Oh Obertraun, you stole my heart.
When you read travel books of "must go" spots, Hallstatt is always listed. Knowing that Hallstatt would be pricey and crowded with tourists, however, I found a little town called Oberraun about 3 miles away nestled in between the mountains. I must say that this was THE WAY TO GO. It was the sweetest little village.
Our bed and breakfast was the best place I have ever stayed at in my life in terms of customer service. It is run by a lovely couple. Trevor is British and Judith is German, and they were just incredible. And even though I am all about blending into the culture and speaking da language, I was so relieved they were English speakers. My German sounds like Klingon.
They have bikes to use for free, so we didn't need a car to get to Hallstatt and back or anywhere for that matter. Every room is actually an apartment, with full kitchen and bathroom, and the prices were extremely reasonable. (their website)
The first day we pretty much just explored and took everything in. That night, we ventured to Hallstatt where the couple we were staying with did traditional Austrian dance in the town square! Before going on stage Trevor's last words were "Don't make fun of me". I liked this guy already.
The next day, Adam and I woke up and enjoyed the absolutely ridiculous breakfast that Trevor and Judith made for us. We were planning to climb the Krippenstein mountain, but after eating the weight equivalent of a small Austrian child I was debating taking the cable car.
The cable car costs a whopping $50 USD per person roundtrip, and Adam and I being the cheapskates we are (let's be real here) we decided the climb the mountain ourselves. It says 2.5 hours in the brochure and had the trails all marked in pretty colors.
Before we hiked Krippenstein, however, we went to the ice cave at the base of the mountain.
After the ice cave, everyone filed out and started walking to the cable car to make the 5 minute trip to the top of the mountain while we smugly took off on what looked like a challenging trail. The rocks were painted to show the way every 5-10 feet and at first my naive self was like "I can clearly see where the trail is going. This seems a bit excessive." Until climbing the mountain LITERALLY became climbing the mountain, on our hands and feet. The painted rocks were the only way there was even a trail anymore.
"YOU DUMMIES BETTER HAVE PACKED A LUNCH." -Love, Krippenstein
We made it in 2 hours, shaky and tired but feeling triumphant!
At the top the real treat is the Dachstein 5 fingers installment! There are 5 fingers that jut out over the valley below and you feel like you could fall. Since after climbing the mountain that is just what we wanted to do.
We took the 5 min cable car down this time. I just knew I would fall off of the cliff if I tried to do the whole thing in reverse.
The last day we did some minor hiking in Hallstatt and rented a boat to take around the lake.
I warned you, photo explosion indeed. How do you pick less than 10 photos from a 3 day trip in your favorite place in the entire world? We will be back one day for winter to go skiing.
Moral of the story here? Go to Obertraun if you are looking for an Austrian destination. The quaint little town had the friendliest, most hard working people who seemed so genuinely at peace and happy.
Vienna is next!