WEEKEND WEB: Early wake-up call is a little alarming

Hallstatt, Austria

Blogger TRISH BURGESS tells tales of her holiday in TRISH TAKES FIVE...

I woke up feeling thirsty and made my way in the dark to the bathroom to fetch a glass of water. Walking back, I stumbled into a chair and seconds later the room was filled with noise:

“Bong...bong...bong!”

Dougie woke up with a start and saw me clambering about at the bottom of the bed.

“What have you touched?” he said (or words to that effect).

“I haven’t touched anything!”

It soon became apparent that the bells from the church next door were chiming 6 o’clock. An early start for everyone staying in the picturesque town of Hallstatt in Salzkammergut, the Lake District of Austria.

This was our second stop on a walking holiday we had booked with Inntravel, the company which specialises in Slow Travel. You can walk at leisure from one hotel to another, while they take your luggage separately.

On the previous day we had left our first hotel in St Agatha and walked along the eastern bank of the Hallstattersee.

A short ferry ride across the lake allowed us to see Hallstatt from the water and appreciate why this tiny town has become a huge draw for so many tourists.

It was rather lovely to be staying here for two nights as we enjoyed discovering it for ourselves once the day-trippers had left.

At breakfast, I re-read the Inntravel notes for that day.

We had three options, but had chosen a mix of two of them, feasible if we didn’t dawdle.

The instructions told us to catch the Postbus to the cable car station at Obertraun.

I didn’t quite know what to expect. Would this be a tiny van like Postman Pat’s? Would Dougie and I be hunched up in the back like a special delivery for Mrs Goggins?

Thankfully, the bus was a large coach and after a short journey around the southern end of the lake, we were deposited at the base station and were soon hurtling 2,109km up to the top of the Krippenstein summit, part of the Dachstein mountain range.

It’s no wonder this area is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has the natural beauty of dramatic Alpine mountains and achingly beautiful lakes, plus a cultural heritage based on hundreds of years of salt-mining, based in Hallstatt itself.

We took advantage of all the attractions the mountain had to offer, including Five Fingers, a man-made viewpoint jutting out from the summit.

We even walked through the snow on a path to find the Dachstein Shark, another crazy viewpoint involving climbing up a huge metal fish to take a quirky photo through its jagged teeth.

Despite the snow underfoot, the weather was unseasonably warm.

We had lunch outside and as we sat, removing layers of clothes as the temperature rose further in the afternoon, we were completely in awe of the Austrian landscape.

The following day, we would be moving on to Gosau, to walk around more lakes and experience another epic Austrian autumn day.

And we wouldn’t need to set an alarm; the church next door would do the honours.

You can read Trish’s blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk

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