Wednesday, Thursday & Friday: After our trip to Hallstatt, we savoured a few lazy days in and around where we were based. We took small ventures out to the local town of Zell Am See and the surrounding areas but nothing too strenuous. On Friday, we decided that we would head to a gorge but a 45 minute drive revealed that the walkway was closed for maintenance. Instead, we re-routed ourselves towards Bad Gastein – a town with a rich history, having been made famous by its hot springs and radon-laced waters which have been believed to contain many healing qualities in times gone by. We stayed for a short while and enjoyed the urban waterfall that runs right through this place.
Saturday: After packing up, we headed to Salzburg where we had two nights booked in a hotel. Temperatures were soaring into the late 20s and, after checking in, we headed into The Old Town. Having purchased the Salzburg card which gave us free entry into many of the city’s attractions, we headed up the cable car to the impressive fortress that lies at the top. This was a great lesson in history, architecture…oh, and the views were pretty impressive too!
Sunday: Wanting to get our money’s worth from our Salzburg cards, we accomplished a lot on this day. It began with a boat ride on the River Salzach, followed by a visit to Mozart’s Birth Place. After lunch, we went in search of some of the film settings for the Sound of Music that didn’t lie within walking distance of the Old Town. It turns out that the ‘Sixteen going on seventeen’ pavilion was located right by the zoo…this led to a conversation in which we realised that we have never visited a zoo together…so we did. After sightings of rhinos (see below), bears and other fun critters, we detoured to the famous Sound of Music house before heading back to the Old Town for a final evening in Austria.
Reflections: Visit Austria if you have the chance. From the scenery and architecture to the friendly locals and tasty cuisine, there is so much to love about this place.
And…as promised…here is that baby Rhino:
Since my first Austria post, these days have been a real mix of taking it easy whilst also exploring our surroundings. With the weather largely being on our side for adventures beyond our chalet, we have been able to experience a side of nature unlike anything I have seen before; particularly on the Grossglockner Alpine Road
Thursday: Reputed to be one of the most scenic drives in Europe, The Grossglockner Alpine Road is named after the tallest mountain in Austria, Grossglockner(!), and the road itself is the highest mountain pass in the country. Nothing can prepare you for the steep climes and hairpin bends that dominate the route as you navigate your way through this ever-changing alpine scenery. Snow-covered peaks, frozen lakes, green hills laden with trees, zebra-like black and white facades of the mountain, clouds that form and disperse and then reform before disappearing entirely. Marmots (squirrel-like creatures) playing on the steep ravines that fall to the valleys below… the list just goes on. The only disappointing fact is that the pictures don’t fully represent that awe and wonder that this place possesses. Grandeur in its fullest form. And then there was us… a truly humbling experience.
Friday: Temperatures rose to the mid 20s today so we sat out in the sunshine…ignored the bugs, slowed down the pace and talked life…amongst other things! Grateful that we can experience these places together. We worked out that we have travelled to 27 countries together in the 7 and a half years of being us. So grateful that I can call this guy my husband and my best friend.
Saturday & Sunday: The rains came down this weekend…rather refreshing and beautiful at the same time. So we relaxed some more, walked, talked, barbecued, sampled various Austrian wines and planned our short trip to the world famous village of Hallstatt where we stayed overnight…
Monday: After a 2 hour drive, we still had most of the day to explore this sleepy town so, after checking in to our family-run Bed & Breakfast, we ventured up the funicular to the most fantastic viewpoint over Hallstatt. Here we also went on a fascinating tour of the world’s oldest salt mine. Dinner that evening consisted of salt-crusted trout from Lake Halstatt accompanied by incredible views.
Experiencing the Salt Mine Train!
Tuesday: Ben was keen to experience sunrise over this sleepy town so we set our alarm for 5am and ventured out. Despite my longing to return to the warmth of my duvet, there is something so simple and beautiful about being surrounded by the dawn chorus – amid the sounds and smells of nature and nothing else. After breakfast, we headed to visit an ice cave which, when we entered, felt like another world.
In the midst of all of this, we have also been thinking, contemplating, praying and just being. We have seen the awesomeness of God through so many different faces of creation since being here. The news that God is working in and through us is something that we want to spread as far and wide as we can, so get your FREE DOWNLOAD of our new song ‘Dwell Among Us’ from Noisetrade (limited time only) and we would love it if you would share our music as Salt of the Sound too if you feel able. Have a listen below – we’d love to know your thoughts…
I will not claim to be an expert in politics. In fact, I would say that I often dislike politics on many levels. And yesterday in the UK was a great example as to why.
As the day progressed, my news feeds on social media began to fill up with angry and sometimes even hateful comments towards the election result. For any non-Brits who didn’t follow the election – the results came in and the UK is now under the control of a Tory (conservative) government which was a real shocker against the pre-election polls which had predicted a tight vote and possibly another hung parliament.
But what I saw yesterday was people using social media as not only a platform to air their views but many people used social media to hurt, slander, criticise and even scaremonger.
36.6% of the population should be happy with the outcome (if they’re not, then they need to re-think why they voted this way).
As for everyone else, there are many people within the remaining 63.4% who are saddened, hurt, worried and even frightened at the policies the conservative government plan to implement over the course of the next 5 years. People who are already living below the bread line and already struggling to make ends meet may face even more benefit cuts and a harder life ahead of them. Other people who are hard-working in jobs such as teachers, NHS staff and care workers who don’t know yet how the funding for their roles, and the resources they so need, will be affected. The families of the disabled and those with special needs who are supported by benefits and funding that are necessary for their quality of life (a basic human right) – and they are worried too.
And the scaremongering in the news and online doesn’t help!
Yes – it is clear from the results that the UK’s voting system lacks a degree of representative proportionality to the number of votes to the number of seats gained – the Green Party’s 1 million votes = 1 seat in the house of commons was a clear example of this. (On the other hand let’s remember that this time round it also stopped UKIP’s 3.8 million votes from gaining more than one seat too…you can’t have it all it seems…) While it is clear that reform of the UK’s voting system is needed, this remains a story for another blog post…on another day.
Yesterday, many people took to social media it seems. Some just relaying their views on the situation. But I read some disturbingly hateful and hurtful comments written by friends and strangers towards each other yesterday – based on the fact that they disagreed. To all of those people…feel free to continue if you think that written text in an online forum or on social media is the best way to air your views and have a healthy discussion about how we can move forward…but as a Christian, these are the responses I feel I should try to take:
1. We must love each other – in a real way. In our words and in our actions.
In this case – if someone doesn’t agree with you, that’s ok. Love them anyway. You dont’ have to agree with them.
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” – Romans 12:9-102
2. If you can’t say something nice…
“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” – Ephesians 4:29
3. We should pray for our leaders…
Like it or not, the UK has a conservative government now and we should pray for wisdom and discernment in their working.
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2: 1-4
As Christians, we have a responsibility to respond in a moral, biblical and compassionate way towards others. God is using us everyday to fulfill His greater purpose. Let Him use you in the way He wants…
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10
And our role… is not to let ourselves get in the way of His greater plan…
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29: 11
This year, we decided May was the time to take a vacation. In fact, we’re getting pretty good at visiting places during low-season and avoiding the crowds…with Egypt, Gambia and Niagara Falls being just a few examples of us lucking out and holidaying during the low seasons in these places in recent times. This can be very beneficial when you want to visit spots that become a hub of tourist activity during peak season and especially when you want to visit areas of natural beauty and experience the tranquility of nature.
So this holiday is all about down time, rest and relaxation…and of course, venturing out to explore this incredible diverse landscape…but this holiday…we thought we would explore in a slow and stress-free kind of way. That was the plan anyway…
Saturday: We arrived early evening and got settled in to our chalet apartment set deep in the Austrian Alps.
Sunday: A walk seemed like a good option for today…10 miles and a steep hill walk later and we were finally back at the apartment and ready for a glass of wine!
Monday: I should probably have said that we hired a car from the airport on Saturday – no problems there. But then we left a light on inside the car which drained the battery completely over the course of two days. When push starting the car by rolling it down the 2 mile hill failed, we opted to knock on the door of a friendly local to see if he had jump leads and could help us. The first house had 3 cars parked in his driveway, a camper van and a tractor (even his kid had a motorised car that ran on a diesel engine) so we lucked out there and he obviously had the whole kit to get our car going…and we were soon on our way into the local town of Zell Am See…
Tuesday: The weather is fairly changeable at this time of year so we jumped on board when the weather forecast suggested it would be the sunniest day of the week and drove 50 minutes to the base of the Krimml Waterfalls – the highest waterfall in Europe – and a pretty impressive site it was too. The only downside was that several times we thought we had reached the top, only to find more steep twists and turns inviting us to climb higher. That said, every part of the waterfall was just breath-taking and totally worth it!
Wednesday: Is today. And today is a day of rest for us. Partly by choice and partly due to the cloud that has enveloped us up here on the mountainside. With a well-stocked fridge, photos to edit, blogging to be done, Netflix and a nice bottle of Austrian wine at the ready… we have made our peace with the situation.
All photos © 2015 Anita and Benjamin Tatlow.