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Story: Have you ever wondered what it’s like to step into a Christmas card? The traditional ones with village landscapes that are blanketed white and dotted with chocolate-box houses. That’s what it’s like to wake up in Hallstatt, Austria’s oldest village.

When the residents ran out of space, houses were built into the mountain, adding many layers to the alpine landscape. Walking through the tiny village feels like stepping back in time – if you can see past the tourists who flock here.

A few steps uphill will land you in the middle of this picturesque scene, with spectacular views below and beyond. Creamy, pastel-coloured houses sit right on the water’s edge with reflections making a perfect glassy mirage; in the distance, mountains licked by mist immediately make you feel small.

In winter, people sit outside swathed in fur blankets and warming their insides with a mug of Glüwein. The scent of the hot mulled wine mixed with fresh mountain air made me stop and feel grateful for this memory.

Hallstatt is such an iconic place that a replica village has been made in China. But the original has a magic that is impossible to simulate.


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