Berchtesgaden and St. Wolfgang

I headed off to Salzburg once again to catch up with my friend from home. This time, we were actually going on a guided tour of the local area. Even though my inner snob usually makes itself known at the idea of such things – I feel like they are overpriced and lack personality – I ended up really enjoying it. Furthermore, it makes a pleasant change to venturing out somewhere on your own and having to organise your own transport. It did cost 70 € for two tours, but both of them were incredible.

We crossed the border into Germany on a bus full of other tourists, and got chatting to some older ladies from New Mexico who had come to Salzburg for a dog show. The first stop was the (confusingly spelt) Salzbergwerk in the tiny town of Berchtesgaden. This is home to a centuries-old salt mine. We had to put on some funny overalls and board a little train which took us half a mile inside the mountain. We also had to slide down a chute which was surprising, and very fun. We wandered through the caves. It was very cold down there, but the whole experience was utterly spellbinding.

Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures, so this is one I got from the internet. We had to take a little boat across the 200m-deep-water to get to the other side. The whole place lit up in different colours, it was incredible.

The surrounding countryside was gorgeous. Look how blue the water is! I wish I could’ve paddled in it.

Map of the Hoher Göll, the mountain on top of which the nearby Eagle’s Nest sits (this was Hitler’s retreat, and it is still visitable, but we didn’t go)

After that we had lunch in Berchtesgaden, and then got on the bus back into Austria – specifically to the Salzkammergut, which is a district of lakes and mountains that spans three states (Upper Austria, Styria and Salzburg). The next place was St. Gilgen, where we would get a boat across the lake to St. Wolfgang. I felt like I was in a dream, or a children’s storybook…

Just beautiful. It’s going to be hard to get used to not being around Austria’s stunning nature when I go back home. This was also probably the nicest honourary birthday I’ve ever had!

I’d also like to mention that I’ve never heard so many people saying ‘Excuse me, are you from London?’ when overhearing a conversation I was having with someone… bizarre.

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