about an hour before the next train, there was a lovely restaurant right there on the water, so I stopped for a glass of Chardonney, it was good, not like the California Chardonnay, but the old style that I like. I wrote in my other journal and pondered my day. I was missing someone to share in my experiences, I like to travel alone, but not always. I look forward to seeing my team mates in a couple of days. I wanted to stay there longer, but the last train was on it's way, so I left my idyllic spot on the lake, I would love to come back and stay in Obersee. As I walked by there was a large family, setting up a couple of tables for what looked like a dinner celebration, right next to the lake. It looked like a great place to have a celebration.

I did not need dinner after all my snacking on my picnic food, I had a gelato and headed back to my Pension. I decided to try out Cheers to see if I could meet some other people. I went there about 8:30, it did not open until 8. There was only on man at the bar and two other younger men in a booth. There was a woman as the bar tender, I ordered a white wine, she poured something out of a big green glass bottle that was unlabeled, it tasted good. I tried to talk with her and ask if she was the bar owner, she said she did not speak english and referred me to the man sitting at the bar. He invited me over and we had a nice conversation, I guess she was not the bar owner, or she was partly the bar owner, I don't know. Rudi was the man I met, we had some superficial conversation about our lives and where he has visited and where I have visited. After about an hour, wished him goodbye and headed back to my pension. Tomorrow is my big travel day to go to Croatia! More to come!

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