As a child, I couldn’t believe that that blue sky and rolling green meadows, in the midst of which the von Trapp children discovered music, could exist. When older I knew better, of course, and dreamed of someday actually being part of the landscape which gave me one of my happiest childhood memories.
And then last summer actually traversing through the Austrian countryside, felt like a dream – majestic Alps, valleys in full bloom, quaint Austrian villages and crystal clear “Sees” or lakes with the sun for company for most part. Salzkammergut is one Austrian alpine region which fits the above description, and for most part we explored different areas within the region. One such day was in and around the picturesque Hallstatt village.
An early morning ride took us to Dachstein ice caves, set high up in the Dachstein mountain. It is accessed via a cable car and a fifteen minute uphill walk with beautiful views. There are designated cave tours which take visitors through the caves. It was my first time stepping in an ice cave – honestly I did not expect to be walking through a massive icy landscape of sculptures and tall icicles, all bathed in blue light. An hour long tour and dripping water left me chilled to the bone, not exactly what I was looking for in summer, but it was quite the experience.
Austria has great vantage points for some spectacular views of Alps extending for miles and a bird’s eye view of the multitude of lakes dotting the Austrian landscape. One such viewpoint is 5 Fingers Lookout. Shaped in the form of a hand jutting out from the edge of a cliff, its perfect to view Hallstatt See and the Hallstatt village, and to lap up multiple shades of blue on a clear, summer day. It lies above the Dachstein caves accessed via the same cable car.
Tearing ourselves away from those panoramas with some difficulty, we headed to Hallstatt, which is indeed one of the prettiest villages I have seen. And summer makes all that difference, doesn’t it? With flowers blooming in ever nook and corner, a glassy Hallstatt lake and surrounding mountains, a walk along the lake and in the village square is bliss.