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“Auxiliary verbs should only be used in imperfect tense, it’s more elegant.” Hans announces, matter of fact. No wonder I have struggled so much to learn German, I am not even fluent in basic grammar. I am not only translating German to English in my mind, but also trying to draw on almost forgotten basics. Hans is interested in teaching me the right way to speak German and the right way is elegant. I had classes one on one with Hans just by virtue of good timing. Two classes every morning, each 45 minutes long. In addition, we met three times per week in the evening for a walk or a beer. Hans was funny, witty and helped me immensely with my German skills. He was very generous with his time despite the fact that I was so limited in my skills -which made speaking difficult. He was easy on me, I only had to use the phrase he taught me, “entschuldigung, das ist mir sehr peinlich” (excuse me, that embarrasses me) once or twice.



My journey to Deutsch-Insitut Tirol in Kitzbühel was somewhat last minute. It was chosen solely on it’s proximity to the other part of my journey near Kufstein. I found Deutsch-Insitut Tirol by searching “language schools” in vicinity of Sonnhof Ayurveda on Google Maps. I read a few reviews, visited the website and realized that this would be a perfect way to experience a very small region of Austria. I have been studying German since high school and for some reason, it compels me. German is something I want to learn but my immature attention span places it just out of reach. So I toil away in spurts, then the rest of the time my mind is constantly coming up with the German word for whatever I’m thinking of in that moment.


I spoke to the proprietor and teacher of Deutsch-Institut Tirol, Hans both over the phone and via email. He was able to take me on with less than a month until my trip. Hans set up accommodations for me with Pension Oberhauser and the rate was extremely reasonable at 37 euros. What’s more, the pension was right across the street from the school. My trip was completely set; two weeks learning German with Hans in Tyrol and a week doing detoxing at Sonnhof Ayurveda near Kufstein.


Pension Oberhauser was a beautiful quintessential Tirolean home, flowers and all. Herr and Frau Oberhauser were extremely friendly and warm, I immediately felt at home there. The pension had three rooms, each with a shower and sink. There were two shared bathrooms in the hall. I had everything I needed to be comfortable including my own balcony. Included in the price was a traditional cold Austrian breakfast every morning and even more valuable, German conversation with Frau Oberhauser. She was very patient with me despite my limitations. I felt I understood a good deal. Normally quite chatty, I was not able to speak as much as I would have liked. Nothing like confusion to hold the tongue! Not only was I right across from school, there was a footpath next to a beautiful stream which leads right to Kitzbühel. Depending on your pace, you can be in the center of town in 20-30 minutes. Conveniently, there were two grocery stores and a restaurant, Alpenpizzeria minutes away by foot.

Kitzbühel is a very popular ski resort and the annual World Cup alpine ski races are held on the Hahnenkamm mountain. Skiing has been a part of the culture since 1892 when Franz Reisch first set out on some planks from Norway. Alpine skiing was born! To this day it is a hugely popular destination for skiers from all over the world. There are many races throughout ski season. For those who want to come and learn while skiing, students at Deutsch-Intstitut Tirol take classes in the morning then ski in the afternoons. When it’s not covered with snow, many folks will take the cable car up and hike down the mountain. Hans told me this is very hard on the knees, it’s much better to hike up and then take the car down. It may be better but also much more difficult! Once at the top of the Hahnenkamm, there is a restaurant with outdoor seating on an enormous patio with beautiful views. The Schwartzsee Lake just outside of town offers an easier course for a leisurely walk. It features stunning views of the surrounding mountains as well as a place to grab a beer to drink right on the lake.


Kitzbühel has loads of charm no matter what one decides to do. The high end shopping is impressive, but even on Sundays when shops are closed you will find folks wandering through town. That’s because every shop has a beautiful window display with their finest wares to peruse. This is great for those who’s budgets only allow for looking! I was searching for a dirndl for my daughter while there. Venturing inside one shop I found the proprietor very knowledgable and friendly. I found a very unique blue dirndl designed by Swarovski. It had shiny eyes in Swarovski crystals all over it. In the end I was too unsure about it to purchase without my daughter there to try it on.

Good food was plentiful and although there were many high end places there were deals to be had. Especially at lunch. Goulash Suppe with hearty German seeded bread and butter could be found easily for 8 euros or under. That would entitle you to lounge outside on the patio and people watch. The grocery store could beat that price easily. You could have a do it yourself sandwich for a euro or two. Benches abound for free, sometimes even with musical entertainment. Alpenpizzeria is close to the school and offers a delicious, economical lunch special.

The Aquarena is the public pool and it was my favorite thing in Kitzbühel by far. I love a good sauna and The Aquarena had so many different options in their enormous sauna room. There was a Turkish steam bath, Kneipp pool, as well as three different kinds of saunas. Remember that saunas in Austria are all in the buff and co-ed. I was told that there is one day per week when ladies have at least part of the sauna area to themselves. The prices for admission to all facilities for the day range from 8.20€ if you have a cable car ticket to 16.50€ for a full price adult. There are two large pools, one for athletes and another for soaking. There are slides and children’s play areas as well as a restaurant to grab a bite.

My time in Kitzbühel is very special to me as it was the first time I was able to focus solely on German language learning. Traveling alone meant that I had to constantly seek out interactions with strangers -in German! Tirol is a fantastic area of Europe to spend time in, no matter your interests. It’s filled with beautiful architecture, exciting sport activities as well as great food. I found it to be a wonderful base even on the weekends to explore the surrounding area via train. Of course the people are the real treasure in Austria. Hans and The Oberhausers made my time very enjoyable. Most of the people I met greeted me with “gruβ dich” in Kitzbühel and “gruβ gott” in the environs -meaning something like ‘bless you’ or ‘God bless you’. I continue to plug away at my language skills, striving for consistency in practice so that I can return with better fluency than when I left.

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Bad Reichenhall

On an absolutely gorgeous day in October, perhaps one of the last nice weekends of the season, I had the good fortune to visit Bad Reichenhall in Bavaria. Although located in Germany, it is closest to Salzburg, Austria. Like many other mineral spring towns, it was built around salt production which began thousands of years ago. Today, it is a thriving spa town which thrives on tourism. My home base was in Kitzbühel for this trip and I chose to go away overnight and visit two thermal baths in two days; Bad Vigaun on Friday and Bad Reichenhall Saturday. I returned to my home base in Kitzbühel Saturday evening.


It is always a mistake to judge a town by it’s train station but I did worry when I stepped off the train that I had made a mistake rolling in at dusk without a hotel reservation. A friendly bus driver took me on the last bus to the Rupertus Therme. I went in to get information on hours and admission fees but because it was late I decided my time would be best spent finding a nearby hotel. I was delighted to find that the pool lobby had free wifi. I made my booking on my phone and headed over to my accommodations. The baths would have to wait until morning. It was completely dark when I walked to the Galerie Hotel from the pool.  I couldn’t see what I was walking through very well but I followed the paved walking trail going through a park, a courtyard and another larger park. Galerie Hotel is an economical choice and offered a clean, well appointed single room. A mineral water pool was available and for 2,50€ as well as a sauna and steam bath, but with the hotel bar closing soon I decided to have a drink before retiring for the evening. Breakfast was buffet style, delicious, and included in my 72€ rate.


Because I checked in when it was already dark, my surroundings were a bit of a mystery. The next morning the sun was bright and it was set to be a gorgeous day. I found that the hotel was situated right on the most exquisite park I had ever seen. The architecture and common spaces are positively stunning and were built for showing off. The Königlicher Kurgarten (The Royal Spa Garden) is 39,000 square meters of gorgeous plants from all over the world. The weather was stunning and there were flowers absolutely everywhere. The park featured the AlpenSole Fountain which was surrounded by people relaxing and enjoying the healthy mist on one of the last warm days of the season. Gorgeous buildings speckled the border of the park with exquisite architecture including Das Gradierhaus right near the fountain which puts out this wonderful salt air.

An interesting structure, Das Gradierhaus is visible from the hotel. It is made of wood and has two corridors. This structure is really quite amazing! Over a tall wall of  blackthorn salt water trickles down. The water comes from the Old Salt Works and has 26% alpine brine, but is mixed with water until a 5% solution is attained. Then, depending on which way the wind blows the water trickles down the thorns on either side of the structure. There are covered corridors on each side and it is suggested to walk down the aisle where the water is not coming down, against the wind for a half hour. Breathing in the salt air that has passed through the thorns slowly and calmly, the aerosols are said to clear dust from the lungs, improve immunity and nourish the respiratory track. Even Mozart was smitten with Das Gradierhaus calling it “the most beautiful outdoor inhalatory in the world”! Walking in the park you get the benefit of the AlpenSole air.

Around noon I finally made my way to Rupertus Therme. The walk was about ten minutes from Königlicher Kurgarten. After passing the bank courtyard fountain, I embarked on a ten minute walk down one of the finer lanes in Germany. Beautiful architecture lined the avenue to the baths on one side, on the other side there was a beautiful park.

I didn’t feel like I had enough time to visit the saunas, so I only utilized the pool. Absolutely everyone was in the pool outside. The sun was shining and it was probably over 70° outside. I started in the almost empty pool inside where there were waterfall features, big jets and the beautiful large windows looking out at the sunshine. Unlike my visit to Bad Vigaun, there was no water pathway from the inside pool to the outside pool. I had to get out and walk outside (gasp!).

The sun drenched everything outside, people were just basking in the warmth. The lounge like seating inside the pool was really wonderful with jets directed at the back. It allowed total relaxation while looking on at the gorgeous surroundings. The air had a crisp quality because it was fall, but the sun was warm enough it felt like summer. It was one of those rare days on the edge of the season where luck can bring sunshine and warmth or a cold and rainy storm. My luck was good!

I did not have time to partake in any extras because I lollygagged in the park for longer than I anticipated. I had to make it back to Kitzbühel before day’s end and the trains on Saturday can become very full. I only utilized the baths and paid 19,50 € for four hours as well as 6 € for towel rental. Day passes are also available. The sauna area looked absolutely fabulous. In addition to the sauna, a wellness center offering massage as well as a fitness center with exercise equipment is on site. Physiotherapy and water exercise therapy is also available upon request. A lovely bistro with outdoor seating looked very welcoming. All items are charged individually including sauna access.

Rupertus Therme was time well spent and could easily be done in a day trip. Morning could be spent dreaming through the town with it’s gorgeous fountains, lush foliage and absolutely stunning gardens, then lunch and a dip at Rupertus Therme in the afternoon.

Full information about pricing at Rupertus Therme as well as hours:

For more information on the Galerie Hotel:

For more information on Königlicher Kurgarten and the lovely Gradierhaus:

And on more information about the town of Bad Reichenhall itself and the many sights of the area:

Webcams with views of both Königlicher Kurgarten and Rupertus Therme:



Carson Hot Springs

As cliche as it sounds, I began thinking of my health as the new year has been looming. Because today is the first day after the hustle, bustle and pigging out of the holidays I began to take seriously the options for improving my health. The gym was the obvious answer but as much as I hate exercise, I hate crowds even more. The thought of beginning a vigorous workout routine among the new year resolution crowds was too daunting to consider seriously. As of late I had really been missing the hot saunas readily available in Europe. I knew I needed to find somewhere to begin sweating regularly- other than the gym.


My obsession with healing via hot springs began in Bormio, Italy and I further fed the obsession by visiting Bad Vigaun and Bad Reichenhall in Austria and Germany respectively. I can’t get enough. Each time I take the waters, I feel completely treated. In addition to healing waters, all of the thermal baths I went to in Europe (and even the public swimming pool) have saunas with varying temperatures. On a recent health retreat, I was taking a sauna three times per day by recommendation of the resort’s ayurvedic doctor. Upon leaving the retreat his parting advice for my home regiment was a bath followed by a sweat in a sauna.

Today I made a special trip to Carson in order to test the waters literally. Tuesday’s special is $25 + tax for a soak and wrap. With the use of the sauna included in the price, both of my boxes were ticked. Upon arrival I went into the old St Martin Hotel to buy my ticket and headed into the bathhouse. Two rows of antique claw foot tubs lined the bathing room with white modesty curtains separating the individual baths. I met my attendant and gave her my ticket. She gave me the option to choose the length of tub, I opted for a long one. She said my 25 minute time begins after the tub fills up, but she usually gives an extra 10 minutes so that folks can fiddle with the temperature.


After stripping down I headed over and sunk down into my long tub. The smell of sulfur hit me right away. It stinks to high heaven and lets you know that this isn’t just tap water. It seemed to provide more buoyancy than a bath at home. When the tap was on it felt like a hot tub jet was going. Bubbles were shooting under me. I was reveling in the bubbly stinky water and wondering if 25 minutes would be enough. The attendant checked on me and generously told me to take my time in the water and to come out for the wrap when I was ready. The leeway was much appreciated.


When I was able to pry myself away from my hot bath, I was ushered into a room with beds covered in linen sheets. I chose my bed under an open window. The attendant wrapped me tightly in linen, covered me with a cozy blanket and provided a wrap for my head. She said she would be back in a half hour, but I was welcome to get up before that if I so desired. The weather was cool and stormy. The notorious gorge winds were blowing and it was absolute heaven laying in warmth listening to nature’s music. Occasionally I got a refreshing whoosh of cool air over my face. I stayed in this indulgent state for about 10 minutes and opted to start my time in the sauna.

The dry sauna is nowhere near as hot as the ones I relish in Europe, but it would have to do. Because I was out of practice I decided to do ten minutes in the sauna, cool off with a shower, then go back in the sauna for a longer run. I was delighted to find that the showers were also pumping out the stinky mineral water. It isn’t often you can have a spa day for the price of a cheap haircut, but that’s exactly what I did today.

Details: Bath and Wrap is provided on a first come, first serve basis. The cost Monday-Thursday is $30 +tax with Tuesday being discounted to $25 +tax. Friday-Sunday and holidays are $35 +tax. Massages and facials are available. There is a larger common soaking pool which has it’s own rate schedule and requires a swim suit. The bathhouse and soaking pool are all strictly 18 and over. Check out Carson’s website for more details.