Hallstatt is one of those places you see a photo of and send to all of your other wanderlusting friends as a bucket list destination. I did the same for such a long time, pinning and re-pinning the photos on my Pinterest page, and screen-shotting photos for travel inspiration. Coming here always seemed to be out of reach and unattainable until I decided to study for a semester in Vienna. My friend and I (also named Melissa- go figure!) took a day trip here last December (2 hour train ride from Vienna) and had such a fun time walking through the tiny, whimsical town, enjoying the beauty of a place that I can only describe as magical. Last year's weather conditions were a bit more ideal, with temperatures bearable and only some light wind. This time around, even though I came only a few weeks later than last year, was a winter wonderland experience, with heavy snowfall all day long. We left the apartment at 8am from Vienna, and arrived over 5 hours later at 1pm, even though the drive should have only been 3.5 hours long. But due to the road conditions, we took extra time for safety precaution. By the time we arrived in Obertraun (town across the lake from Hallstatt), there was already over 1 foot of snow on the ground and rooftops, and it was absolutely freezing out! We decided to drive to Hallstatt and park in one of their few parking garages out of convenience, instead of taking the train, bus, or ferry options that would have been nicer on a less hectic day. Tip: There is a free parking garage in the tunnel running through the town, but space is extremely limited. There are a few more parking lots a bit further away, and parking will cost you a few Euros depending on the length of your stay.
Many of the restaurants were closed (just like this time around last year) but most of the shops were still open. We basically spent most of our time walking through the town and taking scenic photos along the way. I love Hallstatt so much because it holds such special memories, just like Vienna and Prague do. I know this won't be the last time I come here again, and I cannot wait until the next visit. Mel also came here in June (read her blog post here) and even said it was chilly then, so imagine the weather now, hahah! I hope you enjoy the post as much I loved capturing it!
Rittisberg Ramsau am Daschtein Skiing
Skiing in Switzerland and Austria has always been a bucket-list item for me, despite my lack of skiing skills. I've only been a handful of times back in the states, so I was actually pretty scared when we hit the slopes in Dachstein. Our drive from Obertraun to Dachstein took about 1.5 hours, though we were disappointed that the cable cars and ice palace were closed due to severely cold temperatures up at the top of the mountain (-30 degrees C and -60 degrees C with wind!). However, we still hit the Rittisberg slopes, and I had a blast after a few years of hiatus from winter sports. I particularly enjoyed getting some needed warmth at the top of the lift in a little cabin restaurant. We got some yummy hot chocolate and kasespatzle (think of them as mini cheesy dumplings) before getting back to the slopes. My first experience skiing in Austria was only a little taste of what incredible skiing I could do here with improved skills (HAHA). It might be time to head home and practice for the next time I come back.
And that's a wrap for Hallstatt and Dachstein! Although I am a winter baby, I've always enjoyed warmer weather and sun more than the snow. But being here in the dead of winter with beautiful snowfall around me has let me see some of Austria in a different light. It is truly as beautiful as I could have imagined. Until next time!