Picture this: Innsbruck, June 1976.
Dining at the Hotel Tyrol, my husband and I (then svelte and nearly 40 years younger) are charmed by the presentation of a quintessential chateaubriand centered on a silver platter surrounded by every imaginable vegetable in colorful splendor, Della Robbia style, including the cutest little bundles of green beans held together with ribbons of bacon.
I’m enchanted. I’m hooked. I have come to gustatory awareness. My two passions—eating and traveling—are born and shall forever shape the rest of my life, and that of my husband, my children, grandchildren and friends, if I may be so bold as to assert so.
Ok, ok. So it’s a bit dramatic but that’s pretty much how I felt about it all. As my eyes opened to the wonders of beautiful and truly tasty food in an exotic place I’d never in my wildest dreams expected to get to, and as I watched every plate as they came out of the kitchen and even those going back to be washed, I suddenly knew what I wanted to do—travel and dine, as well, as often and as much as I could.
And I have. Since that fateful meal on that fateful trip, What’s His Name (aka Val) and I have returned to Europe (our favorite destination) 100 times—an actual count as of May 2014, not just a cocktail party exaggeration. Along the way we’ve also taken some fun trips in the US and more recently even to China and South America. But Europe is where our hearts are and where we most often think of when someone asks “What are your favorite destinations?”
We’ve been lucky. We worked hard, made a decent living, and don’t spend vast sums on housing or luxuries (I can carry all my jewelry in a single 2 ” x 3” drawstring bag.) As a result we’ve been able to afford to indulge our joint passions for traveling and dining, initially a trip every two or three years, then annually, then a couple of times a year and now (as we recognize that we’re not getting any younger and there will eventually be a limit on how much more travel we can expect to do) we make plans year by year for 6 trips or more.
It’s been a wonderful life, spent in the hedonistic pursuit of good food, good sights, good times, and great memories. Along the way we’ve exposed our children (starting at ages 8 and 6) and now our twin granddaughters (age 5—the “do it while we can” thing I mentioned) to the delights of travel and good eating. We’ve also introduced our friends to the wonders of travel and watched them and their children learn the joys of wandering the world. I recently heard from the daughter of a family we traveled to Paris, Vienna and Budapest with some time ago. She’s grown up, living in Thailand, teaching English as a second language and wrote to thank us for causing her to catch the travel bug.
It is my hope that through this blog I may infect readers with the bug as well and entice you to share in the wondrous things I’ve seen, tasted and experienced. Come, join me, ENJOY!
Innsbruck, Austria–Looking toward the Goldenes Dachl (golden roof) where the Emporer Maximilian sat and watched festivities of the townspeople on the square below. Taken in 2014 rather than 1976, but a better view since the mountains were completely obscured by fog the entire time we were there in ’76. Who knew?!
Europastuberl. Hotel Europa, Innsbruck–You can’t go home again. By our visit in 2014, the Tyrol was no more. But we were able to have lunch in this lovely dining room of her sister hotel, where we had stayed but not dined, in ’76. Beautiful wood paneling is a hallmark of so many Bavarian restaurants.
This was lunch, not dinner, so no silver-plated chateaubriand. Instead I had something called “The Woodcutter’s Special” and which the waiter insinuated was too hearty and indelicate for a lady. Little did he know! I polished it off with aplomb and relished every bite.