Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Picturesque Hallstatt

If  I had to describe Hallstatt in one word, it would be 'picturesque'.
Cited as one of the most beautiful places in the world, it is definitely worth a visit if you're traveling to Austria. While the small lakeside village can easily be covered in a day on foot, I would recommend staying for at least one night to truly appreciate its beauty. It is prettiest early in the morning when the sun casts its gentle rays on the lake.

Traveling to Hallstatt from Vienna takes about 3 hours by train. The comfortable ride brings you on a journey through farms, pastures and small towns. As it approaches Hallstatt, you begin to see the enviable lifestyle of the locals living in the countryside.
Short walk down to the jetty.

When our train came to a stop at Hallstatt, the Stephanie Ferry was already waiting by the jetty to bring passengers to the village across the lake.
The village across the lake.
On board the ferry.
 The village is indeed a small place. Locating our hotel, Seehotel Grüner Baum, was easy as it is only steps away from the jetty. We made the right decision to stay in this hotel. The bed is really comfortable and the staff is polite and patient. The food here is good too.

Even though we left Vienna on an early morning train, it was close to 2pm when we arrived at the hotel. We were hungry and tired.
 The alfresco dining area overlooking the lake and snowcapped mountains looked so inviting, we sat down for lunch without any hesitation.

Seafood pasta.

Beef carpaccio.

Local fish.

Herb crusted pork loin.
There are many day trippers in Hallstatt, so it is not surprising to find the noisy groups of tourists gone when night falls. Most of the shops here close early with very few restaurants staying open at night.

What was surprising though, was the large number of Asian tourists we saw here. Some of my  friends living in Germany have never heard of the UNESCO protected Hallstatt, yet the city square was teeming with travellers from China and Korea during our visit. I found out later that China has replicated the village in Huihzou. You can read about it here.
 The biggest attraction here (I mean the real Hallstatt of course) is the salt mine which features a viewing platform that offers a panoramic view of Hallstatt village. 

Instead of visiting the mine, we explored the nooks and crannies of the small village including the cemetery and bone chapel. Enjoy the gorgeous sceneries captured in our photos.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Naschmarkt in Vienna

Visiting markets is always high on my agenda when I'm overseas. Flea market, farmers market, Sunday market, local food market, flower market... I love them all!

There are several markets in Viennna but we only had time for one. So we picked the largest one -  Naschmarkt, the urban market that is over half a kilometer long with over 100 permanent stalls. It has been in existence since the 16th century and is well regarded as a true Viennese landmark. I highly recommend it if a taste of Viennese street culture and casual dining are what you're after.


There are many stalls selling culinary herbs.

Today, you can find everything here, from Indian to Turkish food.

The garden shop is my favourite.

It was very crowded that Saturday. It's like a giant farmers market with cafes and restaurants serving delicious food and coffee, hence the place is packed with tourists and locals.

 At the end of Naschmarkt, right after crossing Kettenbrückengasse, is the Vienna fleamarket that is operational every Saturday morning.We had great fun browsing and picking through chinaware, handicraft, antique cameras, leather shoes and jackets. It's definitely a great way to spend the day.