Hilly wanderings and road mazes – Bad Gastein

The morning dawned sunny and coated in a fresh sprinkling of snow in Bad Gastein.

The decision was made that Thea and Craig would take the car and head to the ski field to try Thea’s new skis out. We also figured that Craig might be able to get a go on his skis in the afternoon. Evie and I were going to have a quiet at-home day after the disrupted travel day yesterday. Also I didn’t really feel well-rested enough to drive on the wrong side of the road just yet!

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When Craig and Thea arrived at the ski field, Thea had a little go on her skis, but ultimately decided to take a gondola ride to the summit to check out the view. A play in the fresh powder was also in order.

Whilst they traipsed around in the powder, Evie and I decided to explore the streets around our apartment.

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We discovered that:

1. We were staying up very high over Bad Gastein

2. Bad Gastein township is built of very steep and narrow streets that GPS doesn’t like. Craig thinks there’s a phantom “road” in the routing software which is actually straight up a cliff face, breaking the routing for the whole town. It caught us out multiple times.

3. Walking downhill is fun, but back up not so much.

4. It is awe-inspiringly pretty, like everywhere I turned I thought “Wow, that is amazing!”

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THE TOP OF BAD GASTEIN WASSERFALL

Once Evie had had her first nap and subsequent feed, I checked my offline map (we didn’t have wifi at our apartment) and figured I could walk her in the front pack into zentrum (the centre of town) to meet Thea and Craig around lunchtime. Craig had mentioned it was about a 38 minute walk, and I thought that sounded doable.

I hadn’t factored in the hills, the ice and the snow, needless to say I was fairly exhausted by the time I got into town (it actually took me an hour). We met up with Craig and Thea for a traditional lunch of wurst and fries for Thea and roast pork for Craig and I. Then it was home for a relaxed afternoon before a home cooked dinner and bed.

We decided to try Bad Hofgastein the next day to see if we could enroll Thea for mini-club. Mini-clubs are a combination of snow play and learning to ski for 3- 4 year olds that run for 2 hours a day. You can stay and watch or settle them and go and ski/board yourself. Unfortunately it turned out that Mini-clubs generally run Sunday – Thursdays and they don’t take new students at the end of the week. We booked Thea a private lesson instead for an hour to get her started. It was very cute to watch and they even had a few tumbles which they laughed off.

Craig even managed to find a Schneehund.

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Evie had another front pack nap and we wandered up to the shops to find a new snow-suit for her. She is now over 10kg and fitting size 1-1.5, and our Macpac trademe find is too small. I found a wee shop in Bad Hofgastein that was especially for kids and we came across a purple snow suit, size 1.5. It’s ridiculously huge on her but nice and snuggly and Evie had her first play in the snow in it.

 

After Thea’s lesson, we drove back to our apartment for lunch and Evie’s nap. The weather was fairly rainy and a little windy so it wasn’t the best for the slopes – so we headed to a cafe for cake and coffee. The icy footpaths made it impossible to take our pram so we popped both girls in frontpacks and set off. It was downhill most of the way to the Kraftwerk cafe at the bottom of the Bad Gastein waterfall. I have to say I was dreading the walk back to the top though.

Evie snoozed as we walked. The waterfall was magnificent from the bottom. We were very grateful to get to the warm and funky interior of the Kraftwerk cafe. Several layers needed to be removed before we could comfortably enjoy the delicious plum cake they had baked for their cake of the day.

The Kraftwerk cafe is housed in the an old hydroelectric plant which used to be powered by the waterfall. It is one of the oldest hydro power plants in the Salzburg district. The power plant ran between 1914 – 1996, and the cafe was opened in 2016. Two huge turbines provide an impressive centrepiece for the cafe interior. As it is open from 11am – 6pm it was popular for those seeking some warmth apres ski (after skiing) and for us after our cold walk. A few drinks, 2 toilet stops and a breastfeed later, we set out again towards home. By towards I really mean almost straight upwards.

The trek home was a great cardio vascular workout as we traversed the steep and snow covered hills. We were very grateful to make it to the top and to put our two gorgeous girls out of their front packs and onto the apartment floor to play.

We finished our time in Bad Gastein the next morning with a quick trip to the local bäckerei for more krapfen (of course), coffee and a pretzel for Craig.

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In hindsight it would have been nicer to have a bit longer in Bad Gastein. 3 nights with 2 small children isn’t really enough to get a feel for the place. But hindsight is a great teacher; next time we will definitely book more nights.

Next we are heading for Zell am See for a week, more adventures await us there no doubt.

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