Day 6: Exploring the Largest Ice Caves in the World
Our excursion today was literally and in every sense of the word, the "coolest" I have ever taken. After spending a few hours in the morning in Salzburg, we arranged for an excursion to the largest ice caves ("Eisriesenwelt") in the world in the town of Werfen about an hour drive from Salzburg at the start of the Austrian Alps.
When we booked the ice cave tour, I actually had no idea we would be also be climbing a mountain (insert Climb Every Mountain song here). Well, okay, not exactly climbing it but after driving half way up the mountain, we got out of the van and prepared ourselves to get into the 0 degree Celsius/32 degree Fahrenheit ice cave. We went into the gift shop area where a woman enthusiastically greeted us as the winners of the "Facebook" trip. She gave each of the kids an adorable polar bear hat to wear during the cave tour. I then started layering the kids with extra pants, two warm jackets and their new polar bear hats. My husband I bundled up too. We didn't know, however, that we would hiking 20 minutes in the sun up a steep incline to catch a cable car further up the mountain and then hike another 20 minutes to the cave entrance. I know that doesn't sound like much, but it was very steep and we were soon roasting with all the layers even though it was cool up there at elevations of over 5,000 feet up the mountain.
Here was the last part of the path to the cave entrance:
We had stripped everything off again by the time we reached the entrance, only to have to put in all on again before the tour started. We were then told we would be climbing 1400 stairs during the ice cave tour! 700 stairs up and 700 stairs down. We definitely earned our Austrian pastries today.
Some of us were given gas lamps to help light the way. Photography and filming during the tour was forbidden so the pictures below were taken off of their Facebook page. Our group was split into German and English speaking sections and we entered the ice palace paradise:
Yes, there really were 1400 stairs and it really was very cold and dark but SO awesomel! I thought the kids might have issues with the cold as the tour lasted over an hour, but besides having to help warm their hands they did great. I think they were just as enraptured as everyone else.
It was nice, however, to get back into the warmth and sun when were done. Here are the kids in their cute polar bear hats at the top:
The picture was taken right before my son announced he had to go to the "WC" really bad so then we literally raced down the mountain so he could get to an alm restaurant to find one. We made it just in time.
Back in Salzburg, we all decided to reward ourselves with some Austrian pastries for dessert after all.