The bus slowly wound its way up the Kahlenberg hill into almost nothingness. The mist was so thick that the trees looked shadowy. I was the sole bus passenger on that dreary morning and it was both chilling and exciting.
484-meter high Kahlenberg in Vienna Woods (known as Wienerwald in German) is a popular getaway among Viennese for its winery and greenery, but there was something else I was expecting. Hoping to walk in the woods in the mist, I caught the first bus of the day to Kahlenberg.
Surrounded by the mighty Austrian Alps mountain range, the narrow shore of Lake Hallstatt (Hallstätter See) is where one of the world’s greatest treasure lies.
Even with the rain beating heavily against the tiny building of the boat dock, even with the low-hanging clouds and the fog obscuring the beautiful destination, I raised my umbrella and set sail with the ferry for my Pearl.
Hidden in plain sight is Stift Melk or Melk Abbey, a monastery so grand you might have thought it is a palace at first glance. The assumption isn’t entirely wrong, though. Before it took on a new role as Benedictine abbey about a millennium ago, it had been a palace of the first ruling dynasty of Austria. In just a little over an hour from Vienna by train, you can easily reach this architecture wonder that has been through the ups and downs with Austria many times. Unfortunately, Melk Abbey is obscure to most travelers despite being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.