We’ve had a day of brilliant sunshine, no wind, blue skies and oodles of snow. Up at the crack of dawn (7 o’ Clock) for tea and biscuits, then off to Hallstatt to catch the funicular to the salt mines up the mountain – really pleased that the walkway was still 1 ½ meters under snow thereby preventing Niki from dragging me up a 30% climb. With hardly anyone else around, apart from some bleary-eyed service personnel, we took our time and made full use of the audio tour – some fascinating stuff.
This is the oldest salt mine in the world, worked pretty continuously since 7000BC. Rich archaeological finds include the world’s oldest staircase (maybe), some 6 500 graves and a very wide range of Celtic artefacts and trading goods. The salt miners were trading across the known world long before the foundation of Rome (which reminds me of a book written by the Monty Python crew member Palin, who described the devastation wrought by Rome, particularly on the Celts both here and in Britain). One interesting section of the tour included uses the miners wooden slides to descend into lower levels:
Amazingly sophisticated clothing, jewellery etc although exhibited, is a little sparse and I would have liked to see more.
The tour through the mine sort of just scratched at possibilities – although thoroughly enjoyable we left with a sense of wanting more. Still, getting to know about the formation of the rock salt etc as always, leaves me wondering how the ‘Young Earth’ creationists respond to hearing of ages mentioned in millions of years …
We are still in our car park which has proven to be very quiet and, until 10 minutes ago, very sunny. Weather forecast for tonight is rain/snow with temperatures coming down from today’s high of 17°C (in the sun!!) to 3° on Tuesday. We are going to settle back and enjoy the good weather, and leave tomorrow. For where? No idea yet as Niki hums and haws about options and possibilities….