So my family and I decided to join an Austrian salt cult.

You wear these sweet white jackets and pants and ride around underground on ridiculous little slides and trains

...which look like this. The whole 'no-handles-but-the-guy-in-front-of-you' element fosters inter-cult bonding.

and instead of kool aid we drink brine from the fucking harry potter underground inferi + locket lake.

but it's cool because instead of poison, the lake is full of trippy lights and trance music, obviously. Pretty sure we traipsed into Germany for a little while once we got to the other side of this lake, which was sweet. The whole story of the salt mines and how they influenced the politics and economics of everything around them was pretty sick too. To an econ nerd, anyway. Moving right along...

We grabbed lunch and headed down the road to the biggest ice cave in europe. 48 km long, ~100m under the peaks of the mountain range but still really damn high up

No but like, _really_ high up.

They gave us some kerosene lanterns and took us pretty deep into the cave, which was coated everywhere in like 20+ meter thick ice. 90% humidity and freezing temperatures too obviously, which was a little change of pace after the hike up the mountain in 85 or 90 degree weather. Crazy how the cave stays ever-cold like that. Anyway they wouldn't allow flash photography in the caves so I only broke that rule once to give you an idea of what the 700 steps we took each way looked like. Solid ice on the right.

Occasionally we'd come to a more open cave that our guide would light via burning strips of magnesium. This formation was called the polar bear, for reasons you could probably surmise. Most of the trip was spent in almost-darkness though, lit only by the reflections of kerosene lamps off/through staggeringly large expanses of ice. It was a really striking effect that I unfortunately couldn't capture on camera. Boo.

Finished off the day with another castle. Which was neat, but not super notable with the exception of our asshole tourguide who took his 'dress up like a knight and tell people about various battlements' job extraordinarily seriously

Yeah, this guy. He snapped at both dad and Jack. What a winner.

Oh, PS: never go to a Mexican cafe in Austria, no matter how desperate you are for food. Go for the bowling alley instead.
A page from the former’s menu:

Apparently Mexican food is highly spit-based these days, and baked potatoes have replaced any hint of tacos, fajitas, etc. Sigh

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