Day 4: Salzburg Mountains: Salt Mines Tour, Toboggan ride and a Waterfall
I knew this day would be fun when I planned it together with the Salzburg Tourism office months ago. I was even more excited when I woke up this morning because the sun was actually shining! Hallelujah!
We were picked up at 9 am from our hotel by a taxi driver who drove us to the Hallein Salt Mines for a tour. Salzburg achieved it's tremendous wealth in the Middle Ages by the discovery (actually re-discovery - the Celts found it first and then they forgot) of salt. Deep in the heart of some mountains located conveniently right up the Salzach river they mined this "white gold" and sent it to the ruling Arch-Bishop of Salzburg where he sold it around Europe and made a fortune.
On the tour everyone is given white coveralls to protect their clothes and then sent on a small train deep into the depths the mine shafts. Once inside, we were shown entertaining films with English subtitles that help teach the historical importance of the mines. Throughout the tour there are two wooden slides to go down by straddling some wooden rails and also a boat ride on an underground salt lake. Then we got to taste salt brine straight from the mine and see huge salt blocks. Trains, slides and underground boat rides - what's not to love? This 1 1/2 hour tour was simply "awesome" according to my son and I couldn't agree more. My daughter loved it too, although she was a bit scared to go down the first slide:
Next, we headed just 3 minutes away to the Duernberg/Hallein "Keltenblitz" - Salzburg's longest toboggan ride (over a mile) down a mountain side. We took a chair lift to the top. The views from the top were simply breathtaking:
At the top I found out that kids older than 6 years old had to ride down in by themselves in their own sleds. I dreaded having to break this news to my daughter (you see her face above on a small slide in the mine - this was down a mountain). But after we explained the breaking system to her she really surprised me by actually agreeing without much fuss. My son couldn't wait to get on:
I agreed to ride behind my daughter. She went so slow I was able to go down and snap photos of her ahead of me. The pink dot is her.
At the bottom we all agreed we wanted to do it again so this time we paid for it ourselves and went back up. We went down in the same order and this time I never even saw my daughter ahead of me - she raced down that mountain like an Austrian ski-racer.
We ended our excursion in the mountains with a visit to the beautiful Golling Falls. Because of all the rain this waterfall was a thunderous mass spilling over 500 feet of rock wall.
And it was gorgeous.