Any UNESCO World Heritage Site gets me excited. Then to read Hallstatt is like a place frozen in time + so special the Chinese designed a replica in their own country, well, now I’ve got to see what this is all about.
Hallstatt is an exciting place to take in. There are so many nooks and crannies to this town, which is literally etched into a mountainside. Houses fit into one another as though an intricate puzzle, with one house’s front door next to another’s rooftop or one’s terrace creating an arched alley to another’s woodshed. The main street is filled with alleyways and cobblestones. Lanterns and lightbulbs are strung along the lake, which may as well have been a fjord (to me – I’m no fjord connoisseur).
Much like Germany, no detail is overlooked. Everything is wooden, wrought-iron, hand-carved or painted. It’d been a long time since I’d seen anything plastic – and no neon signs or box stores. Thank you, world! I hadn’t missed them for a single moment. Also, like Germany, Hallstatt takes such pride in it’s children playgrounds, which was great for us. The whole end of the lakefront was dedicated to one with an insane backdrop. From there, you can access a walking bridge to a small island to run on, laze about and go swimming, if you dare take the polar plunge. Can you guess where we spent the whole time? It felt as though we only left the playground island to go to bed, get more ice cream or to watch the floating boat brass bands. It was glorious – for all of us.
When we’d first arrived, we walked along the main street to find a boat band in full swing. A large long boat carried a full brass band playing Bavarian music. Our daughter set off dancing in the streets, and she wasn’t alone (did I mention there are almost no cars there?). There’s a contagious energy about this place. She was in love, and we were smitten.
On our last night we headed to the playground at dusk only to accidentally find it was the loading place for the See Konzert (boat band lake concert). We sat atop the playground equipment watching the musicians arrive in their full garb, tune their instruments, light their candles, string up lightbulbs and ultimately push off the lakeside. What followed was one of those moments in life where you feel like you just witnessed all that is beautiful when people join together in celebration, enjoying music and life in a way that is so organic it doesn’t feel orchestrated at all. We listened to the boat band play this thunderous and exciting music and we (literally) danced and clapped in the streets. Lanterns were lit throughout the town and in each of the many private long boats spread across the lake. The moon shone bright overhead. And we tried to convince ourselves that this was very much so a real moment in our lives.
Yes, Hallstatt was very special indeed.