Here are my visual impressions from an absolutely fabulous week in Bad Gastein, Austria with plenty of fresh, alpine air, long, health-promoting hikes in breathtaking scenery, and mostly really, really splendid, mostly low-carb dining experiences.
From past visits to the country, I knew that Austrian chefs are masterful at classic dishes like Tafelspitz, Käsespätzle, Tiroler Gröstl, and Wiener Schnitzel. So I knew my expectations were going to be easily met as we navigated the restaurant scene in Bad Gastein.
And while often brusque and somewhat intransigent, especially the older generation (i.e. my age), most “Gasteiners” we interacted with in the hospitality industry were kind and friendly enough. I think the language barrier is still a huge culprit. Fortunately, I know a few courteous phrases in German (and some really, really naughty ones, too), and saying a few kind words was usually all it took to warm up the locals. Like everywhere else, younger Austrians live a lot of their lives online, so speaking English is easier and more comfortable for them.
There is also a significant amount of immigrants living and working in the Gastein valley. Mostly from bordering countries like Slovenia, Slovakia, and Hungary. We met only a few Swedes working here. This was a bit surprising, considering how popular a destination Bad Gastein is in Sweden. I’m sure there are more seasonal workers from Sweden during the winter.
Just for fun, we summed up our stats from the week’s excursions and came up with the following rundown, at least according to Apple’s Health app:
• Distance walked: 92 km/52 miles
It was 42 years ago since I last visited Bad Gastein and the tiny village was my very first experience skiing in the Alps. If I wait another 42 years, I’ll be 101 years old and probably way too timeworn to trek the hills or ride the Gastein valley’s many scenic trails. Certainly not as energetically as we did this past week. But if I do have the privilege of becoming a Centenarian, I wouldn’t mind returning.