Britnee JohnstonHALLSTATT’S SALT MINE TOUR Britnee Johnston September 10 Austria As the world’s oldest salt mine, the Hallstatt Salt Mine is a must-do while in beautiful Austria. To get to the start of the tour, my friend Rachel and I took a steep funicular ride up the mountain where we took in a panoramic view of Hallstatt and the lake surrounded by the Austrian Alps. From this viewpoint, it took about 15 minutes to walk up the trail to the visitor center where the tour began. When we arrived we were each given a miner’s outfit to wear over our clothes. I had been wearing shorts and sandals, so the extra clothes kept me warm inside the cold mine. There was also extra padding on the back of the pants, which I would find out why later on. Our tour guide, dressed in a military-looking coat, hat and boots, greeted us as she led us through several hundred meters into a tunnel. After going deep into the mountain, we soon came to the first miners’ slide. While our guide was explaining the slide, she pointed to the set of stairs on the side that people could use instead. Rachel and I went for the slide, and as far as I could tell, everyone in our large group chose to go down the slide. It had a wide wooden beam in the middle where we straddled our legs in order to slide down it. This was where the extra padding on our bottoms played an important role. Through interactive exhibits in the mine, we learned where the salt came from and how it was extracted from the earth. We also watched a light show on one of the subterranean salt lakes. After our last exhibit, our guide surprisingly brought us to another wooden slide that was much longer than our last one. At 210 feet long, this was the largest underground slide in Europe. Again, no one took the stairs. However, it was obvious some people were peer pressured into doing it such as this scared mother who held onto the back of our tour guide… The tour ended with a ride out on a pit railway inside a very low and narrow tunnel. At the end, we returned our miner clothes and looked at printed photos taken of us going down the slide. We also received a complimentary portion of local salt as part of the tour. If you go… Hallstatt’s Salt Mine Tour Hallstatt, Austria–The funicular station is located on the south end of the village center. Open 7 days a week – April through October €24/person Next stop: England.