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Euro campervan trip 2023 - stage 6 : Austria - Bad Gastein

We can't remember why we chose Bad Gastein as our next destination. As a name, it has a ring about it, like a really unpleasant bout of indigestion. But it turns out to be an inspired choice.

The route included some proper hairpin bends, and even a first for us: Nessa on a train.

I have childhood memories of the Brenner Pass and the Tauren tunnel, and this drive vividly refreshed them. Bringing back memories of arguing with my brother about what to play next on the portable cassette recorder in the back of Dads white Austin 1800. We lived in München (well, we were sent to boarding school in England but allowed home for the holidays if we were good). Chris was two years older. He had an amazing silent dead arm punch. Kindly I let him play Knock three times by Tony Orlando, and Neil Diamond (Cracklin Rosie), My Sweet Lord, Your Song, Ride a White Swan, and Maggie May incessantly from home all the way to Venice! Play list burned into my brain. At one stage there was an arguement in the background as someone in his dormitory dared to speak during top of the pops. Recorded without cables straight from a mono radio. I'm guessing it was 1971, otherwise it would have been Bowie or Led Zep.. I know this is self indulgent, but ffs this is my diary. To let you know, I wrote this paragraph and burst into tears.

It's much cooler here, around 20*c and pretty wet! The campsite we have found is down the valley and the pitch is worryingly waterlogged. 3.5 tons of Nessa quite well embedded in the grass, we are here a couple of days but I'm already worrying about how to ask for a tractor to pull us out of the mud in German. The views are incredible when the fog lifts and the rain stops.

The duvet is back on the bed. Mrs W cooked a fiery chilli in the van. I am afraid the duvet lifted a few times overnight.

Reg has smelly ears. We are using Daktacort and vinegar. Come on, that's inspired. He was virtually living in Lake Garda for five days. How different can vetinary medicine really be?

Our plan is to hike. And obviously find great local food. Why does this make me think of odd dumplings, Hungarian goulash, and schnitzel mit pomfrittes? I'm also hoping that Austrian wine might make an appearance.

I remembered the crossing from Austria to Italy back in the 70's. Queues . Miles of barbed wire and no man's land. Just saying, Brexit was such a shit idea.

Our shopping experience, once over the apparently now non existent Austro-italian border was at Aldi, but it's called Hofer here. Why? Did I hear you ask? Well, when the Aldi brothers split the business into north and south, (after an apparently vicious boardroom battle over whether or not to stock cigarettes) the brother who got Aldi Süd bought the premier Austrian supermarket chain Hofer. Due to a residual Austrian dislike of all things German, and Hofer brand loyalty the name was retained. It's like the BBC here at NHSontheRun towers, honestly you are spoilt.

As a kid, summers were spent either walking in Austria or cycling out from München to the local lakes, or as I said above, in Venice. Some of our reason for this trip revolves around these memories and my desire to see if I was right to remember Austria as the most incredible summer venue. I am indulged by Mrs W and she is keen to see too.

Day two in Bad Gastein and the suns out. It's incredible how the place comes to life. Cow bells, butterflies, mountain goats, black squirrels for Reg to chase, waterfalls and miles of wild meadow. My fifty year old memories are spot on.

I planned a four hour walk. We set off mid morning. It was wonderful.

We detoured to the cable car and added in a trip on the Stubnerkogelbahn to the summit. €26 each. Mrs W and I decided we would never have been allowed to do that as kids. "Far too expensive, we will walk!"

The cool air at the summit was fabulous after our trek. A large Bier (Von fass)at the half way station gave us renewed energy and we did decide to walk down. No way will that take the predicted hour and a half on the sign post, I confidently predicted.

By 6pm Mrs W has sense of humour failure as we came to the edge of town and ran out of pavement. Luckily the bus stop was right there and very wearily we arrived back at Nessa, over 8 hours after setting off, knackered, exhilarated, exhausted and desperately in need a a drink! A 30000 step day, 13 miles of ascent and descent. We felt we earned the zesty pink Prosecco, followed rapidly by the Valpolicella we bought in Garda.

For me, today was a really golden day full of highly charged and emotional memories of family and childhood.

1 Comment

David Price
David Price
Jul 27, 2023

What a lovely post. Had me going with memories of your brother. ❤️

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