Dachstein Krippenstein and Hallstätt, Austria

Day 51, Tuesday, October 15, 2019

It is a 11/2 hour drive from Salzburg to the Dachstein Krigppenstein region.  The trees along the way are turning colour and the sun is shining. We pass many little farms and villages on the way. The Dachstein Krigppenstein area has three cable cars which take us from the base to the top of a mountain, at about 2000 m.   There is the base, way down there, and we aren’t even at the top of the first cable car. The second cable car takes us higher… and even higher. We walk from the second cable car to a viewpoint high above the valley lake below.  There are several arrows showing the distances to  places around the world.  We have visited Stonehenge (1200 km away) and the Drakenberg Mountains in South Africa (8,800 kms away).  We are surprised that Stonehenge is that close.  Here is a 360 degree video I took from this platform.
We have tea and rest on these curvy benches to enjoy the fantastic views and sunshine. This is called the Five Fingers.  Five viewing platforms at the very top of the mountain!  Bob goes ahead so I can get this photo.  This area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then I head out on one of the platforms.  It isn’t too bad…as long as I don’t look down! Bob has another turn on one of the fingers. A nice young man takes a photo of the two of us.  You could stand behind the picture frame but to do so your heels hang over the edge! There are sinkholes all over the mountain top.  These are formed by the collapse of underground caves.  There must be a lot of caves in this area because there are lots and lots of sinkholes.
As we take the third cable car down into a valley, our shadow follows us. We are headed way down to the building you can just see on the right side of the tower, about 2/3 of the way up.  The wind has picked up so we decided to eat our lunch down here where it isn’t quite so windy. Back at the top of the mountain I notice what looks like ghostly faces peering down at us from the cable car building!  So, are they ghosts? Here is a photo of the five fingers taken from a photo in the cable car building.  I realize that I forgot to look down when I was up there… I can’t believe I forgot to do that!On the way down from the mountain top we can see far up the valley.  We drive to Hallstätt, a town which exists because of the nearby salt mInes.  The town is squeezed between the mountain and the lake.  There is only room for espaliered trees, which are grown against the sides of houses. The setting sun lights up the yellow trees on the side of the lake.  Notice the middle mountain in the distance.  Then take a look at the top of that mountain…and the close up of the top of the mountain.  That is where we stood on the five fingers!  Maybe it is a good thing I forgot to look down! There are swans on the lake who are happy to share some of my dried fruit and nuts.  I give most of it to a young boy so he can feed them and I take photos.  I would have liked to sit and draw these beautiful birds but the sun is setting…and we are still far from home. The houses are piled one on top of the other, as there is not much land available between the lake and the mountain.  The flowers in the window boxes grow so big and lush.  I think it must be that the growing season here is so much longer than ours at home. I see this mask in a window and wonder out loud what it is.  A lady walking by stops to tell us it is a Krampus.  The Krampus shows up in towns the night of December 5, known as Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night to swat “wicked” children, stuff them in a sack, and take them away to his lair!  They look pretty terrifying to me.

The scenic town square with more flowers and espaliered trees… and one last view of the lake…  before we walk back to our car, parked way on the edge of the town, and head home.