Day 7- Camping Grubhof, Salt Mine Hallstatt
(below, the reception deak at Camping Grubhof)
Sometimes it’s not the places you travel to but the people you meet that you keep as souvenier. Of all places, the washroom at Camping Grubhof, Addie and I met a ‘prison teacher’ from the Netherlands. He was a jolly fellow camping just across the open lawn from us and we’d noticed him throwing sticks for his dog to fetch at the amusement of multiple young onlookers.
He opened the big window of the dishwashing room and noted with a grand motion of hands, followed by a deep inhalation and then exhalation how “feisch” the air felt. I nodded and smiled back at him. Over the next few minutes we washed our own dishes in quiet. Then he became suddenly chatty. Always though, in the EU, language of communication must be established before conversation can commence.
“Oui, English” I responded, instinctually forgetting that we were no where near French speaking territory. I felt like an imperfectly formed turd.
We truly love the Dutch. They are fab folks- their vast utilization of bike trails and cruiser bikes, the fulfillment of their largest city with red light districts, pleasant canals and plentiful intoxicants? By golly who wouldn’t love that sort? So I was quite anxious to hear what he had to say. For the next 20 minutes he chatted on about his dog, wife, and kids. Then he began in broken but very coherent English to offer advice. Sage advice.1) “…with children I find it is usually best to compromise. When an adult deals with a child and the child is not willing, then just compromise. Otherwise you teach the child nothing. After all, all of life is a big compromise…”
2) “…Start with the positive. Always say something positive first..” Looking at Addie he continued, “To your teacher, you can say ‘it’s a nice book and I found the story interesting, but I didn’t appreciate your exam questions..’ He gave several more examples and then ended this lesson with “You can always always find something positive to say even if you have to think a minute about it first. Always begin to speak with the positive.”
We began to part ways and I offered a “Have a nice holiday vacation!” to which Mr. Positive responded, “It’s been the vacation from hell I tell you.” After a brief explanation of his car in the repair shop, 1500 euro fee, and wife with kidney stones and hospital visits, he continued with his next lesson .
3) “You don’t have a life if you don’t have your health. You can make all the money you want, but it can’t buy you health and your health is a big reflection of happiness.” Dang. This guy must teach philosophy in the Netherlands prisons.
4) He proceeded to show Addie and his children there how to ring the wine glass to make music with your finger by gliding a wet fingertip over the lip of the glass. Addie and dumping water he changed the sound and then offered the kids to ‘make music’. Addie have it a try first and then the other kids. Finally he said to Addie, “Your mom knew al about this and she probably forgot to teach you. He looked at me and said “Don’t forget to teach your kids about the fun stuff. The fun stuff adds a lot to life. Fills it up.”
Yep I thought, as we wandered out of the dishwashing room, don’t forget about the fun stuff. After all, that why the largest city in the Netherlands is so much darn fun. Those folks know what they’re talkin’ about. I was glad to meet this guy. I hope his car and wife get fixed. He has a lot to share.
So for fun we headed to the Hallstatt salt mine, a ancient mine still active, yet open to visitors. Beautiful town. Incredible salt mine tour (we highly recommend).
We faked Arleigh's age for a day. The minimum age is 4, and he's roughly 50 days shy of that. Stella was the only one who seemed to object. Fine time for that kid to grow some morals.
The tour begins with museums posts and a changing room where everyone dress in protective overalls. Then we rode a funiculair that took us vertically up the side of the mountain.
Coming back down was equally amusing because we rode the wooden slides inside the salt mine.
and on the way out of the mine, we rode a little train
Miners need to sustain themselves of course. We went for a splurge at a local restaurant with a great history in the middle of the town and finished off with some 'real deal' apfel streudel.
The day in Hallstatt was a favorite highlight of our vacation and well worth your time if you happen to be in this region of Austria (near Salzburg).