At the end of the semester my college took us on a pilgrimage hike around the St. Wolfgang / St. Gilgen area of the Salzkammergut lake district. We knew that it would be an intense hike (because Austrians live and are built for hiking - nothing like Americans). We arrived fairly early in the morning and were astounded by the views of the crisp mountains right next to the lakes with the little villages scattered about. I have grown up in Colorado and have seen some pretty beautiful mountains, but these were right up there!
We took a 4 hour hike (we all gasped when our teacher told us this) and we took the pilgrimage hike. We started off and some Austrian grandpas were just finishing their hike and asked our teacher if she really thought that all of these American teenagers could really make it through the hike. lol. That was a bit intimidating coming from grandpas!
It was a very interesting experience as I had never been on a pilgrimage. As we walked we saw the different scenes from the Bible, but near half way through the hike we were calculating how many more scenes of the Bible we had to find because it was such an intense hike! The hike is full of intense inclines so be warned. But it was worth every minute of it! The views that we got to soak in were worth every second I thought I could not go further!
There is also a stop where "Holy water" comes from a natural spout and people often stop to pour it on their eyes for them to be healed, or if you are just thirsty you can stop for a drink! (Bring water anyways!) Right before the water spout there is a bell tower where there is a saying that if you can get the bell to ring three times you will have your wishes granted. So of course you will have to try!
If you hop on the bus to different parts of the Salzkammergut area you will continue to be in awe of the natural beauty in this part of Salzburg! We went and saw a beautiful grave site, walked through quaint towns and ate yummy ice cream. :)
We were lucky enough to go on May Day (May 1st) which is a national holiday in Austria (there is no public transportation on this day ps!) We got to see a May Day parade with the band and an old car show, and of course the May Day Pole. It is a great way to see traditional Austrian attire if you get a chance! :)
Sidenote: I had been to Mondsee earlier in the year with a friend which is in another area of the Salzkammergut. It is a beautiful - slightly more touristy area - where it has the most impressive mountain into lake section. There are little ferry boat rides that go in the lake, or you can just enjoy a drink on the edge or snap some photos. The Basilica of Mondsee is where the church where Maria is married. Also if you walk long enough you will see a bobsledding ramp that was used for the Olympics at some point!
Salzkammergut 1 by Courtney Tracy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.