As much as I wanted to go from the moment I heard about this excursion through the university, I truly didn’t think I could make it happen with my crazy end of the school year exam preparations. But at the last minute it all worked out. The trip consisted of a nice loop starting in Salzburg and going south to Werfen to see the ice caves and castle, then to Piesendorf for a great hostel in the mountain-filled countryside experience, and last but not least to Halstatt (in the Salzkammergut region) to see the world’s first salt mine and this beautiful lakeside city with a long and interesting history before heading back to Salzburg.
I was in my heaven with all this great landscape to shoot but I must admit that the ice caves were the only disappointment. The lighting was so minimal that you could hardly appreciate all the ice and they did not allow pictures of any kind, which I found fairly unjustifiable. It was an interesting experience though to get to the top of a mountain in the summer time and have it be snowing! Love it! The castle, on the other hand, was very tourist oriented. Everyone was dressed up in their mid-evil attire and despite our large group’s wandering habits, did their best to entertain us. Although the weather was not ideal (too calm) we were even able to watch a bird show with a variety of birds. Being so close to the birds yielded some great pictures, but due to the lack of wind, I presume, one of the birds came awfully close to my head during its take-off. Stupid me didn’t flinch as I was determined to get a great picture out of it. Probably not the smartest move after we had just been given a safety speech about how dangerously fast these birds are. Luckily the gust of wind that gushed over my head was the only thing I felt, although I admit I was a bit shaken up afterwards!
The salt mine in Halstatt was very entertaining even if we did have to wear some unusual clothing to get in. Inside we heard many “cheesy,” yet entertaining stories, about the history of the mines, got to ride on a little train out of the mine, and even saw a pretty impressive light show. After the salt mine we went on a city tour where we learned how the people of this city solved a lack of space problem for burying their dead. They have a room full of bones and skulls. And the skulls were fired up like pottery and decorated. Kinda freaky but not a bad idea, right?