We just got back from a relaxing trip to Hallstatt, Austria in the Alps. This is a place that has become a bit of a winter refuge for us at Christmas time. The town only has about 800 people and pretty much shuts down around Christmas. Internet is usually spotty to non-existant, and it forces us to really unplug from the world. It's a great time to just enjoy being a family together. We play lots of games, listen to music, and read books. Then we take walks and enjoy the beautiful scenery. It's very quiet and tranquil---except when the lovely Christmas/New Years band goes around from house to house playing holiday carols. The focused family time is especially important. And since we work at home, drawing the line between work and home is never easy. In Hallstatt, all work things can really stop in a way they don't any other time of the year. And nothing compares with the Alps anywhere in the world. These beautifully preserved, pristine towns in Switzlerand and Austria and Italy amidst the sharp peaks and valleys are something you don't see in the Andes or Himalayas or Rockies. It is just mind-blowingly idyllic.
A little bit about Hallstatt. Hallstatt is a small town that hugs the cliffside of a a large lake. It is surrounded by mountains on all side which gives it a cauldron-like feel. There are only about 800 inhabitants in the town which is about 1 hour away from Salzburg ("The Sound of Music" area), and 2 hours from Munich. There were no roads to Hallstatt until about 1890, so the village was quite cut off from the world. High up above the town in a mining car track that goes into the Salt Mine that made Hallstatt an important and wealthy town. The town is at least 800 years old, although there is evidence of settlement dating back to 5500 B.C. Today Hallstatt is mainly a tourism town and there are numerous skiing resorts in the area.
They speak German in Hallstatt, but it's different than the German spoken in Germany (which itself can vary from region to region). The Alps region of Europe is actually far more diverse than people realize. All of these towns and valley cut off by these towering mountains often picked up a great variety of dialects. You can hear some Italian in the German of the Hallstatt people. Some areas of the Alps have dialects derived from German tribal langauges, and others have French dialects, Romansh--an ancient Rheato-Romanic language, and even Celtic langauge surfaces in the Alps region. Overall, Europe is the most culturally diverse region on Planet Earth---a statistic that surprises people who might think India or Africa is more diverse.
We're back feeling rested and re-energized for a great 2013 at Three Worlds. Lots of good things are coming this year and there's still so much we haven't shared as we continue to carefully line things up for the next few years. So thanks for sticking with us and we're looking forward to a great 2013. Marco's 10th birthday is coming up very soon. I will be devastated as my little baby turns 10, but I'll also be very proud. Get out the kleenex relatively soon. I'll need it.
Great photos of a previous trip to Hallstatt in wintertime here.