Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 3 - Hallstatt

In the morning, while the boys embarked on a long, manly, strenuous bike ride, we girls decided to sample the culture. Which meant museum, shops and bakeries. Here are some of my favourite finds and shops:
("capitalist pig", "petrol money", "my last money")
Below is the floor of the largest souvenir shop. While digging for the foundation of the building, they came across important archeological finds. So they left them there, built around them and displayed them as best they could. I found this to be the most important aspect of the culture in this part of the world. They disturb as little as they can of nature, even if it means sacrificing some of their own comfort.
The train station is on the other side of the lake, and you can only reach it by boat. They did it that way instead of drilling through the mountain to make more room. And some houses are buit straddling the stream that falls right in the town centre, instead of diverting its course.
And the dead are dug up every 10 years to...but that's another story. Here are my favourite museum pieces:
a celt's hat
animal figurines:
bronze fibula (must replicate in textile form):
the birthing chair: (yes, this is what it says, a chair that moved around from family to family as needed, and onto which generations of hallstatt women gave birth)
a medieval kitchen:
and some medieval ice skates:
An illustration of the big fire of 1750. The negligence of the baker's wife started it, and 35 houses were destroyed.
The houses at the two extremities of the fire are now painted red and stand as reminder. This is the one where the fire started. I couldn't find the other one.

A fun cube of mirrors in the museum:
After an intense session of sightseeing and shopping in the b;azing heat, there was only one thing on my mind. And I offered it to myself freely: bathing in that cool, wonderfully clear lake. This time it was sunny and there were no waves, so I lasted for waay longer than 10 minutes:
I think I'd choose this any time over sandy beaches in exotic locations.
But my moments of relaxation were cut short by a spur-of-the-moment decision to circle the lake on bikeback. And a great decision it proved to be, as it is now my most vivid memory of the entire trip. It was already late in the afternoon, the sun wasn't blazing anymore, and on those wide and safe bicycle lanes, it was sheer delight.
We took a wrong turn, but the view proved to be anything but wrong:
Back onto the right route, my delight soon faded when forced to pedal up some steep hills.
Smiling for the camera:
...and how I was actually feeling:
But we were only half way and the big challenge was still to come. A long narrow and (of course) see-though floored path, made by man in order to compensate for the lack of room for a proper path on that side of the mountain. And it gets worse when the steel path becomes a squeaky, wobbly and transparent-floored bridge over the deep green lake. It was interesting to bike while people canoed beneath you. And it took me a lot of nerve to not give up and cross the bridge on foot. But I did it!
The sun was starting to go behind the mountains when we realised that in our enthusiasm we had forgotten to take with us anything that would have been useful: a watch, the gps, a phone... With no way to tell how long we had till dark, we decided to turn back.
I huffed and puffed up those hills again, and then enjoyed the steep, speedy descent. Wind in my face, lake at my side, I felt such joy and gratitude for the chance to experience this, that I felt I had to express it somehow. So I hugged the Austrian land and took my bike along with me. I totally deformed one of the pedals and got meself a nice bruise. I was lucky it wasn't worse, but now I have something to be teased about.
Finally returning to the camping ground, we landed in the middle of some folk party, with people dressed in traditional costumes, singing and dancing. It didn't seem planned or professional, since most people didn't even seem to know the words to the songs very well. But I later noticed how casually and happily everybody wears their traditional costumes, without needing the excuse of some holiday.

And that was the end of day 3. I really wanted to go join the folk party, but I fell flat on my face in the tent, fully dressed, and woke up the next morning.


Kirsten Anderson said...

Who really needs an excuse to wear their leiderhosen? Your photos are AMAZING. I am slightly obsessed with bird houses despite not being fond of birds.

NeMe said...

Those birdhouses was so so cute, I wanted to take them all home. Thanks for reading my ramblings! :)