Monday, October 6, 2008

And I Thought The French Were Snooty

A quick back-step to the hotel in Oberaudorf:

Breakfast at the Lambacher, in Oberaudorf, was a silent affair except for Arlette's continuous conversation. She has one speed on speaking and that is at warp-speed. I feel that part of the reason behind her speaking so fast, and much, is that her mind works so quickly, one thought merges into another and another and another so she ends up with a lot to say. 99% of it is very interesting since she is so smart (not many people would point a town while passing by and comment, "on September 13, 1786 Goethe was arrested on suspicion of being a spy because he was caught sketching the castle." She is brilliant.

There were two other people there, Germans, who completely ignored us as we walked in. One of them, an attractive younger lady, was also sick and she and I played quite the duet with our sniffles, coughs and sneezes. The delicate interplay between us, as each sniffle was layered upon another, with the contrapunction of a cough or wheeze inserted where needed, was moving. Though, I am not sure the New York Philharmonic will be booking us soon. I do believe my nose raised the art of the French Horn to new levels.

And now back to the story in progress:

We left Salzburg (sadly) and headed to Wallgau, a small Bavarian town. Arlette was raving about the beauty of this town and the fact that there was a very well known hotel there that she had always wanted to stay at. We left the highway and soon were on a very beautiful, windy road. We still could not see the mountains because of the low clouds and rain, but the countryside was amazing. As we got closer to Wallgau, well marked bike paths and hiking trails started to appear along the road. I would love to come back and spend some time riding and hiking here.
We finally arrived in Wallgau and quickly found the hotel.

It was huge and obviously well known as amongst the pictures of previous guests was one of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Arlette got the rooms as I got the bags from the car. The first thing Arlette told me was that she was sure it was a very good hotel since the woman at the reception desk was very snooty and if her nose had been any higher in the air it would have been impossible for her to look at Arlette. I should write a new travel guide that rates food and hotels with Nose-Ups instead of Thumbs-Ups. The Normandy Hotel in Paris would be a Four Nose-Up hotel.

I wasn't too worried about it, all I wanted was a beer and some food. It was quite a hike through the labyrinth of hallways to the rooms, which were amazing. We headed down to the restaurant for some chow and discovered that there were two restaurants and bars. One small bar was for the "hip" younger town's people and one restaurant was for the hotel's guests. Arlette quickly steered us to the other bar/restaurant which was filled with locals. We were politely stared at as we chose our table up and out of the way of the main floor, but no one greeted us as they did others (read German) that walked in. Arlette was thrilled with the decor and local color and started snapping photos immediately. I think some patrons thought there was a lightning storm from the amount of flashing that was going on. One gentleman walked in wearing Lederhosen and Arlette was finally in heaven. She took a couple of pictures of him before he noticed and he immediately walked to her and grabbed her camera. He looked at her and asked her (in German of course) if she was an idiot. He didn't realize that she is completely fluent in German. He then looked at me who looks as American as can be and turning back to her asked her if she spoke English. I knew something was wrong because her face went white then red (if it had gone blue she would have had the French flag) I started to get up but Arlette responded to him in German saying she just wanted to get a pic of him in the traditional costume. He then acted like he was just kidding with her and I got a picture of them together. We were treated correctly after that, but not warmly. The feeling we got is that we had not stayed in the guests' side of the eatery and had the gall (maybe I should say "the Gaul" since we're French) to enter their space. I will say a visiting German couple came in also and they were not treated much better. (in the hotel's defense, I walked into a bar in North Carolina where I was treated even worse so I will not say that it's just a Bavarian thing).

The beer (all two liters of it) was excellent and I felt much better towards my fellow man as we headed towards bed. My head cold even felt like it was going away. I slept well even though the couple next door had their TV blasting all night long and I could hear it through the wall.

The next morning dawned cold, cloudy and rainy, but the town and countryside were still extraordinary. Arlette got me up early for breakfast since she hadn't slept at all due to her neighbor's TV blasting very loudly all night long. She banged on the wall and door and the front desk tried calling the room but all to no avail. I could hear it loudly in the hallway. But for me, at least, all was right with the world. I figured that my attitude towards everyone last night was caused by being sick and tired. We were seated and once again, no one said good morning as we greeted everyone upon entering. The hostess asked us if we wanted coffee with breakfast and we said yes. Arlette then asked (in German) if she could have some warm milk for her coffee. The hostess stared at her for a second, then pointed to a small carafe of cream and then to a pitcher of cold milk, next to the cereal and said that is all there is. As we were eating, a German couple of guests walked in and were greeted by everyone warmly. The wife asked the hostess for some milk and received a pitcher of warm milk!!! I then noticed that all the German guests had warm milk for their coffee. I guess we were truly "untermenschen" in their eyes and undeserving of such small niceties. The one other non-German couple on the room was also ignored and had cold milk.

I noticed Lederhosen man hanging around in normal clothes and it turns out he is the owner of the hotel which has been in his family for over 350 years. That's pretty cool and deserving of mention even if he was a jerk to us. I checked out the town's website and this is what it says:
In our cosy village, you can experience old customs, traditions and Bavarian hospitality and above all, the local cuisine will pamper you in every possible way. Moreover, there are no limits concerning any sport activities in Wallgau. The fascinating countryside invites everybody to discover and conquer or simply enjoy it – in any case it is charming.
I have experienced Bavarian hospitality in Oberaudorf and in Wallgau and maybe it was the weather but the greetings were as warm as the outside air temperature. But, it is so beautiful there, I am willing to give it another chance.

As I was getting the bags and heading for the car, Arlette's neighbor left his room looking like he had had a very rough night of it. No wonder there was no response from him. He looked so hungover I felt sorry for him. I think his condition was an exeption to the house rules of imbibing, though. One thing that impressed me with the locals in their barroom was that they were drinking quite a bit, but they were never drunk or obnoxious. They were relaxed and enjoying each other's company and having a good time in a very convivial atmosphere. There's a lesson for us to be learned from them.

Local church with typical Bavarian onion dome:

High fashion at the Dirndl Boutique. Check out the nifty hats!

Arlette looking quite dashing in front of the Hotel. It's hard to imagine she is 79. She doesn't drink, or eat, much, but when she gets into a rhythm, she can put it away. Just ask my buddy Darrell as he and I found ourselves crawling out from under the table as she was opening another bottle of Cointreau....
We headed south towards Austria before cutting over to Switzerland and our next stop at Leysin. We had planned to stop at Garmisch but the weather was so bad we decided not to. Next time.

As we hit Austria the clouds started to go away and sunshine soon greeted us with warmer temperatures.
After cutting through Lichtenstein we stopped for lunch in the Swiss town of Bad Ragaz. We found a little Gasthaus that was amazing. Ultra modern and chic, but the food was incredible. The local beer was good too. I give this place Three Nose-Ups for the modern, hip atmosphere and the decent cuisine.
Bad Ragaz, Taxis in front of the train station (just kidding):

Somewhere in the Swiss Alps looking for Heidi:

As we got closer to Lake Geneva and Leysin the weather started to turn to crap again. We arrived in Leysin as it was getting dark and found the hotel. The proprietor greeted us like old family, showed us our rooms, and made reservations for us at a local restaurant. The restaurant was about a 3/4 of a mile away and was a little difficult to find. It was called the Vieux Leysin (The Old Leysin) and was in a four hundred year old wooden building. We were seated next to the bar with some Americans near by. Arlette went into her loud, in English, "Listen! They are American don't you think?" She is awesome.

To be continued:


Anna said...

First, did you find Heidi?
Second, the pictures are utterly amazing!
Third, of course you had to come up with the nose up rating...others would have easily decided the snooty factor by how high one needed to raise the pinky finger but ....oops! not you.
Did I just have a three fingered moment?

Frank said...

I never found Heidi...*sigh* I am glad you enjoyed the pictures. And no, you did not have a 3 fingered moment.....yet.....