Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A whirlwind trip to Austria, Italy, and probably Switzerland, part 3

We decided to have lunch after we visited Crystal World.  Although we could have gone to the restaurant on site, we thought we might have a more peaceful meal in the town of Wattens.  Sadly, it was not to be...  But we did come away from our lunch at Pronto Pasta with a fun story.  

I'm not sure what the restaurant scene is like in Wattens.  I do know that it was a Sunday and Pronto Pasta had lots of signs around town, advertising their restaurant.  I don't usually like to go to restaurants that are so heavily promoted because they are usually tourist traps.  Indeed, Pronto Pasta has signs in five or six different languages... a sure sign that they cater to the clueless who visit the little Austrian town of Wattens.  We went anyway.

Now, usually when there are lots of signs attracting tourists, you'd expect a huge restaurant with lots of tables.  As it turned out, Pasta Pronto is a very small place with a menu in English and German.  We noticed that they'd set up a couple of large tables which took up most of their tiny dining room.  We were directed to a pub table near the front door.  I eyed the large tables nervously, figuring that a big tourbus was about to arrive.  Bill tried using his rudimentary German, but our waiter immediately switched to flawless English.  Just as well.


Bill ordered a nice glass of red...  I had white.


Bill had penne pasta with truffles, cream sauce, and ham.  I had a salmon filet with cherry tomatoes and a side of tagliatelle.


Another shot of the food.  It was very good.

Just as we were about a third of the way into our meals, a large tourbus full of Chinese people showed up.  A small, nervous looking little Chinese guy who spoke English hustled into the restaurant.  He had a large plastic bag full of individual packets of spicy Hunt's brand ketchup.  Bill overheard him explain that a number of the tourists with him were "addicted" to the stuff.  The Italian bus driver took the table next to Bill's and mine, meaning he shared a bench seat with me.  He seemed a bit "over it".  I couldn't blame him for that.  The tourists all sat down at the tables that had been prepared for them.

The little tour guide approached one of the waiters and started asking about the menu.  He wanted pizza.  The restaurant doesn't serve pizza, though they do apparently have a pizzeria in a separate location.  Then the guy was asking about sausages.  The waiter seemed to be doing a good job maintaining his cool as he explained to the tour guide that they had ordered a set menu, so they were all going to be served the same thing.  It looked like they were having some kind of soup with a dollop of cream on top (sprayed into a decorative etoile), Wiener schnitzel, and tiramisu for dessert.  From what I could see, the food looked good and everybody was reasonably happy.  The two waiters were hustling and Bill overheard one of them complaining about their boss, a plain clothesed man who dropped off a couple of plates and claimed to have been helpful in the process.


The waiter deals with the tourists.  Bill and I were, of course, no trouble at all...

I got up to go to the bathroom, but it was occupied.  I stood and waited, feeling more and more intrusive.  I wasn't sure what was going on in there, but the lady ahead of me had some issues.  At one point, I figured maybe I shouldn't try to use the toilet at that time, but then she came out...  It was a tiny girl, looked no older than fifteen and no bigger than a size zero, apologizing profusely.  It was no big deal at that point.  Poor thing.


A shot of the outside of the restaurant.



The above signs were all over Wattens.

Finally, after more wine, Bill paid the check.  We headed back to the car, bypassing the tiny little Christmas market going on.  As Bill paid for the parking, I noticed a ladies room.  I ducked in and waited again.  I didn't really have to go so badly, but I remembered the arduous mountain drive and didn't want to have to pee while Bill was stressing over the drive up the 16 degree grade.


Christmas market in Wattens.


Graffiti on the bathroom door.


We stopped by Spar for more wine, which we didn't end up drinking.  I took a photo of the Williams pear schnapps because Bill has a funny college story about it.  He and a buddy were once held hostage in a DC bar by a mischievous bartender who wouldn't let them leave until they could explain how the pear got in the bottle...


Beer tubs at Hotel Diana.  I didn't have a chance to get a shot of Bill and me this time.  If you want to see us in a beer tub, I recommend checking out my Moorhof writeup.  

Our appointment for our beer bath was set for 5:00 pm.  I had Bill go ask at the reception if the bath would be with or without bathing suits.  When we were at the Moorhof, we did it with suits.  While that preserved our modesty somewhat, it also got hops and other debris in our suits.  I would have been fine doing the bath naked.  But the guy at the front desk either didn't understand the question or didn't care one way or the other.  Bill came up and told me we should wear our suits.  I had brought my "spa robe"(which I like so much that I wear it around the house, too).  Bill only brought his bathing suit.  Since I also brought a cover up, I let Bill borrow my robe (Santa will bring him a spa robe for Christmas).  I wore the cover up.

We showed up at the beer bath and the lady from the video I posted in the first of this series said we should bathe naked.  I was game, but I think Bill was a bit bashful.  The whole thing was kind of awkward because she was telling us to get undressed and we're typical Americans who aren't used to being nude in front of strangers.  Finally, she told us to just get in the tub.  I think the tubs at Hotel Diana are a little smaller than the one we used at the Moorhof.

Bill and I were not as cramped in the one at the Moorhof as we were at Hotel Diana.  It was ultimately okay for us, but Bill and I are short people with short legs.  If this writeup makes you want to try a beer bath at Hotel Diana with your partner and you have long legs, you may want to go for separate baths.  Also, I recommend this treatment without bathing suits.  The barley they use in the tub gets stuck in your suit, plus you have to undress for the straw bed, anyway.

So anyway, we got in the tub...  this time, unlike at the Moorhof, the beer spigot was not purely for decoration.  We were allowed to drink as much as we wanted.  The water was a little too cool for me at first, but I had access to the tap, so I was able to heat it up.  The hotel owner was kind enough to light candles and dim the overhead lights.

Later, we told her that we booked Hotel Diana because of the beer bath.  We explained that hers was the fourth beer spa experience we've had.  She then told us that Moorhof was the first hotel to offer the beer spa experience in Austria.  The family that owns Hotel Diana went there to check it out and decided to offer it at their hotel, too.



After the lights were turned down.

After about thirty minutes in the tub, we lost our bathing suits and got in the straw bed.  I mentioned in my review of Moorhof's beer spa that the oat straw seems like it would be itchy, but it's really not.  In fact, it's very relaxing to lie there next to your loved one and enjoy the smell... and the softness.  But remember, I grew up in a barn with horses, so it makes sense that this experience would especially appeal to me.  Overall, it was a nice experience, though it seemed like Hotel Diana hasn't done as many beer baths as Moorhof has, so things were a little less smoothly run.  Still, we managed to leave the beer baths very relaxed and contented.  


Bill in the straw bed.  I shared it with him until I needed to use the potty.

After our beer bath, we went up to the room, showered, and dressed for dinner.  I was feeling a little nervous that the militant waitress would be helping us, but she was off that night.  Instead, we were waited on by the guy who had checked us in.  He told us to pick one of the first three tables, all of which had been set for two.  I liked that.


Bill enjoys the pleasantly decorated restaurant.


And orders us a nice bottle of Austrian red...

Our waiter apologized for the menu in German.  We said it was okay because we live in Germany and can speak menu somewhat.  We started with the same salad as we had the night before...


Then a very nice cold tuna appetizer, followed up a cup of chicken noodle soup.


I had the Cordon Bleu which came with cranberry sauce and parsleyed potatoes.


Bill had pork with a pepper cream sauce and a baked potato with sour cream.  


And for dessert, we had rice pudding...  It was very good!

The same two ladies who had snickered at us the previous night showed up when we were halfway through our dinner.  Fortunately, they sat two tables down from us, so we were spared having to serve as their source of entertainment.  After dinner, we went to bed and slept well until morning.

Part 4...


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