Sitting on the train, taking over three of the four seats in my vicinity, I can’t help but be completely distracted by the countryside in the large window to my left. Wide open vibrant green fields that are the base for still snowcapped mountains. Organizing myself for the three layover trip towards Slovenia, half afraid I’m on the wrong train, and half searching my brain for the right words to describe my 24 hours in Obertraun, the town next to the iconic town of Hallstatt. Upon arriving, I dropped my things in my room, the king sized bed just for me that I’ve become accustomed to on this trip alone would have to wait a couple more hours before I crash later on. I walked the mile up to Hallstatt’s ship dock and soaked up more sun than I’d felt in months. It burned through my black jeans; a feeling which I have learned to love since living in Ireland. Any extra amount of heat from the sun was and is welcomed. A small strip of boxed buildings lines the opposite coast. A blurred reflection smeared across blue waters that actually glittered when the sun hit it.
I could only describe the views from this place as like a fairytale. Or at least a Thomas the Tank Engine episode. Freight trains of bold yellows, blues and reds rolled by my window below colored houses that sat on the hill adjacent. The next morning I ventured to walk to Hallstatt along the southern border of the lake. Up at 7 am and out by 9, armed with tripod, lenses and an extra layer, I walked to the tunes of James Taylor and birds unrelentingly tweeting and fillingthe silences between songs. I was alone. There was no one to share the walking paths with, to share the stillness of morning past red roofed train stations and ice blue waters of the stream leading to the lake. The sun making its efforts of spring to poke through the cold from the night before; gray clouds lingering with the faint promise of blue behind them.
I don’t remember how long I walked or what I was thinking while I was walking. I just ended up where I needed to be. A feeling I don’t remember feeling for a long time. Just enjoying the music and the ducks skimming the water. It was safe here. I told myself I’d just keep walking until I reached that money shot view again and head back. The sun was coming through and I felt that I accomplished so much today already. On the way back, the sun came through hard and strong. I whipped my hat off my head, shook my hair loose and closed my eyes tilted towards the sun and mountains. My hat has since been abandoned to the town, not for rebellion to the cold but perhaps to my carelessness of this afternoon. Each layer came off, and the songs on my iPod seemed to predict my state of mind. I sang out loud to no one as I backtracked to the hotel, chasing cloud movements with my camera.
The rain came, as predicted for today. The drops fell as hard as they were cold. I sat with my pink duffle bag under the shelter of a closed train station stop due to time of year as I waited for the train to shuttle me to my next stop. I looked out to the strip of colored buildings across the lake and thought how peaceful it was, is and had been. Being alone here wasn’t like being alone anywhere. It was somehow comfortable. Be it that I was used to the traveling loneliness by now, or that I had my first full breakfast in four days (food is one of my favorite things), but thoughts didn’t weigh me here, though they crept in as I went from consciousness to something else. I enjoyed loneliness for the first time I think. I even danced a little to myself when upbeat songs came on through my white earbuds. There wasn’t much to do, but the enchanting views from every direction could flip a mood upside down.