Our first day in Austria was spent exploring our surroundings. Now that it was daylight, we saw that our place was tucked in a small village in the mountains. We also noted there were pubs on virtually every corner. We drove through some of the other miniature towns nearby and noted the herds of sheep munching on grass. We found a little bakery on the corner open and walked in to see what an Austrian pastry would look like. We had the owner pick out two of her favorites as well as a couple coffees and sat down to taste. Both were yummy. The first was an apple strudel warmed which appears to be a specialty of the area. The other was a thick pastry with vanilla cream in the middle and sprinkled with toasted almonds.
Back in the car we decided to follow the signs we were seeing for thermal spas. We pulled up to a huge building. Inside we saw a front desk and a few people walking around…the brochures read “healing tunnel”. I am not allowed to soak my incisions yet since they are still healing so we didn’t participate, but we did ask some questions to find out the scoop. We found out thousands of people come to this area not only to ski but specifically for this radon therapy which naturally occurs inside this mountain. They built a train which takes you in your robe to four different areas inside the mountain, each of which gets warmer in temperature and humidity as you go from area one to four. The Gasteiner Heilstollen even has doctors on staff whom consult with you first to suggest which natural treatment is needed and for how long. Health insurance in this country even recognizes this health resort as a means for various treatments. The concept is that it aims to activate your body’s own natural ability to heal itself. It looked like an average of 8-12 sessions were needed. The site is http://www.gasteiner-heilstollen.com.
We left feeling a little down that we couldn’t participate in something so unique, but quickly told ourselves we were getting to experience Austria and can always return some other time! After a little more exploring we parked back at our hotel and walked over to a bar with a patio and ordered a beer and bowl of goulash. It was the consistency of soup but tasted like chili. As we paid our bill we heard live music coming from down the street and walked over to check it out. There was a live band singing in English playing pop songs. We joined the crowd finding the last table and drank another beer while watching people climbing the mountain in the background.
Next we found a classic Austrian restaurant and sat for dinner. This is the part you need to brace yourself for…now, remember we like to experience the local cuisine and culture. The waiter spoke some English and translated the daily specials to us. One of which was lamb lung, heart and tongue! No, we didn’t order it but because I opened my big mouth and made a comment about it…he brought out a small plate for us to try compliments of the kitchen (gee, thanks!). The organs were served cut up into small pieces of what looked like dark brown meat. They were sauteed with garlic and spices. The consistency was a little different, but the taste was actually not bad! For our meals, Giff ordered two sausages (black and regular) and I ordered a pasta with chicken and local garlic, a special of the night. Both were very good and we left feeling we had a classic Austrian experience.
Back at our place we settled in for a movie and bed.