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Halstatt, Austria - Scoffing at the Sound of Music

By Rick Chapo

Set in Austria, the Sound of Music is an epic film spurring dreams of a heavenly land in every child that sees the movie. In truth, they should have filmed the movie in Halstatt, Austria.


I had been in Salzburg for four days and was growing restless. The city was an eyeful with beautiful garden areas, architecture and plenty of sites to see. At the end of the day though, it was still a city. And an expensive city at that!

Flipping through my guidebook, a local I had made friends with suggested I take a day trip to the little town of Halstatt. As I looked under "H in the index, he told me I wouldn't find it in the book and I should just trust him. Off to the train station we went.

Sitting on the train, I soon met a fellow traveler heading to Halstatt. We chatted as the train puttered up into some of the most impressive mountains I'd ever seen. Soon we were running between the face of a mountain and a deep blue lake. The train stopped and he indicated this was our stop. There was a small shack, but no other buildings much less a small town. I began to suspect my buddy in Salzburg had pulled on over on me.

Out of nowhere, a small ferry pulled up to our shack. On we hopped and off we went across the lake. As we closed in on the far shore, a small town began to take shape. Swiss chalets, swans, cobble stone streets, outdoor cafes and"no cars. None.

Halstatt turned out to run about a mile along the shore of the lake. It was like something out of heaven. It is amazing how quiet things are when there are no cars, mopeds, trucks and other vehicles. Frankly, it was surreal.

I rented a room in a chalet directly on the shore of the lake. My window looked out over the lake. As the evening wound down, it was hard to imagine a more peaceful place in the world. The morning was more amazing.

Halstatt is located at a very high point in the Alps, which had a surprising effect. Lying in bed, I stared out my window into what looked like a television set gone bad. It was totally grey. Walking to the window, I was stunned to realize we were so high the clouds had settled roughly 20 feet above the lake. Words fail me, but it was one of the most incredible things I've ever seen. There was total silence, a slowly swirling cloud cover being reflected by the lake and swans floating around. Truly a site to behold.

Halstatt is a difficult one-day excursion from Salzburg? The difficulty lies in leaving. I stayed for a week!


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