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Back in Bad Gastein

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Not much sleep that Friday night, since we were leaving for Stockholm-Arlanda Airport at 2am Saturday morning. My fellow traveler's son gave us a ride to Stockholm and we had planned for 2,5 – 3 hours of driving. It took only 2 (!) hours though since he drove a little faster than we expected… so time was only 4 am when we arrived at Arlanda. Lucky though, the check-in had already opened so we could check in on our own. Even though it was an early morning, the queue for the security check was quite long. But we passed the security check pretty fast and now we had like forever until boarding. So, we bought breakfast (expensive like hell – but what were we supposed to do?) and later on headed for the gate. At 7.25am the airplane was pushed out of the gate as scheduled and taxing for the runway. Out of all the 141 seats onboard only 105 seats were taken and 20 of those were young adults going to Bad Gastein for a tour leader education. This meant that the total number of hikers was quite low and showed that it was an early hiking season in Bad Gastein.

After a shaky and windy approach at the airport we landed at Salzburg Airport W.A. Mozart. We picked up our baggage and rushed to the transfer bus in the parking lot. We managed to get the front seats so we would get the best view during the transfer south to Bad Gastein. It rained in Salzburg but the further south we got into Gasteiner Valley the sunnier the weather became. During the transfer we received information and tips from the tour guide about our staying in Bad Gastein. Unfortunately, all lifts were closed due to the huge amount of snow that still hadn’t melted away from the mountains in the Gasteiner Valley and would not open until a few weeks later. Bummer!

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So after 1 hour and 15 minutes bus ride we arrived in Bad Gastein. We could clearly see how much snow that actually was left up in the mountains and I realized that all hiking I had planned for us was not going to happen. Such shame! We picked up our baggage and walked the short downhill road to our Hotel Salzburger Hof.

Fun facts about the trip: When we booked this trip, we had booked a single room each at a minor hotel in Bad Gastein. Three weeks prior to our departure day we received an email from the travel agency about an offer to up-grade our staying to one of the hotels Villa Orania or Hotel Salzburger Hof. And we ONLY had to pay 995 SEK/person extra for that. Since we had booked half board, we would except from seven 5-course dinners also get access to the spa treatments, sauna, massage and fitness center. The first thought that popped up in my head was – why? I mean, we were planning to be out hiking most of the days so it felt more or less like an extra cost for something we weren’t going to use anyway. Maybe because of the dinners… but no, we decided not to catch up on that offer. And lucky us! Later, only ten days prior to the day of departure we received another email from the travel agency and now they had up-graded our staying FOR FREE, since they needed the other hotel for all the people taking part in the tour leader education that very same week. Nice! I can’t stop thinking about how many of the other hikers that actually fell for the offer and paid the extra 995 SEK/person?


When we checked in at the reception at the Hotel Salzburger Hof and received two keys each. We were like – what the…? It turned out we had an extra door in the corridor before reaching our actual rooms. We opened the doors to our rooms and we quickly realized that we had gotten a double room each! A note on our beds said that because of the early season and rooms available the Rooms Division Manager had up-graded us (even more!) to a double room each – how awesome was that?! The trip couldn’t start better :)


After unpacking and changing clothes to hiking outfits we walked to the nearby food store and got ourselves some lunch packets for the up-coming hikes the following days. After that we felt it was time for lunch. We sat down in the shadow outside of the restaurant Jagdstube (downstairs in Hotel Salzburger Hof). The sun was shining its best and the temperature was about +25 °C. Later on we walked to the older parts of Bad Gastein, looking at the waterfall running through and just enjoying the nice weather. Since I have been here before I recognized pretty much everything but for my fellow traveler it was her first.

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We started walking on Kaiser-Wilhelm-Promenade through Radernweg down to Badbruck. We then followed Gasteiner River back to Bad Gastein and our hotel. The 5-course dinners were served in the Ritz restaurant between 6pm and 8.30pm every day at floor 5 at Hotel Salzburger Hof. Since we were pretty hungry, we went down shortly after 6pm for dinner. After salad buffet and soup, main dish (meat) and cheese board and fabulous dessert (Apfelstrudel) we were stuffed with food and we seriously started to think of how to survive a whole week with this much food?!

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Austria Tagged hiking traveling Comments (0)

To Prossau in all weathers

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We went down to eat breakfast at 8am so we could get ready for our hike at 9am. Today’s challenge was to hike up to Prossau at 1278 altitude meters. Early on it was foggy but it cleared up during the day except around the high peaks where the fog stayed all day. The sun struggled to break through the clouds and succeeded only a few times. We hiked through Kaiser-Wilhelm-Promenade to Kötschach Valley and Grüner Baum (1060 meters above sea level). We passed exotic Tyrol houses along the way and the road lingered between the massive mountains.

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After a few minutes we got to Himmelwand (1079 meters above sea level) which consists of a few houses and a restaurant. After that we walked into Hohe Tauern National park. The track got narrower and the high trees enclosed the pathway. The river Kötschachbach appeared on the side of the track and we followed it all the way up to Prossau. Looking at the map I would say it’s about 3 km between Himmelwand and Prossau. I don’t know exactly since all tracks are measured in time and not distance here in the Alps. But what I can tell you is that you need to hike totally 200 altitude meters during these 3 km, so this trip is not for lazy people. The pathway was partially steep and lined with avalanche warning signs.


One location had actually snow left from an avalanche earlier this winter otherwise this valley had no snow left. We arrived at Alpengasthof Prossau and ordered lunch. Meanwhile the sky opened up for the rain and tons of rain fell down. We felt very lucky we had arrived at the restaurant in dry clothes. At the time we had finished lunch the rain had calmed down but it still rained during our hike all the way back to Bad Gastein and Hotel Salzburger Hof.


After a well-needed shower and change of clothes I looked out the window realizing the weather had changed into snow (!) and the snowflakes were literally huge like tennis balls. The weather in the Alps changes really fast… just so you know. We had time to rest before attending at the Welcome Meeting arranged by the travel agency. Since we had booked a day-trip to Grossglockner on Tuesday, we got some useful information about that travel. Afterwards we all got a free Welcome drink before sitting down in the restaurant for the evening dinner. Menu for the evening was salad buffet, soup, main dish (fish) and cheese board and a lovely dessert (passion fruit sorbet and strawberries). By 8pm a live band started to entertain all the guests with hit music from the 80ies and 90ies.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Austria Tagged hiking Comments (0)

Going up to Nassfeld/Sportgastein

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Got up to an early breakfast getting ready for the hike to Nassfeld/Sportgastein at 1589 altitude meters. We started by walking along Kaisering-Elisabeth-Promenade to Böckstein. The air was cooler today and when we passed into the Nassfelder Valley we felt a few raindrops falling down on us. We almost got second thoughts about hiking this track today… but we kept on going.

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The track is located side by side with the river Nassfelder Ache with pretty steep parts at times… but the amazing nature and beautiful surroundings made us forget how many altitude meters we actually had to hike today (589 vertically meters during 5 km). The higher altitude we got the more snow was covering the ground and suddenly the sky cleared up and the sun shined like never before. The snow-covered Alps proudly located on each side of the valley made me almost pinch myself to ensure myself I wasn’t dreaming. So amazingly beautiful!


Half way we arrived at Kesselfall, an old bridge made out of stones built by the Russians in beginning of the 1:st World War. About 15 minutes later we got to Nassfeld Lange Brücke, also a bridge but built out of wood. Up here it was a layer of 15 centimeters of snow covering the ground. Lucky me I had impregnated my hiking boots just in case so I wouldn’t get my feet wet.


After 3 hours of hiking we finally arrived at Nassfeld/Sportgastein. And what a view! Totally worth the hike all the way up! The shining sun at a clear blue sky with the snow-covered mountains in the distance was so beautiful. After taking some photos we discovered the restaurant up here was closed so we asked an older man with a car for a ride back down to Böckstein. I would estimate the ride down to Böckstein again took about 5 minutes, comparing to the hiking uphill which took about 3 hours…


Back in Böckstein we found a restaurant where we ate lunch and later, we walked back to Bad Gastein along the river Gasteiner Ache. Before arriving at our hotel, we stopped for some ice cream. I decided for a Coupe Dänemark that was delicious! It contained vanilla ice cream, cream, warm chocolate sauce and wafer – yummy! Back at Hotel Salzburger Hof we had time to rest before dinner. And while doing that the sky opened up and the rain fell like crazy outside. Thank God it didn’t rain during our hike! You need a little luck too ;) We had dinner at 6pm. The menu: salad buffet and soup, main dish (fish), cheese board and dessert (vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce). The same band as yesterday played music for us tonight. But tonight, much older music was played that I barely recognized.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Austria Tagged hiking Comments (0)

Bad Hofgastein instead...

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Up early to catch some breakfast before the day-trip to Grossglockner. But the rumor said that it could get cancelled due to bad weather conditions, why we checked the information board before breakfast. Since we couldn’t see any cancellation note on the board we walked down to breakfast with optimism and all excited. Then we went up to our rooms and packed the bags for the trip. We took the elevator down to the reception just to re-check the board again and discovered a new note posted with the notification with what we had feared. The trip was cancelled! The travel agency had postponed the trip to Friday for another try though.


Let down we took the elevator up to our rooms, re-packed and changed clothes. After a quick look at the map we decided to walk to next door village Bad Hofgastein via Erzherzog-Johann-Promenade and Wiener Alle. It took us about 2 hours to get there.


Bad Hofgastein is a beautiful village and has a pretty flat ground in difference from Bad Gastein (which is all about uphill or downhill roads). Bad Hofgastein has a nice city center with some cobblestoned streets and few roads that are free from car traffic. We stopped by a restaurant and ordered lunch. During that time the rain poured down outside the window and we were lucky to be inside. When we finally had finished lunch, the rain had stopped. We looked around in the local stores and shops before we went to the bus station to catch a bus back home to Bad Gastein. Even though it’s an easy walk from Bad Gastein to Bad Hofgastein (because it’s downhill) you must consider walking uphill back to Bad Gastein. So, I recommend a bus back and if you have a Gasteiner Card the bus ride only cost you €1.20 per person… real cheap!


Finally, back in Bad Gastein we changed clothes and got back outside to play some mini golf. The sun was shining and about +25 °C. When we had finished the game, I was the clear winner – yes! ;) We even tried playing boule but then the weather changed rapidly so we had to stop due to rain. So, we went up to our rooms and waited for dinner. The evening menu was: salad buffet and soup, main dish (meat), cheese board and dessert (cheese knödel). The dessert didn’t sound that good in my head… but boy was I wrong or what?! It was fantastic!

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Austria Tagged hiking Comments (0)

When everyone else went to Venice...

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Breakfast a little later since we had planned a shorter hike today. Only a few people stayed here with us in Bad Gastein since the majority probably went on the day-trip to Venice.



We walked the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Promenade and Martin-Lodinger-Höhenwes towards Bad Hofgastein. Last piece of the track we walked along Gasteiner Höhenweg where the pathway passes through some caves at Gadaunerer Schlucht. The track was beautiful, green and ran along the mountain Gamskarkogel. We passed blooming meadows and grazing cows nearby the track.


It took us about 3 hours to get to Bad Hofgstein, but then we stopped for photos every now and then and also ate our packed lunch. Since we were in Bad Hofgastein yesterday we knew where to go to find something to eat. We decided to eat at a café with warm sandwiches. We rounded off with some ice cream. I ordered that Coupe Dänemark again… so good! And what a portion size we got… we probably could have shared one ice cream together... that's how big they were.


After finishing the ice cream, we walked to the bus station to take the bus back to Bad Gastein again. We were lucky and managed to catch a bus that arrived only a few minutes later. We arrived at the hotel pretty early… and since most of the people had gone to Venice for the day it wouldn’t be so crowded in the spa/pool area. So, we changed into swimsuits and sat down in the Jacuzzi for a while. Big panoramic windows next to the Jacuzzi made it possible to enjoy the amazing Alps from inside. We also swam in the pool next to the Jacuzzi before making ourselves ready for dinner. The 5-course dinner for today: salad buffet and soup, main dish (fish), cheese board and dessert (Tiramisu).

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Austria Tagged hiking Comments (0)

Hohen Werfen

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During the week we had booked a trip to Hohen Werfen. The bus was not leaving until 9.30am so we had a late breakfast. It took 50 minutes by bus to get to Werfen and Hohen Werfen. During the bus ride our tour guide told us a little history about the castle. It was built in 11th Century and protected the valley from attacks from other world nations. It also protected the transports of timber and salt on the river Salzach nearby. During 1930, the castle served as a prison with a torture chamber among other things. After the 2:nd World War the castle functioned as a police academy until 1987 why there are both electricity and running water in the castle today. As many probably already know, Hohen Werfen was the original set in the movie Where Eagles Dare (with Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood).

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Our visit started with a bird show. They showed us different birds like falcons, eagles and even vultures. Then we had a guided tour inside the castle. We all got mp3-players to listen to the story. English, German and Danish were a few of the languages to choose from. We walked around with our guide and visited the clock tower, weapon chamber and the torture chamber. I can tell you that the torture chamber could easily give you nightmares… scary! Later on, we had time for lunch in the castle restaurant. After a nice lunch we finally got back to the bus and rode back to Bad Gastein. During the bus ride we were told that the day-trip to Grossglockner had been cancelled due to bad weather - again! We now had to choose between getting a money refund back since we had already paid for it or choose a day-trip to Salzkammergut. We thought for a while and then decided to take the tour to Salzkammergut.


Today it was Austrian dinner theme in restaurant Ritz in Hotel Salzburger Hof, where our dinner was served. All the staff in the hotel wears those typical leather pants (lederhosen) or beautiful dresses… even the waiter’s dresses up! A little special menu for tonight; salad buffet (no soup), main dish no 1 (buffet), main dish no 2 (Wiener schnitzel), cheese board and dessert (like a thousand different desserts to choose from – and I just had to take one of each too!). And so darn sweet!

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Austria Tagged traveling hohen_werfen Comments (0)

A rainy Salzkammergut

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Since the day-trip to Grossglockner was cancelled we had chosen to go to Salzkammergut instead. The bus left at 8.30am and it took about 2 hours until we reached our first stop in Bad Ischl. The area called Salzkammergut is well-known for the salt mines and is located east of Salzburg. Bad Ischl was described as "Paradise on Earth" by the emperor Franz Joseph. He and his wife Princess Sofia lived in the emperor house in Bad Ischl during the summers. Franz Joseph had a secret way from the emperor house leading up to his mistress, and many people believe that’s why he called Bad Ischl “Paradise on Earth”. The town Bad Ischl is also known for the bath and cure treatments thanks to the thermal water. The story says Princess Sofia took a bath to treat her infertility. Two years later she supposedly had her first child, thanks to that treatment.

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We stayed in Bad Ischl for two hours. During that time, we managed to visit the town's famous café Zauner with its 14-meter-long cake counter. The house was beautiful on the outside so my expectations were pretty high when I walked in through the door. I honestly got a little disappointed but I bought a chocolate cake. Later we went back out to the street for some window shopping. I actually bought a really nice jacket. Expensive – but totally worth it!

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Back in the bus we went for another 30 minutes to Sankt Wolfgang. The city was named after a bishop with the same name (later canonized) that once founded the city. The famous opera White Horse Inn (Im Weissen Rössl) took place here in Sankt Wolfgang at the inn with the very same name. I’m not a fan of opera but – been there done that ;) When we walked through a store with beautiful clothes, I saw this fabulous coat. Immediately I got that feeling – I got to have that coat no matter what the price is. Said and done, even though the coat was expensive… it caught my eye!

We took the boat from Sankt Wolfgang to Sankt Gilgen, where our bus picked us up again. If it had been nice weather - and not rain all day long like we had - we would have seen the beautiful surroundings. But the weather worked against us so we couldn’t see a thing. It took 45 minutes to get over the lake to Sankt Gilgen where we embarked the bus again. The ride back to Bad Gastein took 1 hour and 50 minutes and our tour guide thought it was a great idea to listen to the soundtrack to the opera White Horse Inn. All the older people and opera diggers probably liked that, but I'm not a big fan of opera. So, I plugged my ears trying to listen to my mp3-player instead. But I could hear some of the parts through my music anyway.

Tired after a long day on the bus and out in the rain we arrived at the hotel, changed clothes for dinner and sat down in the restaurant Ritz. Last dinner during this staying, so it was a little sad. New friendships had been made during this week and knowing it was the last day among them was almost heartbreaking. Last dinner menu: salad buffet and soup, main dish (meat), cheese board and dessert (chocolate banana, vanilla ice cream, roasted almonds). The rest of the evening was spent up at the hotel room packing up as much as possible preparing for the home journey tomorrow.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Austria Tagged traveling Comments (0)

Home journey and summary...

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Up early in the morning and packed the rest in my baggage before breakfast that was served at 6.15am. We checked out before we ate breakfast and it was kind of stressful to eat when you knew you had to be at the bus station at 7am and the bus was leaving shortly thereafter. And you had to be careful and get on the right bus to the airport and not the bus that drives through Germany and all the way back to Sweden. It was kind of nice to know you were flying back home, but at the same time sad to leave such a wonderful and peaceful place.

Summary: Once again a fantastic week in Bad Gastein. My second time here in the same village and I got just as fascinated and silenced by the surroundings as the first time. A little bad luck weather wise but you can’t do anything about that… I’ll definitely go back again. There are still tracks I haven’t hiked yet. It was a nice staying, great staff and fantastic food (a lot of). Even though I ate all that food and desserts every day, I had lost 2 kg when I got home. That’s how it’s suppose be – right? ;)

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Austria Tagged traveling Comments (0)

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