Solo Traveling through Austria, the Bavarian Alps, and Berchtesgaden. Day 6


Wow, I’m writing this retroactively, and I almost can’t remember yesterday. It has been a long long ride, but still has gone by quickly. Here are the basics of what I remember from yesterday:

  • I started the day with a jolt! I woke up before my alarm went off, and realized that I didn’t take into consideration the military time that is used for the trains, and most everything in EU. I had bought a train to Hallstatt at 8am, and a train back at 7am… that train back should have been 19:00. My day started as another challenge, but I overcame, ate my pride, and carried on. I got ready, decided that I didn’t want to look too touristy, so I didn’t take a backpack, or anything; I just wore my jeans and my jacket, and then loaded my jacket with all the essentials (phone, passport, euros, and even packed a phone charger as it would be a long day).

  • More bus and train trouble. Once again, I’m complaining without giving details, but the details are not interesting, yet I can’t leave my troubles out completely, as that was a major part of my day. If you are familiar with MARTA in Atlanta, you know that two lines go up and down through Atlanta, and two go east and west. Even that can get complicated on occasion. Now take Salzburg: Picture the MARTA map in your mind, and follow my lead - Take the MARTA train map, now make them 4 times as long (distance). Then hold the lines by the edges, and pull them clockwise, so the middle stays the same but the ends are twisted to the left. Now move the center, which would be Atlanta, and put that on the very right side of the map, but everything has to go through Atlanta. Now add some additional repetitive squares and… well you get the idea.

Salzburg bus station (part of it):

  • Moving right along, I eventually boarded the bus that would take me half way to Hallstatt. I was very excited about this, as it is ride through the country, and along several small lakes. I imagined that it was going to be very pretty, and I might see some good scenery. Strangely, he bus was overloaded with Asians. There were so many, that they had to get a second bus, and it was so full that they had to start turning people away! I guess that it must be summer vacation in Asia or something? I could count on my hands how many non-Asian people were on the buses, and I was one of them.

  • The bus was fine. There was some very pretty scenery that I very much enjoyed. We ended up at a train station where we had about a 30 minute gap, and we (the Asians and myself) waited patiently for the train to arrive. It was nice to walk around for a few minutes after being on the bus for long. When the train got there, we became sardines again, and went along our way. The scenery got fantastic at this point! The grass is so much greener here, that it makes everything look like the Shire from Lord of the Rings. I saw tons of cows and horses, and really enjoyed seeing the sheep and pigs. Some of those pigs were adorable! Ridiculous I know. There were also the pretty buildings, which reminded me of old dutch houses, and you would always find the one church that was the tallest and prettiest building in each town. The closer we got to Hallstatt, that more picturesque everything became. Maybe that was a sign…

  • When I arrived at the Hallstatt station, I then had to get on a boat to takes me the rest of the way there. (“Buses, trains, and boats” should be the sequel to “Planes, trains, and automobiles”!). As I was herded onto this small boat, there was a slight aura of peace in the air. I was anything but peaceful, as you can tell from my the demeanor of my description of the morning, but it just felt, different. I think it was that the air was a little cooler, and that I was finally outside. As the boat cast off, I could already see the other side of the lake. It wasn’t until we were halfway there, and something happened: the entire boat full of people, all gasped in unison. We could see Hallstatt for the first time, and it was like nothing that I had ever seen before!

The boat:

Right before Hallstatt came into view:

Hallstatt at a distance:

  • The best writers take pride in describing those thoughts, feelings, emotions, and pictures, that the average person can’t put into words; I’m not one of the best writers, and I can’t even begin to tell about any of the tangible or intangible effects that I experienced in Hallstatt. I’ll add pictures, but please note, that’s only one of your senses that’s being minutely affected. As I stepped off of the boat, I quickly moved forward to release myself from the crowd behind me. The cool air around me, the smell of the freshest air, the smell of… was it croissants? Yes. There was also a stillness. An excitement. An adventurous adrenaline! This was the place that I had always imagined when attempting to meditate. This was the place that you think of when you picture the Dalai Lama experiencing transcendence. This was the place that you want your ashes scattered over when you die. This is what you feel in the first 3 seconds of placing your feet on the ground in Hallstatt!

  • Every step you take from that point forward is an adventure, and the only reaction that you can actually have, is to try and photograph it. There becomes a major point of frustration, where you know that you want to just take it all in, but that you have to document this so that you can try to share it with the people who can’t be here with you. The houses and shops that fill this area make  you hate it. They’re so perfect, you could never imagine making them so perfect in your mind. You keep waiting to run into that one house, where you can say, “well that doesn’t fit in here,” or, “ they could do a little better there.” It doesn’t ever occur. I started walking, and I didn’t stop (except to take worthless pictures) until I had seen the entire area! And when I was done, I was sweating, tired, and half starved, but hadn’t been that relaxed in well over a decade.

  • After I had seen the majority, if not all, of the town, the sweat, thirst, and starvation started to set in. I found the most beautiful place on the water, and decided, I don’t care how long it takes, I’m going to eat here. Well, I then needed to buy some time and let the lunch crowd die down. I went off taking some pictures, and even had someone take a picture of mine. I took a lot of pictures, but it’s nothing compared to the Asian crowd that where now all over the town. Everyone had one of 2 things: A selfie stick, or a $3,000 camera with a 2ft lens and a tripod. There was no in-between. They all took pictures as if they were trying out for Victoria’s Secret; including the seniors. They would take pictures looking off into the distance to the right, then to the left, then down, then they would try to conjure up tears, then they would skip like a schoolgirl… it was pretty hilarious.

  • I eventually found a seat at the outdoor table that I wanted. I got a spot right on the water and it was incredible. I ordered a half-litre of beert (hey only had Stieglebier) and wienerschnitzel. They then brought me a full litre, wienerschnitzel, a salad, and potatoes. It was great. My biggest complaint was that the bees from all of the flowers were annoying and wouldn’t leave my food alone. Oh well, big deal.

The place where I ate lunch:

  • After lunch, I walked around again. There were a few tourist attractions that I could go for, but wasn’t really interested. I was full, the sun was hot, and I just wanted to relax away from the tourist for a bit. Obviously that is too much to ask, so I would settle for another beer. I found a Hallstatt beer in a bottle, and went for it. As I opened my beer and thought about where to go next, I saw an older man and woman tying up a very small and used looking speedboat. They were laughing and having a good time, and I asked, “Excuse me, you don’t rent that boat do you?” They asked me how long I would want it for, and I said not to worry about it, and that I was just looking to go out and see the other side of the lake. They then said that for a few euros, it was mine for the next hour as long as I took care! I’ll take care! So that’s how I ended up reaching nirvana. Sitting on a boat, in Hallstatt, Austria, with a local beer, crystal clear waters, and pair of cheap sunglasses that I quickly bought at a close-by giftshop. There is no better feeling. Whenever I meditate in the future, I will be attempting to recreate that being in this place.

  • When I got back, I was content, and had nothing left that I wanted to do. I went and sat on a bench in front of the reflective water and just enjoyed the day until the boat came to take me back to the world of trains, buses, and watching the time. The ride back seemed a bit more smooth, and went by fairly quickly. I took two trains this time and didn’t have to get on another bus until I got back to Salzburg. When back, it had started to rain, so I went back to relax for a moment, make plans for the next day, and grab an umbrella.

  • After heading back out, I went to a biergarden (inside of course, since it was raining), and had a roast beef soup with bread dumplings, and a decent helles beer. Then I went to an Irish bar with really good live music, had some new Irish beer (Killkenney’s), it was alright, and then I went back to the flat for a nice and needed sleep. Big day tomorrow, I have to take another bus!