From Vienna we took a train to the town of Schladming, where Alexa’s aunt Linda had a time-share condo we all stayed in for a week. Schladming is in the mountains and is a big ski destination during the winter time. When we where there in late June, there wasn’t much skiing, but it was during the wet season, so we didn’t see the massive mountains as much as we might have liked to. The condo was in a nice place above the valley, with great views of the mountains when the clouds cleared.
Schladming is a small mountain town, with lots of hiking and mountain sports in the mountain areas around the town. Jason took a bus up one of the side valleys to do some hiking up a steep gorge, past roaring waterfalls and up to a high alpine lake. Since it has been raining so much, the rivers are very full (we even heard about flooding in others areas in central Europe, along the Danube).
We took a short trip to the town of Werfen, to go up to see some ice caves and the hilltop castle. The caves are high up in the mountains, and you access them first by a bus, then by cable car up the steeps mountains, followed by a hike to the cave entrance. Since it was misty and drizzling, the mountains looked like something out of the Lord of the Rings. The caves have a huge ice floor, which looks somewhat like a large ice flow. The rain kept us from seeing much more of the castle, although you could see it from all over the town.
At the end of our time in Schladming, we had a day of good weather and took advantage of it by going over to the town of Hallstatt, a pretty town on a lake with steep mountains behind it. People have mined salt from the mountains for many years, and the town is up in the upper lakes of Austria. We walked the streets and enjoyed the views of the town and mountains on the clear day before heading bay to Schladming.
***click to enlarge photos***