Headed out of Salzburg on a foggy and rainy Friday morning to check out the worlds largest ice caves while everyone else went their own way for the day.
Once we arrived in Werfen we had a 15 minute drive STRAIGHT UP the mountain, followed by a trek through a long dark tunnel, followed by a cramped funicular ride and another 20 minute trek up up up, umtil we found ourselves on top of an alp for the first time, at the cave's entrance.
The giant castle we gazed up at on our way into the town below looked like a tiny speck of schmutz on the valley floor waaaaay down at the bottom. Alpine views certainly live up to the hype, that's for sure.
The climb through the ice cave felt like a trip to another planet... Or like a sci fi movie... or the ice witch's castle in Narnia. It was beautiful and spooky and reeeeeally cold. Glad I packed the hat and gloves because even though there were about a bajillion steps to climb on the path through the cave it was still below freezing inside.
The most memorable part of the experience was the way the entire 1km (40km in total) long caverns looked in glow of the dozens of carbide flame lamps we all carried to light the way.
Aside from those lamps and our guide's occasional magnesium flares, the entire cave is left in utter darkness. The old rusty metal lamps themselves looked like they could have belonged to the mountaineer who originally discovered the cave in the 1800s.
We climbed hundreds and hundreds of steps up into the cave, beside giant frozen stalagmites and stalactites that looked like glittery waterfalls of diamonds in the trail of lamp light our tour group carried along. But looking backwards and down below from the top, all you could see is a dark abyss of nothingness.
The wooden footpath built into the limestone and ice wound us through giant halls of frozen lakes, 26 meter-thick ice walls and bizarre but delicate naturally occurring ice sculptures.
90 minutes later, we emerged into the daylight and unbundled for the trip back to earth.