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.
Published by Giff Kabat
I grew up in Ohio as a kid, so of course I went to college at “THE” Ohio State University. I graduated in 2001 with a major in business finance. A month after graduation, I moved out to California with my college girlfriend (whom I married in 2005)…and started my career in sales (industrial sales for 5 years…then moved into medical laser sales for 4 years).
In 2009 I was 31 years old. I had a great job, a new house, and a beautiful wife. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better…my wife and I found out we were going to have a baby. Everything was going according to plan…and I couldn’t have scripted a better life for myself.
Then in the same year…everything changed. My wife, Brandey, called me when I was on my way to work and told me over the phone, something I never thought could be possible in a million years. My beautiful 30-year old pregnant wife was just told that she had breast cancer. At that moment, everything stopped all at once. I immediately went to her…and learned of our new plan…which began with her needing surgery immediately…and the rest we would find out later.
The day we returned from the hospital after Brandey’s surgery…my father died. He had been battling an aggressive cancer of his own…and although he was the one person I wanted to speak with about Brandey having cancer…I never told him. My sister, Brooke, had just gotten married a few months ago, and although he was weak, he was able to walk his little girl down the aisle of her wedding. On the night before my sister’s wedding, Brandey and I told him that we were pregnant and about to make him a grandfather. It made no sense to tell him that everything had changed for us…so he died in peace knowing everything was “the way it should be” for his only 2 children.
2010 was the worst year of my life. We had lost our baby…and for 12 months I watched my wife fight cancer with multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and drug therapy. It was a difficult year for us…but we made it. When you go through something like this in life, you learn a lot about yourself and the people around you. I was amazed at the strength and courage of my wife…and how many good people there are in this world. I will be forever grateful for the ones who never ceased to amaze me with their kindness during this hard time. Family, friends, and sometimes complete strangers…helped us make it through this. I am, and will always be especially grateful to my mother, who was with my dad at the very end, when I couldn’t be there, and when things were at their worst. She has been so supportive throughout all of this, and without her everything would have been so much harder for me.
It’s 2011 now…and the plan we have for our life this year…is to make it the best year of our lives. Brandey is officially in remission from breast cancer and she has a 95% chance the cancer will never come back. Besides the love that I have for my wife and family, the loves of my life are food, wine, and adventure travel. My wife and I love traveling to new places, seeing natural wonders, and meeting new people from different parts of the world. So for the next 400 days…we’ve decided to travel the world…and celebrate our lives. There are so many things I took for granted in life that I will never take for granted again. My father worked for over 30 years at the same job with the same company…rarely took time off…and died at 64 years old right after his retirement. For me, this trip is a combination of a tribute to him, along with wanting to spend the time of my life with the “love of my life.”
* The only thing I will miss while we are gone is our family and friends (who we hope will meet us somewhere throughout our trip) and especially our 3 little kitties we left with my mom in Ohio to catsit for the next 400 days. I will also miss watching “American Football” over the weekend…but I’ll do my best to check the scores in the middle of the night.
View all posts by Giff Kabat
2 Replies to “Day 63 of 400: Bad Gastein – Austria”
The view of the village from above is spectacular. I would love to have seen that in person. But, yuk…I would not be willing to try lung, heart, tongue, etc.
Looks like you are having a GREAT time! I hope Brandey is feeling well. Send back some pastry!!! Take care–Mary Beth