Another one from the Vaults: Postcards from Seefeld II

I’ve decided that once a week I’ll re-post something from my extensive archives. Obviously many of my early posts 2009 – 2012 heavily feature cycling. I’ll try to keep these to a minimum as I know not everyone is a cycling fan. This one’s about skiing from March 2015 and is the second part of this morning’s post.

A week ago we had just returned from a week’s vacation where –  and I only have myself to blame –  I allowed my beloved to choose the hotel. In the many, many years we’ve been married I’ve allowed him to book hotels only twice before, neither of which was an unqualified success. It’s just not one of his competencies. He’s blinded by the pretty photographs and forgets to check the small print.

My beloved enjoying the sunshine on the hotel terrace
My beloved enjoying the sunshine on the hotel terrace

The hotel wasn’t a total disaster but we won’t be returning. On the positive side, it was in a fabulous location, the rooms were spacious with south-facing balconies and it was a small family run affair. Usually a bell weather, but not this time. Mein hosts, along with their overly fussy totally coordinated decor and menus, were firmly stuck in the last century. They pitch their offering very much at the German retiree market, a segment with plenty of spending power and a desire to return year after year after year.

The hotel claimed to have WiFi throughout but I soon discovered that the service worked intermittently in the bedrooms. Four of us on the hotel’s second floor had iPhones and iPads and, a bit like the Germans and their towels, you had to get up early to hog access the limited bandwidth.

Non fully functioning WiFi is one of my pet peeves and the hotel will get marked down on my booking.com evaluation. And, while we’re on the subject of complaints, I’d also like to confiscate the chef’s mandolin, the use of which was willful and without reason. Marcus Waring wouldn’t have approved either! Chef also liked decorating the plates with little dots of balsamic vinegar which added nothing to our enjoyment of the dish and, another cardinal sin, painting stripes of stuff across the plates. I dare say that Mein hosts thought this the height of fine dining, but they’re wrong, it is not.

Serviette Folding

Frau Host had a firm grip on the book “The Art of Folding Serviettes.”  Every evening they were arranged in a different fashion and the table decorated with what I can only describe as knickknacks – so NOT necessary! Plain white linen table cloths and neatly folded serviettes please. The Saturday before we left was St Valentines Day and they went totally overboard.

As I waited to check out, Herr Host was having a long conversation with a couple of regulars taking their leave. I swear that he clicked his heels together smartly and inclined his head as he shook their hands and bade them farewell for another year. I was not accorded the same courtesy. I sensed he knew I would not be returning. I half expected the bill to be laminated much like my “yellow card.”

Over enthusiastic use of exclamation marks
Over enthusiastic use of exclamation marks

I had committed the cardinal sin of omitting to fill in the registration card which was hidden among the pile of brochures in the bedroom. In truth, he’d run pretty much amok with the laminating machine and I suspect his wife bought him it for Christmas. Probably, the same year he bought her the book on how to fold serviettes.

12 days of Christmas: day 12

I obviously had to choose a wintery scene from last year’s Christmas spent in Seefeld, Austria. This picture shows cross-county skiers swooping down from the golf course and across the Attersee, on the other side from Wildmoos Alm. Sun, snow and a set of skis what more could you want?

Sadly, on this occasion, we were on foot having (wisely) decided not to overdo it as my beloved was still recovering from surgery to mend his broken leg. We had walked the 3km up to one of the many mountainside restaurants for a hearty lunch in the sunshine after a morning’s cross-country skiing on the relative flat in Seefeld.

This year we’re spending a few days over Christmas in Italy – a first for us. Our favourite hotel in Alassio contacted us with details of a special over Xmas which we were more than happy to accept. The Thalassotherapy will help with my beloved’s recuperation and, providing the weather’s fine, we can walk along the sandy shoreline.

Season’s Greetings

Decorated by my beloved

I’m going to be taking a bit of a break from blogging until the New Year. Consequently, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you, and your nearest and dearest, every happiness, good health and much success for 2019 and beyond………………………

 

Thanks for the memories

In a way it’s inevitable that we’ve made comparisons between last Christmas in Australia and this one in Austria. Largely, I should add, prompted by Facebook constantly throwing up photographic memories of last year’s trip. I had said I wouldn’t do a “where were we this time last year?” and, to be fair, I’ve not overindulged. However, it’s hard to ignore the contrasts.

The biggest difference is, of course, the weather: summer v winter. This time last year we were sightseeing in Adelaide and the surrounding area, ahead of the Santos Tour Down Under, luxuriating in the heat (35-40C) and petting cuddly baby animals. This year we’ve been out either walking or skiing and enjoying the sunshine, though not the heat (-3 – +3C), visiting areas we love and know well. We’ve thought about “how long is it since we were last here?” This, of course, includes working out what’s changed since that last time.

In both instances, we stayed in self-catering accommodation. We like spacious flats where we can stretch out, which have separate bathrooms and many of the conveniences we’d find at home. I enjoy cooking with local ingredients and confess to missing the oysters and lobster tails of last year or, more specifically, the markets where we bought our produce. Aside from the local well-stocked supermarket, this year I’ve contented myself with Innsbruck’s food hall and one of my favourite shops in Munich, Dallmayr’s.

Markthalle, Innsbruck
Dallmayr’s, Munich

Of course, I don’t cook all the time. In Australia, it’s never hard to find a restaurant serving something I can eat. The only one’s which are “no go’s” are fine dining establishments with 6-8 course set menus. Austria’s rather different. There’s plenty on offer for vegetarians, so long as you eat cheese and dairy. I am restricted to pasta with tomato sauce, pizza with tomato sauce and vegetables, large mixed salads and the occasional fish dish. However, the better the restaurant, the more likely it is to have or be prepared to adapt something on its menu for me. Meanwhile, it’s a refined form of torture watching everyone, including my beloved, tuck into some of my formerly favourite dishes.

It’s not all holiday though as we still have to keep the business ticking over wherever we are but my beloved tries to stay off the grid between Christmas and New Year. Interestingly, 2018 has gotten off to a great start business wise, and long may it continue.

One of the oldest bits of Innsbruck

 

Marien Platz, Munich

This year, we’ve spent just over a month in the same place although we’ve had trips to the surrounding towns of Munich, Mittenwald and Innsbruck. We’ve not explored as much as we did last year. Partly, this is because we’ve had many winter and summer holidays in this area and we know what we like to see and do. It’s less virgin territory and more of a trip down memory lane.

My beloved outside one of the many painted buildings in Mittenwald

Both holidays were pretty active in terms of both participating in and watching sport, though Australia definitely wins hand down. Largely because of the more favourable weather conditions but also because last year my beloved wasn’t still recovering from a broken leg.

I’m delighted to report that he’s been sensible – and about time too. He’s been much more cautious than before, when the idea of taking it easy for the first few days while he recovered his snow legs was total anathema. We’ve also walked a lot more than before, partly because of the weather and partly because my beloved’s leg gets tired after three day’s of consecutive skiing. He’s also stuck to the classic rather than skating technique on account of his hips.

Home sweet home

So, what are we going to do next year? While I would happily jump on a plane to Australia, I recognise that the business won’t allow us to have an extended stay and while a winter holiday was fun, I’ve become more of a fan of the sun. This was the last building block of 2018 and we’ve decided to spend it at home with occasional forays into Italy for some la dolce vita.  

 

 

 

12 days of Christmas: Day 12

It’s only appropriate that this picture was taken during our current winter vacation in Seefeld, Austria. This sums up everything I adore about cross-country skiing: blue sky, new snow, crisp empty tracks, at one with nature – bliss!

It just remains for me to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year with plenty of happiness, good health and every success for 2018.

Loss leader

After the recent loss of his passport, my beloved and I were reminiscing about the many things he’s lost. He asked me which was my favourite incidence? This was a difficult one, as there have been so many over the years. However, I have perfect recall of each and every single one. After pondering awhile, I decided that numero uno would have to be what I call “The Hell’s Angels”. Let me explain.

We were driving down to Austria for a summer holiday, stopping overnight in Wertheim, to the east of Frankfurt. On the Sunday morning, as we repacked the car and put the bikes back on the carrier anchored to the boot, I noted that my husband had left his car keys on the ground. Presumably to save himself from locking them in the boot. I advised him not to leave them on the ground as someone could drive over them. Little did I realise how prophetic this would turn out to be. At the same time, I also asked him to put my small black bag in the back of the car, not the boot.

After driving for about an hour, my beloved pulled into a service station to fill up the car. There was a restaurant adjacent to the garage,  outside of which were a large number of bike riders enjoying an early picnic lunch. Having filled up the car, he asked for his wallet which I advised was in my small black bag which he should have put in the back of the car. He had not, he had put it into the boot.

Off came the bikes, he opened the boot, found the black bag and his wallet. During all this kerfuffle, the driver at the pump behind us was having problems extracting his car, given everything we’d strewn around the back of our car. My husband released tha hand brake and rolled the car forward about 20 metres. He then went to pay and on his return, repacked the boot and secured the bikes once more on the carrier. He got into the driver’s seat and asked me for the car keys. I confirmed that he had NOT given me the keys. He checked his pockets:  no, not there. Thinking he’d perhaps put them down while paying, he went back to the till. No, they weren’t there either. He took the bikes off the carrier, opened the boot and proceeded to search in the boot. An operation which included taking everything out of the boot several times.

The group of bikers had grown and were greatly enjoying the enfolding drama. With my beloved having searched everywhere at least twice, I decided to get out of the car and help because, as we all know, men cannot find anything if it’s not directly under their nose. As I did so, I noted something glinting on the road about 50 metres ahead and to my left. I ran over and found the car keys. I retraced my steps and asked my beloved whether he wanted the good or the bad news. The good news was that I had found the keys, the bad news was that my beloved must have left them on the ground and the car behind us had driven over them and one of the keys was broken. Of course, you know what I’m going to say, don’t you? Yes, it was the ignition key.

My beloved had done exactly what I had advised him not to do just two hours earlier. We were stranded. My beloved rang the ADAC (German equivalent of AA) who promised to arrive shortly. It was a very warm afternoon and as we sweated it out in the car, I could barely contain my ill-humour. The bikers were still there no doubt having postponed their departure so as not to miss “what happened next”. After a 30 minute wait, the ADAC man arrived and, after we explained what had happened, said there was nothing he could do. I snapped and in my best German (I’m always more fluent in a foreign language when I’m annoyed) asked what would he do if he wanted to steal the car. “Oh that’s simple”, he said “I’d hot wire it”. Do it I snarled. So, he did and we set off once more towards Austria.

Not what was ordered

We awoke this morning to discover it had snowed overnight: not in the village but at 2000 metres! We spent yesterday wishing we’d bought our mountain bikes and today our skis. Before you ask, I did check the weather forecast before we left but an adverse front has unexpectedly settled itself over Central Europe, so everywhere within a drive of a couple of hours has the same weather. While I always pack something just in case it’s chilly, I hadn’t anticipated having to wear the same outfit all week. No lounging on the sun terrace to erase my cycling tan lines or swimming in the nearby pool.

The clouds have descended to 1500 metres and it is pouring down with rain. Somehow I suspect we won’t be cycling today. The weather is forecast to improve tomorrow but there’s the prospect of some rain all week.

Holiday blues

We’re on holiday this week, cycling in Austria. We drove up yesterday, leaving behind the sunshine and warm temperatures, for leaden skies and temperatures a full 23 degrees lower! This morning we awoke to find it was raining: not too steady a downpour, more of a constant, cold drizzle. Undeterred, we went cycling and immediately discovered that we had left one vital piece of clothing at home: our leg warmers. We had all of our wet weather gear but hadn’t foreseen that it would be sooooooooo cold.

In order to keep warm we indulged in some uphill, interval training, perfect on the rolling terrain and it kept our legs less cold. The outlook is not good for the next few days and we can expect further showers but after riding in the freezing, pouring rain in the Pyrenees, a bit of rain is not going to put us off enjoying our vacation.  We have spent many happy holidays, both winter and summer, in the area. I recall one summer vacation when, after six continuous weeks of almost heat wave like conditions, we spent a very wet week walking in the surrounding hills, wild-water rafting and canyoning. Of course, I may need a few (more) glasses of Jaeger Tee or Gluehwein to warm me up post-ride.

This is however the first time I have cycled in the area and what I previously assumed to be steep climbs are in fact rolling hills which one can easily power up. We’ve mapped out our rides for the following days and are looking forward to spending significant time in the saddle and putting plenty of kilometres on the clock. Already my hay fever symptoms have disappeared and my breathing is almost back to normal.

This should also help in my fight against the surplus kilos always assuming I manage to steer well clear of all those delicious Austrian desserts