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September 30, 2016
The Tyrolian village of Hallstatt draws one quickly into its charm. The narrow cobblestone streets reveal mountain gingerbread-style houses stacked above each other on the mountainside with the clear and clean lake shimmering on the other side. A waterfall falls in the middle of the city just above the cozy village square. A Lutheran church with a beautiful steeple commands the square, and a Catholic church sits majestically on the hill above. “Picturesque” does not describe the scene adequately enough.
Our group explored the city; yet, other activities also beckoned. Mike and Sandra went to the unique ice caves high above the mountain lake. Not only did they do the remaining strenuous climb after the bus dropped them off, but braved over 500 steps inside the cave to see the ice formations that were like stalactites and stalagmites in regular caves, but made of ice in this cave. Wayne and Kathy took the funicular (a cross between an elevator and cog train) up the mountain to the world’s oldest salt mine. 7,000 years of production have brought wealth through the ages to Hallstatt and still today, 300,000 tons of salt are produced annually. Riding a run-away salt mine train inside the cave and sliding down steep 100 yard slicker slides into the mine depths were exciting parts of the journey. We did not know we had bought tickets for amusement park rides, but in reality, these activities were a part of the miners’ everyday existence. Allen, Rhonda and Sherlene went to the Bone Museum, where they viewed old skulls, displayed with the name of each deceased carefully inscribed for public view. Because usable land is scarce in Hallstatt, those who have been dead the longest are dug up, the bones dried and sculls inscribed, in order to make room for new bodies in the grave site. Sherlene took one look and fled the site. Allen took pictures and Rhonda looked for long lost relatives.
It was a fascinating day in one of the prettiest places on this planet. WEG
A day trip to Mittenwald, Germany proved to be a grand experience. The train trip through the Austrian Tyrol into the German Alps was amazing. Breathtaking mountain vistas were everywhere. It was clear and cool and every turn of the railroad track brought new mountain peaks into view. Waterfalls fell from the sky and deep canyons divided mountain ranges. Verdant green high mountain hills nursed cattle, sheep and horses.
We arrived to the wonderful mountain “painted” village of Mittenwald. Picture postcard perfect, the village beckoned with its painted building, exquisite painted church, fountains and flower gardens. Throughout the village, water flowed through the streets in flower-lined narrow and shallow canals. We ate a late lunch in a restaurant that shouted German–dark wood carved paneling, shaded lamps and painted ceiling–oh, and every beer, including the Oktoberfest beer, was on tap and each beer had its own glass or mug peculiar to that beer. On a side note–German beer is chemical/preservative free and non pasteurized, meaning it is fresh and when it is best, cloudy. Even the same brands cannot be purchased this way in America and thus lose their excellent taste.
Rhonda and Charlotte opted to shop in Innsbruck and chill out, and Allen wanted to stay in since he did not feel well. Since this was a free unscheduled day, everyone could do as they pleased. God knew we needed that free day since Allen’s health deteriorated in the afternoon and he needed to go to the doctor/hospital. Rhonda took him since we were still in Mittenwald. After finding only German-speaking people at the hospital, they finally found a dentist who could speak English and helped them to the urologist who did a thorough job of running tests to diagnose Allen’s prostate infection. Later, we were off to the pharmacy to get the five prescriptions necessary to get Allen back to health. Please pray for his complete recovery. WEG – September 15, 2015