Last week I ventured by train to the foothills of the Alps to the town of Semmering in Lower Austria. As you may recall, I don’t have a car anymore and I have been walking everyday since I arrived in Mijas Pueblo, Spain in October.
The walking has built up my leg muscles and that really paid off as getting to my hotel at 3000 feet required a hike on highway and following marked trails through the woods. With backpack and water, I set out for the Hotel Panhans from the Semmering train station in what seemed to be at a minimum a 30 degree angle (which I am sure it isn’t). Had I not been doing so much walking since my arrival in Europe, it is questionable if I could have completed the trek. But I did! On arrival it was wonderful to relax with a coffee and some strudel.
I found Hotel Panhans on a web travel site and really didn’t know anything about it. On arrival I could tell that this was going to be special, Everything was spotless and well maintained. The staff provided service the way one would imagine it to be at a first class hotel from the 1800’s… which is exactly Hotel Panhans! My room was front-facing and the view of the mountains was breathtaking from my over-sized balcony with table and chairs on a tiled floor. The hotel has wonderful accommodations for their guests. One feature is the spa with sauna, pools, etc…. Actually there are three saunas and three pools each set at different temperatures.
When I went into the sauna I wore my swimming trunks without giving it a thought. I spread my towel on the hot wood planks and immediately the sweat oozed from my forehead and then the rest of me as my body began to turn pink. So this is what it feels like for a salmon to bake on a plank! Soon others arrived BUT none of the six people in their 30’s had anything on! I mean not a stitch! I was a bit uneasy and the heat in the room wasn’t just caused by the sauna’s thermostat settings! I found it difficult to find a place to fix my eyes and not be offending anyone! Soon I left and came to learn that in many places in Europe that my experience was not unique and that wearing something wasn’t considered to be appropriate. Who knew!
So that’s my story today from the mountains in Semmering where food delicacies abound and are complimented with new experiences in the sauna! Semmering is a beautiful, fairy tale place and I am enclosing above a panoramic photo of the view of the mountains from my balcony.