Okay, I think we left you last night, while we were visiting the catacombs in Salzberg. When we emerged into the plaza, the guide told us we had 3 hours to tour on our own before meeting back there for the trip back to Ober-Salzberg, on the German side.
Of course, our first mission was finding a bathroom, since mom was starting to panic. So we walked down the plaza looking in doors until we came to a restaurant. We went in, just to use the facilities, but were immediately taken by the elbow by a white morning jacketed concierge with a black bow tie. Oops! Looked expensive. As he led us toward a table, he kept repeating “Zwei table, zwei table”. I can only hope I spelled that right, but I remember enough German to know it means table for two. He seated us, then went to find a waiter who spoke English. Such polite people, and a lovely restaurant. Really fine dining. As soon as we sat down, mom with a look of panic on her face while I was laughing uncontrollably, our waiter gave us a menu, then said, “a bottle of water for each and a liter, no, maybe a half liter of wine”, probably because we were acting like we had already partaken freely of the grape. He left us to look over the menu, and mom started to get up, but I told her to hold it a few more minutes until we ordered, so they wouldn’t think we were running out on them. When the waiter returned with the water and wine, we had decided to order a meal for two from the menu, so while he took our order to the kitchen mom finally had her chance to head for the water closet. A few seconds later she was back, looking more panicky than before. “It takes coins! I need coins!” Assuring her I had the coins Elaine had given me, I got her calmed down, handed her the coins, and she took off at a gallop. Before our order arrived she was back at the table, looking much relieved, and ordered me to go potty, as if I were still 2 years old.
When I returned to the table the waiter was arriving with our lunch — a gigantic platter with every kind of meat you can imagine, and I think every vegetable grown anywhere in the world, and some that looked like they could have come from Mars. I always cooked that much for all of the farm hands, so you can imagine how huge that platter was. We stared at it for a minute, looked at each other, then back at the platter, and started serving ourselves with as much as we could pile safely on our plates, barely making a dent in the food on the platter. After stuffing ourselves until it hurt, and both of us were unbuckling our jeans, we stared at the platter, knowing it wouldn’t be couth to ask for a doggie bag. There was enough food left on that platter to feed a small country, but no way of eating it ourselves.
The waiter was wonderful, very thoughtful, courteous, and a real delight, and I wanted very much to give him a large tip. I had no idea of how the Austrian money was in return for the dollar, so I left 400 of whatever they were. Mom saw that and gasped, thinking, as I did, that I was really over-tipping, but as I explained to her, he had been so nice to us and so understanding, that I really thought he deserved it.
When we waddled out of the restaurant, we went shopping. Oh, yeah! I think mom got the most out of that, because she found some loden green wool to make herself a winter coat, yards and yards of Pendleton wool to make shirts for the boys for Christmas, most of them ending up in Ray’s closet because he was the only one cold natured enough to wear wool shirts, and dad, who was also cold natured. Those were all shipped home. I got some shirts, sweatshirts, tee shirts, shirts with different logos on them, to fit all the kids and myself, some cotton fabrics for quilts, Christmas tree ornaments, crystal figurines, you name it, we got it. Toward the end we were drawn back to the plaza by the sound of Alpine horns, and arrived in time to enjoy most of the concert before time to get aboard the bus and head back to Ober-Salzberg, in Germany, and tell Elaine all of our adventures.
The last day, before heading back to Elaine’s home, we went up to the Eagle’s Nest, a beautiful area one of Hitler’s generals had built for der Fuhrer, but which he never saw, because he committed suicide before it was finished. Mom and Elaine decided to hike up the mountain, while I, being of sounder mind, decided to take the elevator built inside the mountain. I can only wish to someday see another elevator like that one. Hitler was claustrophobic, so to give the impression of space in the elevator that is large enough to drive a jeep into, everything is lined with highly polished copper. There’s a beautiful, and very comfortable sofa in there, and the entire trip up was a distinct pleasure. Needless to say, I got there first, and had explored every nook and cranny of the Eagles Nest and finally sat at a table and ordered “Eine beer, bitte”, the only German I was sure of at the time. It was really nice to sit in the October sun, high on the mountain, and sip a beer while I waited for the two tag-alongs to show up. When they finally got there, both huffing and puffing from the climb, the only thing they were able to puff out was “didn’t you order one for us?” I told them I wasn’t sure when they would show up, so Elaine ordered for them, then took mine and glugged it down. While they cooled down and rested, I was telling them about the elevator, and it didn’t take much to convince them they should ride down on that.
Our last dinner on the road was just off the base we stayed on in Ober-Salzberg. They had a menu item called the Hunter’s feast. Elaine decided we should order that and share it. I think we could have shared it with everyone in the dining room. A repeat of the lunch mom and I had in Salzberg, only larger — much, much larger. About as much food as I cooked for the farm hands. We tried, we really did, but again didn’t make a dent in it.
We started north the next morning, stopping off at Oberamergau, for a tour of the town (not sure of the spelling, but they have a large Christmas play there every ten years). Every shop there had something to do with Christmas, so naturally we bought more ornaments. Hand carved wood ornaments, blown glass ornaments, lots of ornaments. And wine to bring home with us. Four bottles each. Gary packed them in a hard shell makeup kit I had packed something in, and packed them so well, he promised us they wouldn’t break. We had a couple of days to rest when we got back to Elaine and Gary’s home, and spent it packing the spoils of our trip to be shipped home, since there was no way we could bring them with us. The wine was with us as a carry-on, because no way were we letting that go into baggage.
Now, think back to the first episode, to the man who was drinking so much on the flight over. What are the odds he would be on the same flight back to Chicago? We talked about that on the way to the airport, and the first person we saw when we walked into the terminal was — yeah, our drunk. And he was just as obnoxious going and he was coming. I had my bottle of Dramamine, so it didn’t bother me as much as it did mom, since I slept thru the flight.
We had to spend the night in Chicago, in a really run-down motel near O’Hare, and the light in the hall was out, so while fumbling with the key card in the dark, mom dropped the case containing the wine, and we heard glass breaking, along with our hearts. Finally got inside and stuck the case in the bathtub, since I don’t think either of us wanted to make use of that particular tub, opened the top, and discovered the broken mirror from the case, but all 8 bottles of wine intact. Whew! Can’t remember if either of us slept that night. Pretty sure we didn’t use the beds, if we did sleep. Not exactly a 5 star place. Doubt if it even has 1 star.
Next morning back to the airport, and boarded the small puddle jumper to home. And be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.