Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Train to Bad Gastein

Ladies and gentleman, I have recently discovered a revolutionary travel option which avoids the long security lines and nonexistent leg room of airplanes and gets rid of the pesky parking problem that cars usually present. Yes, that’s right, Jonathan and I took our first European train ride while in Austria and it was ah-mazing.
Honestly, we had no idea that European train travel was so effortless. We just showed up at the train station, bought a round trip ticket to a random Austrian town, hopped on and hopped off about an hour later. Easy peasy.
No security lines. No throwing away water bottles. No worrying about all travel sized toiletries being separated into ziplock bags.  No turning off our electronics during take-off and landing. Nope, we just kept on playing angry birds throughout our voyage. Ah-mazing. So amazing that I kind of wish I’d planned April’s upcoming trip via train so that I wouldn’t have to worry about driving on the small country roads of Western Scotland. Hmmm…Is it too late to change plans?
Anyway, back to Austria. Somewhere in my research I read about a small resort town named Bad Gastein. It looked lovely and quiet and perfect for a romantic and sunny Saturday with my honey. After 3 days, Salzburg was old news and we were ready to explore a different locale. Since we didn’t feel like 1 day was enough time to do Vienna justice, we decided to focus on a more manageable sized city.
We leisurely rolled out of bed, packed a day bag with snacks and water and headed to the train station. One good thing about our hotel’s location: it was two blocks from the train station. Silver lining. When we got on the train, it turned out that we were about the only ones with the idea to check out Bad Gastein that day and we had the entire train car to ourselves. 
 We set up camp with our books, electronic devices, and of course, gummy bears.
(On a side note: I always travel with gummy bears. I find they ease my motion sickness. It may just be a placebo effect, but it’s working, so I keep doing it. Only problem is, gummy bears are quite hard to find in Scotland. Well, not in Austria. They were everywhere, including vending machines. Needless to say, I stocked up and now have enough gummy bears to last us our entire stint in the UK. Speaking of which, Jillian, I brought you back some so please remind me to bring them to you! Wow, is this post a rambling mess or what? I warned you the next few weeks would be like this!)
As we traveled from Salzburg deeper into the Alps, the scenery was incredible. I kept rushing from one side of the train to the other, just trying to take in the views.
Being from the flatlands of Louisiana, I enjoy land with some curves. Well Austria was like the Beyonce of landscapes. As we got closer and closer to our final destination, the scenery got more and more breathtaking which was easing our minds about our spontaneous and random day trip decision.

Jonathan and I are not usually spontaneous and random people, so we were a bit apprehensive that our poorly planned excursion would end up a disaster. Well, pulling into the Bad Gastein station, we were pretty confident that we were going to have an incredible day.
The weather was picture perfect which matched the awe inspiring mountains surrounding us. Since the resort town is best known for it’s skiing, the town was very sleepy during our visit, and many of the shops were closed in preparation for the winter season.
However, we quickly found some hiking trails and went exploring, finding waterfalls, thermal baths, and a trail that stretched between several other ski towns within the area.

It was a happy, relaxing day, just hiking in the sunshine through the Alps with my bestie. Does it get better than that? Yes, it does. You wanna know how? Hiking in the sunshine in the Alps with my bestie and also feeding squirrels.
Mind blown. And it gets even better! Hiking in the sunshine in the Alps with my bestie, feeding squirrels, eating ice cream, and using FREE public restrooms.

You rock, Bad Gastein! We hiked downhill for about 2 ½ hours before realizing that what goes down, must come up, and we had quite the trek ahead of us.

We took lots of breaks and detours to explore along the way, and rewarded ourselves with cheeseburgers and beer once we made it back to our original elevation.
We still had an hour or so to kill, so we weaved around exploring the town's postcard worthy streets.

Similar to Salzburg the town is built into the side of the mountain overlooking a valley, so our vantage point was constantly changing, leading to a lot of picture taking. Here are some of our favorites from the day:

It was definitely our favorite part of our Austria trip and we wished we had spent the night here so that we could indulge in one of their famous spa treatments. A nice thermal steam would have been quite nice after all of our hiking.
But instead we headed back to the train station, hopped on and hopped back off in Salzburg about an hour later, which was pretty relaxing, as far as travel goes.


  1. I think you should check the Spanish "AVE":

  2. Mmm, I can smell the Alpine air if I close my eyes... I'm so happy you had a wonderful day! I may be seriously jealous, but in a totally healthy-happy-for-you way :)

  3. I think taking trains is such a romantic (and very overlooked) mode of transportation. I wish America had better mass transit.

  4. I'm in love with Bad Gastein too and I haven't even been there! What a gorgeous little town and a wonderful way to spend the day with your hubs! Keep that extra bag of gummies that you so kindly bought for ME (hide them for a rainy day) because I did my own stocking up in the airport in Norway :-) and I am pretty sure I am forming my first cavity ever thanks to Haribo! Thank you for thinking of me, sweet friend!!

    1. Oh and I want to know what you're thinking about The Book Thief!

    2. Bad Gastein is the most beautiful place on your itinerary to date. I love the photos.I'm glad you had at least one small furry animal encounter.