Friday, October 26, 2018

Hallstatt, Austria

Thursday 13 Sep 2018

Another early start for us today. At 7am, we bade Frau Huber goodbye to continue our next leg to Hallstatt. It was indeed too short a time having spent only 2 nights in Schladming. There was so much hiking that could be done in the Schladming Dachstein area. But alas, we only had less than 2 weeks for our trip this time.

We took the bus from Gastehaus Huber (free with Schladming Dachstein sommercard) to Rathaus. Then we walked the short bit to Schladming train station to catch the replacement bus to Stainach-Irdning train station as the Schladming train station was closed for upgrading works. The bus departed at 7.50am to Stainach-Irdning. Then we waited for a bit at the train station for our train to Hallstatt at 9am. We arrived at Hallstatt bahnhof at 10.30am. The bus and train ride from Schladming to Hallstatt cost EUR 17.90 per person which we bought from the ticket machine at Schladming train station.

Then we took the short ferry ride across the Hallstatt lake to reach the village. The "Stephanie" Ferry ride cost EUR 3 per person.

the ferry to Hallstatt

welcome to Hallstatt

houses by the lake

view of the Hallstatt lake

posing by the Hallstatt lake

We were not staying in Hallstatt, as we would be continuing our journey today to Salzburg. We had our backpacks on today, and would be keeping them in the locker at Hallstatt salt mine. We took some photographs at the famous postcard view site with the Hallstatt church and lake which is just a short walk from the ferry jetty. This quaint little village is charming, albeit getting busier nowadays with throngs of tourists coming in. Perhaps it would be calmer earlier in the morning, which would be ideal if you were staying in the night.

Postcard view of Hallstatt

houses of Hallstatt

Hallstatt town

We walked towards the Hallstatt salt mine at the funicular train entrance, enjoying views of the village and lake while walking there. You could also hike up to enter the Hallstatt salt mine instead of taking the funicular, but with our backpacks, it was not a good idea. At the Hallstatt salt mine shop, which was also the entrance for the funicular ride up the mountain to the salt mine, we kept our backpacks in the locker for EUR 6 per locker for 3 hours. We then bought our Hallstatt salt mine tour with return furnicular train ride for a discounted fee of EUR 25.50 per person (regular EUR 30) with the Schaldming Dachstein sommercard.

walk by the lake

take the funicular train ride up the mountain

We spent about 3 hours at the salt mine, beginning with the funicular train ride up the mountain which only took a few minutes (compared to 2 hours of hiking). After reaching the peak, we walked to the Welterbeblick viewing platform to get a vantage point of Hallstatt town with the surrounding mountain and lake. Such a majestic view!

view of Hallstatt town and lake from the mountain
view of Hallstatt town and lake from the mountain

We then proceeded to walk about 10 more minutes to the entrance of the salt mine tour. Firstly, we had to wear coveralls on top of our clothes. You can also deposit your belongings here if you do not want to bring them in the salt mine. You will be given luggage tags for picking up later.

It was cool inside once we entered, about 8 deg Celsius. The salt in the Hallstatt mountain was deposited millions of years ago.  As a result of colliding tectonic plates new mountain ranges were formed. In the rift located in their foreground, a huge sea was formed. Rock salt layers were then deposited in the reservoirs. The Hallstatt salt mine is still operational in mining activities, in fact it was ongoing during our tour. More about the Hallstatt salt mine here.

We had a fun time sliding down the miner's slide, apart from being an educational tour in the salt mine. We also had the chance to take a train ride exiting from the mine.

salt mine tunnel entrance

in the salt mine tunnel

slide down

the slide down the mine

salt lake inside the mine

narrow tunnel

take the train to exit the mine

You could always buy some rock salt souvenirs at the salt mine shop at the exit after descending the mountain via the funicular train. We were short for time as we would be journeying onwards to Salzburg, so we didn't browse through the shop. We took the 4.20pm bus, with a change at Bad Ischl for EUR 13.60 per person. We bought the ticket from the bus driver by cash. We finally arrived at Salzburg bus station at 7pm after 2.5 hours. Today was a full day from early morning until dusk so for tonight, we just had dinner in our room with the supplies we brought from home.

rock salt for sale

At Salzburg, we stayed at MyNext Summer Hostel, booked via for EUR148 for 2 nights with ensuite bathroom and kitchen but no air cond. The hostel is about 15 mins (1 km) walk from the bus station. We weren't aware that there is a Salzburg metro S-Bahn station just behind our hostel, or we could have taken the metro from the bus stop.

MyNext Summer hostel Salzburg room


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Dachstein Mountain, Austria

Wednesday, 12 Sep 2018

Today was an early start for us as we would climbing up Dachstein Mountain. Not really climbing up, as we would be taking the gondola lift and do a glacier hike to one of the peaks at Dachstein. Dachstein is a karstic mountain, and the second highest mountain in the Northern Limestone Alps. Its highest point is at 2995m. Source: Wikipedia

We used our Schladming-Dachstein sommercard, so the gondola lift was free. During the summer months, you need to book your gondola ride as there are limited seats. You can do your reservation here. We booked ours at 9.15am

We started off from our guesthouse at 7am, took the bus to Planet Planai (free with sommercard), then took the Ramsau Dachstein bus at 8.10am (free with sommercard) to the Dachstein glacier lift. We reached at the bottom Dachstein gondola station at 9am and it was full of hikers.

our bus from our guesthouse

Dachstein gondola station

When we reached up Dachstein, we walked a bit and took some photographs from the viewing platform. We skipped the Ice Palace, Suspension Bridge and Stairways to Nothingness (additional payment required) and decided to do the glacier hike instead. The hike to Dachsteinwarte (2740m elevation) took about 1 hour per way (1.7km per way) and we then returned back to Dachstein gondola station. There is a cafe hut (Seethalehutte) up there for hikers to stop by for drinks and meals. Those more daredevil can opt for a vertical hike up the rocks (not for the faint hearted!)

view from Dachstein bottom gondola station
view from Dachstein top station

view from Dachstein top station

Dachstein mountain

Dachstein mountain

viewing platform

Although it was summer, there was still glacier on the mountain but the ice was not thick so we were able to hike without crampons or hiking poles. It wasn't too slippery.

glacier hike
glacier hike

beware of crevasse
glacier hike

we reached Dachsteinwarte peak (2740m)

Seethalehutte at Dachsteinwarte peak. Notice the Nepali prayer flags

On the Dachsteinwarte glacier hike trail

We descended at about 1pm and took the bus back to Planet Planai at 1.50pm, reaching back Schladming at 2.35pm and had our lunch at Bashir's pizzeria again. We initially planned to hike to Untertal (bus at 3.50pm), but apparently the bus was non existent on this particular day. So we spent the rest of the afternoon around Schladming town, bought our train ticket to Halstatt for tomorrow and bought some souvenirs before taking the bus back to our guesthouse at 5.45pm

charming village view at Ramsau Dachstein

cows grazing

more happy cow
charming village view at Ramsau Dachstein

Rathaus at Schladming town

river at Schladming town. You can also kayak here

Tomorrow our journey would be continuing to Hallstatt


Friday, October 19, 2018

Schladming, Austria

Tuesday, 11 Sep 2018

Today, we would be travelling from Vienna to Schladming, an almost 5 hour journey via train. We had to change 2 times: from Vienna central station, we took the Railjet 71 to Bruck/Mur Bahnhof (2 hrs); then took the Regional train 1709 from Bruck/Mur to St Michael in Oberstmk (22 min); and finally from St Michael to Schladming. However, Schladming station is currently closed for repair works, so we had to alight at Stainach-Irdning Bahnhof, and took the replacement bus to Schladming. Our itinerary did not mention this change of route, so we were not aware of the change. It was announced in the train, but in German, so we did not understand it. Luckily another passenger asked us if we were headed to Schladming, then asked us to board the bus from Stainach-Irdning. We were thankful for the helpful fellow passenger. We departed Vienna about 9am and arrived Schladming around 1.40pm.

in the train

happy cow view from train

rolling hills

Our ticket was a Sparschiene (discounted) ticket which cost EUR 24 per person which we bought online prior to travelling to Austria from the OBB website. It was very convenient for us. We chose to pick up the ticket from the OBB vending machine, which we printed out once we arrived at Vienna airport. You could also buy the ticket from the OBB app and choose to display the electronic ticket via the app. But make sure you have data connectivity on your mobile phone if you choose this option. Free wifi is available throughout the bigger train station and in the Railjet. But there was no wifi in the Regional train or replacement bus.

From Schladming train station, we took the taxi (EUR 9) to our Gastehaus Huber (EUR56 per night, via It was quite a distance to walk from the train station with our backpacks under the hot sun, so we chose to take a taxi. We got help from the train station officer to call for a taxi as there was no taxi around when we arrived.

Our Gastehaus Huber is a participating guesthouse under the Schladming-Dachstein Sommercard scheme. This means we were eligible to enjoy free use of public transporation and gondola lifts in the Schladming Dachstein area and discounted admission fees to many attraction sites, including the Hallstatt salt mine, which we would be visiting the day after tomorrow. Check out all the perks of the Schladming-Dachstein Sommercard here.

our Sommercard

Our Gastehaus Huber is a charming bungalow in a farmhouse setting. Open the windows, and we were greeted by views of cows and ponies grazing the grass; and rolling green hills. We were after all, in the Austrian alps! The air was fresh (apart from the occasional cow dung smell). Our host, Frau Huber was very accommodating, explaining to us the bus schedules, which we could now use for free for the duration of our stay after she printed out our Sommercard. We just had to tap our Sommercard in the bus and enjoy the free ride!

Our Gastehaus Huber

entrance to Gastehaus Huber

our cosy room

view of cows from our room window


view from our guesthouse

view from our guesthouse

posing in front of our guesthouse

Since it was already 3pm, we only planned to take the free bus to Schladming town, alighting at Planet Planai, then take the gondola lift up Planai mountain and do a short hike up there. The last gondola descent was at 5pm.

bus stop in front of our guesthouse

waiting for the bus

At Planai, again we only had to tap our Sommercard and enjoy the free lift up and down. However, you can only take 1 return free gondola lift per day.

view of Schladming from the gondola

at the top station of Planai gondola lift at 1825m

the hiking trail on top of Planai

the lake at Planai

We descended from Planai at 4.45pm, then had our early dinner at the halal Bashir pizzeria, just a walking distance from Planet Planai. Then we walked back to Planet Planai and took the last bus back to Obere Klaus at 5.45pm. The downside of our staying at Gastehaus Huber was that we had to leave Schladming town early, or we had to hike back about 2.5km, or take the taxi, which we had to pay.

Al Bashir pizzeria

our Margherita pizza

Tomorrow will be an early start for us as had already booked for the gondola lift up to Dachstein mountain at 9.15am. You need to book your spot in the summer months as seats are limited. Reservation can be done here

Stay tuned!