Our visit to the world’s largest ice cave took much, much longer than we thought it ever would. Even getting back down the mountain takes time. It’s after 6 by the time we get into the car.
Our destination is Zell am See, a resort town on the Zeller See, or Zeller Lake. By the time we get there, it’s after 7. We choose a restaurant for supper out of one of our guidebooks before we check into the hotel we’ve been looking forward to more than any other. But more on that in a moment.
Our supper was something like a fondu: the waiter brought the cooker to our table, a steel cone with little hooks on its curved surface. The waiter lit the little burner underneath, and we placed strips of chicken, beef and pork on the hooks, then doused them with sauces. It’s a slow process.
Then, to the hotel we had been looking forward to: the Schloss Prielau, once a small castle or minor palace, more recently the country home of Hugo von Hoffmansthal, the co-founder of the Salzburg Festival.
It’s a beautiful place, everything that a castle-hotel should be. It’s situated on its own grounds with its own little beach on the Zeller See. The ground floor has the breakfast room and a lounge, which is the only place where the wireless network connects. (The thick stone walls aren’t really compatible with WiFi.)
We had expected the Gertie Suite, named for Hugo’s wife; but we were upgraded to the Hugo von Hoffmansthal Suite itself, which takes up the entire first (second) floor. It has three bathrooms (more than we needed), a big central lounge with a huge dining table, a library with a small grand piano, four bedrooms, two four-poster beds—it goes on and on. There must be hundreds of heads of deer and chamois on the walls, which adds a macabre touch. Outside is a large, park-like estate with statues of men in Renaissance-era clothing, and a trampoline.
The weird thing is, there was no staff when we arrived. There was a note on the door advising us to call when we arrived, but all the doors, except for the few occupied rooms, are wide open. The staffer is actually in the Michelin-starred restaurant outside the castle, Mayer’s. We check in and luxuriate with a bottle of wine.
What a way to live! I’ll let the pictures fill in the rest of this post.
Next: the Grossglockner Hauptalpenstrasse.