I am writing this from a Bad Ischl Bed and Breakfast in the Salzkammergut region of Austria. It is a lovely place, even won the European award for most beautiful town last year! The flowers are gorgeous in their pots, hanging and beds. Also a river runs through town, the local people wear their traditional costumes in the shops and shopping at the farmer’s market. My German is coming back slowly, but most people here speak some English also. Hedy, the older woman who runs the B&B, speaks English, but says it wears her brain out to understand if I speak too fast or get to complicated. In this region a Bed and Breakfast is less expensive than the hostel, but no wifi. (I will go to the spa and use their wifi to upload this to my website). It is mostly older women who put out a sign room for rent in their home. The one I am staying at in Bad Ischl for a week was reserved for me by my Austrian friend, Silvia. Breakfast is sliced brown/rye bread with butter, a little homemade jam, every other day two eggs soft cooked in a glass and a pot of black tea with milk.
One interesting observation on my travels are the t-shirts. Almost every t-shirt with words in Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria has only English words, American locations, English sayings, etc written on them. In some cases I wonder if they wearer actually knows what is being said. My favorite t-shirt was on a little boy in Bulgaria: “Superhero loading”, a graphic of software loading, “Please wait”. This in a country with a Cyrillic language where the street signs were impossible to read! So, I frequently can’t read the posted signs, but I can always read the people’s t-shirts. The clothes in general are very similar everywhere – I can’t tell where people are from based on what they are wearing, nor recognize other travelers very easily unless I hear them talking.
I have for several years wanted to spend time in the Austrian Alps region. The hiking, the salt soaks, the beautiful scenery and lovely people. I am spending a week here in Bad Ischl and it has been very peaceful. I have really come to appreciate staying in one place for awhile and getting to know it. I think back to some previous travels where we were moving to a new location most nights and wonder how I coped with that. Of course traveling by myself means I have to figure it all out and that takes a little longer. I really appreciate this opportunity to be able to spend quality time in a place I have desired to get to know better for some time. I get out hiking, walking in the mornings and have gone to the Eurotherm spa for a detoxing, 3% salt, neutral temperature soak in the evening. These photos are from a hike to the top of a local mountain after riding part way up on the gondola.
Austrians as a group seem very environmentally conscious, the water, the mountains, the air have been important commodities to be stewards of for hundreds of years. People from the cities have long come to visit this region for their health. In Vienna I visited the Hundertwasser exhibit at the KunstHaus museum. He even went farther with believing we should not live and work in buildings with straight lines. He felt flat floors and straight lines didn’t resonate with nature and were unhealthy for us, so this museum had rolling floors, wonderful primary colors, inset rocks, rounded corners and spiral stair case.
On my way to Austria, I spent a couple of days in Budapest, Hungary. I stayed in a Hostel right downtown, walking distance to the subway, main shopping district and a major thermal bath. I unfortunately was recovering from being sick most of the time I was there. I had gone hiking in Bulgaria to a waterfall and when everyone was refilling their water bottles from the stream, I did too. Unfortunately it made me pretty sick my last days in Sofia, during which I fasted and slept, then it took a couple more days to get my appetite and energy back. I was good enough to take my flight from Sofia to Budapest. Then I drank liquids and took it easy. So, in Budapest I went to the nearby thermal healing waters spa for two days in a row and soaked and laid around. The truth of traveling by yourself, is if you don’t feel good and not thinking clearly, you have to just hunker down for awhile. The advantage however is nobody else is inconvenienced, there is no reason to push yourself to go when you don’t feel like it. I thought Budapest was a lovely city and I hope to go back one day and really see it.
My pension in Vienna I booked through Booking.com, I have used it a lot, and it was very well located and affordable. I hadn’t remembered that in Austria everything shuts down on Sunday – the shopping, grocery stores, all but restaurants. I was staying in a shopping district so even a lot of restaurants were closed too. I walked a half hour for breakfast to Cafe Landtmann and had their house breakfast, amazing dark hot chocolate – so dark they served a pitcher of milk to add if you needed it. It was like drinking a wonderful dark chocolate bar. A fresh roll, butter and soft cooked egg. Very elegant waiters, atmosphere. It was delightful. I was glad to have my appetite back.
Tomorrow is Sunday again and I have gone to the grocery store and stocked up a little. I only like to eat out one meal a day. I got some apples, peanut butter and interesting looking crackers plus cucumber and carrots. Monday I plan on leaving for Feldkirch in the Vorarlberg region of Austria, near Switzerland so some food will be good while traveling on the trains and bus. Feldkirch is noted for it’s organic, green businesses and community.