Today's pictures are here on Flickr.
The only things I knew about Bad Ischl were that the Austrian Emperor had a summer home here for 60 years, and that it was famous for its spas. It’s also further west, towards Salzburg, in what’s known as the Salzkammergut area (roughly translated to “Salt storehouse”), after train transfers in St Poelten (3rd time) and Attnang-Puchheim (1st time). The train to Attnang was delayed by about a half hour while they cleared the track ahead of us; apparently someone got hit by another train further up and they had to bring the police, ambulance, and cleanup crews in before we could get going. Of course my connection had long since left by the time I got there, but I just hopped on the next one going to Bad Ischl, leaving me time to grab lunch from a kebab stand nearby (that was really good – a shwarma sandwich but in a tortilla wrap). The train only made it as far as Ebensee, though, due to construction on the tracks, so we had to disembark from the train and get into a standing-room-only bus to get the rest of the way to Bad Ischl. I had booked a B&B the night before in Mautern, so I found the Tourist Information office and got a map of the town, and she helped me figure out where I needed to go.
The bus to the hotel, part of the route that goes to Salzburg, only runs once an hour, so I had nearly that much time to wait. My plan was to go drop off my luggage, wait for the next bus and come back to the downtown area for the rest of the day and evening, then head back at night. I’m not sure what kind of “spa” the town is famous for, but there was a big water resort in the middle of town right near the train station, called Eurotherm. It has heated pools (including salt water pools), hot tubs, a lazy river, stuff like that. For only €14 for up to 4 hours, it sounded like a nice relaxing evening. I didn’t have a bathing suit, though, so I packed my sleeping shorts which I figured would be close enough and nobody knew me there anyway. The B&B I stayed at, Hotel Oase, was just fine and had everything I needed – a clean bed, a clean bathroom, electricity, and internet (though I had to plug my Ethernet cable into the wall, first place I’ve had to do that this trip – but that’s why I carry the cable with me when I travel). Anything else, like free breakfast and a porch with a view (both of which this place had), is a bonus.
Bad Ischl had enough to keep me busy for a few hours, wandering around the town and checking out its old town/shopping area, streets, bridges, and mountain views. Saw two inexplicable British telephone booths and had a Schloss Eggenberg Konig beer over the next three hours. I wanted to have dinner around 6, go to the pool around 7, and be out by 11 as they start shutting down the pools at 11:30. For dinner I got Kalbstafelspitz auf krensauce, wurzelgemuse, und kartoffel, which was boiled beef with potatoes in some sort of sauce (and really tasty) with a Schwechater beer. And an apple strudel with vanilla sauce (almost like pudding) and a dollop of whipped cream for dessert, of course – you can never have too much apple strudel in this part of Europe.
The Eurotherm resort in Bad Ischl has several parts – the pools, a sauna, a massage area, and a holistic health center, all part of a hotel resort. I only paid for the pools. They issue you a wrist band with an RFID chip in it that opens doors for you (literally) for whatever you’ve paid for. It also works the locks on the lockers and when you wave it at a computer screen on the wall, it tells you what you have paid for and how much time you’ve got left in your 4 hours. There’s a warm salt-water pool at 32 deg (90 deg F), a warmer salt water pool and a lazy river (non-salt) both outside and at 34 deg (93 deg F), and a salt water hot tub inside at 36 deg (97 deg F). There are loads of chaise lounges all around the heated interior, and glass roof for sunning when it’s cold outside – like it is this time of year. All the pools have jets, and some have built-in lounge chairs with bubble jets so you get a water jet/bubble massage for a few minutes while you’re lying in the pool with just your head sticking up. It was all very relaxing but I could only handle about 2-1/2 hours in the water. The bus stopped running to the hotel a couple hours before so I caught a cab back and called it a night after finishing up my daily computer work.
Today's pictures are here on Flickr.
(Originally posted 10/20/11 at 2:37am, Munich)