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Alpine Postcard Dreams

October 17, 2007

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Some places just make you feel like you are in a dream as the beauty seems almost too much for reality. We have actually found quite a few places like that on our travels, but Hallstatt was definitely one that stood out. It is such a perfect postcard Alpine village that it almost seems out of Disneyland, and fall is a wonderful time to visit with the Octoberfest music, bright foliage and traditional costumes adding to the enchantment.

There are only 1200 people who live here and it does not take very long to walk the entire town, so a perfect size for charm. I hear it is packed with day-tripping tourists during August, but we walked around during the off hours mostly and saw few. It felt wonderfully remote and almost traffic free.

We could not have picked a better time with the locals celebrating their Octoberfest. One of the highlights for us, was stumbling across a few musicians playing traditional songs for themselves. The park was also one of the highlights for us and so many people in the native costume. It is everyday life for them, but having the restaurant owner serve us apple strudel in lederhosen, in a room full of other locals dressed in traditional clothing in this setting, couldn't help but make us smile.

Hallstatt almost seems like a toy town with each ivy and flower covered cottage and guest house, cuter than the one before. The cobbled lanes, steeple churches, little covered boat garages, 9000-foot mountain that looms overhead and all of it mirrored in the still lake, makes one feel like you have somehow fallen into a painting.

The beauty is so astounding here that it could not help but make me wonder what it is like to grow up in this environment. I wonder if the locals take all of it for granted or if one just gets used to it if you see it every day. It is abundantly clear why this area was picked as a Unesco World Heritage site. I bet it is beautiful in every season, but I am glad that we got to see it in the fall.

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