Heart of Europe
Austria title

Our second week in Europe was spent in the resort town of Schladming in the Austrian Alps, at the Alpine Club.

The accommodations were swank, the service wonderful, and the food in the hotel restaurant was top-notch.

The weather, on the other hand, wasn't too cooperative and most of our Austrian photos have a lot of cloud in them. (Compare the postcard on the right with our photo of a similar scene below.)

But we had fun partaking of the summer activities the area offers (which included just hanging around town). Our two major excursions:

Salt mine at Hallstatt Castle Hohenwerfen

(Among the activities below, we watched more European Championship games, including a heartbreaking England loss in the quarterfinals sad smiley on Sally's birthday.)

Schladming postcard
family in Schladming
Schladming valley
Schladming city hall

One of our favorite Austrian activities was riding the „Sommerodelbahn" tracks: very clever ways of using luge and toboggan runs in the snow-less seasons.

We made visits to two tracks, but I only noted one of the locations in my trip notes. That was at Flachau, and I believe the picture below, of Hal in mid-run, was taken there.

(As you can see in this YouTube video, the place has changed a bit since 1996!)

My notes do record, however, that on this excursion, Hal, Sally, and Henry made 2 runs each and Kathy made one. On our later visit (I believe it was to another location) Sally made 4, Henry and Hal 3 each, and, again, Kathy found once to be enough.

Hallstatt scenery

Our first Sommerrodelbahn excursion was on the way to Hallstatt, a little town in an incredibly beautiful setting.

In addition to the great scenery, Hallstatt offers tours of its local salt mine, which you reach by riding an amazingly steep funicular train.

It's one of several salt mines you can tour in the area near Salzburg (which literally means "Salt Fortress").

Hallstatt panorama

Scenery like this would have made the trip worthwhile, but the salt mine tour was lots of fun to boot.

To keep your clothes from getting dirty or damp, you have to don these colorful overalls for the tour. Here are Kathy & Tootsie on the tour train in one of the mine's tunnels...

salt mine tour
...and some more shots of this picturesque village, from lake level and from the funicular:
Hallstatt building
What a setting! It's almost unreal, it's so beautiful...
Our other major Austrian excursion was to Burg Hohenwerfen, a wonderfully photogenic medieval (though oft restored and expanded) castle in a lovely setting.
Hohenwerfen in the distance
Hohenwerfen castle
Hohenwerfen ticket
Hohenwerfen castle
Hohenwerfen castle
In addition to being so terribly scenic, and interesting architecturally and historically, Hohenwerfen has another main attraction: impressive falconry demonstrations.
falconry demonstration
A most enjoyable outing, in spite of those persistent clouds...
Hohenwerfen embrasure
Hohenwerfen embrasure
salt mine ticket
reverse of salt mine ticket
map showing other salt mines
Salt mine brochure
Hohenwerfen brochure
Schladming postcard
postcard to Granny

The reverse of our ticket lists some of the many tourist attractions in the area, from the salt mines themselves, to early medieval structures, to a "hidden theatre" and churches.

The front of the ticket informs us that the tours operate rain or shine ("in heat" and "in rainweather").

Here's another Schladming postcard, with a note on the back to Granny, pointing to the final phase of our adventure: Italy!

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