The Revival of Sleeping Beauty: Bad Gastein, Austria
Female pedestrians prefer to shield their delicate torsos from her winter chill under soft mink coats lined with silk, but like her pastel Belle Époque surroundings, Bad Gastein carries herself with grace. Her winter attire is simple and classic, a thick blanket of glistening snow. In the evening, lights dotting her hillside sparkle like diamonds. She prides herself on an unlimited supply of liquid gold, medicinal waters that sustain both her and her guests. The echo of Bad Gastein can be heard through trickling streams and crystal clear gurgling brooks, but somewhere along the route her vocals grow thunderous as water begins to rush with abandon from her core; culminating with a dramatic waterfall plunging 341 meters – dispersing a frigid mist on exposed complexions while announcing, she carries passion, too!
Some refer to her present day appeal as retreating. It’s true a few of the accessories she’s worn over the years have abandoned her. Fate and fashion are fickle. The nobles, princes, presidents, scientists and movie stars who waltzed through her ballrooms in the 1920’s have since been buried or taken their fortunes and glitter elsewhere leaving majestic structures crumbling from neglect as they cling to cliffs. Peering through vacant hotel windows caked with dust, eyes are exposed to a bygone era; ceilings drip with chandeliers while ornate ruby sconces decorate walls draped in frayed floral fabric.
Velvet lined cafes with turn-of-the century gold rimmed mirrors cast patina reflections, both past and present, hinting you’re in the presence of a Sleeping Beauty moments before closed lashes flutter upwards to meet eyebrows tinged with snow.
Some of her buildings remain vacant, but Bad Gastein has the power to fill an internal vacancy into restless souls. Like an elixir, she stirs and invigorates the imagination prompting one to reflect. And like a wise sage she deflects the mirror from her own image onto that of her guests and asks: Am I the reviving Sleeping Beauty, or are you…
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