Werfen really was a surprise out of the list of villages to visit in Salzburgerland - mainly because it is the home of the largest ice cave as well as the huge fortress towering over the village. Eisriesenwelt provided instant relief from the heat outside, but the long and steep walk up to the Hohenwerfen fortress to see the falconry shows really sapped the energy out of me.
The short 45 min trip to Werfen from Salzburg was as pleasurable as it gets, mountain vistas popping out over the morning fog and rolling country fields. But once I got to the station, directions to the Eisrisenwelt were unclear, I knew the bus stop was 100 metres away, but in which direction? In the end, I just had to walk towards the castle.
Nevertheless, it was another 45 minutes before I actually got to the cave entrance where I met the guide for our tour. Since I was the only English-speaking visitor (and the only Australian!) on tour, I had to go to the front, so the guide treated me very well, and explained to me everything about the caves and structures before launching into his native German/Austrian to the other tourists. Out of the 1 hour guided tour, we were allowed to take one photo of the Ice Castle that is at the top of the cave.
I returned back to the small village of Werfen around noon to get some lunch before proceeding up the long and steep hike to Werfen Fortress (had some difficulty initially since there is hardly anything here). As I trudged up the steep incline, I just realised that my sessions to the gym had paid off, since I had to walk about 15 to 20 minutes uphill! Since not many guided tours from Salzburg visit the castle, most visitors have to take the steep walk - fitness willing, or hire a car to get to the castle - I'm not sure if there were buses since the tourinform did not mention this. However, there were some spectacular views of the mountains. I took a audioguide tour of the castle keep and the chapel, saw some falcons and huge sea eagles and managed to attend the falconry show in the afternoon.
Finally, I took a brief hike up the road towards the ice caves, just to have one last look at the town and the castle from another viewpoint. Throughout the tour, I have come to realise that life is a stranglehold in Werfen. The evidence is everywhere - ice caves that remain frozen throughout the year, the surrounding mountain vistas, the falcons and vultures that swoop around a precariously positioned castle and not to mention the tiny village with hardly any amenities - it seemed everything is living on the edge.
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Canon A20 Powershot for digital shots. Canon EOS 300V with Kodak 400 film.
Werfen - official site