Bad Ischl, Altausee and Beyond....
Tuesday 18th July
The plan had been to get to Graz next but on looking at the map we saw there weren’t many camp sites close to Graz and thinking we might not want to spend too much time there maybe we would stop off at another lake for one more day.
We are using a mixture of Archie’s , ACSi and a site called Park4night and between these we look for a site. It’s really a guess as they have reviews but it’s hard to choose.
So this time we chose a site they said was in the mountains and close to Altaussee. It looked pretty and smallish and what the hell, so off we go.
On the way we thought we would stop at Bad Ischl , another little spa town. We found a parking and walked in. The gardens were breath taking. Really someone must spend ages colour co-ordinating the beds and making each one look same same but different. I took one million pics and kept oohing and aahing.
A walk along the river revealed a gem. A old fashioned looking kafee and kuchen restaurant that likes exactly like Zerbans.
Remember Zerbans anyone ? The original one in the garden centre. Cake was in the menu for lunch and Chris was grinning. Third day in a row! Beautiful setting and a cake for him and a very elegant prawn open sandwich for me. A lovely way to spend a morning.
Ok enough of spa towns off to the next attraction, a SALT MINE!
Salzberg, the home of ‘ The Sound of Music’ and the birthplace of Mozart quite literally translates as Salt Mountain. This whole area of Austria has been mined for salt for thousands of years and still produces tons and tons of this now cheap and most common of seasonings .
Salt was originally a most sought after and precious commodity, the word salary deriving from the Latin for salt, salarium. Interestingly the vast majority of the salt mined here is now used to ‘grit ‘ the roads during winter.
Enough with the history lesson and on with our tour. Driving up and up on ever narrowing roads, praying that another vehicle is not going to come roaring around the bend, we eventually reached the Aussasee salt mine; we were handed a jacket and pants to put on over our clothes, as well as an English audio guide.
We were shown a short but interesting video before being wished the traditional miners greeting ‘ Gluck Auf’ and walking deep into the mountain.
The temperature inside remains at a constant rather chilly 7 degrees and along the way we stopped several times to be shown the salt bearing material and explained as to how the salt is mined. Originally a ‘dry’ method and now most commonly a ‘wet’ method. About 800 meters into the mountain we came to the enormous caverns which were used by the Nazis to store precious artworks that had been looted from all over. The constant temperature, humidity and inaccessibility made this an ideal spot to hide all this treasure. Altogether more than 7000 valuable paintings, jewelry, religious artifacts and documents were hidden here.
When the nazis realized that they had lost the war they decided to blow up the mine, the extraordinary manner in which the miners and American forces prevented this was turned into a Hollywood movie , Monuments Men, a couple of years ago.
There is a chapel dedicated to the patron saint of miners , as well as an auditorium for the occasional concert and light show; all situated deep within the mountain.
After an extremely interesting 90 minute tour we were starting to feel the cold a little and were quite happy to step out into the 30 degree sunshine.
Altaussee Camp site in the shadow of the Loser mountain…Camping Temel
On arrival we were directed to a spot. You can see season is starting when they don’t let you just choose a spot, but you are given one that is not booked. But it was nice enough for one night. And the surroundings were awesome. Mountains all around , even some snow on a distant peak. This was a chilled very quiet site but we had a good night sleep.
We were leaving the next morning but we decided to take a walk into town.
Wow it was lovely a hidden gem. We walked the path around the lake to find yet another picture perfect lakeside village complete with church and flower boxes to die for. How do they do it ? Everything is just so neat and perfect.
We had to hurry back as we needed to move on. What’s next…the city of Graz?