Before the first year of my assistantship ended, I wanted to do something adventurous (like the past eight months haven't been one great big adventure!). So I set out for Hallstatt, one of the most picturesque towns in Austria and home of Hallstatt Culture.
You can take a train to the Hallstatt station, but then you have to take a ferry across the lake (I like ferries almost as much as I like fireworks!) The whole lake is rimmed with mountains, and paragliders sail overhead.
My first stop was the museum with early examples of Celtic art, and a tombstone of Perseus and Andromeda that I included in my dissertation. Then I walked up and down the main street taking photos and searching for the best lunch deal. I wound up at a lakefront cafe and had spinach and feta strudel with fresh tomato sauce. It was one of the most memorable meals I've eaten in Austria -- ever! After lunch I took the funicular up the mountain and hiked up to the salt mine. Against the advice of the funicular lady, I hiked all the way back down the mountain in about 90 degree heat. None the worse for wear, I had an ice cream cone and then wandered up to the Catholic church. There I saw the charnel house with its magnificent painted skulls (call me a ghoul!).
At 6:30 I took the ferry back to the station, and took the train to Bad Aussee where I met Irene. She took me to Grundlsee, and we walked to Toplitzsee. Just as we were about to go skinny dipping, there was a clap of thunder and the heavens opened up -- talk about divine intervention! I will go back in the fall, if only to visit Kammersee which is accessible ONLY by boat from Toplitzsee.