Sud Tyrol and beyond… part nine

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After we visited the wood carver, we decided to go back to the hotel. I could have used a swim. It was hot outside. But I also wanted a drink, so we went to the bar and had the bartender make us a round. I had a gin and tonic with a locally produced gin– Edelschwarz Organic Gin. It was served with a blue ice cube. Bill had one a couple of nights prior made with a yellow ice cube. He laughed and said my drink looked like the blue water in a Tidy Bowl… and his… well, it looked like something else that goes in a toilet.

Thursday night’s dinner was the seven course tasting menu. And, as nightmarish as Tuesday’s mushroom debacle was, Thursday night’s dinner was worse, if only because I ended up getting sick. It wasn’t because I drank wine or because I got food poisoning. Again, it’s because I have some aversions to certain foods. I blogged about Thursday’s meal on my main blog, so if you want the dirty details, you can find them here. Suffice to say, it was a struggle to get through the meal. Here are some photos of what we ate.

I was mostly okay until we got to course six. I try not to eat veal. I can eat veal, but I choose not to. This was served with asparagus and a sauce that tasted very earthy to me. I never even touched the veal. The asparagus, which I am sure was fresh, but was kind of mushy, blended with the sauce, turned my stomach. I almost got sick at the table. I went to the ladies room and managed to calm down my stomach enough to finish the meal. But then, once we got back to the room and I started doing my routine before bed, I knew it was all over. I’m sad to say, that tasting menu meal didn’t stay with me.

I’ve read a lot of reviews of this hotel. Many people really like it. I will say that there were things about the hotel that I liked. I didn’t think the food was terrible, either. But I have definitely had much better and I shouldn’t have thrown up after a tasting menu. Yes, there was booze involved, but that’s not what made me feel so icky. I just don’t think half board is a great idea for me, although I did okay with it at Hotel Kristall.

The next morning, we got up, had our breakfast, loaded up the car, and checked out of the Klein Fein Hotel Anderlahn. I did like the staff very much, and I thought the hotel was stylish and had a nice spa. But I think the management needs to decide if they want to be a family hotel or a spa hotel. Unfortunately, the way it’s laid out, the hotel is not so good for people who don’t have children, especially in the summer when the windows have to be kept open. Still, the staff presented us with a bottle of prosecco and some red wine salt after Bill settled the bill with them. He also contributed a tip to the piggy bank, the contents of which are divided up and shared among the staff each month.

On our way out of Italy, we stopped at Speck World, a shop run by Moser, a company that makes and sells pork products. They have a processing plant in Sud Tyrol. I didn’t realize it when we stopped in, but their shop also has a cool little museum and a public restroom.

Once we picked up some salami to take home, we stopped in another little shop where a bunch of guys were sitting around drinking beer. They were also selling Moser pork products, so we bought olive oil and wine.

Our drive to Switzerland was pretty interesting. Back in 2009, when I was looking for a place for us to visit, I strongly considered booking us a room near the Reschensee (Lake Reschen). This is a manmade lake near Reschen Pass that dates from 1950. Prior to 1950, the area was known as Graun im Vinschgau. It once was a normal town in northern Italy, until the powers that be decided to flood it by building the lake. All that remains visible of the former town is an abandoned church tower, which dates from the 14th century. We ended up passing it as we made our way north. It’s said that on some nights, one can hear the church bells ring, even though they were removed the week before the town was flooded.

This little town on the Reschensee is very close to both Austria and Switzerland. However, our route took us into Austria for quite a ways. I was surprised how long we drove in Austria before we got to St. Gallen. More on that in the next post.

My pandemic birthday… part two

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At last, it was Friday. I was not wanting to pack a bag to go on our trip. I felt nervous, and it seemed like a waste of time and money to go anywhere. I even wrote about my apprehension on my main blog, which I will warn is a hell of a lot rawer, less positive, and more political than this blog is. Because I’ve been watching the news a lot, I got the sense that this trip would not be any fun. I had visions of people watching everyone else, giving them the side eye for any face mask infraction and maybe even engaging in shaming. Having been called out by strangers on more than one occasion when we lived near Stuttgart, I figured things could easily get hostile in Hesse, even though it seems like Hessians are somewhat friendlier and less in your face than some of their southern brethren are. I’ve seen people get yelled at, for example, when they cross the street before the “green man” is showing. One time in 2007, when I was still very new to Germany, I mistakenly walked through a children’s playground with my dogs, and some lady yelled at me for that. I didn’t understand her German shouting and didn’t know it’s forbidden to walk dogs in playgrounds, so I got very upset.

I know it sounds silly… Some people would tell me to grow up. I will admit that I don’t like confrontations and I tend to get highly pissed off when people get in my face. It takes me a long time to get over it, too… I have a long memory and a tendency to hold grudges, which I know isn’t the best way to be. But that’s how I am. It’s a hang up from my childhood. I prefer to avoid situations that will be triggering, even though I know a lot of people would make fun of me for that. And I, in turn, will hold grudges against them for the ensuing trauma caused.

One of the reasons I felt inclined to stay home was that, at home, I don’t have to worry about dealing with other people. I can do what I want, eat when and what I want, and sit around in my nightgown. But that’s not healthy, nor is it necessarily the right thing to do to people who are trying to restart the economy. If everyone felt like I was feeling the other day, a lot of businesses would fail in a hurry. It’s kind of a duty to go out and spend money and see things… and I think that as much as some people complain about tourists, once this pandemic has reached its end, more people will appreciate tourists and the business they generate. I grew up near Williamsburg, Virginia, and that is a very heavily populated tourist area. I used to do a lot of bitching about the tourists… but I also know that without the tourists, a lot of people would not have jobs. When I was younger, my own livelihood depended a lot on tourists. Tourism is also good for the soul, and it helps curb ignorant thinking. If you go out and see the world, you will open your mind.

So… with all of that in mind on Friday afternoon, Bill and I loaded up the Volvo with our overnight bags and headed off to Hofheim. Hofheim is a whopping twenty minutes away, and also where the famed Tierklink Hofheim is. Our former vet in Herrenberg said that is one of the best veterinary hospitals in all of Germany. Having taken Zane (RIP) there a couple of times, Bill and I concur. I remember when she told me about that clinic, I worried about how I would manage taking Zane there when we lived so far away. Now, we’re just a twenty minute drive from there, and the place where I turned 48 (gulp).

The Vital Hotel is located in a suburban area, with lots of hardware stores nearby. There’s an Aldi very close, although it’s separated from the hotel complex by a large field. I think it usually costs to park at the Therme, but when we left, the arm to the lot was open. Anyway, we were able to drive right into the parking lot, grab our bags, and approach the front desk. Everyone was wearing masks and there were signs like this one, reminding us to stand back.

These signs were everywhere, so you couldn’t forget.

We signed into the hotel. The receptionist took our contact information, since contact tracing is being done here. You tell hotels and restaurants your name and phone number and they keep track of the times when you are in an establishment. If a coronavirus case is detected and you’ve been exposed, they will contact you. If not, your information will be destroyed within four weeks. I know a lot of Americans don’t like this because they think it’s an invasion of privacy. Personally, I’m not bothered by it, because Germany has very strict privacy laws.

The “watch”… you get these at most water parks/Thermes in Germany. They’re very handy!

The receptionist handed us “watches” that served as our key to our room and allowed access to the Therme. Bill and I are familiar with the “watches”, since they are used at a lot of Thermes in Germany. They keep track of your time, allow you to access a locker in the changing rooms, and you can use them to pay for things so you don’t have to carry money in the Therme or the rest of the hotel. She also gave us hand sanitizer and a list of rules we had to follow because of the virus. Masks were compulsory in common areas, especially when it wasn’t possible to keep a distance. I think they also gave out disposable face masks to those who didn’t have them, but Bill and I didn’t need that. We were asked to tell the receptionist when we thought we’d want breakfast. I’m sure that was done to prevent too many people coming into the restaurant at once.

Bill booked a “deluxe” room, so we were assigned room 134. Here’s what it looked like:

The room was pretty clean, although the duvets looked a bit dingy. I was surprised it was a deluxe room, though. It seemed a bit small, and I thought the regular double sized rooms must be tiny. Bill said the difference between the double rooms and the deluxe rooms was a mere two square meters. They also have junior suites, but Bill wasn’t offered the choice to reserve one of those when he did an online booking.

Once we checked in and Bill brought everything in, I was still feeling anxious. In retrospect, we probably should have just hit the pools. Our room was right near the elevator that goes directly to the Therme and the Panorama Bar, which is on the third floor and slowly rotates so that patrons get views of the Taunus and Frankfurt city skyline. We had to take a different elevator to get to the room from the hotel. Getting to the room actually took some walking. The hotel isn’t tall, but it is kind of spread out. I get the sense, based on the construction of the Therme, that the Therme existed before the hotel did by a number of years. Consequently, they aren’t exactly seamlessly or conveniently constructed.

It wasn’t long until dinner time, and dinner was included in our rate. We went down at about 6:00 and were presented with the daily specials. The restaurant also offers a la carte items like steaks and burgers, as well as a kids’ menu. Here are some pictures of what we had in the restaurant, as well as the vending machines that were on the hall…

Cash is not being accepted at a lot of places. That’s kind of weird for Germany, which took a long time to get on the credit card bandwagon. The wine was not included in the half board plan, so Bill had to sign for that. Then we put on our masks and headed to the very cool Panorama Bar. I think that was probably my favorite thing about our weekend, despite the very loud Euro dance music. The bar slowly rotates, so you can sit in a very high backed booth and watch the scenery or sit outside on the terrace. The staff is friendly and attentive, and it was just a lot of fun to be in a bar after weeks of lockdown… I drank many cocktails! Luckily, they weren’t very strong.

I know it seems funny to be so excited about a bar, especially one that plays music I would never play at home. But– I have really missed going out, and I have missed being in bars. I also enjoyed the panorama, even though the view wasn’t so awesome as we passed the machinery on top of the hotel’s roof. It really allowed me to forget about the pandemic for awhile, even if I had to strap on a mask to go to the bathroom. But that wasn’t really rigidly enforced, either.

One of the songs played in the bar. I actually hate this kind of music, but I got a kick out of the lyrics of this song, some of which I easily understood. I ended up Shazaming it.