When I was planning my trip to Europe, a friend of mine who just came back from a tour over there told me that I should make an effort to stop by this wonderful place that I have never heard of. She told me that it’s worthwhile to make a stop there and I should consider this option in a serious manner.
So I decided to take her advice and extended my trip for another two days. After all, I told myself, it’s along the way and it should be alright to do that.
So after I have completed the third leg of my Europe tour, I was at the station waiting for the bus like everyone else. I was dragging a huge twenty kilo luggage bag which probably allows me to be fitter than before by having it with me most of the time except that when I checked in the hotel.
During the journey by the bus, we went through some narrow hilly coastal roads and after almost an hour we could view the amazing sight of the sea. Yet cloudy skies seem to make the sea look less sparkling than expected. Yet the sight of elderly and young people alighting from their cars next to nostalgic looking hotels clearly indicated to me that this must be a wonderful place for them to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Once we reached the first rendezvous point, I had to push my luggage to a nearby train station when I was the only one waiting when I arrived. Another guy came to the station and we had some small talk as he was enquiring about holidays in Thailand.
The train finally arrived and I jumped in. Within lee than an hour, the indicator in train stated the name of the place that I going. Yet I could not see any train station from the window. When the train finally stopped in the middle of nowhere, I noticed a couple rushing to the train. I enquired whether this is the place I was supposed to be and they said yes before jumping into the train. As for me, I need to jump out. With my luggage pulled along the way
It was a railway track and I had to drag my luggage along an uneven road full of stones of different size. Quite a challenge due my luggage and I was beginning to wonder whether it was worth all the trouble. I was, after all the only one who jumped out of the train. There were no other tourists or locals who jumped out with me. Hesitation started to envelope me.
I was told earlier on that I need to make my way to the jetty where a boat will take me to the designated area. It was kind of late and gloomy clouds covered the sky. I bumped into a young Chinese tourist who was alone like me. At least I knew that we are heading in the right direction.
We found the small little jetty. And while we could see a boat approaching us, it was time to take some snapshots of the view. I have to admit that once you reached the pier and your eyes are trained towards the area that was meant to be, it was actually a majestic sight.
I stood there in awe.
How could nature be so beautiful?
The gloomy skies are mirrored in the crystal clear water. And as you look ahead, the majestic structure of the hill stared at you in an enthusiastic way, is like a giant towering over you, getting ready to welcome you. Yet the fundamental difference was the tranquility that seemed to envelop me the very moment that I started to appreciate what is all around me. The boat ride was about fifteen minutes yet I could sit on it much longer if needed to be.
The giant humungous clouds were still everywhere and I hoped that, by the very next day, it will be crystal blue skies illuminated by the warmth of the morning sun. Once at the pier, I took a few steps to the hotel that I was supposed to stay and was warmly greeted by this lady who even upgraded me to a better room on the top floor. As long as I donâ€™t mind dragging my twenty kilo luggage bag all the way to the fourth floor. I figured that it was worth all the trouble. After all, I donâ€™t go there every day even though I knew that it would be great to go back.
The room was huge and could even cater for more than four persons squeezing in. However nothing beats the view from the balcony. When I stood at the balcony, the gushing yet freezing wind sent shivers to my bones and did numb my face yet I felt that I could stand there all evening. Tranquility of the surrounding was only broken intermittently by the flock of birds that danced past the balcony chirping merrily as if belting out a welcoming tune for me. You could not hear any noise of cars and people talking. It was as if the decibel of the surrounding polluting noise is reduced to nothingness leaving only the background of chirping sounds of flocks of birds to enthrall the visitors.
And you could not take your eyes away from it anymore.
I was like a little kid transported into a new playground.
I wasted no time to unpack and got into the right type of attire and ran down the stairs as if every seconds counts. Well, it was already evening and I just wanted to catch the spectacle before nightfall engulfed the area.
Walking on uneven roads made cobblestone with charmingly built houses littered at certain nook and corners while the sound of water splashing on the rocks due to a waterfall nearby was everything that you could ever asked for. The fresh air that you gobbled makes you younger by the seconds.
As you venture further away, amazed by the magical sights that would leave anyone spell bound, you met wonderful and friendly natives who would great you with a warm and sincere smile that only served to make you feel at home. After spending an hour there, I no longer felt that I was in a strange mystical land.
The warmth that I felt from the conversations that I experienced with the natives just eliminated every little apprehension that I might harbour while on the way there. I walked into a little shop that sells souvenirs. I thought of spending a few minutes checking and purchasing souvenirs so that I could be on my way yet I found myself spending nearly an hour in there as the people inside really makes you feel at home.
I had so much fun talking with the owner of the shop and her daughters. And you never felt what you paid for in the shop as too expensive even though everything was in such an expensive currency. I guessed that what I really paid for was the experience. I left the place feeling exuberated over the experience.
When you are happy, price takes a back seat.
Within an hour of exploration it was already getting dark yet the bright yellow halogen lights illuminating most of the housesâ€™ porch against a backdrop of shades of darkened blue is a sight that left me in awe. Many natives have gone back to their humble abode and some cars just stood idle in the car parks.
Tranquility patiently soaked in the atmosphere.
I was hungry.
After further exploration, I managed to find the only outdoor stall still open.
It was selling hotdogs.
As the temperature dropped as quickly as the setting of the sun to welcome the night, having hotdogs, cooked fresh from the stove was really mouth watering. I took my time to enjoy the moment under the watchful eyes of the darkened skies, whose images are illuminated in the crystal clear water around me.
I found one Asian tourist exploring other sections of the unique place.
We obviously have own path to choose.
It felt like a maze.
You walked a few steps on the cobblestone path and you will meet a fork. And along the meandering uneven path, you would find pleasure in deciding which path that would serve your purpose.
And you were been trained for it by being there.
As nightfall greeted you, chilly weather that could bite through your clothes persuaded me to walk back to the hotel. However not before the awesome sight of the nostalgic looking houses, perched in unique manner yet were close proximity to each other to represent the tightly knitted bond of the families there within a small little community.
Shops were closed by then as I made my way back to the hotel. As the clock started to tick away, it was colder and as you breathed, you could see the water vapour disguised in little clouds emanating from your mouth. You could only have your hands perched firmly in your pockets to seek the warmth that you need.
I had dinner in the restaurant in my hotel and took the liberty to try out their native drinks. After dinner, I took a short walk outside overlooking the hill even though now it was kind of pitched dark and you could only feel presence of the hill nearby.
The streets were deserted and many spent their time in their humble abode.
I retired early.
Yet I woke up due to the ringing of my phone in the wee hours in the morning.
After some time, I did what needed to be done due to the conversation on the phone.
I could not sleep after that.
I decided to open the door that leads to the balcony.
I felt a strong gush of cold wind breezing past my face and sending chilly signals to the bones.
As I took a peep, I could see the clear blue sky taking shape. The sun was already up on the horizon and the emanating warm rays were showering me with an increasing intensity. Birds were chirping away as if they were singing the songs of broad daylight, tempting people like me to join in the morning parade. Waves flowing to the shore occasionally break the silence of the welcoming sunrise. Fresh yet rejuvenating air seeks to fill your nostrils as you gasped for the morning breeze. The hill adjacent to my balcony was bathed in the morning shower of the rising sun. I could hear the noise made by the passenger boat that was piercing through the vast blue water on its way to the shores for the first trip of the day
You feel the glory of the rising sun.
You basked in the showers of the morning dew.
Chirping birds caressed your ears with an inviting melody of a bright and wonderful brand new day.
You are bestowed upon the most beautiful sight that is truly unthinkable.
As if all the troubles in the world disappeared in thin air.
Here you could be forgiven if you left any single thought about everything else at your faraway home.
And left the troubles far tucked away in a little corner of the earth, unknown to mankind.
Until today, I could remember every little second that I experienced at the balcony.
It never seemed to disappear.
You could always recall the moment.
It felt like yesterday once more.
It only convinced you further.
If you do, cherish every little moment.
The experience will be etched deep inside you.
It will never to fade away.
That is Hallstatt to me.