Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cuddling with Cave Bears in Hallstatt

Sound Exciting? Well, cave bears are no teddy bears, or so we found out when we toured the Dashtein Ice Caves. The bears weighed about 1000 lbs! Dont worry though, cave bears haven^t been in existence since the Ice Age, and the closest we came to thier massive jaws was the skeleton they had in the museum.

Touring the ice caves was an incredible experience. Just to get there we had to take a cable car 1365m up the mountain! Ice crystals were growing from the ceiling and sculptures from the ground. The guide says that every spring when they reopen the caves, there are different ice sculptures to see. At some points in the cave the ice is as thick as 25m! The most beautiful part of the ice cave is the Ice Chapel. Ice has formed itself into incredible ice sculptures. Some of them are hollow on the inside, while others start from a small slit in the cave ceiling and form massive spheres or domes as the ice reaches the ground!

Hallstatt itself is picture perfect. It is a tiny city (population 1,000) bullied onto the mountain side by a greedy lake and a harsh rock. The water is always calm and still. The houses are always reflecting off the lake, making it all very serene.

In the opposite direction of the caves, up a less steep (but still steep when you have to walk up it) mountain, there is a waterfalls. Water tumbles down from 2 different mountains, meeting as it falls into the major stream that cuts through Hallstatt. It may not be as powerful as Niagara, but the fact that it is actually still in a natural setting and not bombarded by tourists makes it even, dare I say, more incredible. Jonathan and I actually stood alone, level with the water falling. No people, no kiosks, no pay-per-view finders. When we were hiking back down I realized that it was so quiet (apart from the thundering water in the distance) that I could hear the sheep pulling out and munching on grass!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks like you two are having a great time --I am sooo jealous