Fall in Europe: Austria with Family (Part 1)   2 comments

Fall in Europe:  Austria with Family (Part I)

Vienna, Hallstatt, Salzburg, Berchtesgaden & Melk, Austria

Sept. 18 – 28, 2015

It’s a grand time to vacation in Austria when our daughter & husband live in Vienna.  Since our last visit was Dec. 2014, we decided it was high time we go there again.  In Dec. we were in Vienna with three of our four children, and this time the youngest son & wife (Derick & Chelsea) and my brother & wife (Keith & Marilyn) got to participate in the joys of Austria.  So this is Part I of my Fall in Europe Blog.  The Part II of our Fall in Europe Blog will be “Austria & Germany with Family & Friends”.  Our good friends, Mark & Karen arrived to experience the fun times of Vienna & Germany. 


Saturday morning grocery shopping in Vienna with Kellee.


Celebrating Kellee’s birthday at a Heuriger. 


  Heuriger:  The name given to Austrian wine taverns in which specially licensed local winemakers serve their most recent year’s wines for short periods following the growing season.  However, the Heurigen has evolved into year-round ventures serving full meals, usually  accompanied by traditional Viennese music played on the accordion and violin. 


Dirndl & Lederhosen:  It’s the traditional dress found in Austria & the Alpine regions of Germany.  Originally, the dirndl was the working dress of female servants.  Around 1870-1880, the upper classes adopted the Dirndl as a modern dress and wore it on their summer holidays.  The lederhosen were the working trouser for the male peasantry.  Today the wearing of the dirndl & lederhosen is generally regarded as a sign of national pride & tradition. 

The evening was complete with the wearing of lederhosen & dirndl’s. 


  The Heurigensanger serenading the birthday girl.  


We moved inside, and then, the incident.  Well, you would have had to be there……  And yes, that’s my brother!


It was such a fun birthday celebration with friends & family.


The Hofburg Palace:  The former imperial palace in the center of Vienna.  It is the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria.  It was built in the 13th century and has expanded over the centuries.  It has housed some of the most powerful people in European and Austrian history, including monarchs of the Habsburg dynasty. 


Augustinian Church:  Built into the Hofburg, this is the Gothic & Neo-Gothic church used by the Habsburgs as their court church and also for weddings.  This is where Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) were married.   We attended Mass here Sunday morning and particularly enjoyed listening to the choir. 


Vienna is a beautiful city.


Lunch on a sunny day along the Danube Canal in Vienna.  Most canal restaurants are already closed for the winter.


St. Rupert’s in considered the oldest church in Vienna, it is first referenced in a document from 1200.  During the Middle Ages, the church was the seat of the Salt Office, which distributed salt to individual buyers & ensured its quality.  The huge St. Stephens Cathedral was built 1339-1365. 


So did my brother think he could find Captain Morgan here?



When in Vienna one can’t pass up the opportunity to go to The Wiener Staatsoper (opera house).    The beautiful opera house dates from 1869.  How about standing room tickets for 4 Euro?  We were on the front standing row, and one act was enough to “get the experience.” 


Train ride from Vienna to Hallstatt, Austria.  It took about 4 hours with transfers.  Below are photos out the train window.  The Austrian lake area scenery was beautiful.   Hallstatt is located in Upper Austria, on Hallstatter See (a lake), and has a population of less than 1,000. 


 The train arrives across the water from Hallstatt.  A ferry takes you to the beautiful town.


Hallstatt, Austria:   Hallstatt, Austria’s oldest village, is nestled between the edge of Hallstatter See & the towering Dachstein mountains.  It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Jim has declared it to be one of the prettiest places he has seen.  Hallstatt is known for its production of salt, dating back to prehistoric time.  Salt was a valuable resource, so the region was historically very wealthy. 


Of course our first order of business was to eat and to eat in a scenic place.


Catholic Church:  Overlooks the town from above.  The first pictures is looking up towards the Catholic Church on the side of the hill, and the next photos we are walking up to it.   


Info indicates that the Catholic Church dates back to about 1181.  By 1505 the church had been completed, despite difficulties in building such a stunning masterpiece on top of vertical rock. 


The church has twin altars. The one of the right dates to 1515 & is dedicated to Mary, who’s flanked by St. Barbara & St. Catherine.


Beinhaus:  …or “Bone House”.  Next to the Catholic Church stands the 12th century Chapel of St. Michael.  Its bone chapel contains more than 600 skulls.  With Hallstatt pinned between mountains & a lake, there was little room to bury people. After being in the ground 12 years, they were dug up to make room for new burials.  Each has been decorated and marked with the deceased’s name and date of death and stored in St. Michael’s Chapel. 


 As I mentioned, the Catholic Church overlooks the little town of Hallstatt.  It was beautiful site to behold.


The Protestant Church of Hallstatt:  In 1860, Emperor Franz Josef finally allowed non-Catholic Christians to build churches.  in 1863, Hallstatt’s miners pooled their resources and built this fine church.  It’s located right off Market Square. 


Market Square:  The market square of the UNESCO World Heritage town is definitely a picturesque area of Hallstatt. Each year guests from around the world meet at the historic square.  The square is surrounded by picturesque little houses.  In the center of the square stands the mighty Holy Trinity statue.

And here we are!


Looking off the balcony of our little hotel which was located right next to Market Square.


Salzwelten (Salt Mine) Hallstatt:  Hallstatt claims this to be the oldest salt mine in the world.  This underground world was first dug by hand more than 3,000 years ago. 


Hallstatt High Valley:  This was the working area and habitat of the salt miners & their families.  Graves were discovered by accident in 1846.  Detailed records of the excavations were kept.  These findings eventually gave its name to an entire era:  the early Iron Age (800-400 BC), now known as the “Hallstatt period”.  An interesting story:  Miners discovered the well-preserved corpse of a man.  This corpse led to the conclusion that the find was hundreds of years old and he was subsequently buried as a heathen outside the graveyard walls.  Today it is believed that the man was a victim of a mining accident as early as 1.000 BC. 

To get to the salt mine we first took a funicular, then walked some distance on up the mountain to the mine.


On the trail we passed a glass case with 2,500-year-old bones.


After dressing in our miner’s suits we went into the mine and through a long tunnel.  Here we have Keith & Marilyn in front of the ancient mine in their “miner’s suits”.  Our guide escorted us down a tunnel that was dug in 1719.  We saw mining techniques and a subterranean lake.  At the last we straddled a board which was called a train and rode it to the end of the exit tunnel.


Not once but twice we got to slide down banisters to a lower level of the mine.  Then at the end we had the opportunity to buy the photo, which also had also clocked our speed. 

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UNESCO World Heritage:  The Hallstatt-Dachstein alpine landscape, a part of the Eastern Alps, is one of visual drama with huge mountains rising abruptly from narrow valleys.  Its prosperity since medieval times has been based on salt mining, focused on the town of Hallstatt. 


Overlooking Hallstatt


Talk about a scenic place to have a bite to eat and the best Radler (Stiegl) in all of Austria & Germany….this is it!


 Waiting for the train to take us from Hallstatt to Salzburg.  Bye-bye Hallstatt, it was grand.  One of my favorite places in the world!



 Salzburg, Austria:  Standing beside the Salzach River, the Altstadt’s (old-town) domes & spires and the cliff-top fortress and mountains beyond make it a fairy-tale city.  The city is forever smiling to the tunes of Mozart and to the The Sound of Music.  During our time in Salzburg we didn’t enjoy the rain, but we still saw lots. 


One of the highlights of the rainy day was finally finding one of Rick Steve’s recommended restaurants, Gasthaus zum Wilden Mann.  Interestingly enough this is what it says in Rick’s book & I will quote, “this is the place if the weather’s bad and you’re in the mood for a hearty, cheap meal at a shared table in one well-antlered room.”  The meal was as good as promised. 


We even got a picture with Robert the owner, Derick & the Rick Steves book.  Rick also mentioned that he simply loves this place. 


So will Marilyn ever speak to me again?  Good to the last drop!


St. Peter’s Churchyard:  We found the grave of Major General Harry J. Collins.  My brother Glen, served under Collins in WWII, in the famed 42nd Rainbow Division.  The 42nd Division was credited with the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp.  Glen never spoke of it, but he was my hero.   


    Berchtesgaden, Germany:  Adolf Hitler loved this corner of Bavaria.  It is here that in the 1920’s, just out of prision, Hitler finished his work on his memoir and Nazi primer, Mein Kampf.  In the 1930’s this is where Hitler had his mountain retreat, The Eagle’s Nest, built.  We were disappointed because of the rain, all excursions to the Eagle’s Nest were cancelled. 


Obersalzberg Documentation Center & Bunker:  This museum was opened in the 1990’s.  I thought the highlight was the bunker system, since the other rooms where all in German.  Construction on the bunker began in 1943.  It is an underground town, which held meeting rooms, offices, archives for the government, and lavish living quarter for Hitler, all connected by four miles of tunnels cut through solid rock by slave labor. 


Our next train ride on OBB (the Austrian train) was from Salzburg to Melk, Austria.  It took about 2 1/2 hours. 


  Melk Abbey, Melk, Austria:  On my, the grandeur of the Baroque Melk Abbey! It is a massive Benedictine monastery, which was founded in 1089 in a medieval fortress belonging to the House of Babenberg. After 1,000 years it’s still functioning as an abbey and school today.  Our first stop on our tour of Melk Abbey was the Abbey Museum which is located in the imperial rooms. 


From the Museum we went into to the Marble Hall which was the imperial banqueting chamber in the high baroque style.  The walls and ceiling are magnificently decorated.  The ceiling fresco was painted in 1731.


The Abbey library rises two floors and also has a beautifully painted ceiling.  It contains approximately 80,000 volumes of priceless works, from the 9th through the 15th centuries.  (No photos were allowed in the library.  I copied this from Wikipedia where the holder of the photo has released it into the public domain).


Before entering the Church at Melk Abbey one can overlook the Danube and the pretty little town of Melk.


The highlight of the baroque monastery is the awesomely beautiful church.



A great lunch in the cute little town of Melk, then a direct one-hour train ride to Vienna. 


Back to Vienna and one last sit-down family visit.  The next morning we parted company.  Derick & Chelsea had already been to Prague & Bratislava so they flew home.  Keith & Marilyn went by train to Venice, Italy, & spent another week in Venice & in Tuscany.  Jim & I met Mark & Karen at the airport and yes, Jim & Kellee went to work.  An awesome “Fall in Europe:  Austria with Family”. 



Posted October 23, 2015 by marilynfarmer in Travel

2 responses to “Fall in Europe: Austria with Family (Part 1)

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  1. Always enjoy your travels. Thanks for sharing…look forward to the next installment.

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