“Hallstatt. I think we get off here.” The two of us followed the small handful of people who got off the train from Vienna to Hallstatt and in front of us were a very small and old station with the name Hallstatt written in blue on a sign. The smell of moisture, green and water hits the nose instantly and there is a sense of relief and anticipation of what’s to come.
“Umm, I think we got off at the wrong station”
The hotel I had booked online had only been the size of a small finger (or perhaps a mini-sausage if you prefer) away from Hallstatt which had made it look like it was ‘just around the corner’ and not as it was in fact, located in an another town next to Hallstatt, called Obertraun. Next train was due in 1,5 hours so we took our heavy backpacks and made our 5 km hike to Obertraun along the tracks and the lake facing the pittoresque UNESCO-treasured town of Hallstatt.
It is drizzling very gently and small droplets forms on my glasses making my surrounds more blurry and dreamlike than normally. There is a special kind of tranquility and silence surrounding us. The handful of people who got off with us is nowhere to be found. No tourists, no vehicles or other forms of transportation. Just the sound of the wind, the lapping of the water against the rocks and a small annoying wasp who have found itself an object to torment (hint: me). I have never really been a ‘nature junkie’ even though I love an occasional walk in the forest as the next swede, preferably blueberry or mushroom picking, but the first moment the shrubbery blocking our view of the surrounding mountains and lake ceased I suddenly understood why people would trouble themselves with going around the world, climbing mountains and going through harsh terrain to get to ‘Shambalah’. The mind blow one is hit with when faced with real “untouched” nature is a force of its’ own. Born is a feeling of respect for nature, shamefulness of what the human kind has caused to nature in general, and honestly, you kiiind of feel like an explorer discovering untouched soil á la Lara Croft or Nick Drake.
Tip: We went during low-season, for gods sake, do the same.