Hallstatt, Austria

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Saturday morning we woke up to a good 6" of snow! What the what?!
Our hotel included a buffet breakfast so we went down to the restaurant area to eat our fill.
How did they dye these hardboiled eggs so vividly!?! They were beautiful!
Auf Weidersehen hotel!
We drove down the mountains about a half hour to Hallstatt. If we had done our research a little better we probably would have put off this trip for a month because most of the sights aren't open until April, including this..."What is that thing called again? Why can't I remember the word? (that was me about 17 times throughout the day)"... funicular train.
Cuz I love the blue paned windows.
So, why drive all this way for a tiny little Austrian lake town? This is why! Could it BE any more charming?

Lovable Hallstatt is a tiny town on a ledge between a steep mountain and a placid lake with a waterfall cutting down its middle. Salt veins in the mountain rock drew people here centuries before Christ. 
Apparently these trees grow so two-dimensional because they are attracted to the heat from the buildings.
Flower season is coming!
Historically, there was a Hallstatt before there was a Rome. In fact, because of the importance of salt mining here, an entire epoch - the Hallstatt Era from 800 to 400 B.C. - is named for this important spot. Through the centuries, salt was traded and people came and went by boat.
Today it is a tiny town that you can walk through in about 15 minutes. But I could spend 15 days here!
In 1750, Market Square was leveled by a fire. The buildings you see today are all from the late 18th century after the fire and built in stone rather than flammable wood. The statue was still in its winterized condition, but it features the Holy Trinity. 
Another two-dimensional tree. This one is a pear tree.

Ambience out the wazoo.
Looking between the buildings to the Protestant church. 
Although Austria remained a very strong Catholic country throughout the Reformation, there were pockets of Protestantism and in 1860 when Emperor Franz Josef finally allowed non-Catholic Christians to build churches, Hallstatt's miners pooled their resources and built this fine church.
The interior is subdued and emphasizes the pulpit and the organ.

Above the little boat dock is the Catholic church, St. Christopher's.
Coquettish ingenue? #themartian #booty
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
Until 1875 this town was extremely remote. But then came a real road and the train. A little boat shuttles passengers from the town to the train station across the lake.
The view of Hallstatt.
Up behind the Catholic church is a well-tended cemetery.
The famous Beinhaus, or Bone Chapel, was still closed for the season. It opens, like everything else, in April. We were just a few days too early! A great excuse to come back though.

Swans have been in the lake since the 1860s when Emperor Franz Josef and his wife Empress Sisi made this region their holiday retreat. Sisi loved swans so the locals made sure to get some for her.
Back near the market square is the Dachstein Sport Shop. During a renovation project the builders dug down and found ancient Celtic and Roman ruins.
You can go downstairs in the shop and walk on Roman flagstones or look through glass panels outside under the portico and see some of the history.
This house dates from 1597 - you can see it inscribed on the right pane of the door. That's quite old!
Up on Dr. Morton Weg street a house has a collection of old tools decorating its side.
Little shrine.
The Evans family in Hallstatt, Austria on Saturday March 26th 2016.

I'd love to go back to Hallstatt for a family reunion in the summer and swim in the lake, tour the salt mines, ride the funicular, hike to the waterfalls, eat at the cute cafes, and so much more!

Passau, Germany

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The March 4-day weekend was over Easter so we packed up and headed a bit south - first destination: Passau, Germany. It was a nice stop halfway between our home and the hotel. 

Best part... it's almost flower time! I love the flowers in Europe covering garden beds and window boxes and cafes.
Passau is a Bavarian town of 50,000 people located right on the border with Austria. Settlements have been here since the Neolithic Age and the city was part of the Roman empire for 400 years. It was an independent Price-Bishopric for 600 years and then it was finally annexed into the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1803.
The nickname of the city is Dreiflüssestadt, "The City of Three Rivers," because the town is surrounded by the Danube, Inn, and IIz rivers. 
Colorful homes and buildings along one of the dreiflüssen. 
The Evans family in Passau, Germany on Friday March 25th 2016. Where is Jane's head?!
Walking the beautiful streets of Passau.
We didn't know much about Passau since it's not included in our beloved Rick Steves Germany guide book and so we were pleasantly surprised by how cute it is! Get on that Rick!
A tradition on these adventures: stopping for ice cream. The kids both got "Valilla" (as Jane says) and Chris got Heidelbeeren, European blueberry. I ate the leftovers.
Looking down to St. Paul's church.
Cool, colorful, and funky cafe.
Baroque styling is popular throughout the old town. I don't mind :)
Looking up at St. Paul's - not to mention it's PINK! The current building dates from 1667. Its foundations are the rocks of the old Roman wall at the northern edge of what was then the town.
Lovely Baroque interior. 
Jane and flowers. She's a goofball.
Did I mention I love the flowers in Europe? Cuz I do!
Mint green house. So charming.
St. Paul's from the back as we headed deeper into the old town.
Pink wall. Because it's pink.
After moseying about we arrived at St. Stephen's Cathedral.
The church was rebuilt in its present state in 1662 after a fire destroyed the older structure. But there has been a church on this site since 450 A.D.
Beautiful! The frescoes are by the Swiss-Italian Baroque artist Carpoforo Tencalla. 
Cuckoo clocks inside the store where we bought our magnet. Since it was a German holiday (Good Friday) most everything was closed and we thought we would have to make our own custom magnet. Nevermind though, we found an open store!
The Bishop's Palace was built in the early 1700s in a more Rococo style. It now houses a couple museums.
All the colors.
Pretty town square.
Beloved architecture.

Pastel love!
This modern art half door was a fun pop of bright color amid the pastels.
Like rainbow sherbet ice cream!
Orange on orange.
More doors.
At the very tip of the town, at the point where the rivers come together, is a little park. We always try to let the kids get some wiggles out at the parks we come across on our adventures. 
This was a fun little contraption: you sit on the seat and peddle to make the thing spin. Fun was had. 

The very end of Passau.
Across the Danube from the old town is the Veste Oberhaus fortress.
It served as the stronghold of the Prince-Bishop of Passau from 1219 onward. 
The old town hall is a neat building right along the river in the old town.
Then we walked back to the car and headed into Austria.
We found our hotel (in the middle of nowhere, I might add - a la The Shining style and vibe!) and the kids had fun playing in the bunk bed.
Goodness gracious I love Germany!
Paige Taylor Evans © // Quinn Creatives DESIGN