So the saga continues…
Firstly if you are ever planning on visiting Hallstatt and on a budget, cheap accommodation is impossible to find. Instead I stayed across the lake in the small village of Obertraun. Whilst not especially rural there were no Supermärkte or Bäckereien open by the time I’d arrived (or even in the morning) although luckily I’d stocked up on snacks in Salzburg. I then spent the evening walking through the village before sitting by the lake, letting the exhaustion of being up since one in the morning to catch my flight, wash over me in peaceful surroundings.
Obertraun is about an hours walk from Hallstatt itself around the edge of the lake, so early in the morning I strolled there hoping to arrive before the busloads of tourists arrive and have what is in fact a small village to myself despite visiting during peak tourist system. The village is so beloved of Chinese tourists for its picturesque nature they’ve even created a mirror copy of it in Huizhou city in the south of the country.
Last summer I did the young person’s equivalent of the 18th century Grand Tour; travelling from Austria to Amsterdam via Vienna, Budapest, Prague and Berlin. I had planned to write a diary about my travels at the time, however a combination of overnight coaches, illness and attempting to see as much of these amazing cities as I could in a short space of time effectively meant I never had the time.
With hindsight I have my doubts about the stereotypical inter-railing experience. Spending often around three days in these culturally diverse and artistically rich capitals often only ever whet my appetite for the place, in fact I’m travelling back to Amsterdam this Easter because I felt I saw so little of it. By the time I’d worked out how to use local transport and mastered a few polite phrases, it was off to another capital with another language and yet another web of bus routes to untangle.
So this is the diary I would have written about how to inter-rail and often how not to!
I started off by flying to Salzburg. In some ways this was a fitting place to start as it was the location of my last ever family holiday 7 years previously. I mainly wanted to visit the Halstatt area (you’ll soon see why) before meeting up with my family for a definitely long-awaited family holiday in Vienna, so only spent a few hours wandering around Salzburg before my train came in. I mainly strolled around the city centre, wilting in the 40°C heat and visiting a few places I never saw on my first visit.
My top recommendation if you only have a few hours in Salzburg is visiting graveyards. No I’m not morbid (although as an archaeology student I do end up talking a lot about the dead but that’s an occupational hazard I suppose). Here they are definitely unlike the traditional English cemetery with its often nondescript rows of grey slabs. Every grave is vibrantly colourful, individual and well-maintained.