Bad Gastein. Spa town on the south of Austria, surrounded by misty mountains and endless forests. Forget big cities and capitals and crowded streets full of noise; nature is true heaven for me.
Thing to notice – Bad Gastein is truly living by label “spa town”. Most of the people you meet are tourists. You can find a hotel on every corner. Warm mineral water is sprinkling from fountains every few meters. And everything is so chill. I didn’t meet a single person when I went running at 5 o’clock. Seems like this town wakes up around 8.
It has downsides too, of course. As in probably every tourist destination, there is a lot of people who just want to make money. Prices of meals in restaurants vary, but most of them are quite above average. But if you spend whole day hiking (like us) or want to save money, nearby supermarkets are good option. Gastein Waterfall, the one in the center of the town, is the only free-accessible waterfall in the area. Yes, you have to pay to people to see something created by nature. Many other attractions are overpriced, too.
We arrived quite late, just for short walk around the town. Saving energy for next day. We decided to climb Stubnerkogel. Famous mountain, especially in winter when people go skiing. It has 2246 m. Of course you can use cableway for 25 Euro/person (see what I am talking about with the prices?) to take you to the top, but you know the saying, right? F*ck the easy way, there is no shortcut in life.
Long story short, we walked around 30 km that day to get there and back. And it was worth every step. The feeling that you put so much effort to something. That you didn’t give up even when you walked many and many kilometers up to the hill in the forest where there was barely some path. And then you see it. Amazing view, world is in front of you, wind messes with your hair and you are free.
There is a small restaurant, place to rest and few benches. And 140 meters-long suspension bridge you can walk on. Honestly, I was scared, but pushed myself to cross it. This opportunity doesn’t happen every day. Around here are other mountains you can climb on, and some are even higher. There are maps and signs with directions, so you can’t get lost. Our attempt was sadly interrupted by heavy rain and raging storm.
The weather on the top of the mountain can change fast and dramatically. Imagine hails and huge raindrops mixed with show falling in the middle of summer. Imagine they stab you and hit you on naked skin. So much for wearing workout shorts and tank top. Sigh, it was 25 degrees when we were leaving from down there in the morning. Bad weather didn’t last long though, sun started shining again. Time to go back (which was, despite expectations, just as exhausting as getting to the top).
Stubnerkogel is a must if you visit this area. The access to the top is not always easy, but this mountain being so famous has a reason. There are around two restaurants to rest on the way if you decide to walk, plus that warm and nice one at the top. There is panorama platform which gives you really good view all over the place. You can see the top was made visitors-friendly, not some rough hostile surface. With paths and bridges and benches, and of course the cableway, I can imagine this place to be crowded some days. If you want to enjoy unforgettable view and stuck your head in the clouds for a while, this is the right spot.
This is the first part of my vacation in Austria’s Alps, so stay tuned for the next one coming!