The daily diary of a wandering restaurateur
June 6 - Hallstatt

We had plans to take the gondola to the top of the mountain outside of town here, but the weather was not looking friendly so it was time for a road trip! We worked our way through the mountains and around the lakes to the little town of Hallstatt, squeezed between the mountain and the Hallstattsee (Lake Hallstatt), about an hour's drive from St. Gilgen. Space is so tight that unless you are a resident or are staying in a lodging in Hallstatt, you cannot bring your car into town. We parked in a lot at the top of the hill and went down a long stairway to the village, realizing that at some point we were going to have to climb back UP the silly thing!

By the time we got to Hallstatt, the rain was coming down steadily (... kind of got us homesick for the Pacific Northwest!) but the town was a fun place to wander around. Had it not been raining, we would have opted for one of the many lakeside patios but today was not a day for outside dining. (I particularly remember walking past one drenched patio served by the restaurant across the street. The chef, waiter and manager were just standing in the kitchen doorway with sad looks on their faces, watching the rain fall and realizing that there would be no lunch rush for them today. We finally broke for lunch at the Hotel Grüner Baum whose dining room is right on the lake. The daily special was beef noodle soup, pork goulash and a delightful berry strudel, all for 11.50, a reasonable price. In general, Europeans tend to eat their larger meal at midday, so lunch menus tend more toward plated meals. We have seen very few places for a sandwich and only a limited offering of salads.

There is not a whole lot to do in Hallstatt. Margene was feeling claustrophobic, so we passed on the tours of the local salt mine (a very lucrative operation several centuries ago) and the Dachstein Ice Caves. Instead, we climbed the steps to the Beinhaus (bone house) behind the Catholic Church. It seems that space is so tight in Hallstatt that there wasn't room to keep burying the dead, so after being interred for awhile, they exhume the bodies and stack the bones in the Beinhaus. The skulls are painted with the person's name and dates along with some other appropriate decorations. It is a little strange to see. Check out the photos if you dare.

Having exhausted Hallstatt, we took to the road and took the long way home. We drove through the town of Bad Ausee, hoping to find a t-shirt for Max in Sydney but no luck. (Actually, Max is a GOOD Aussie, but we thought the shirt would be fun anyway!) Then it was up and down the mountains, in and around the lakes until we finally made it back to St. Gilgen. We had been planning to start heading for Prague tomorrow, but this place is feeling so much like home that we opted to stay for one more night. That will give Margene tomorrow to shop!

For dinner we headed back to the Ristorante San Giorgio where we had such a nice meal on our first night in town, this time checking out the inside!


Restuarant Ideas in St. Gilgen

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