Sunday, March 17, 2013

A much needed day in Badgastein.

Salzburg College has a few "days in the snow" throughout the semester in which we can choose whether we would like to ski, toboggan, snow shoe, ice skate or anything our heart desires. A few weeks ago...we were lucky enough to take a trip to Badgastein which is home to all of these activities, but also beautiful spas. I am not usually the spa type, but hey, it has been a COLD winter and I decided to choose warm baths over skiing. Upon arrival a couple of exchange students and I decided to take a gander around the town full of resorts, restaurants, cafes and lodges. Wondering down into the valley, we were pleasantly surprised (after getting a little lost) to find a small trail back up the mountain. This trail lead us over a waterfall and gave us an incredible, panoramic view of the mountains and scenery. We took many a picture and moved up the street until we stumbled upon a small, family owned ice skating rink.
The picturesque Badgastein 

Joanna and Becky walking up a road in Badgastein.
The rink had absolutely nobody skating on it which seemed a little odd…but we went to check it out and eventually three chubby little girls stumbled onto the rink, holding onto the side for dear life. We walked into a little shack on the side and were greeted happily by a small family. There were seats, two tables and a little sign that said how much the skates were. I believe they cost about three Euros…which obviously gave us the go! The couple and their young son did not speak any English, so I spoke what I could and after trying on about 30 pairs of skates, we each found winning pairs. We stumbled onto the rink, just like the little chubby girls and tried to get the hang of our once practiced sports. The little boy was very excited about our revival and also skated with us around the rink, doing twirls and showing of his prestigious skills. After a short time, we decided to go inside for some coffee and asked the lady if she had any in her small kitchen. We decided to get coffee and what looked like Linzertorte, but then she decided to just give us four huge pieces of the torte! We were very surprised and offered to pay…but she insisted that we have it. We ended up leaving some money on the table and were very surprised when she came out to the rink later to try and give it back. This experience definitely displayed the unique hospitality that one can find in Austria.
Family owned ice skating rink in Badgastein
After our nice, unexpected skating excursion, the girls and I wandered back to the spa area and spent three luxurious hours going from one warm pool to the next, to the saunas and back. After all the traveling, and hard school work we had been doing, this seemed perfect. I was honestly expecting however, to see more naked Austrians running around the pools, but little did I know, this was left for the sauna room. Each sauna had at least one man or woman fully spread out on the hot wooden seats. As an American, all I could do was look down and not glimpse to long at my friends. This cultural difference is so interesting to me. Why is the naked body so censored in the states? It’s something that each and every person has…although different in many ways. Anyway, the spa was great. There were pools both inside and outside, for children, for adults, with bubblers and even a water slide for once you get tired of sitting in hot water. 
Badgastein spa. :) One of the outside pools. This one wasn't heated which is why nobody is in it...
After the luxury, we threw ourselves back into the brisk cold in search for dinner. Since many places were touristy and expensive, we had to resort to eating kebabs which are honestly delicious. I find myself craving the combination of salty meat, sauce and vegetables quite regularly. Not the most healthy, but potentially healthier than a big mac. After dinner, we made our way to the grocery store to grab a beer (since we did not want to pay 5 euro for one) and headed down to the infamous Red Bull Competition. We waited and waited and waited, looked around, walked around and waited for this competition to start. People lined up on the street in their Red Bull garb and pushed others around vigorously trying to save their standing room. It was really quite exciting since I hadn't been to many ski events before aside from Schladming and those at Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire. I was freezing cold, but once the competition began, I found myself forgetting for a while. The trail was incredibly built through the town and went downhill for about a mile. There were jumps and obstacles in between for the skiers to show off their skills and gain points. I have never seen so many wonderful tricks in my life. These skiers were incredible and as a skier, I had never heard about this race in my life. Anyway, if anyone who reads this happens to go to Austria around the time of the next Red Bull race, I completely recommend the experience. Just dress warm!! Here is a link with more information...

The Red Bull Playstreets 2013 Competition in Badgastein. 
On a side note: Red Bull was created in Austria which was something that I had no idea about before coming here! It seems so contradictory considering that Austrians pride themselves on their healthy foods…and Red bull is well….an energy drink. I see the logo everywhere I go and the company funds many sporting events worldwide. Who knew that an energy drink made in Austria in 1987 would become the bestselling energy drink in the world?

Red Bull cars! It's starting to look appealing to me...

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