I had booked a few days to stay in one of the most picturesque places, Hallstat, with the idea that I would be renting a bike and riding around surrounded by the beautiful mountains. I might even have a dip in the lake and spend long days reading in the shade outside or have a glass of wine in the town of Hallstat amongst the other tourists. Just generally enjoying the outdoors, clean air and some peace and quiet in a beautiful place.
Sadly, this is not how it turned out at all.
Hallstat is one of those tourist towns where busloads of visitors stop off all day and then it’s empty at night. I found a nice hostel like accommodation across the lake in Obertraun. Away from the hustle. There is a local bus that goes between the 2 towns so it’s easy to get about around the lake without a car.
I spent my first morning catching the furnicular up to the 5 Fingers. As I am afraid of heights, every time the furnicular climbed up and got to one of the towers holding the cable up, everything shook and we swayed. Needless to say, I was gripping onto the poles for dear life and couldn’t wait until we reached land once again. At the top, I was in awe of the views and watched parachute gliders run off one side of the mountain whilst sheeps grazed on the other side. It was such a clear day which made for some great pictures and sun glare. Looking back, I should’ve worn my walking shoes so that I could have spend more time walking about as there were many tracks to get to other lookouts but it was fairly hot and thought I would just be a tourist and go for the main ones instead.
By afternoon, it was time to join the locals for a dip in the lake. It was scorching hot (even for an Australian) so I couldn’t wait and found a place to bob around in the water and enjoy the mountain views from the water. Later that evening when I went out for dinner, I came back and realised that I hadn’t closed the window (there was no aircon in the room) and there were some mosquitoes inside. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep but I was exhausted and quickly went into dream land hoping they would just make their own way out the window.
The next morning, OH THE NEXT MORNING. I woke up to my legs covered in bites and it was the one and only time in my life that I had received so many bites. I usually always get a reaction to mosquito bites so during the summer, you won’t find me hanging around outside once the sun starts to set because it’s feeding hour for them. So low and behold, an allergic reaction did occur. And boy was it itchy.
I had not anticipated that I would be needing any stop itch cream (oh young and naive one) but at this point, would have loved to be in a bath with calamine lotion. So into town I went to try and find something. Anything for the itch.
I had no such luck in town, all I could find were lavender soap bars and citronella spray (call me a skeptic, but does citronella even work?). I bumped into the hostel owner who seemed shocked to find someone’s legs covered in so many bright red spots. She called the local doctor and made an appointment for me for the next availability. Which was the next day!
I busied myself in the morning by going to the Salt Mine to take my mind off the itch. When I could finally see the town doctor in the afternoon, she gave me some cleaning spray and cream for my bites and sent me on my way. At least, some sort of remedy. I cut my stay short in Obertraun and headed for Vienna the next day where it was cooler and I wouldn’t have to be bitten anymore!
PS. The bites were no longer itchy after a few days although I travelled the next few weeks with slightly discoloured spots on my legs. There are no longer any traces of these bites on my legs.