Day 29 - "Knob Scratched" Austrian Styleee!!!
4 Feb 2012
|So today we arrived in Zell Am See. I’ve been waiting eagerly for this weekend and had high hopes As for the Alpine lodge I’d sought out on the internet: the hotel looked amazing, with balconies overlooking a lake or mountainous panoramic and with it being a ski resort surely it would be alive with holiday makers and more importantly some young Brits. We got here, thank fully without any drama. Arriving there seemed to be quite a bit of hustle and bustle, even if it wasn’t as busy as I’d anticipated. We pulled up to our digs… Sporthotel Alpin, and after another unnecessarily complicated parking procedure from the H, we entered the lodge! WOW!! We were here and it wasn’t going to disappoint – until of course they checked their bookings and dropped the bombshell, we weren’t expected “and we are fully booked!” – there wasn’t at all, but due to my obvious disappointment , the hotelier seemed at that moment to have a very distinct anti-Brit smugness about her! She knew she’d just shattered this weekend’s hopes and dreams!! Too dramatic?!?!
To our relief it turns out we were at the sister hotel, actually owned and run by her brother?! “It’s just down the road – you never stay her, my prices very much higher!” Well that filled us with optimism!! Another driving faux-par as an Austrian man stepped in to save Hannah from an icy hill, him doing exactly what myself, Luke and Tosin had suggested – but I think frustration and impatience had set in – to be fair we’d had a nightmarish week of van driving and we wouldn’t know at this point that it was far from over!! Anyway, I digress. We pulled up next to an assortment of bins – the hotel car park and trundled miserably to our doom…. The “Hotel Steinerwirt!” This was my second lesson of the day… We walked in to find a glorious hotel with wonderful staff, cosy rooms and a selection of spa facilities and a “Think tank” which to Luke’s delight offered free tea on tap!! You should consider these two establishments as the Peter Cook and Dudley Moore of the hotel world, if you will. Cook, obviously the better, more sophisticated and comically dextrous of the two, the driving force that everyone wanted a piece of… yet everyone preferred Dudley Moore!! Smaller; underdog like perhaps – but always delivering and the one people wanted to stay and have a drink with!! Well I’d just checked into Dudley and my expectations had been met after all!
I headed into the town and down to the lake, which was frozen over, presenting such an amazing sight. This massive expanse of water completely set, except for one or two pieces that possessed a little movement and had hence ceased to freeze. I then managed to find a lovely lady in “Frissuer Mike” who could speak English and cut my hair the way I wanted without me having to rely on some half hearted internet translation.
I spent the evening in Flannigans, an Irish bar with a Manc barman and two guys from the Midlands (Solihull & Wednesbury). The atmosphere was brilliant and Zell had already become my favourite place to be!! Turns out the place was quieter than expected because Saturday was the turnaround day, people leaving and being replaced!! We were given a couple of free shots and a round on the house, following our chats with the staff and one or two of the regulars. I’d started o Guinness, but at nearly a fiver a pint, I soon reverted back to the Austrian lager! I offered the barmen a drink for their hospitality and another round of shots was the result – this time hyper chilled Russian vodka! Beaut!
We got talking to a group of Brits who were out here snowboarding. I spent a while talking to a lovely Polish girl who now lives in Reading – who introduced me to two things… i) her tipple of choice, a shot of hot chocolate with rum (a must for wintery days when I get home!) and ii) a popular bar game over here. A huge log, with a circumference close to a 4x4 wheel is placed on a stool/table, with a claw hammer situated nearby. Also present a cup full of 6inch nails. All playing would knock there nail in so that it was just secure and then pass the hammer round the circle trying to knock in your nail. You were only allowed to use the claw end, so obviously the available surface area was thin and small and you were only allowed one hit, without lining the shot up too much beforehand. If you miss, the turn moves on. The winner is the first person to embed their nail, so that it is at least flush to the logs surface.
“you ever played this before?”
“No, never – looks interesting though!” My first shot came…. BANG!! Direct hit, sinking about 3 inches… Beginners luck?! The usual “oh – he’s telling us he’s no good…2 routine followed! I had about 4 or 5 further shots and managed on my final on to sink the nail, a few mm under the surface… I’d smashed it good and proper and took the glory!! A WIN!!!
“We’ll play again…” a newly recruited, Devonshire ski instructor declared, “this time for shots!” Had I just been diddled?! First shot and again I sink about 4 inches – my calling perhaps! Unfortunately the guy who’d instigated the challenge also had a lucky shot… we went around the circle – the loser would buy the shots for the four playing… on only my third shot BANG!!! In it went – GLORY!! and of course a free shot… adding to the ever growing (and rather rapidly growing) list of the consumed!
We spent the whole evening in there, and I’d made plans to return the following day for the Rugby, an Irish band and the “Superbowl XLVI”, for whom I was the only person interested. We met a group of Swedes, who offered me yet another new experience, a product called snuss. It’s very popular in Sweden and the Netherlands but illegal in England for some reason. It’s basically a little teabag containing wet tobacco. You pop it under your top lip, and leave it there, delivering nicotine directly into the bloodstream – was I going to regret this…?
“It might burn at first – but leave it in, it wears off!” Tingle it did – but in it stayed. Tosin and Hannah, whipped it out after a minute or so, but I quite enjoyed it. It was quite a calming feeling and I can understand why they are trying to get it legalised in England. Obviously it doesn’t have the dangers of smoking and is used in Sweden as a method for giving up… apparently the levels of smoking related cancers in the countries that use snuss is greatly reduced?! It’s a social thing for them, but it is quite bizarre talking to people and drinking, with a tiny teabag puffing out your lip!! I shouldn’t worry (if you are!!!) it’s not something I’ll be taking up!
The time came when everyone started to go a bit blurry – my bed was calling me… I’d had enough. I said my goodbyes and followed by an even wearier Hannah, we set off, in pursuit of KEBAB COMFORT! The best thing we could find however was a kind of wrap thing… why can’t they just do a proper drunken kebab?!?! Imagine my surprise then when this turned out to be the best drunk food I’ve ever had. Chicken meat, with a bit of sauce and lots of salad wrapped in a tortilla… It actually tasted nice rather than greasy lamb kebab that returns to you every five minutes the following day and it was in fact quite healthy – another thing England is lacking… Hearty, tasty yet healthy drunken bounty!! Back in the room I finished of this delightful healthiness and then proceeded to devour the remaining chocolate bars and crisps I had in my portable kitchen – undoing the healthiness I’d just enjoyed!
The following morning I was neither sick or headachey, just alittle tired, hence sleeping in until about 1pm. My plans for the day went by the Wayside. It was too late according to the receptionist to head up any mountains as I probably wouldn’t see anything… Instead I headed back down to the lake, and watched people walking and skating across it…. Should I? There were numerous signs asking people not to “walk on the ice, by governance of the Mayor” but hey – when could I do this again? After about five minutes of dithering…a family walked onto the newly formed ice field and I followed. It must have been a couple of feet thick.. or close too. There were still patched that had failed to cover over, but I stayed away from these. I stopped for pictures and a video in the centre, unable to believe that I was standing in the middle of this lake… I’d walked on water… I knew it, I’d always had the belief that I was in fact Jesus Christ of the second coming…. And there I was!! Unfortunately I had as yet been unable to turn water into wine, although the following evening much beer had been turned to water (if you catch my toiletry drift!).
I made it across to the other side, stopping for some more snaps, before my return… I had to go back the way I came, so throwing a ball of snow onto the lake, which plummeted through didn’t put me in a good frame of mind. It was a mile and a bit round trip. I came across a track of ice that had been cleared by children, about 30 foot long, to run along and skid on… now deserted I got down onto my hands and knees and peered through, there wasn’t much between me and the depths below!! When I came across some cracks that had thankfully refrozen, the extent of my adventure finally sank in… Thankfully I made it off the ice, pleased with my new claim to fame! The others had all been too fearful to cross the ice!
I didn’t make it back to the bar. Instead I streamed the superbowl on my computer… managing to stay awake until he games conclusion on 4am! My team the Patriots unfortunately losing the game with 1:40 to go and unable to benefit from their hail Mary in the closing seconds of the game! Only two sleepy shows to do tomorrow.