Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oh - this is nice!

The first time we stayed in the Hotel Kasererbraeu in Salzburg it was quite delightful – apart of course from the Indians from the Italian restaurant next door emptying the contents of their apartment into a large bin outside our window at 6:00 AM. This was covered exhaustively in an earlier blog (3 November 2008 in fact).

This time it was somewhat less than average and it was possibly under new management. It was hard to tell – there were few signs of life and that which was apparent lacked motivation.

The receptionist had been trained by the SAS and was not about to put up with any nonsense from guests whose only role was to ruin her otherwise perfect people-free day.

We had reserved parking but were told on checking in that we could not park there on Saturday night as they were full.

“But we have reserved a parking spot” we said. “You can’t reserve parking” we were told (except that obviously a bunch of people had for Saturday night - and we had an email confirming our parking reservation).

So we did the only thing possible under the circumstances and parked there on Saturday night hoping that someone would come along at some stage and thump the receptionist because they could not get in.

Later I asked her for additional pillows but fled when she started reaching for the club she kept behind the counter.

The apartment idea turned out to be not one of my best (what a surprise) as it comprised two “rooms” separated by only 8 steps – and very creaky steps they were indeed. It was very hot so we had to leave the windows open and the bells damn near drove us mad.

What with the bells and us creeping up and down the creaking stairs all night to get to the bathroom Liz and Darryl were quite frazzled for most of the time.

However, on Saturday we all went to the Salzburger Schlosskonzerte. The concerts are held in the Marble Concert Hall of Mirabell Palace, (where the young Mozart himself was a frequent performer).

The concert was delicious. The performers – Luz Leskowitz and Konstantin Maslyuk - were sensational and the music was perfect – Mozart, Schubert and Franck. We clapped so hard they gave us three encores.

Schladming was delightful again and this time we had rooms overlooking the town. We were in adjoining double rooms and had a balcony on which to store the wine and drink it. There were – as usual – no fridges or air conditioning and it must get really hot in Summer.

We had great trouble finding a Vinothek in Schladming but eventually stumbled on a shop that sold local wines – some of which turned out to be very nice indeed - so we drank as much as we could and took some with us.

In Prague I had booked an apartment based on the photos and description on the Internet.

(Yes you can groan all you like but I am nothing if not a slow learner – and apparently I am also incredibly gullible).

The apartment proved to be a Soviet era monstrosity that had probably once been occupied by a very low level apparatchik with a personality disorder, a seriously dysfunctional family life and poor hygiene.

The ‘bathrooms” were in a row and consisted of a single toilet, a bathroom with toilet and shower and another room with a bath and what may have been a washing machine but could also have been a Soviet era motor vehicle with its wheels missing.

The toilet was so small that when I sat down I could press my nose against the door whilst remaining seated. I think it may have been designed by British Airways.

The second bathroom was uninhabitable because an entire family of ferrets had died recently and had been dropped into the adjacent light well to fester.

The walls were very thin and we were kept awake at night by a family of rats in the wall having a knees up – and also by the bloody bells from the church next door.

Late at night hordes of shrieking people exited bars and started throwing rubbish bins and each other through shop windows but – apart from the bells – which went all night – things quieted down about 5:00 AM.

Everyone was very nice and made encouraging noises to me ‘really – it’s not so bad – we can get rabies shots and be disinfected when we get home – and isn’t it good that the rats are having such a nice time!.’

The Grand Hotel in Cracow was a 5 Star hotel which I found at an incredible discount while searching the Internet for my customary disgusting hovel.

I hasten to add that I do not start out looking for disgusting hovels but always manage to gravitate towards these by making compromises about price and location – and of course being sucked in by the photo-shopped images on the websites.

The Grand partially redeemed me for my earlier efforts but the memories will linger with all of us for some time.

The worst part is not the hotel – it’s the look of disappointment on Cate’s face when she sees it for the first time.

“Oh – this is nice" she says and I know I have failed again.


  1. Oh, it's almost poetry, the way you write. No wonder I've been missing my early morning reading :(

    Have you asked the ex-pat network for recommendations? If not, perhaps you can share your discoveries so that they can avoid your unaccommodating accommodation? But maybe, just maybe, someone has stayed somewhere you want to go that hasn't been over-priced but has been clean, comfortable and quiet. Or is that too much to ask?

    PS: I love the reading about the consistency of the customer service you receive!